Czestochowa and the Black Madonna
The industrial city of Czestochowa 133km northwest of Krakow has been a spiritual sanctuary for pilgrims for over six centuries. Every year this quaint Polish town of around 300,000 inhabitants is flooded with several million pilgrims who come here to pray before the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
The picture hangs in the scared confines of the Jasna Gora and is thought to have been painted by the divine hand of St. Luke the Evangelist. The religious symbol, also known as the Black Madonna is at the heart of the Sanctuary, a petit 15th century Gothic chapel which adjoins a cast Baroque church which was built in 1695.
The Baroque monastery itself is worth a visit for its fascinating architecture and the 18th century library which contains an unmatched collection of ancient books containing sacred texts and esoteric wisdom. The monastery is also a treasure-house of artistic and historical value. Self-guided audio tours are available in several languages including English and are recommended if you wish to get a full appreciation of Jasna Gora´s special sanctuary together with its contents.
Whilst you are in Czestochowa why not visit the 600th Anniversary Museum which contains original artefacts including the founding documents of Jasna Gora and a cross made from the steel of the destroyed World Trade Centre of New York. Other moving artefacts are rosaries made from bread crumbs by prisoners of Auschwitz and Lech Walesa´s 1983 Nobel Peace Prize.