Icon of the Mother of God "Czestochowa"
Commemorated on March 6
The wonderworking Czestochowa Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is to be found in a Roman Catholic monastery at Yasna Gora near the city of Czestochowa, Petrov Province, in present-day Poland. It is believed to be one of the seventy icons written by the holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. Tradition says that the icon was taken from Jerusalem when the Romans conquered the city in 66 AD, and was hidden in a cave near Pella. The icon was given to St. Helen when she visited the Holy Land in 326, and she brought it back to Constantinople with her.
In the eighth century, the icon traveled to various places, including Galicia, Bavaria, and Moravia. The founder of the city of Lvov, Prince Leo, brought the icon to Russia and placed it in the Belz Fortress. Many miracles took place before the holy icon.
Prince Vladislav of Opolsk acquired the icon when the Poles captured southwestern Russia. At the time that Vladislav ruled Poland, the Tatars invaded Russia and appeared before the gates of the Belz Fortress. The prince ordered that the icon be placed atop the city walls as the Tatars began to attack. Blood began dripping from the icon where it had been struck by an arrow, and those who witnessed it were amazed at the sight. The Tatars retreated when a dark haze covered them, and many died.
Following this miraculous event, Prince Vladislav planned to place the icon in his castle in Opolsk, Poland. As preparations for the transfer were being made, Vladislav was overcome with an inexplicable fear. He began to pray before the holy icon, and that night was told in a vision to take the icon to Yasna Gora near Czestochowa. Vladislav built a monastery at Yasna Gora in 1382 and gave the icon to an order of Roman Catholic monks.
Many years later, followers of Protestant leader John Hus attacked Czestochowa and plundered the monastery. When they attempted to carry the Czestochowa Icon away in a cart, the horses refused to move, held back by some invisible power. One of the Hussites became angry and threw the icon on to the ground, while another stabbed the face of the Virgin with his sword. The first man was struck dead, while the hand of the second man shriveled up.
The other invaders also suffered from God’s punishment. Some of them died on the spot, while others became blind. Although many of the monastery’s treasures were stolen by the Hussites, the wonderworking Czestochowa Icon was left behind.
King Carl X Gustav of Sweden occupied most of Poland in the seventeenth century, and his forces remained undefeated until they fought a battle near the monastery where the icon was kept. With the aid of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Poles were able to overcome the invading Swedes. At Lvov, King Jan Casimir officially decreed that the Mother of God was the Queen of Poland, and that the nation was under her protection.
Many miracles have been worked by the Czestochowa Icon, and are recorded in a book which is kept at the Czestochowa Monastery. Copies of the icon are found in many Orthodox and Roman Catholic monasteries. Some of these copies are venerated across Russia: in the village of Pisarevkain in the Volhynia Province, at Verhnaya Syrovatka in the Kharkov Province, at Tyvrov in the Vinits Province, and in the Kazan Cathedral at St. Petersburg.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)