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Catholic Dictionary




Shrine of the Black Madonna, also called Our Lady of Jasna Gora, chief Marian sanctuary of Poland. There is a legend that the picture of Our Lady and her Son at the shrine was painted by St. Luke on a tabletop made by Jesus himself when he was an apprentice carpenter to St. Joseph. Hidden during the early persecutions, it was brought by St. Helena (255-330) to Constantinople. In the troubled eighth century it was removed to Cz_stochowa. In 1430 a great Gothic cathedral was built around the precious relic, but in the war with Hussites they stole the picture. When their horses refused to move their cargo beyond the village boundaries, they threw the picture by the roadside, where it lay broken. All attempts to repair the damage have failed. In the next three hundred years the Polish people believed that their welfare was identified with this miraculous picture. When the Turks were at the gates of Vienna, Sobieski (1624-96), the Polish king, dedicated his crusade to Mary, and the West was saved. Under Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) the people came secretly on their pilgrimages to Cz_stochowa, and in 1945, at the end of World War II, they came 500,000 strong to thank Mary for their liberation. In 1947 over 1,500,000 came there to beg Mary to save them form Communism. Public pilgrimages to Cz_stochowa are forbidden, but the shrine is still unharmed.