January 22, 2014: A Historic Visit

~ by Mary Galvano

This past weekend at Holy Family Catholic Church in Jacksonville, Florida, we had the privilege and blessing of a historic visit from our Lady of Czestochowa. The icon of the Black Madonna has traveled ocean to ocean reaching millions throughout 24 countries on its 40, 000-mile trek through Russia and Europe and now it has been traveling throughout the U.S.A. and is now on its way up to Washington D.C. for the national pro-life event, March for Life.

Miracles have already been witnessed by the presence of the icon. These include numerous women choosing life over abortion outside of clinics and countless miraculous healings have taken place.

The Archbishop of Czestochowa blessed the icon—a magnificent replica of the original in the Monastery of Jasna Gora in Poland, in a special ceremony. The Archbishop of Cracow made a special act of entrustment to the cause of the defense of life and family to Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa has a fascinating history of its own, though there is some variation in the accounts. Tradition holds that St. Luke the Evangelist himself “wrote” the icon on a cypress table in the home of the Holy Family. St. Helena is said to have located the icon during her visit to the Holy Land and to have brought it to Constantinople in the fourth century. The painting was eventually owned by Charlemagne, who presented it as a dowry to Prince Lev of Galicia (present–day Western Ukraine), where it was kept for almost six centuries in the royal palace at Belz. In 1382, after invading Tartars attacked the fortress at Belz, the icon was taken to the Polish town of Czestochowa for safekeeping, and it has remained there ever since. Legend has it that the horses that traveled along with the icon refused to move any further than Czestochowa, Poland. So, the travelers took it as a sign to keep it there.

Hussite raiders damaged the Icon in 1430 and slashed and attempted to burn the icon, changing the visage of what is now referred to as the “Black Madonna.”  After slashing the icon, the one raider’s horse refused to move and with that he threw the icon to the ground and when he went to lift his sword again was struck dead. In a sense, she is a symbol of Poland herself, scarred but persevering in faith.

We at Holy Family were honored as one of the places for the icon of Our Lady to visit. For me it was a very personal one because in the late 90’s I had the honor of singing at and cantoring the Mass in front of the original image in Poland when Blessed Pope John Paul II came to visit for the Eucharistic Congress. The chapel surrounding the icon is just breathtaking, too. The feeling of overwhelming emotions still fills my soul when I remember that moment. Seeing the image again and being able to sing the Ave Maria again in her presence was a miracle. It brought me back to that time once more when I realized there is something greater here than me. It was at that moment the power of God overcame me and taught me what my voice was to be used for. The secular world could not be greater than this. It was my epiphany. I say a miracle took place within me.

To learn about this incredible mission of the Ocean to Ocean Campaign in Defense of Life with the Black Madonna visit www.hli.org/oceantoocean.

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Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at www.marygalvano.com.

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