On this day we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Cz?stochowa
Click here to see the miraculous icon.
"Cz?stochowa is but one Marian image shrine among many. Yet the Cz?stochowa cult merits attention. The picture is remarkable in apparently showing the Virgin Mary with a scarred face. By the end of the fifteenth century these marks were presented as the result of an iconoclastic attack perpetrated by Bohemian Hussites in 1430. The picture is explicitly enmeshed in the recurrent debate over the use and abuse of images in Christian worship."
--Pilgrimages to Images in the Fifteenth Century: The Origins of the Cult of Our Lady of Cz?stochowa , by Robert Maniura, Boydell Press, 2004, Page 6.
Maniura asks, "why go on pilgrimage to an image? . . . In a Christian context the archetypal pilgrimage is that to the Holy Land, . . . Another prominent category is the pilgrimage to a shrine which houses the body of a saint. . . . The visit to the tomb or grave remains in some sense a visit to the interred person. . . . But in the pilgrimage to Cz?stochowa and other shrines like it we are dealing with neither a site associated with the events of a holy life nor a holy body. The very focus of the pilgrimage is no more and no less than an image." Page 7.
To answer the question, Maniura and other writers on Cz?stochowa point to the millions of pilgrims who have visited Jasna Góra for centuries, leaving votive offerings as proof of their satisfaction.
"Jasna Góra's most valuable treasure is the miraculous painting of Our Lady. Because of this painting, Jasna Góra became Poland's most famous sanctuary among the numerous sites to Marian devotion throughout the country. But it is not just the tradition, which considers Luke the Apostle as the artist, or the influence of monarchs to whom Jasna Góra has always been dear that made this place famous above all others. It is the Miraculous presence of the image which has always attracted pilgrims not only from all over Poland but from all over the world, as the numerous votive offerings show."
--Click here for an explanation of the painting, which is a Hodigitria icon. At the left of the page, click on the Guide to visit various parts of the monastery. The Chapel and the Treasury are particularly interesting. See, also, the Robes, which are used to adorn the icon.
Click here for more information. "The Monastery of Jasna Góra in Cz?stochowa, Poland, is the third-largest Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. Home to the beloved miraculous icon of Our Lady of Cz?stochowa, the monastery is also the national shrine of Poland and the center of Polish Catholicism."
In this country, there is a National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa at Doylestown, Pennsylvania.