Question 37:

Who is the "Black Mary?


Answer: The question refers to the "black Madonna of Czestochowa, i.e. the virgin Mary painted on lime-wood which is located at the famous place of pilgrimage north of Krakow in Poland. It is likely that the smoke of candles burning in the sanctuary around the miraculous image caused it to become even darker over time.


In 1382, Prince Ladislaus von Oppeln founded a monastery on the bank of Jasna Góra. In 1384, he gave the monastery a picture of Mary with child painted in the shape of a Byzantine icon in tempera on lime-wood, the black Madonna. From the 15th century onward, Jasna Góra developed to become Poland’s most popular place of pilgrimage. Since the 17th century Mary has been revered there as the Queen of Poland.


From the Catholic point of view, the reverence of the mother of Jesus finds a strong basis in the New Testament itself. For Orthodox and Catholic Christians, the figure of Mary is the symbol of faith itself. It is in her and with her free consent that “the Son of God became man”. In her God-pleasing humankind becomes visible. The hymn in Luke 1:42-45 & 46 ff praises Mary who has uniquely been chosen and because of her faithful and obedient response (Luke 1:38), i.e. her virginal willingness to receive Gods word not only in her womb, but before that in her heart. In this double motherhood she becomes for the Church (John 19:27, Acts 1:14) the archetype and vigilant advocate and guide (John 2:3-5) for all those who, hearing Gods word, receive it thus, ponder it in their hearts (Luke 2:19.51) and obey, so that Christ and with Him the becoming God’s children takes shaape (Galatians 4:19).


The 2nd Council of Nicaea (787) permits the use of the image of Christ, as well as the image of Mary and her veneration (Greek. timè), but distinguishes this sharply from the worship (Greek. latreia.) that is due only to God.

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