Recently, I was blessed to go on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Saint Paul the Apostle, during which we visited Ephesus, a place where according to tradition, Mary lived her last years on this earth. But it is also the place where the Council of Ephesus took place in 431. During that Council, the bishops announced that Mary could also be called Mother of God.
The title “Mother of God” is one of the first titles given to Our Lady. We call her Mother of God not because God came from her, but because she gave birth to Jesus who is both God and man. The title Mother of God reminds us that Jesus is both divine and human.
On the same pilgrimage we visited certain mythological Greek gods’ places where we learned that Greek gods supposedly acted in a human way – often being jealous or angry, and the most striking to me… they did not take care of people. Conversely, Mary, Mother of God, who is totally human and at the same time the mother of our Savior from the beginning, is very much interested in the life of her children, us. We read in the Gospel that Christ did his first miracle at Cana, transforming water into wine after the intervention of His mother Mary. For this miracle to commence, Jesus‘ mother said to servants: “do whatever my Son will tell you.”
The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit, of which I am a part, for over 600 years has served like servants in Cana — in Czestochowa, Poland. In this ‘Polish Cana,’ the Pauline Fathers have witnessed many life-changing miracles upon Mary’s intercession. Pilgrims who come to that shrine have received graces through her intercession, and thus have chosen her as their Mother and Queen. As a sign of that, the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was crowned in Poland in 1717.
Pauline Fathers serve also in the ‘American Czestochowa’ (National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Doylestown, PA) where her icon was brought in the early 1950s. This newer church was built mostly by PolishAmericans, and consecrated in 1966 in America, signifying a millennium of Christianity in Poland.
Pope Saint John Paul II acknowledged this in his talk at the Shrine in Poland in 1979. He also blessed and signed the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which is kept in the lower chapel of The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown. Pilgrims of many nationalities come to the American shrine for everyday Mass, Confession, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but most of all to ask for Mary’s unfailing intercession. Among those who have made pilgrimage here were then-Cardinal Wojtyla (now Pope Saint John Paul II); U.S. presidents Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan; president of Poland Andrzej Duda, and many more.
As a thanksgiving to Our Lady for her presence and motherly care here in America, we will crown her icon at the American Czestochowa on August 25. The main celebrant of that ceremony will be Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput. We invite all to visit our magnificent Shrine and especially to celebrate the moment of crowning of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
In connection with the coronation of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in August, the shrine in Doylestown was recently granted a plenary indulgence by His Holiness Pope Francis, for all the faithful who visit the Shrine this year, from May through October. We encourage all to take advantage of this extraordinary grace, spiritual experience, and benefit from the coronation of the Miraculous Image of our Mother and Queen.
TADEUSZ LIZINCZYK OSPPE, provincial at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Doylestown, PA).