The Black Madonna of Poland

HOLY MOTHER of Częstochowa, Thou art full of grace, goodness and mercy. I consecrate to Thee all my thoughts, words and actions—-my soul and body. I beseech Thy blessings and especially prayers for my salvation. Today, I consecrate myself to Thee, Good Mother, totally with body and soul amid joy and sufferings to obtain for myself and others Thy blessings on this earth and eternal life in Heaven. Amen.  Prayer to our Lady of Częstochowa

There have been many miracles attributed to prayers to the beloved portrait and icon of the Madonna and Child known as the ‘Black Madonna’ or ‘Our Lady of Częstochowa. The exact origin of the painting is unknown, but according to tradition, it is believed the original artist of the painting was Saint Luke the Evangelist.  The painting was first brought to Poland in 1382, and the history of the painting is pretty well documented since then.  The original painting wasn’t ‘black’ but has darkened with accumulated residue from candles.  It’s also possible an early restoration attempt left her darker than the original as well.  
The Jasna Monastery in the town of Częstochowa, northwest of Krakow houses and safeguards the portrait of the Black Madonna.  Thus the town of Częstochowa is known as the spiritual heart and country’s national shrine.  There are major feast days at Jasna Góra; up to a half million Poles may journey to the town for the largest one.  If you find yourself in a chapel with a portrait of the Black Madonna, you are likely in one of Polish heritage. If you look closely there are two scars on her right cheek – there are legends about these as well, relative to an attempted theft in 1430 where thieves slashed/stabbed the painting – but it could never be repaired. 
So . . . . why did Henry tell me about the Polish Black Madonna?  It wasn’t exactly in the context of Christian reverence so much as a story of teenage creativity and need for income.  I can still recall laughing as Henry retold this story with a twinkle in his eye. 
In my apartment building Mr. Palitzsch lived on the second floor.  He was about 60 years old and had a very nice young girl friend.  Except he had a problem.  He was impotent.  He was always complaining to me and crying on my shoulder in the house. 
                “Henry what do I do?  She is a nice pretty girl.  But nothing happens, Henry.  Nothing.”
                So I put together a plan to help Mr. Palitzsch.  I told him I have a friend who is a good doctor that can help him.  “Good Henry, good.  I’ll pay anything you want.  Just please help me.” 
                So I told Mr. Palitzsch that we were going to institute a ‘reverse religion therapy.’ 
My friend, Zbigniew Korczowski, lived on my street, Panska.  We played soccer together. So my friend and I went around to all the churches and bought pictures of saints, and the Polish Madonna and the Virgin Mary and we put these pictures all over his house.  We put them up in his bedroom, his bathroom, and he paid us five zlotys a week.  I think the therapy worked too, because after two or three months he stopped paying us and he never complained to me again.  He never did ask me for help again.  But my friend really did become a famous doctor and started a sanitarium after the war.  – Henry Zguda
(Top photo downloaded from Wikipedia; bottom photo taken in Krakow church October 2013.  Apologies if less than clear- the flash reflected off the protective glass.)

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Tags: Henry Zguda Stories, Poland