Heavenly robe

Lidia Dudkiewicz

Mariusz Drapikowski from Gdansk, who made the new robe for the Miraculous Picture of Jasna Gora, says vividly that the robe ‘fell from heaven.’ Since the robe has the meteorites offered by Mariusz Gradman, who made a copy of the Jasna Gora Icon, and by Zbigniew Tyminski, a nuclear physicist.

The new crowns and the robe was the idea of Fr Roman Majewski, the prior of the Jasna Gora Monastery. They will be put solemnly on the Miraculous Picture on 4 September 2010. They are the Votive Offerings of the Nation, given by pilgrims on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the re-coronation of the Picture of Our Lady of Jasna Gora, i.e. the second coronation of the Picture, held at Jasna Gora in 1910. Let us recollect that the first coronation took place in the year 1717. The crowns were sent by Pope Clement XI.

Some history

The crowning of the Miraculous Picture of Jasna Gora with the crowns offered in 1910 by Pius X was connected with the theft of Pope Clement XI’s crowns and the pearl robe in 1909. The Definitor General of the Pauline Order Fr Zachariasz Jablonski explains that there was a conviction that the theft had been a political provocation of the Russian forces occupying Poland. The political context was indicated by the desire of Tsar Nicolas II to offer his own crowns for the Jasna Gora Icon. The Polish people did not want to let him do that. They informed Pope Pius X about it and he made an immediate decision that the diadems for the Picture would be made by a Vatican goldsmith and would be the papal offerings. And it was the women from the Kielce region that gave a new robe to adorn Jesus and Mary. It was the so-called coral beads robe. And it was a sign of expiation after the theft.
It is worth knowing that the delegation, which went to the Pope in 1910 to receive the crowns, included Archbishop Jozef Bilczewski from Lvov, the main organiser of the coronation, the Armenian Bishop Jozef Teodorowicz of Lvov, Bishop Jozef Pelczar of Przemysl, Bishop Antoni Julian Nowowiejski of Plock, Msgr. Adam Sapieha from Krakow, who was then in Rome, and Fr Euzebiusz Rejman, General of the Pauline Order.
On 22 May 1910 Bishop Stanislaw Zdzitowiecki made the second coronation of the Miraculous Picture of Our Lady of Jasna Gora. He put the crowns offered by Saint Pope Pius X. Then the picture was carried along the monastery walls and the ceremony took place in the open space in front of the Jasna Gora Shrine.
The crowns of Saint Pius X had adorned the Miraculous Picture until the new crowns called ‘Totus Tuus’ were given by Pope John Paul II. He also offered a new robe, made of amber by Mariusz Drapikowski.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the re-crowning of the Icon with the crowns of Pius X the spokesman of the Jasna Gora Shrine Fr Stanislaw Tomon reminds us that in 1906 this Pope made the Jasna Gora sanctuary a basilica, establishing 26 August the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa. In 1908 he allowed to include the invocation ‘Queen of the Polish Crown’ to the Litany of Loreto, and in 1909 he made 1 April the Feast of the Queen of the Polish Crown in the Diocese of Lvov and the Diocese of Przemysl. Then the feast was extended to all dioceses of the restored Polish state. Currently, we celebrate the Feast of Mary, Queen of Poland, on every 3 May.

On the 100th anniversary of the re-coronation

Since January 2010 there has been the novena of Ten First Saturdays at the Jasna Gora Shrine as a spiritual preparation for the coronation in September and the re-dedication of the nation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland. For many months pilgrims sent their offerings and precious things, often family jewels and personal souvenirs, for the new crowns and robe for the Miraculous Picture. The votive offerings include silver and gold coins, jewellery, bishops’ rings as well as aluminium medallions and plastic rosaries. The prior of the Jasna Gora Monastery is moved when he speaks about the gift of some poor woman who gave 10-groszy coin for the robe. All the gifts had to be photographed, described and catalogued and after the full documentation had been ready the offerings were given to the artists: Mariusz Drapikowski, a master in amber jewellery from Gdansk. He says that he accepted these votive offerings very emotionally. Before he began working he read the prayers and intentions, which the donors attached to their jewelleries. ‘I felt these people’s offerings clearly when I took the gifts in my hands and placed them in the robe and crowns,’ he admits. The maker of the new robe for the Miraculous Picture says that it is filled with the prayers of the Polish nation.

Artistic seal of the present times

The artistic conception of Mariusz Drapikowski included the idea that people could notice the beating heart of the nation in the robe of Our Lady. Every pilgrim should identify himself with his prayer, the artistic expression of which he can see in the robe. That’s why there is an electrocardiogram: electric changes the cardiac muscle makes, in the mantle covering the right arm of Mary. The electrocardiogram was made of gold from the melted rings.
‘In this robe’, its designer explains, the EKG, registering the work of the heart, shows emotions and is a symbol of love. In 1979 John Paul II said at Jasna Gora, ‘The Mother of God as if speaks by this Miraculous Picture […] One should put the ear to this holy place to feel how the heart of the nation beats in the Mother’s Heart.’ The meaningful fact is that it is the Pauline Fathers of Jasna Gora, who take care for the Icon of Our Lady and serve pilgrims, that expressed their dedication on behalf of the whole nation. The prayers of the monks were sealed in the silver sleeves and hid inside the robe, close to the EKG, and in the book, which the Infant holds.
The work of Mariusz Drapikowski is a reading room of the artist’s intentions expressed in the contemporary language. Following this idea he commemorated the last dramatic event – the national drama of 10 April 2010. He put a fragment of the aircraft Tupolev in the robe of the Infant in order to pay a symbolic tribute to the victims of the plane crash and to express hope that they will be within the reach of the Divine Mercy.
The elements used to ‘sew’ the robe of Our Lady have modern forms, too. The robe contains the lunar stone – exceptional material since according to the experts there are only 38 kg of the Moon on our earth. The meteorites found in various parts of the world – in the Moroccan desert, in China, in the United States, in Siberia and in Poland – have been used. Their symbolism indicates that Mary is the Morning Star on the way to God. Meteorites are fragments of the extraterrestrial matter, which ended their cosmic journey on the Earth, creating the phenomenon of ‘falling stars.’ ‘In their symbolism stars are associated with life that is born (e.g. the Star of Bethlehem); they illustrate God’s idea and the heavenly light fighting against the powers of darkness’, explains the designer of the robe.

The robe of prayers

The team directed by Mariusz Drapikowski was working on the new robes for the Jasna Gora Picture for two years. The robe weighs 17 kg. It is the first votive made completely from the offerings of the Polish people. Every offering hides someone’s heart and life, dedicated to Mary.
On 3 March 2010 in the Vatican the crowns were blessed by Benedict XVI in the presence of Fr Roman Majewski and the makers of the new robe. The robe was not finished yet and so the Holy Father could not see it. The eyewitnesses say that the Pope was moved when he learnt that the crowns were the Votive Offerings of the Nation for the Mother of God. With big curiosity he touched the crown with the meteorites and lunar stone. The work received a papal blessing.
Mariusz Drapikowski, describing the symbolism of the new crowns and robe for the Miraculous Picture, reveals a certain meaningful fact. When in the office of ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ the prior of Jasna Gora received the photos of the ceremony of the blessing of the crowns by Benedict XVI he learnt about the promotion of the book concenring the Vatican Astronomical Observatory with the photos taken by the Vatican telescope. It was interpreted as approval for using in the new robe of Our Lady of Jasna Gora the fragments of the celestial bodies, which together with the jewellery shine in the Picture as constellations of stars in the sky. Master Drapikowski explains that besides the Icon itself the starry sky was the inspiration for his work. The colour of the sky is the colour of the Mother of God and directs man towards immortality – ‘The robe with glittering colours: blue, dark blue and delicate shade of sapphire’, says the artist, ‘is not only to charm but also show the symbolism with the new contents according to the canon.’
One must look at the Miraculous Picture through the symbols of its new robe. This robe is literally written with the prayers of the Polish nation.
Benedict XVI blessed the new crowns for the Picture of Our Lady of Jasna Gora on 3 March 2010 in the Vatican. A delegation of the Pauline Fathers with the prior of the Jasna Gora Monastery Fr Roman Majewski and the maker of the crowns Mariusz Drapikowski were received by the Holy Father.

"Niedziela" 36/2010

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl