While reading about the Madonna’s that Cameron photographed, I thought of the holiest of images I was taught about from my upbringing: The Black Madonna of Częstochowa. I am the first generation born here in the States, and my parents have always made it a point to teach me about Poland – it’s culture, it’s history, it’s religion. The Black Madonna is the most important religious image in the country, as well as the national symbol and protector of the country.
I have seen the Black Madonna during my visits to Poland, and it’s quite a site to see; especially the church it is portrayed in. She is known as the Madonna who bled. Legend has it that while robbers were looting a church where the painting was held, a robber slashed her face twice with a knife, and the painting started to bleed – the robber then mysteriously died in agony right on the spot. Earlier experts have tried to restore the slashes, but without avail the painting stays slashed.
Every year Polish Catholics pilgrimage to Częstochowa, to honor and pray to the Lady. The trip is an exhausting one, and people have been known to stand on the side of the road, handing out provisions to those partaking in the pilgrimage, as many of them are incapable of providing for themselves.
To this day, it amazes me that a painting can move someone so spiritually to pilgrimage, and for others to help those on their journey. The power of a painting, and its history is astonishing.