Jasna Gora Sanctuary in
It is the holiest place of Poland and one of
the world’s most important destinations for
pilgrims. The Jasna Gora (Bright Mount in
Polish) sanctuary in Czestochowa, industrial city
of 300,000 a ninety minutes’ drive northwest
from Krakow, has been Central Europe’s
spiritual hub for six centuries and it shows.
Every year several million pilgrims – commoners
as well as celebrities – come here to pray before
the miraculous picture of Our Lady of
Czestochowa. The faithful has believed for ages
that St. Luke the Evangelist himself painted the
divine icon on a tabletop from the Holy
Family’s house. Anyway, over the last
half-millennium great number of them have had
their prayers heard and, grateful, left
innumerable votive offerings displayed in the
in the sanctuary of Jasna Gora
Small 15th-century Gothic chapel with Our
Lady of Czestochowa’s holy picture, also known as 'The Black
Madonna', is the heart
of the sanctuary. It adjoins vast Baroque church
of 1695. The fine 105-meter-tall tower crowned with
viewing gallery dates back to 1620. The adjacent
mid-17th-century early-Baroque monastery contains
the Great Refectory of 1644, the Knight Hall of
1647, and the 18th-century library with unmatched
collection of old books. Fortifications date from
1643 while majestic gates are a century younger.
monastery’s treasure-house is a must by virtue
of the artistic and/or historical value of its
collections. The arsenal and the museum of the
sanctuary’s 600th anniversary are also
average of 14,000 visitors a day the sanctuary
seems often crowded, yet the feast days of May 3,
August 15 and September 8 gather real multitudes
from all over the world.
of Czestochowa’s icon
Tradition has it that St. Luke the Evangelist
painted two pictures of the Virgin Mary on a
tabletop once used by the Holy Family. One icon
eventually made to Italy’s Bologna. Emperor
Constantine brought the other from Jerusalem to
Constantinople, and some 600 years later it was
awarded to Prince Lev of Rus for his military
services. In the 14th century a Polish prince,
Wladislaw of Opole, found the icon in the Belz
castle while he was warring Tatars who had
conquered neighboring Rus, and he entrusted the
holy image to the Pauline monks in Czestochowa.
So says the 1474 volume of Translatio Tabulae
from the Jasna Gora library. April 14, 1430, on
the Easter, Bohemian robbers looted the Jasna
Gora monastery, slashed Our Lady’s cheek with
swords, and – by the account of the 1523 "Historia
Pulchra" – left the holy image on the
floor, broken in three.
historians believe Our Lady of Czestochowa was
initially a Byzantine icon of the Hodigitria
type, dated from the 6th to 9th centuries. During
the 15th-centrury restoration in Krakow it was
painted anew because the restorers were not able to
apply their tempera colors over the original wax
paint so they scraped it clean.
of the Czestochowa sanctuary in brief
1220: the earliest mention of
"Czestochowa" in writing.
Casimir the Great gave Czestochowa municipal
Prince Wladyslaw of Opole supplied the Jasna Gora
monastery he had founded with the miraculous
picture of the Holy Virgin.
Wladyslaw Jagiello’s pilgrimage to Jasna Gora.
Bohemian robbers raided the monastery and smashed
the Black Madonna’s icon.
despite a fierce and prolonged siege fortified
Jasna Gora monastery occurred the only stronghold
in Poland Swedish invaders failed to capture,
which proved a turning point in the devastating
coronation of Our Lady of Czestochowa’s
Jasna Gora was a fortress of anti-Russian Bar
Confederation insurgents led by Kazimierz
Pulaski, future American hero.
opening of the Warsaw-Vienna railroad line
through Czestochowa enabled the city’s rapid
Paul II visited Jasna Gora for the first time as
Our Lady of Czestochowa, a.k.a. "The Black
the proximity of Krakow
Krakow is Poland's tourist mecca, and
also a gateway to many other must-see sites in
of Krakow map
Poland's prime tourist attraction and a
must in Central Europe boasts numerous
world-class monuments, charming vistas,
delightful atmosphere, and the best restaurants.
Poland’s second holiest shrine at the
site of St. Stanislav’s 1079 martyrdom.
Splendid Baroque church and fine monastery
modeled on a Renaissance castle.
With its 42 Baroque churches and chapels
of all shapes and sizes in addition to the
central basilica and the Franciscan monastery,
the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska sanctuary is Europe's
biggest Calvary shrine.
of the Lord's Mercy
Humble nun’s visions in the 1930s
gave rise to a world-wide spiritual movement
inside the Catholic Church, ever stronger
nowadays, with the center in her Krakow convent
the footsteps of Pope John Paul II