Traveling icon inspires devotion - Catholic Courier
Lucy Hoholuk touches her rosary to a traveling icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa March 22. Lucy Hoholuk touches her rosary to a traveling icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa March 22.

Traveling icon inspires devotion

ROCHESTER — Dozens of people gathered following a Mass March 22 at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish to pray the rosary in front of a traveling icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which also is called the Black Madonna.

Their prayers had one major aim, according to Father Peter West: protecting and defending human life and the family from such harms as abortion.

"It’s kind of like taking the Ark of the Covenant into battle," said Father West, vice president for missions of Human Life International. "We need lots of prayers."

The original Czestochowa icon, according to Human Life International, also has a storied history and is revered by Polish people. According to tradition, St. Luke the Evangelist created the icon and St. Helena brought it to Constantinople during the fourth century. It was owned by Charlemagne and presented as a dowry to Prince Lev of Galicia, which is now western Ukraine, where it was kept for six centuries, the Human Life International history notes.

During invasions in 1382, the icon was taken to the Polish town of Czestochowa for safekeeping. Though damaged during a 15th-century raid, the icon has remained otherwise safe during times of war and has been credited with many miracles, according to the Human Life International history.

The traveling icon was created by Ewa Kowalewska, Human Life International’s country director in Poland, and it has been touched to the original icon that is kept at the Shrine of Jasna Góra in Czestochowa. So far, it has traveled to 25 countries and more than 45,000 miles.

"She’s considered the protector of Poland," said Sonja Stenclik, religious-education coordinator for St. Stanislaus. "Through all the struggles Poland has been through, they’ve been very dedicated to Our Lady."

"We have a special devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa to be under her protection and we pray to her to bless our family and to pray for life in thanksgiving for all the graces we have received," said Joanna Makula, a parishioner at St. Stanislaus. She said she and her husband kissed the icon on their wedding day; the couple has six children.

"She is so close to the hearts of all the Polish people," said parishioner Bernard Pensek. "We pray to her for peace in our lands and for all the children who left the church."

In addition to hosting the traveling icon for a brief eight hours, St. Stanislaus has a permanent shrine with its own replica of the icon. The shrine also contains an icon of Pope John Paul II, who is revered by his fellow Polish people.

The parish will celebrate his April 27 canonization with a 10 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano at the church, 1124 Hudson Ave., Rochester. The parish also is cosponsoring a free concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 6, in the Strong Auditorium on the University of Rochester River Campus; the concert will feature readings of Pope John Paul II’s writings and music performed by Eastman School of Music faculty and students.


Copyright © 2023 Rochester Catholic Press Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Linking is encouraged, but republishing or redistributing, including by framing or similar means, without the publisher's prior written permission is prohibited.

Choose from news (Monday), leisure (Thursday) or worship (Saturday) — or get all three!

No, Thanks

Catholic Courier Newsletters