Our Lady of Czestochowa: A Historical Read-Aloud for Your Classroom

Use this read-aloud to teach your students (and yourself!) about a Polish title of Mary, Our Lady of Czestochowa.

By Lori Ann Watson

In Czestochowa (/chest-a-ho-vuh/), Poland, there is an image of the Blessed Mother and the Christ Child that has inspired wonder for centuries. Heaven’s answers to people who have turned to Our Lady’s intercession here have thwarted invaders time and time again and given Polish hearts hope. The image is lovingly referred to as the Black Madonna and is also known the world over as the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Legend holds that this image was painted by St. Luke (on a tabletop made by Good St. Joseph) after Christ’s Crucifixion, and some say that the Blessed Virgin Mary actually modeled for the painting.

It was moved from place to place until the year 1382, when the Polish prince Ladislaus decided to take it to safety in his hometown. He stopped in Czestochowa on the way, and when he tried to leave with the painting, his horses wouldn’t move.

Image of Our Lady of Czestochowa

Image of Our Lady of Czestochowa

He saw this as a sign that God wanted the image to stay in Czestochowa, and it remains there to this day. Because the painting has spent so many years in the light of smoky candles, the color of the skin of the Blessed Mother and Christ Child has darkened.

Many miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Our Lady under this title, and some of the most incredible ones have happened in the past hundred years.

During World War I, when Russian armies invaded Poland and tried to overtake Warsaw, which would have put Poland under Communist rule, the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa appeared in the clouds over the Russian army at the River Vistula. The Russian troops were so frightened that they ran away, and the Polish people were given several more years of freedom. They have repaid Our Lady with a strong and courageous devotion.

Years after the Miracle at the Vistula, the Nazis overtook Poland, and Adolf Hitler ordered that all religious pilgrimages be stopped. 500,000 Polish people made the brave trip to Czestochowa, anyway, putting their safety completely in God’s and Our Lady’s hands in a great show of faith.

When Saint John Paul II became the first Polish pope, Poland was still under the rule of an oppressive Communist government that persecuted Catholics. On his first papal trip to Poland, this great pope went straight to the place in Czestochowa where the image is held, called Jasna Gora (which means “hill of light”), and he prayed that the Blessed Mother would win in the hearts of all the Polish people and that they would never be afraid to stand for justice, dignity, love of country, and faith.

Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Queen of Poland, guides and protects the faithful.

Bring the read-aloud home in your classroom:

Pope John Paul II’s favorite dessert was a traditional Polish cream cake. As soon as he mentioned it was his favorite, the Polish people renamed it “Papal Cream Cake.” Catholic Cuisine has a recipe here.

Little ones in Poland often fall asleep to this lullaby:

You can bring a few traditional Polish children’s games with you the next time you head out to recess. Here are three that are easy to set up and carry out.

Lori Ann Watson teaches, homeschools, blogs about Catholicism, and almost never gets caught up on laundry. She writes from North Central Florida.