On Sunday, the 9th of December 2012, at 8:45 A.M., when the celebration of the Holy Eucharist had ended, and the priests had left for the sacristy, a 58 year-old man, attempted to damage seriously the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa at the Jasna Gora Shrine in Poland. He jumped over the barrier and forced his way towards the altar.
Next, aiming at the face of the Mother of God and Baby Jesus in the Icon, he threw three containers made of light-bulbs, filled with black nitroglycerine paint.
The Icon was not damaged and remained unharmed, as it is protected with reinforced glass that cannot be seen because it does not reflect light. The felon had not been aware of its existence.
The damaging, nitroglycerine black paint was poured all over the glass that was covering the Icon, and splashed on the altar below the Icon. The protective glass had been scratched. The frame of the Icon was stained, as well as the scepter and the orb – the royal insignia of Our Lady – and the gold rose, the heart, and the rosary, which were all gifts from the late Pope John Paul II. The paint was poured all over the altar, the tabernacle, and the carpeting in the sanctuary. The felon was immediately caught by the Jasna Góra guards and handed over to the local police. The Chapel of the Miraculous Image was closed for four hours due to the preliminary cleaning of the altar. At noon, the chapel was reopened and a service of expiation was held. The Pauline Prior of the Monastery, Father Roman Majewski and His Excellency, Archbishop Wacław Depo, the Metropolitan Bishop of Częstochowa, have invited all faithful to join the prayers of reparation for the blasphemous attack on Our Lady's holy Icon.
The Częstochowa Icon has been recognized by the Church tradition as “written” by St. Luke the Evangelist on a plank taken from the table from the house of the Holy Family in Nazareth. It has been venerated in both, the East and the West. The Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa has been the object of the greatest national devotion for over six centuries. Our Lady of Czestochowa was crowned as Queen and Protector of Poland in 1656 by King John II Casimir Vasa, after Our Blessed Mother turned the course of the Siege of Jasna Gora, carried out by the Swedes, who attacked the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom in 1655. Having been brought to Poland in the early fourteenth century, the Icon has remained in Czestochowa under the care of the Pauline Fathers at Jasna Gora since then.
The desecration of the Częstochowa Icon is viewed as one of the attacks against the Church, both the Catholic, and the Orthodox, that are quite frequent nowadays. These are deliberate acts of profanation against the Holy Cross, the Holy Bible, the churches, the slandering of priests and bishops, the Moscow patriarch Cyril and the Holy Father in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI. The secular media tend to promote such acts with great vigor.
It is worth remembering that on the day before the attack – the 8th of December, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the two shrines - Jasna Góra and Lourdes - united in prayer. The Częstochowa Icon, peregrinating across the world in defense of life “from Ocean to Ocean”, was visiting the Massabiel Grotto in Lourdes on this day. The "Act of the Entrustment of the Protection of the Civilization of Life and Love into the hands of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary" was renewed. More and more people in many countries are praying through the mediation of the Częstochowa Icon, and due to the peregrination that is currently taking place. The Jasna Góra shrine is being visited by around five million pilgrims a year. In the peregrination of the Icon of Czestochowa, Our Blessed Mother has already met over two million people in twenty-two different countries. The numbers are still growing, and everywhere large crowds of people gather to meet the Mother of God in Her holy Icon. They are praying for the defense of life in the world today. Our Lady is converting people's hearts and healing wounded souls.
The enemy is not able to harm the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is She who crushes the snake's head (Gen 3:15). He is not able to stop Her in any way, nor harm Her children. It is not surprising that in his desperate rage, he “spat tar at Her holy face.” This incident has a symbolic meaning for us, faithful. The Icon has not been damaged! The press agencies around the world published information about the incident at Jasna Góra, at the same time informing people about the Częstochowa Icon and Her history. The faithful, particularly in Poland, were shocked. Now, they are uniting in prayer of reparation. The peregrination across the world in defense of the civilization of life and love continues. On the 15th of December, the Blessed Mother in Her Icon is scheduled to arrive in Spain, which will be the twenty-third country of Her pilgrimage "From Ocean to Ocean."
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother is gathering her troops. She mobilizes us, we can see it clearly. It only depends from us, if we will stand at Her side to defend our faith, life, and love.
Ewa H. Kowalewska