The Chenstokhovsk (Czestochowa) Icon of the Mother of God
Commemorated on March 6
(Czestochowa) Icon of the Mother of God, by tradition, is regarded as among
the 70 icons of the done by the holy Evangelist Luke (Comm. 18 October).
It was written at Jerusalem, in the Mount Zion section (where it was that the
Last Supper occurred in the Cenacle, or common dining room). In the years
66-67, during the time of the assault on Jerusalem by Roman forces under the
leadership of Vespasian and Titus, the Christians fled Jerusalem, going to the
locale of Pella. Together with other holy things, they preserved in caves also
the Chenstokhovsk Image of the Mother of God. In the year 326, when the holy
Empress Helen went about through Jerusalem for veneration at the holy places
and found the Cross of the Lord, she received also this icon as a gift from
Christians, which she conveyed to Constantinople and placed in a court chapel,
where it remained over the course of five centuries.
The wonderworking image was brought to Russia with great reverence by the founder of the city of L'vov (Lemberg – 1268-1270), the Galitsko-Volynsk prince Lev Danilovich, and it was placed in the Bel'zsk castle under the supervision of Orthodox clergy.
Later on, during the conquest of Western Ukraine by the Polish, the wonderworking icon came into the possession of the Polish governor prince Vladislav Opol'skii. The Tatars (Mongols), bursting in upon the expanse of Russia, and set siege to the Bel'zsk castle. Hoping on the help of the Mother of God, prince Vladislav brought out the venerable icon from church and installed it upon the city wall. Pierced by an enemy arrow, the wonderworking image preserved henceforth traces of a trickle of blood. A pernicious mist then falling upon the Tatar forces compelled them to lift their siege of the castle and withdraw to their own territories. The Heavenly Mediatrix in a dream vision commanded the prince to transfer the wonderworking icon to the Chenstokhovsk Mount Yasna. The monastery on Mount Yasna – (the Mount of "Witnessing" – as they termed it from the many miracles happening there), was founded in 1352. Prince Vladislav conveyed thither the sacred image and entrusted it into the care of monks of the Paulinian Order. Some years later, ruffians plundered the monastery. Having looted it of all its valuables, they wanted to snatch also the wonderworking image, but an invisible force held back the horses, and the sleigh-cart with the icon would not budge from the spot. In a rage one of the robbers flung down the holy icon upon the ground, and another struck at it on the face. Herewith a proper punishment befell all: the first burst into pieces, the hand of the second withered off, and the others either fell down dead or were struck blind.
In the mid XVII Century the Swedish king Charles X Gustavus, having captured Warsaw and Cracow (Krakov), suffered a blow beneathe the Chenstokhovsk monastery at Mount Yasna. The help and intercession of the Heavenly Queen gave courage to the Polish, and king Jan Cazimir, returning to L'vov, promulgated a declaration, in which he entrusted his realm to the protection of the Mother of God, calling Her Chenstokhovsk Image the "Polish Queen". The war with the Swedes ended successfully for the Polish in the year 1656.
The many miracles from the Chestokhovsk Wonderworking Image were recorded in a special book, kept in the church of the Chenstokhovsk monastery. Many a copy was made from this icon, both for Catholic and also for Orthodox churches.
In the year 1813, when Russian forces entered the Chestokhovsk fortress, the head and brethren of the Lavra presented General Saken a copy of the wonderworking image. Afterwards the wonderworking image was transferred to Saint Peterburg and placed in the Kazan cathedral.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.