Our Lady of Czestochowa
Was it Painted by Saint Luke?
We did not think it possible for anyone to show a greater outpouring of love for Our Lady than the Mexican people, the first time we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. There is such a love for Our Lady in that country, it defies description. We have witnessed the honor and tribute paid to the Morenita (the Dark One) by people from all walks of life. From the Pope, to the president of the country, to the poorest citizen, all pay the greatest respect possible to the Mother of God, their Mother.
But after having gone to Poland, in particular, the Bright Hill, as Jasna Góra is called, we stutter trying to describe in the slightest, the outpouring of emotion given to their Lady, Our Lady. There’s not a time you go to Czestochowa that it is not packed with pilgrims. From the youngest to the oldest, they are in tears as they go before the image of Our Lady, this most beautiful Mother of theirs. The first time we went, children who had just received their First Holy Communion were presented to Our Lady. There had to be three hundred of them from all over the area. The girls were dressed like little brides. The boys were dressed in suits. They couldn’t wait until our host, Fr. Stefan, removed the barrier so that they could run up and present themselves to Mother Mary. They flocked around the Altar of the Chapel, where the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa waited for them.
We weren’t sure what we wanted to tell you about first. Should we begin with stories from its magnificent tradition, which are filled with accounts of major battles won through the intercession of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and of the generals who dedicated their troops and their battles to Our Lady, who wore the breastplate of Our Lady as they went into battle, and then came back after their victories to thank Our Lady, and give Her complete credit for their conquest?
Or would you like to know about Lech Walesa, who had been the head of Solidarity, and became the first president of Poland after the fall of communism? He was originally in charge of the workers’ union. For organizing the workers against communism, he was imprisoned by the communists. When he was released, he lost his job and took on odd jobs, continuing to fight against communism. He became the leader of solidarity and was again imprisoned in 1981. In 1982, he was released and in 1983, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, which he presented to Our Lady at the Shrine. A very pious man, we had the privilege of attending a private Mass with him in the presidential palace.
Or should we begin with the miraculous tradition by which this painting found its way from a little home in Jerusalem to Czestochowa, Poland, 1300 years later? Where do you start? I guess the beginning would be best.
Tradition tells us that St. Luke painted the original image of Our Lady of Czestochowa on a table top in St. Joseph’s workshop in Nazareth. We truly believe that St. Luke sat at the feet of Mary and listened to Her tell about the Miraculous Conception and Birth of Our Tradition is the handing down orally of stories, beliefs, customs, etc., from generation to generation. In Theology, Christian tradition is the unwritten teachings regarded as handed down from Jesus and the Apostles. Webster’s New World Dictionary - 1984
Lord Jesus. St. Luke is the only one of the four Gospel writers who describes in detail the events from the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Our Lady, through the Visitation, the Birth of Jesus, the Presentation in the Temple, and the Finding of Our Lord Jesus in the Temple. Where would he have gotten this information if not sitting at Her feet, listening in awe to this, the most beautiful Woman the world has ever known?
And why not, while he was listening to Her, could he not have painted a picture of Her, or drawn a sketch which later could become a statue of Her (Our Lady of Loreto)? There are many writings which justify this theory. From the early days, writers such as Sixtus of Siena and Nicefar (a Roman writer) both wrote that St. Luke painted the image of Our Lady.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of images of Our Lady, most of them created through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the hands of mankind (men or women). All are limited in their ability to capture the beauty of the Mother of God, except two. One is the image which was painted by the Divine Artist, brought to earth by the Angels and deposited on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico in 1531. This is undoubtedly the truest image of Our Lady we will ever see. The Artist was God.
The second image was made firsthand by a person who was standing or sitting or kneeling in Her presence as he put the image on canvas, or in this case, on a table top, which, according to tradition, was made by Our Lord Jesus as a young Man. It is believed, the artist was St. Luke, the physician, the Evangelist, the artist. To our way of thinking (and now, don’t take this as church teaching, this is Bob and Penny Lord), he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. To repeat, to our way of thinking, what gives it away is Our Lady’s eyes.
There are expressions and expressions on images of Our Lady. But none that we have seen have the pain and suffering Our Lady experienced in Her lifetime. Nor does any other image of Our Lady depict the overwhelming sadness which cries out in that painting by St. Luke. Not even the re-creation of the scene at the foot of the Cross, where Our Lady holds Her Beloved Son’s limp, bleeding Body in Her arms - the Pieta, captures the anguish of Our Lady, painted by St. Luke. Not even those images of Our Lady standing at the foot of the Cross, painted by some of the most gifted artists, who have attempted to capture those moments, have the depth of sadness in the eyes of Our Lady depicted by St. Luke.
It had to be done while he sat in front of Her, listening as She recounted Her life story to him. There were most likely moments when Her eyes lit up, and She smiled, remembering special times in Her life with Her Son and St. Joseph. Perhaps the very occasion He made the table, upon which St. Luke was painting Her portrait, was a joyful moment. But then there were other times, when St. Luke could almost see what She could see - the Passion, Crucifixion and Death of Her Son. How sad, how overpoweringly sad it had to be, for Her to look out at the world with such agony coming from deep within Her heart, rising up into Her eyes, and then spilling out for all the world to see and know.
As we’ve said before, there have been many portraits of Our Lady made over the centuries. She is the most popular Woman the world has ever known. And of those paintings, there are so many diverse expressions on Her face, you can’t count all of them. But there has never been a painting made of Our Lady which begins to compare with the raw, naked emotion of the painting of Our Lady in Czestochowa. And because the artist had so profoundly personal a relationship with Our Lady, we concur that it could very well have been St. Luke. Why not?
Our Lady Travels the World
It is easier to determine that St. Luke painted the image which is now in Czestochowa than to track the history of the image down through the ages. Everything we tell you of the early history of the movement of the image of Our Lady is from tradition. The first movement out of Jerusalem occurred
when the Romans came and destroyed the city in 70 A.D. It was brought by zealot Christian women up to the mountains, where it remained, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, for 300 years. Now, it had to have an enormous amount of meaning to the daughters of Jerusalem, who cared for it over the centuries. Great pains were taken to insure that it was protected against all who came against the Church and the early members of the Church. They hid the image in caves, and through various underground tunnels to safe havens. They did this under the threat of imprisonment, torture and death, if caught.
In the year 326, or thereabouts, Queen Helena arrived in the Holy Land to gather relics of the early Faith, including parts of the True Cross, one of the Nails, part of the Crown of Thorns, as well as the sign above the Crucifix of Jesus, which read, “INRI, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” and the firsthand image of the Blessed Mother of God, painted by the evangelist St. Luke. This was certainly an important relic to bring back to her son Constantine.
When St. Helena arrived in Jerusalem, she was put in contact with the holy ladies who had been unofficial custodians of the only original painting of Our Lady in existence for all those centuries. The fame of St. Helena must have preceded her to the Holy Land, because she was given charge of this most important painting without hesitation. She brought it back to Constantinople along with other relics, and presented them to her son. He was so taken back by the beauty of the image, but also the sadness, he had a church built in Her honor, dedicating it to the Holy Name of Mary. Did Constantine spend time with Our Lady here in this Church? Did he try to imagine, looking at the eyes of this most magnificent painting, what She was feeling as She recounted the sufferings of Her Son? Did She speak to him there? Did he listen and act on Her words?
The Church and the image drew pilgrims from hundreds of miles around. They came and prayed; they petitioned Our Lady. Our dear Mother Mary blessed those who venerated Her image in that place. Healings and miracles took place. People from far and wide came to the church for healings and conversions. Dear Mother Mary answered all their prayers. The image of Our Lady became famous throughout the country.
So powerful was the image of Our Lady in Constantinople, that the people venerated Her in this church for centuries. The future emperors of the Byzantine Empire gave Her the same honor and respect that St. Helena and her son Constantine had done during their lifetimes. As a matter of fact, they used the painting to protect them from an onslaught by the Saracens in one of their many failed attempts to conquer Constantinople. In this instance, the people of the town had so much faith in the power the Lord Jesus had given to Our Lady in this image, they carried the image throughout the city and around the barriers surrounding the city. The Saracens could see the power of God in this image of Our Lady, and fled in fear. It is reminiscent of the Miracle of the Eucharist of Assisi when St. Clare of Assisi held up the Monstrance with Our Lord Jesus present, to ward off an attack by Saracens on her convent. They looked up at the Monstrance, saw the power of God in it, and ran for their lives. They never returned to San Damiano or Assisi again.
Our Lady Goes to Poland
Over the centuries, the Byzantine Empire lost more and more of its territory, and more and more of its power. Factions attacked from all sides weakening the empire. Infighting among the rulers also helped to bring about the demise. But most likely, the most significant factor, which led to the decline and fall of the Byzantine Empire, was it turned its back on Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary. History does repeat itself, make no mistake about that! We have seen more instances of great powers brought to their knees when they have walked away from Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary. The Byzantine Empire was no exception. There was a complete breakdown in religious practices. Some of the emperors hated Christianity, and actually went out of their way to destroy any vestiges of devotion, statues, relics and sacred objects.
However, the image of Our Lady was so important, and of such spiritual value to the nobility of Constantinople, they hid the image inside the palace of the emperor. Actually in some cases, the wife or daughter of the emperor hid the image for safe-keeping. Then, during the next five hundred years, mothers would bequeath the image to a daughter or son who had not lost his faith, and still honored the Sacred Painting; and they would give it as a wedding present, or on some similar occasion, to another child, until such time as the city of Constantinople was in danger of being destroyed by the Moslem hoards.
If we were to take a look at the Byzantine Empire, at the time of its inception, it covered a great span of countries. In 550 A.D., it encompassed all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Greece, the Holy Land, southern Spain, and Northern Africa. In 1050 A.D., in the midst of its decline, it only controlled Italy, Greece, and Antioch. In 1453, it fell to the Ottoman Turks, and by the beginning of the Sixteenth Century, the Byzantine Empire was no more.
Tradition tracks the movement of the Sacred Painting of Our Lady from Constantinople to Russia. The reasoning for this was that “...the Christian Faith moved through Bulgaria, Moravia, the Czech Republic and finally to Russia.” The next question we would naturally ask is, “Well, how did it get from Russia to Poland?” Our research tells us that there was a great deal of inter-marriage between Russian autocrats and Polish royalty. A most appropriate dowry gift to be given was the Sacred Image of Our Lady. So the painting was protected and circulated over the centuries by the nobility, first of Russia, and then when the Ukraine collapsed and became part of the kingdom of Poland, it wound up in a castle in Belz, a region which had been in Russia and then became part of Poland. Upon the death of King Casimir the Great, the throne was put into the hands of Prince Ladislaus.
When Ladislaus assumed the throne, his first act was to recapture all the castles which had been controlled by the Russians. Upon the capture of the castle at Belz, he gave great respect and honor to the Sacred Image of Our Lady. At this point, the Sacred Image was raised to the level of a Shrine. A special place was given to the image within the castle, and great reverence was paid to Our Lady.
But this was not to last. Prince Ladislaus was attacked by the Tartars, a horde of Moslems, rooted in Genghis Khan of the 13th century. They hated Christianity and anything Christian. At one point during the battle, a Tartan arrow was shot through a window of the castle, and struck the Sacred Painting, making a gouge in the throat of Our Lady. When Ladislaus saw how the image of Our Lady had been damaged, he was given Signal Grace to fight with all he was worth, and consequently won the battle over the Tartars. But he knew how vulnerable the Sacred Image would be in this environment; it was just a matter of time before the castle would be attacked again.
Our Lady finds a home at Czestochowa
Realizing the extent of the danger the image of Our Lady was in, he decided to take it for safe-keeping out of the area, to Opala, his birthplace, in Upper Silesia, an area which today comprises southwestern Poland and north central Czech Republic. His travels brought him through Czestochowa, where he spent the night. The name of the town, Czestochowa, means hidden hill. [The reason for that is as you approach the town, it appears and disappears because of the mountainous area.]
He placed the Sacred Image in the little parish church of Our Lady of the Assumption, under the care of the Priests there. The following morning, after gingerly placing the Sacred Image in his carriage, he and his cortege prepared to leave the town. There was only one problem - the horses would not budge!
Ladislaus and his people went down on their knees to pray to Our Lady to tell them what She wanted him to do. He was inspired by Our Lady to make the Church of the Assumption in Czestochowa the permanent home of the Sacred Image of Our Lady. And so on Wednesday, August 26, 1382, the decision was made. Our Lady was solemnly processed into Her new home on the Bright Hill, Jasna Gòra, and a love story began between the people of Poland and the Mother of God. August 26 has become the official Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Prince Ladislaus entrusted the image of Our Lady to the Pauline Fathers, who have been custodians to this day.
The Battle Rages on
It would seem that once all of this had been accomplished, the image of Our Lady finding a permanent home, the building of the permanent church, the convent and a cloister, for which the Prince paid out of his own money, the choosing of the Pauline Fathers to be the custodians and safe keepers of the image and the Shrine, the formal dedication of the Shrine, that peace would reign in the little town of Czestochowa. But that was not to be the case.
On Easter Sunday, April 14, 1430, followers of Jan Hus, the heretic, attacked the monastery. They burst into the Chapel of the Mother of God and grabbed Her image from the Altar. They then stole all the paintings and valuable gift offerings. They threw the image of Our Lady into their wagon. The horses wouldn’t budge! As they had heard of the tradition of the incident with Prince Ladislaus and the image, in a fit of rage, they threw the image to the ground, causing it to break into three pieces. Infuriated, one of the thugs withdrew his sword and slashed the face of the image twice. Not satisfied he had disfigured Her face, he tried to slash Our Lady’s face a third time, when he began to convulse; and flailing in agony, he dropped dead. Not satisfied with all they had done, the hussites turned their anger on the monks and murdered them. But they left the image of Our Lady! Was there something from their past, some story of Our Lady and the Child Jesus that they recalled their mothers telling them? Or did the sudden death of their comrade sober them enough to flee? Whatever the truth, they fled, never to return.
Down through the centuries, kings and royalty began to realize the power of the intercession of Our Lady of Czestochowa. They came to Her in petition, in thanksgiving. King Ladislaus, in the year 1621, gave credit to Our Lady for having interceded in favor of Poland.
In 1655, a plan to attack Poland was devised, and on July 21 of that year, the Swedish army descended on the country. Warsaw, Posnan and Krakow soon fell. Polish nobility, too busy infighting among themselves, refused to come together and defend themselves against the invaders, and the whole country fell to the Swedes. On November 18, an army of 3000 Swedish soldiers reached Jasna Góra, demanding the monastery’s immediate surrender. Nevertheless, Jasna Góra’s prior, Augustyn Kodeski, decided to defend the Holy Site. He could count on 170 soldiers, 20 noblemen and 70 monks to stand up against an army of 3000 Swedish invaders. When the monks refused to surrender, the Swedish army commenced the attack, which would last 40 days, but which would end in victory for Mary’s army.
When Krakow fell, King John Casimir was forced to seek refuge in Silesia. But when he returned, he kept his promise to the Blessed Mother to consecrate Poland to Her protection. He proclaimed Her the Patroness and Queen of Poland.
The nation’s destiny was entrusted to Our Lady from that moment to this day. She became a symbol of religious and political liberty for the people of Poland. Because of this battle, the Holy Father gave permission to the Polish nation, to add to the Litany of Loreto, after Our Lady, Queen of Peace, the invocation to the Queen of the Crown of Poland.
The Battle of Vienna - 1683
The Turkish hordes were swarming all over Europe, trying to destroy every vestige of Christianity. Austria’s forces were completely exhausted and discouraged, outnumbered and weary from battle. In a last-ditch effort, the emperor asked King John Sobieski, sovereign of Poland for help. King John Sobieski turned to Our Lady of Czestochowa. “Give us victory” he prayed, “and let it be Your victory.” He came before the people and asked them to join him publicly in placing all their trust in Our Lady. He knelt humbly before his Queen, Mary Most Holy. 80,000 Christian troops with John Sobieski in front, defeated a fierce Turkish army consisting of 250,000 barbarians. King John Sobieski donned the breastplate of Our Lady of Jasna Góra,10 as kings and royalty of Poland have done for centuries after that. And Our Lady brought them through to victory.
In the years 1690, the monastery was attacked again, only now by natural disaster. A fire broke out in the church, and only the image of Our Lady of Jasna Góra was saved. The Bishop of Krakow, John Mahorski, processed with the image in thanksgiving for having spared the image of Our Lady.
Our Lady - biggest revolutionary of them all!
Every time the Russians have occupied Poland, they have forbidden the people to make pilgrimages to Czestochowa, calling Our Lady the biggest revolutionary of them all.
The people of Poland planned, prayed and petitioned Our Lady to be free from communism and Our Lady of Czestochowa said yes! Increasing numbers of pilgrims have continued to come, and they have come through Russian and Nazi occupations, always trusting in their Mother. In the past few years, over 4million faithful have traveled to Jasna Góra, about 350,000 of them on foot. This last decade bears witness to the Polish people’s deepening devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa.
The people of Poland came here even though the Nazi government, and the Communist government after them, forbade them to come. They came with hope that Our Lady would help them. Medicines did not help them; miracles helped them. When they came and were cured, they would go to the sacristy to tell the Priests of the healings that had taken place. They left their crutches there and walked home without them, thanking Our Lady for the gifts She had given them. Eventually, the police stopped them from telling the Priests in the sacristy, but still they left their crutches and still they walked away, healed by the intervention of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
When Pope John Paul II came to Jasna Góra, he reminded the pilgrims that this is the only church in the world where confessions are heard from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the year, including Sunday, including Easter and Christmas.
The library of the Shrine dates back to the beginning. Kept there are the joys and sorrows of the Church of Poland. The famous and infamous sign their names, but behind their signatures are stories of horror, of battles fought, lost and finally won, names like Martyr St. Maxmillian Kolbe,11 and also infamous names like Heinrich Himmler, who was Adolf Hitler’s henchman, great dignitaries like John F. Kennedy, and our own Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla, when he came here as a student in 1943.
The communists knew the power, the strength of Jasna Góra in the lives of the Polish people. They forbade pilgrimages to Our Lady of Czestochowa. Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko brought thousands of workers here to pray and petition our Lady at Her Altar for freedom from tyranny and oppression. They couldn’t stop him. A month before he was murdered, he shared with a friend that he knew his life was in danger because he was told not to bring any more pilgrims to Czestochowa or he would die. He said “I am not afraid to die, but I know that my time is coming.” They couldn’t stop Fr. Jerzy, so they murdered him.
Miracles upon Miracles abound
Down through the centuries, miracles upon miracles have abounded, to the extent that Poles in particular, but people from all nations in and around Poland - Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, Estonia and Hungary - have made pilgrimages to the famous Shrine on the Bright Hill. They come to petition Our Lady for very special favors; and then in thanksgiving for favors received. Royalty of Europe have placed themselves and their countries under the protection of Our Lady of Czestochowa. But as Our Lady hears the cries of the noble and powerful, She is just as eager to help the lowly, those who would not be considered of great estate. We want to share some of the miracles that took place in response to the intercession of Our Lady of Jasna Gòra.
But first, let us share with you our own miracle, which was given to us by Our Lady of Czestochowa. It took place in early May, 1993. The Lord had blessed us in allowing us to go to Poland, by invitation of the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Glemp. We were there to bring back to the United States some of the spiritual beauty which we had heard existed in Poland. So, the four of us, Bob, Penny, Brother Joseph and Luz Elena, set out to make television programs for EWTN on Poland, and the Shrines of Poland. We went to Warsaw, for Jerzy Popieluszko; to Niepokalanow, and the Shrine of St. Maxmillian Kolbe; to the various sites of Sister Faustina; to Auschwitz, for the program on St. Edith Stein; to Wadowice and Kalvaria, to make a program on His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, a dry Martyr; and to Czestochowa, to videotape the marvelous tribute to Our Lady given by the people there.
The office of Cardinal Glemp had graciously provided us with a Mercedes Benz van and driver, to take us all over the country. The driver knew all the roads, and how to get to the places we wanted to visit. And so, after having finished our work in the Warsaw area, we set out for Czestochowa. On the road, we prayed and shared about our trip, while our driver Josef, moved in and out of traffic. We didn’t pay much attention to the road, as there were a great many big rigs, huge trucks, traveling alongside of us.
However, at a given point, we felt a severe bang from something outside the van. The vehicle began to swerve all over the road, and our skilled driver, had all to do just to keep us from overturning. Penny cried out, “Mother of God!” Luz Elena cried out “Jesús y María!” Bob cried out, “Our Lady of Czestochowa, save us!”
We managed to get to the side of the road. We got out of the van to see what damage we had incurred. There was nothing wrong with the body of the van. But the right tire had been stripped of all its rubber. However, it had not punctured! We did not experience a blow out! Bob and Brother Joseph ran down the road to where the rubber was lying on the road. They picked it up to look at it. We also found the piece of an axle from one of the huge trucks which had broken and flown, striking our van. It was in the shape of an arc. It cleaned all the rubber from the tire, but Our Lady protected us by not letting a blowout occur, because we would have lost complete control of the vehicle, and very possibly overturned, and who knows what else?
There were two Priests riding with us, one Fr. John Mikalajunis, from Binghamton, New York, who had arranged the filming schedule, and Fr. Chester, from the Archdiocese of Warsaw, who was our host and translator, courtesy of the Cardinal. We all looked silently at one another, then at the strip of rubber, the piece of metal, and the shell of a tire on the van. It was a miracle; there was no question of that. Our Lady had protected us, for many reasons we’re sure, but certainly to get us to Czestochowa and bring you the television program on Her majestic Shrine and this great miracle. And now, this chapter. As Josef changed the tire, we all looked at it again. Not a puncture could be seen. Thank You, Jesus; Thank You Mother Mary of Czestochowa.
Early Miracles of Jasna Gòra
We have chosen just a few of the many miracles attributed to Our Lady at Her Shrine in Jasna Gòra.
We go back to the year 1540. The Shrine of Jasna Gòra had been in that area of Poland for less than 200 years. But She had become a great intercessor for Catholics and non-Catholics alike for miles around. Our story begins a distance from Czestochowa. A simple butcher and his young family: a wife, a son 4years old, and another 2 years old, lived a very good life, working hard and completely devoted to the Church, and to Our Lady of Jasna Gòra. A series of accidents caused his faith to be tested in the most difficult way.
He went into town to shop for animals to be butchered. While he was gone, his wife went about her daily chores, one of which was to bake bread. She ran out of one of the ingredients, and went to a neighbor’s house to borrow some yeast.
While she was gone, the four year old boy decided to play butcher. He had watched his father perform his duties many times, and knew that he had to take a knife in order to butcher anything. He went over to his little brother who was sleeping in the crib. He took the knife and slit the child’s throat. As soon as he saw that blood was flowing from his brother’s throat, he knew he had done something very wrong. He panicked. He had to hide. He ran over to the oven, which was cold, and jumped in. He would hide there until things got better. He didn’t know how they would get better, but they had to.
His mother came in, not noticing the dead child in the crib, nor that her other son was nowhere to be seen. She was preoccupied with baking the bread. She took logs, and threw them into the oven, and began the fire. A very short time passed when she heard the choking sounds of her son in the oven. She ran over to it, but by this time, it was ablaze, and she couldn’t get her son out in time. When he finally was pulled out of the oven, he had suffocated; he was dead.
She went into a panic. She held her dead son in her arms, and screamed. She turned around and around in circles, until her eyes fell upon the blood-stained body of her baby boy, dead in the crib. She went into a rage, beating herself and tearing her clothes in pieces. She finally just fell to the floor, in a complete state of shock. And this is the scene the husband beheld as he returned home from his shopping. Two children were laying dead, and his wife was in a coma. He completely lost his mind. Thinking his wife had gone mad, he picked up an ax and smashed his wife’s skull in with one blow. Then he stood and beheld what had happened to his family in a very short time.
As reason came back to him, he had an overpowering inspiration. He picked up his wife and the two children, and loaded them onto the back of his open wagon. He was going to Czestochowa! He was going to beg Our Lady to undo what had been done. Nothing else mattered in his life. He had but one focus, get to Jasna Gòra. He drove in his wagon for hours and hours. People on the road saw the wagon and the bodies of the three members of his family in it, and didn’t know what to think.
Finally, the butcher arrived at the Monastery of Jasna Gòra. He enlisted the aid of some holy people to carry his family into the Chapel of Our Lady. He himself would not go in, as he felt he was not worthy to enter the church. But he begged each person who went in, to pray for a miracle for his wife and two children. The local Priest, a Blessed Stanislaw, was presiding over Benediction. When he caught wind of what the butcher was trying to do, he, too, enlisted the aid of worshipers to pray for a miracle.
Pretty soon, there was a crescendo of people praying to Our Lady, the dark beautiful Lady, to give this poor man a miracle. As they began to pray the Magnificat, they came to the verse, “For He that is mighty, has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.” Witnesses claimed that a tremendous glow emanated from the image of Our Lady. At that moment, when it seemed like the praying had reached fever pitch; the wife sat up, followed by first the four year old boy, and then her other son, the baby. Everyone in the church began to cheer, and praise God for the gift of Our Lady. The butcher lay on the ground outside the church, crying and praising God, all at one time. Our Lady had truly given them a Miracle!
Miraculous Protection by Our Lady of Jasna Góra
Soldiers who fought under the leadership of King John Sobieski always wore a medal of Our Lady of Czestochowa, as protection against the enemy. Many believed that because they had never been wounded or captured in battle that Our Lady had protected them through the medal they wore. So it became a matter of, “Well I pray to her, and I’m still alive, so the prayers must work.” without actually having had first-hand experience of a miracle having occurred.
But one soldier came to the Shrine at Jasna Góra to proclaim two miracles in his life in the military, attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The first took place in 1672 when he was fighting in a fierce battle against the Tartars (Moslem hordes begun by Mongol leader Ghengis Khan), and was taken prisoner. On the way back to the Tartar camp, one of the bloodthirsty barbarians raised his scimitar in anger to slice off his head. The Polish soldier instinctively reached for his medal of Our Lady of Jasna Góra and prayed for deliverance. The barbarian’s face expressed pain and disbelief. His arm shook fiercely and the scimitar fell from his hand. He stared at it; he could not believe what had happened to him. To cover up for what had happened, he gave the prisoner the impression that he meant only to frighten him.
But all the way back to the camp, the Tartar kept grabbing his sword, to feel if he had regained strength in his arm. At one point, he was so overcome by hate and anger for the Polish soldiers, he made another attempt to kill the prisoner. He raised his sword and proceeded to come down with all his might. But as before, the arm went into great spasm, and the sword fell from his hand. The arm continued to twitch and tremble. The Tartar was consumed with fear. He realized that there was something about this foreigner which was preventing him from using his sword. He released him from bondage, and told him to leave, and never let the Tartan see him again.
Our soldier returned to his home, but soon found himself back on the battlefield in defense of Poland against the dreaded Turks, and under the protection of Our Lady of Jasna Góra. This next miraculous occurrence was a direct result of intercession of the medal of Our Lady. In the heat of the battle, our soldier felt a thud against his chest plate. He knew he had been struck by a bullet. But he felt no pain, nor was he thrown from his steed. He felt his breastplate, and sure enough, there was a hole where the bullet had gone through. But it didn’t seem to have pierced his body. He thought perhaps the bullet had been deflected, so he kept on fighting.
At the end of the day, back in the safety of his barracks, he took off his breastplate, and saw a most marvelous, miraculous thing. The bullet had been stopped by his medal of Our Lady of Jasna Góra. It had become slightly dented by the thrust of the bullet, but this missile, which had catapulted toward him to inflict death, harmlessly fell to the ground. Our soldier had been saved again by Our Lady of Czestochowa.
We could go on and on. The library at the Shrine is filled with volumes, from floor to ceiling, of miracles and miraculous intervention, as a result of prayers to Our Lady, at Her Shrine in Jasna Góra.
Just know one thing, She is here for you; She will help you; She loves you. But as you are asking for Her help, feel the sadness of the eyes of Our Lady, as captured by St. Luke. Do something special for Mary today. Love Her Son!