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‘Our Lady of Czestochowa’ painting tours South Texas
Monsignor Franciszek Kurzaj from Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Floresville (l-r), Father Peter West with Human Life International, Father Wieslaw Iwaniec of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Panna Maria, Bishop Emeritus John W. Yanta, Father Dennis A. Jarzombek from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Stockdale, and Father Kuriakose Ouseph from St. Joseph in Nixon gather to view “Our Lady of Czestochowa.”
Elaine M. Stephens
Special to WCNMarch 12, 2014 2,928 views Post a comment
On Feb. 26, at Panna Maria’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, parishioners welcomed a special, traveling painting of Mary holding baby Jesus, known as “Our Lady of Czestochowa,” part of a world tour for the image. The replica icon, sponsored by Human Life International, is part of the Ocean to Ocean Campaign in Defense of Life. The painting, called an icon because it holds special meaning to millions of Catholic and Orthodox faithful, holds deep, traditional, spiritual meanings, especially in Poland, where a hilltop shrine at the Monastery of Jasna Góra is the permanent location for the original painting. The traveling icon began the world tour in Vladivostok, Russia, and was blessed in a special ceremony by the archbishop of Czestochowa in Poland. The Archbishop of Krakow made a special act of entrustment to the cause of the defense of life and family to Our Lady of Czestochowa, according to the website for Human Life International.
In Panna Maria, the welcoming program included a rosary prayer led by Floresville’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church pastor, Monsignor Franciszek Kurzaj. The Most Rev. Bishop Emeritus John W. Yanta then welcomed the image and prayed with the parishioners and parish priest, the Rev. Wieslaw Iwaniec, for blessings on a new facility which is planned for the historic community, to be called the Panna Maria Heritage Center. A procession by the visitors, with the Cross and incense, preceded the image inside the church. A Mass was celebrated by Father Iwaniec and Bishop Yanta, and concelebrated by Father Dennis Jarzombek of Stockdale and Father Kuriakose Ouseph of Nixon. Panna Maria was the first permanent Polish settlement in the United States, and was founded by Polish priest, Father Leopold Moczygemba, from Pluznica, Poland, in the mid-1850s.
The image of Mary and Jesus also visited Our Lady of Sorrows and Holy Spirit Catholic Churches in San Antonio, and Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in St. Hedwig, whose parish priest, the Rev. Boleslaw Zadora, SDS, is from Poland. At Our Lady of Sorrows, the image was welcomed by visitors and church members, including their parish priests, Father Thaddeus Tabak and Father Marian Piekarczyk, Salvatorian priests also from Poland. In 2011, several members of OLS traveled to Poland as part of World Youth Day and had the opportunity to see the original image at Jasna Góra.
Many people who visited the traveling icon in Texas are members of the Father Leopold Moczygemba Foundation, which has regularly visited Poland for many years, leading pilgrims to see the original image in Jasna Góra. Monsignor Kurzaj, from Poland, is the president of the FLMF. In Poland, as in many parts of the world, the image represents God’s protection and the eternal hope and love He offers through Jesus. The image is also called the “Black Madonna” due to the darkening of the image over time. Slashes on the face of Mary are from swords of attacking armies who tried to destroy the original painting and were defeated by the victorious Polish army, who credited the image for reminding them to pray for the holy Mother’s intercessory prayers to her son, Jesus.
For more information about the traveling icon, visit http://www.hli.org/hli_campaigns/ocean-ocean-pilgrimage/.
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