Why We Should Turn To Our Lady of Czestochowa To Teach Us Hope
Our Lady of Czestochowa’s history starts with the beautiful legend that she was painted by Saint Luke himself on the Holy Family’s very home table after the Death and Resurrection of our Lord. From there, the legend goes that the image was rediscovered by Saint Helen in Jerusalem and taken to Constantinople along with the relics of the Holy Cross. Constantine then built a chapel to enshrine the image and it remained in Constantinople for about 500 years. It is said that this image gave countless miracles during this time. Many attempts to take over Constantinople were thwarted and the people counted it as a miraculous grace for honoring our Blessed Mother through this image.
This Legend then transitions into surviving historical documentation as the image traveled through many dowries to Russia and ended up in what is now Poland. In 1382, during an invasion of the Tartars, the image was damaged by an arrow that pierced the throat of the Blessed Mother. Prince Ladislaus, distraught at the damage, took the image himself to move it to a safer location. Along the way, he stopped on the hill of Jasna Gora, placed the image in the chapel of the Assumption there, and rested for the night. In the morning, he intended to continue his journey and bring the image to his birth place but once the image was placed back in the carriage, the horses refused to move. Prince Ladiuslaus took this as a sign that the image should remain there and it did. He assigned the Hermits of Saint Paul to protect the image.
In 1430, the Hussites looted the hermit's monastery. They put the image on their wagons but again the horses refused to move. Once they threw it off, the carriage began to move. One of the looters slashed the image with his sword twice into her cheek. Upon an attempt to slash the image a third time, he fell down dead. His comrades fled in fear.
More recently, in 1920, Poland withheld the Soviets from conquering their country and implementing Communism. This miracle is given to the Polish people's devotion and invocation to Our Blessed Mother through this title and image. Russia, with many more troops and a more powerful artillery, was unable to take over Poland. Although they successfully advanced upon Warsaw, something miraculous changed after a few days of fighting. The small Polish army was able to withhold the Soviets at the Vistula River. The Soviets were oddly weakened while the Poles were reinvigorated in the fight. They successfully stopped the invasion and the Soviets retreated. The image of Our Lady of Czestochowa is said to have been seen over the Polish side during the battle. Immediately following this victory, the Polish people returned to Jasna Gora to honor the Blessed Mother for her maternal protection over Poland.
Many efforts have been made to repair the damages done by the arrow and the sword but the scars have always reappeared. This in itself is miraculous. It is as if the Blessed Mother desires these exterior wounds, now scars, to remain and be seen. Her interior wounds, "...and a sword will pierce through your own soul…"(Lk 2:35), have been revealed although unseen to the eye but these scars to her face and neck show that wounds, although they heal, can leave behind the visible reminder of the pain and suffering this life entails. This image shows her children that despite having a scarred and labored exterior, her interior strength comes from the one she is holding and guiding us to, her Son, Christ Jesus.
Through this image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, we have been given a great consolation to be able to unite our own sufferings, wounds and scars with hers. Let us ask her with renewed hope to help us unite all of our sufferings and labors with that of her Son. Let us too, place this life and these times under her care, confident she will protect us and bring us closer to Jesus.