May 08, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In researching the memorial for a martyred Polish Solidarity priest, I stumbled upon a remarkable report.  A revered icon actually visited a famous shrine! Father Jerzy Popieluszko is a national hero in Poland. His murder by Polish Security officers in 1984 was condemned internationally and became a rallying point, further strengthening the Solidarity movement which eventually toppled the Soviet-backed government. The gravesite of Father Popieluszko is located beside the Saint Stanislaus Kostka church where he served as pastor.  It has become a major shrine in modern Poland. A website I found noted that in October 2012, the priest’s shrine was visited by “Our Blessed Mother,” the Black Madonna of Częstochowa.

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The icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa is attributed to the early days of Christianity. Though its exact origins may be disputed, the image has been revered in Poland since it was installed in a monastery by Polish royalty in the 14th century. Today, Częstochowa is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the world. The icon, also known as the Black Madonna, is said to be the source of major miracles recognized by the Catholic Church, and even influencing major events in the history of Poland. The Orthodox Church in Poland also reveres the image.

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So when both the Roman and the Orthodox churches in Poland led the procession to present the icon to the shrine, this was undoubtedly a major event. The icon has traveled before and there appears to be an entire system for moving this precious object, including its own processional automobile. The icon was taken from its transport and carried to the shrine where it was lowered to touch the gravestone. The reporter was moved to poetry, describing the moment as, “… a kiss of love, from a caring mother to her beloved, martyred son.”

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The website, From Ocean to Ocean, is sponsored by a pro-life group in Poland.  It tracks several recent travels of the icon of Our Lady, which it suggests have been made, "in defence of life." 

Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church, located on Hozjusz Street 2 near Plac Wilsona, Warsaw, Poland

Holy Place/ Sacred Architecture