Our Lady of Czestochowa is the tender queen of Poland, Pope says

Our Lady of Czestochowa Credit Catholic Church of England and Wales via Flickr CC BY NC SA 20 filter added CNA Our Lady of Cze?stochowa. | Catholic Church of England and Wales via Flickr (CC BY NC SA 2.0) filter added.

As the highly revered image of Our Lady of Czestochowa prepares to get a new crown, Pope Francis sent a message to Poland, saying Mary in many ways is at the heart of Polish society as their tender queen and mother.

"If Czestochowa is at the heart of Poland, it means that Poland has a maternal heart; it means that every beat of life happens together with the Mother of God," the Pope said in his Aug. 26 videomessage.

"To her you usually entrust everything: the past, present, future, the joy and sorrows of your personal lives and if your beloved country. This is very beautiful," he said.

The image of Czestochowa, he said, shows that Mary is not "a distant queen that sits on her throne," but is rather "the Mother who embraces her Son and, with him, all of us her children."

"She is a true mother, with a marked face, a mother who suffers because she truly carries in her heart the problems in our lives," the Pope said. "She is a close mother, who never loses us from her sight; she is a tender mother, who holds our hand on the path of daily life."

Pope Francis made his comments during a video message sent to Poland for the 300th anniversary of her crowing as "Queen of Poland."

With more than 94 percent of Poland's population being Catholic, the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also called the "Black Madonna," has a significant meaning for Poles and is highly venerated throughout Europe.

This September marks 300 years since the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa was crowned Queen and Protector of Poland by Clement XI. Nearly 200 years after that, in 1909, the golden, bejeweled crowns of the image – one for Mary and one for the Christ Child – were stolen, along with a pearl "robe" also belonging to the image.

After the theft, Our Lady was crowned again by St. Pius X in 1910, and later again by St. John Paul II in 2005, however, the original crowns were never recovered.

Now, in honor of the 300th anniversary of the first coronation and as a gift to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the original crowns have been replicated in gold diadems, and were crafted by an Italian artist and goldsmith renowned for his religious art.

The new crowns, which were blessed by Pope Francis May 17 at the Vatican, were unveiled during a July 28 ceremony in Czestochowa, marking the first anniversary of Pope Francis' visit to the shrine during his visit to Poland for World Youth Day 2016.

The crowning itself will take place Sept. 8, marking the culmination of Poland's Jubilee Year celebrations, the 300th anniversary of the first canonical coronation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa and the feast of the Nativity of Mary.

In his message, Pope Francis recalled his visit to the shine last year, noting that as he stood "beneath the gaze of the Madonna," he entrusted to her everything that was "in my heart and yours."

"I keeps alive and grateful those moments, the joy of also having come as a pilgrim to celebrate, under the gaze of the Mother, 1050 years of the baptism of Poland," he said.

Turning to the first crowning of Our Lady of 300 years ago, Francis said "it's a great honor to have a queen for a mother, the same queen of the angels and saints, who gloriously reigns in heaven."

"But it gives even more joy to know that you have a queen for a mother, to love as Mother she who you call 'Lady,'" he said.

As the date of the new crowning draws near, the Pope said his hope for the culmination of Jubilee celebrations is that it would be "a favorable time to feel that not one of us is an orphan, because each one of us has a Mother that is close, a Queen unsurpassed in tenderness."

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Mary, he said, "knows us and accompanies us with her typical maternal style: meek and courageous at the same time; never invading and always persevering in the good; patient in front of evil and active in promoting harmony."

He closed his message praying that Mary would give the Polish people the grace of "rejoicing together" around their mother.

"In this spirit of ecclesial communion, rendered still stronger by the the unique bond that unites Poland and the Successor of Peter, I give you my heartfelt apostolic blessing," he said, and asked for their prayers.

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