Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Our Lady of Czestochowa

Black Madonna of the Polish Nation

"Historical legand says that St. Luke painted this icon from life. The Virgin Mary sat for while she was living in the house of Saint John the Evangelist. The cedar wood the icon was paointed on was from a table made by Jesus Christ when he was a carpenter. During the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the early Christians hid the painting. It was rediscovered in 326, when Saint Helena, the elderly mother of Constantine made her trip to the Holy Land in search of the True Cross." This painting was revered by the citizens of Constantinople for five centuries. It escaped destruction by the Iconoclasts (746-843). "This movement of the Eastern Church strictly forbade the existence of religious images."

After Constantinople fell, the painting was moved first to a castle in Belz, Russia, and later to the Church of the Assumption, in Czestochowa (Poland) on August 26, 1382.

"The followers of a heretic priest John Hus of Prague stormed the church in 1430. In an attempt to rob the jewels embedded in the icon, one of the men started slashing at the icon's face. [He took out his sword and slashed the Madonna's face once and then twice.] As he was about to slash it a third time, he fell dead. This terrified the invaders into leaving."

The icon was restored and in 1434, completely repainted. "however, the two slashes in the face have continually reappeared despite repeated attempts to repair them." (Calamari, Barbara, "Visions of Mary," pg 121-22)

Last night, we had two members of our parish's Legion of Mary come and enthrone our home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. The prayer service was so touching, despite the antics from three grouchy, tired kids. Afterwards, Brother Noel brought me a picture of "Our Lady of Czestochowa." I had just read about this venerated Polish image, a favorite of JPII, in my new "visions of Mary" book. Seeing the three sword slashes on her face remind me to continually offer up reperations for those who slight our Lady's heart and her image. Let us offer up many "I lOVE YOU" during the month of May to make up for our Blessed Mother's many sorrows.