The icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Jasna Góra has grown not only into Poland’s religiosity but also into the nation’s culture and tradition. It is a unifying gathering point – stressed the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, in an interview with Vatican Radio and the Vatican News service. Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Our Lady of Częstochowa.
The President of the Polish Episcopate recalled that Jasna Góra is the main shrine in Poland. “It is due to more than six hundred years of tradition and the local Marian cult, which dates back to the times long before the partitions of Poland but grew significantly during the partitions. Some walking pilgrimages that come here yearly started a few centuries ago. The Shrine of Czestochowa is also strongly associated with the ministry of the sacrament of confession. During his first pilgrimage as pope, St. John Paul II spoke of “the mystery of the confessionals” here. The Eucharists, celebrated here daily, including in the chapel of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady, are also extremely important,” he said. He also noted the contribution of the work of the Pauline Fathers, who take care of Jasna Gora.
Archbishop Gądecki pointed out that the Częstochowa Shrine is in the hearts of Poles, and the icon from Jasna Góra is uniting as a gathering point. “The preaching of Jasna Góra points first and foremost to Mary’s primary role in the path to Jesus. St. John Paul II and the Primate of Poland, Blessed Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, preached this. Speaking of the cult of Our Lady of Częstochowa in Poland, one must also mention the work of theologians and mariologists, which the Episcopate has always valued. Referring to Mary is also very common in ordinary parish life. The Polish soul resonates more strongly in encountering the Mother of God than anyone else. It is the most significant expression of marianism in our religious culture,” the President of the Polish Episcopate stressed.
According to the Press Office of Jasna Góra, from June 4, the beginning of this year’s pilgrimage season, to August 25, a total of 85,548 people participated in all types of pilgrimages to the shrine (walking, biking, running, rollerblading, motorcycling, horseback riding). In all, 2.5 million pilgrims came last year.
Three popes have visited Jasna Gora: John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis. In 1966, the communist authorities prevented Paul VI, who intended to participate in celebrating the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland, from coming to Czestochowa. In 1991, the World Youth Days were held here. Since November 6, 1958, Mass for the Holy Father has been celebrated daily at the shrine. John XXIII requested prayer and constant connection with the Holy See. He asked Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski: “Make that much prayer be offered for me before your Mother of God, adding that it should also be a supplication for the peace and prosperity of all nations.”
The feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa was established in 1904 by Pope Pius X, who donated new crowns for the Icon of Jasna Góra in 1909. In 1963, Pius XII agreed to open a chapel of Our Lady of Częstochowa in the basement of St. Peter’s Basilica. John Paul II donated to Jasna Gora Shrine as a votive offering, among other things, his stole with blood marks from a gunshot wound during an attempt on his life.
Paweł Rozwód – Jasna Góra/ www.vaticannews.va
Translated by Sr. Amata Nowaszewska / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference