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In the afternoon hours, on August 9th, the Icon of Czestochowa had arrived in Vilnius.  In front of the church of St. Therese, the faithful gathered in prayer, awaiting the image of the Black Madonna.  Everyone arriving at the church could not help but visit the Gate of Dawn – a holy shrine for all the residents in the capital.

The faithful anticipated the arrival of the Icon by praying the Holy Rosary in Polish and Lithuanian.  Monsignor Jan Kasiukiewicz, the pastor of St. Therese Parish and custodian of the Sanctuary of the Gate of Dawn, headed up the arrival ceremony of the Icon as well as the devotional prayers.  The gathered kneeled before the Icon of Czestochowa as it was brought in a procession into the church and placed on the altar where the copy of “The One Who Shines at the Gate of Dawn” rests during the Novena in honor of The Blessed Virgin Mary of Aušros Vartai.

During a several hour-long prayer vigil, which took place in Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian, the faithful meditated on the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, read prayers in honor of the Blessed Mother and the parish choirs beautified the vigil with their music.  His Excellency, Bishop Arunas Poniszkaitis, of the suffragan diocese of Vilnius, was the main celebrant of the Holy Masses in both Polish and Lithuanian.  In his homily, the bishop alluded to the Gospel passage about the Wedding Feast of Cana.  He noted that this story beautifully describes the role of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the story of our salvation.

“We are near the Gate of Dawn, where the Mother of Mercy humbly gazes down on us for many centuries.  We rejoice in her intercession and feel her motherly care and protection.  This same Mother of God wonderfully attracts the faithful to Czestochowa, Lourdes and Fatima, and various other parts of the world.  She reminds us how faith binds us together into one family of God’s Children, people of various languages and cultures.  Not only we – as pilgrims – haste to the Mother of God, but she also hastes to protect us and shower us with God’s graces [as Mediatrix of All Graces].  She turns our attention once more towards the greatest Treasure, which has been given to us by God – Jesus, Who is Christ, Emmanuel, God with us and for us,” the bishop explained.

After the Mass, the faithful approached the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, bringing their children and the elderly, together with their families.  Some spent the time on prayerful meditation, offering Our Lady all their concerns of daily life, while others came up to the Icon touching their Rosaries, holy cards and other sacramentals to the Icon.  Large crowds gathered around the Icon, many faithful sensing that the power of grace emanated from it.  Everyone believed that the Black Madonna will intercede with her Son with every request, telling Him:  “They do not have … love, health, happiness…,” and her tender, motherly gaze conveyed to all the faithful, “Do whatever He tells you.”

--Interpretation by Elizabeth Carlos, original text written by Teresa Worobiej

Photo submitted by the author, T. Worobiej

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