Again I was blessed to celebrate Mass at the altar where the Icon of the Black Madonna is placed. The closeness of her however doesn’t distract me from Jesus offering himself on the altar. Being so closed to her I always believe that her devotion, love and passion for Christ gets me too. Probably that’s why I love this place so much as I always feel that after the visit I was brought closer to my
One of the most typical services held in the shrine is the 9pm-prayer. In many other churches and monasteries in Poland at 9pm people gather every day to unite themselves with those who are blessed to be in Czestochowa to stand before the throne of the Queen of heaven and earth, who is also Queen of Poland. Then they sing the well-known song: “Mary Queen of Poland, I am with you, I remember you, I keep vigil with you.” As I was walking from the pilgrim house where I stayed to the shrine around 8.40pm I was part of the stream of people who we flowing to the chapel for the service. It is a powerful feeling when you see very visibly that it is the Church of God on Earth gathered around Mary who wants to draw us even closer to Jesus.
After the service I stayed for a few moments to say some extra prayer when my attention was drawn to a young man who like everybody else was going on is knees around the altar of the Black Madonna. I could tell he had the Down syndrome but what drew my attention was his prayerfulness. He was so profoundly praying. At some stage when the pilgrims reach the end of “the walking track” they can have a quick look at her who tenderly watches them from the altar. The young man looked at Mary, and he simply froze. I wish I could take a picture then. His face was just beautiful. Unfortunately it didn’t last long as the person following him nearly climbed on him as he broke the pace of the line of the pilgrims.
The shrine was also close to the heart of JP2 who prayed here many times. On the left hand side of the icon his belt can be seen with blood stains. It is the belt he was wearing when he was shoot in 1981. When the Pope recovered he sent it to Czestochowa as a token of his gratitude for Mary's protections.