We took a day trip from Krakow where we were spending three days to see the Black Madonna of Częstochowa (aka the Black Madonna of Poland).
The Black Madonna of Czestochowa is Poland’s holiest and most important relic. This icon of the Virgin Mary with darkened skin and two scars on her face has a long history and is said to have healing powers.
Jasna Gora monastery is responsible for keeping this religious treasure safe.
So made the pilgrimage to Jasna Gora to see the Black Madonna of Czestochowa!
Getting To the Black Madonna of Poland
It should have been an easy 2-hour drive from Krakow to Czestochowa to see the Black Madonna of Poland.
And it would have been if we had used Waze instead of Google Maps. Because Waze knew that the A1 was completely closed for construction north of Katowice. Google Maps did not.
So we had to go the wrong way on the S1 for about 15 miles before we could turn around and take an alternate route. With this little hiccup it took us a little over 3 hours to get there instead of 2.
If we had to do it over again we would have taken an organized day trip out of Krakow and avoided the hassle of driving.
Lunch in Czestochowa Before Seeing the Black Madonna of Poland
By the time we arrived in Czestochowa we were starving.
So we parked in town and found some lunch.
It’s impossible to understate how the monastery on the hill with its massive bell tower dominates the town!
Approaching the Monastery
After lunch we drove up the hill and parked in the parking lot behind the monastery.
There is no fee to park, but an attendant will ask for a donation when you leave the parking area.
From the parking area the walk into Jasna Gora monastery is downright regal!
You walk down a promenade lined with flags. Then you pass through an arched gate into the monastery.
The Chapel of the Virgin and the Black Madonna of Częstochowa
The Black Madonna of Czestochowa itself is small.
And all you can see of it are her darkened face and hands – various icon covers are placed over the rest of the icon depending upon the season or holiday.
The icon is located in the center of an ebony and silver altar in the Chapel of the Virgin.
We strained to see the two scars on her cheek during our visit but they are almost impossible to see.
Because there was a Mass taking place in the chapel when we arrived, Lisa and her parents were hesitant to approach the Black Madonna.
But Masses are commonplace in the Chapel of the Virgin (there is a waiting list for priests to conduct Mass there!).
So tourists are encouraged to enter the chapel and approach the the altar (and the icon) along a walkway on the left side of the altar specifically designed for this purpose.
After viewing the icon you proceed into a passageway behind the altar and come out the other side of the altar to exit on the right side of the chapel.
But there is no signage in the Chapel telling you that this is what pilgrims and tourists are meant to do.
You just have to know.
This is especially true if there are no other pilgrims or tourists to follow.
Luckily, I knew.
The priest giving Mass was utterly unfazed when I approached the altar and snapped a couple photos and this video.
And so Lisa, Jake and Marlene eventually – if hesitantly – followed.
Having seen us do this, several other tourists then also visited the Black Madonna.
Knowledge is power!
Mass and Intentions at the Chapel of the Virgin
After we visited the Black Madonna, Jake and Marlene joined in the Mass being celebrated.
We all offered our intentions.
And Marlene and Lisa lit more candles.
We pilgramed the heck out of this pilgrimage!!!
Miracle Wall Black Madonna of Częstochowa
The walls of the Chapel of the Virgin are covered in hanging crutches and walking sticks left by those who have been healed after prayer in the presence of the icon of the Black Madonna.
And also rosary beads of those whose prayers were answered after praying to the Black Madonna of Poland.
Adjacent to the Chapel of the Virgin is a gorgeous overflow chapel. This ornate chapel has a beautiful altar and a massive pipe organ.
You can take a tour of the monastery led by a priest. When we visited one of these tours was taking place and the priest was quietly explaining the icon to a group of tourists in the overflow chapel.
The Grounds of Jasna Gora Monastery
After visiting the Black Madonna of Poland, taking Mass and exploring the chapels, we took a stroll around the grounds of the monastery.
By climbing some stairs you can see the town laid out before you…the opposite view that one gets of the monastery from the main street down in the town.
The massive bell tower is a wonder to behold. And definitely rated a selfie!
If you walk all the way around the monastery you will find large statues of the Stations of the Cross on the monastery grounds.
But it was hot and there were a lot of stairs.
So Marlene and I checked a couple of stations out then retreated to the shade where Jake and Lisa were wisely cooling off.
Bottom Line – Day Trip to the Black Madonna of Częstochowa
Other than Google Maps letting us down on our drive from Krakow (take the day tour instead!), our pilgrimage to the Black Madonna of Częstochowa was amazing.
Whether you are religious or not – or Catholic or not – a day trip to see the Black Madonna of Poland is well worth taking.
We headed back to Krakow to continue our adventures there.