On Thursday 26 August, the Church celebrates with great joy the feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa. This feast has a long history which is connected to an old icon representing the Blessed Virgin Mary who is standing with child Jesus in her arms. The famous image measures 47.6 inches by 32 inches and 1,37 inches thick.
The thoughtfulness of both Mother and Child are really striking. As it occurs in every icon, Mary looks at us, the faithful, whereas the child channels His divine gaze not just toward the pilgrim but far and far beyond. This icon has the indelible mark of suffering. The Madonna’s right cheek is scarred with two corresponding scratches whilst the third scratch is to be found on the nose line. Moreover, on the neck we can notice some six cuts. Two of them are easily seen, while the other four cuts tend to be more concealed. The Child Jesus is resting his on Mother Mary’s left arm. In His left hand He has a book, whilst He raises his right hand in a gesture which is so typical of teaching or blessing. Mary’s right arm is pointing to Jesus, the unique Saviour of our world.
This special icon of Our Lady has been intimately linked with many miracles, recounted by the countless pilgrims from all over Poland and even from far countries in the European continent to pay homage to Mary in her Shrine of Jasna Gura. The myriad of votive offerings which one finds in this Marian Shrine signifies the strength of the pilgrims’ devotion to the Mother of God. Undoubtedly one of the most special votive offerings is the one offerred by St Pope John Paul II, which shows the belt of his white cassock bloodstained during the assassination attempt carried out against his life in St Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.