TOGETHER IN FRONT OF OUR LADY OF CZĘSTOCHOWA
Thanks to photographic agencies and TV cameras, the world saw two popes kneeling together in front of the image of Our Lady from Jasna Góra. It was only God, who had planned this prayer meeting just now and in this way
On Sunday 23 March 2013, the world received the news that pope Francis and retired pope Benedict XVI had prayed together in front of the image of Our Lady of Częstochowa in the papal chapel in Castel Gandolfo.
Signs of Poland in the papal residency
We were witnesses of an event about which nobody had heard before: we saw two persons in white in the papal residency of Castel Gandolfo, on one hassock: the pope who had just started his pontificate and the retired pope who is accompanying the new successor of St. Peter, supporting him with continuous prayer. And in front of them – above the altar – the picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa, painted by Fr. Augustine Jędrzejczyk – a Pauline father from Jasna Góra. This image placed in the papal chapel in 1933 by the Holy Father Pius XI, who as Achilles Ratti earlier, just after the First World War, was an apostolic nuncio in Warsaw. In 1920, when the Bolsheviks were invading Warsaw, embassies were being evacuated but Achilles Ratti, risking his life, decided to stay in the capital city and he was praying in the intention of victory with fighting Poles. He was emotionally moved by faith and a prayer attitude of the Polish nation so much that as a pope he decided to place the copy of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Jasna Góra in Castel Gandolfo. In Castel Gandolfo there are also important historical frescoes, made to the request of Pius XI by the Polish artist Jan Henryk Rosen: defense of Jasna Góra against the Swedes (1655) and the Miracle at the Vistula (1920). As Fr. Zachariasz Jabłoński, the General Definitor of the Pauline Order informs, the Pauline artist Father Augustine Jędrzejczyk made a copy of the Jasna Góra Image for the papal chapel in a Cyprus board, working on this picture from 21 January to 19 May 1933. Silver dresses for this picture and golden crowns were prepared by Wiktor Gontarczyk from Warsaw.
Madonna of popes
In front of Our Lady of Jasna Góra, placed in the papal chapel by Pius XI, also his successor were praying: Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The Jasna Góra image in Castel Gandolfo has been called Madonna of Popes since the 22nd century. And clear connections of popes with Jasna Góra reach back to earlier pontificates, for example, in 1904 pope Pius X established the feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa for Jasna Góra and Kujawy and Kalisz dioceses. However, the feast could be celebrated only after the year 1906. In 1909 also Pius X, when the crowns were stolen from the Miraculous Image of Jasna Góra, he funded papal diadems which had been made by a Vatican goldsmith and on 22 May 1910 another coronation of the Image of Our Lady could take place again.
For the final form of liturgical cult connected with the Image of Our Lady of Jasna Góra, the decisions of the Holy See from the year 1922 were significant. At that time the day of 26 August was acknowledged as the permanent date of celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa. Father Zachariasz Jabłoński notes that the complement of the decisions about the permanent day of celebrating Our Lady of Częstochowa was acknowledgment of liturgical texts for this feast in 1931 – the office of the breviary and the Mass, according to which votive Holy Masses are celebrated every day in the Chapel of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady at Jasna Góra.
During the pontificate of Pius XII, in 1953, in the caves under the Vatican Basilica the Chapel of Our Lady of Częstochowa was open; it was the first national chapel under the ground of the Vatican Basilica. So, Jasna Góra is forever in Vatican in some sense.
It is also worth remembering that beginning with the pontificate of John XXIII at Jasna Góra, the Holy Mass for the pope and his intentions is celebrated everyday. There is also important information that in 1962 blessed John XXIII proclaimed the Holiest Mary the Virgin – the patron of Poland, together with St. Wojciech and St. Stanisław.
A common prayer of Francis and Benedict XVI
The cited facts help us realize how important is the image of Our Lady of Jasna Góra is, especially for the last popes. In addition, the common prayer of both popes in front of this image has been inscribed into a great expiation which lasts at Jasna Góra after the recent profanation of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady. It is not easy to find a clearer way in order to express love and great cult to Mary in Her Jasna Góra image, like the one from Castel Gandolfo, when pope Francis and the retired pope Benedict XVI are kneeling together in front of the copy of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Jasna Góra. Thanks to photographic agencies and TV cameras, the world saw two popes praying together. It was only God, who had planned this prayer meeting in Castel Gandolfo just now and in this way.