Saturday, April 29, 2017
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American Czestochowa in Doylestown

Polish Americans decided to build the magnificent Shrine in honor of Our Lady of Czestochova before the anniversary of a Millenium (Thousand anniversary) of Christianity of Poland. A baptist of Mieszko the 1st, Polish prince, is considered as the beginning of an independent Polish state. This event took place in 966 ad. As you probably know the image of Black Madonna of Czestochova is considered miraculous.

The shrine was completed and dedicated in Doylestown, PA in a millenial year. On October 16, 1966. Archbishop John Krol (with Polish-American roots) and president Lyndon B. Johnson greeted nearly one hundred thousands pilgrims who came for shrine dedication. This shows the solidarity of the Polish Americans and American Catholics with their Polish brothers who lived under communism.

In that time the conflict was growing between the communist government and the official celebrations of Polish millenium and the Polish Catholic Church. Authorized copy of Madonna of Czestochova travelled around Poland visiting parishes and families all over Poland. The communist government tried to prevent it by... imprisoning Madonna's pictures. The communists thought that imprisoning of the copies would diminish religious atmosphere of the millenium. The effect was just the opposite. When Madonna's picture was imprisoned, the empty frame with a candle was driven around and people were even more shocked and more upset with government than before. The families were receiving the empty frame and they prayed to black Madonna even with more feeling than before. The image was imprisoned until 1972. Later the black Madonna image was put back into the frame and was visiting Polish homes until 1980.

The American version of Black Madonna image is done in slightly brighter tones than the original. The American copy was painted by Leonard Toweitt in Poland and was blessed by Pope John XXIII on Feb. 10, 1962. Before being enshrined in the new Shrine in Doylestown, the painting traveled to US Polish parishes throughout the country for 4 years.

Recommended reading(s):

Eyewitness Travel Guide to Poland by Teresa Czerniewics-Umer, Malgorzata Omilanowska, Jerzy S. Majewski, DK Travel Writers

The Rough Guide to Poland by Mark Salter, Jonathan Bousfield

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