The Mysterious Black Madonna: San Antonio’s Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa

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Perhaps you have heard of the “Black Madonna,” an image associated with Christianity’s figure of Mary, which gets its nickname from centuries of candle soot residue which has discolored the painting. Also known as Our Lady of Czestochowa, the figure has a shrine in San Antonio in her honor. Built in 1966, care of the shine was assumed in late 1970 by two sisters from Poland, Sr. Alphonsa Bobek and Sr. Helen Haladyna. The Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa is located at 138 Beethoven, and today serves as a gathering place and museum.

The Mysterious Black Madonna: San Antonio's Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa

Facebook/Raquel Rodriguez

The origin legend of this image states the painting was completed by St. Luke the Evangelist with material used is a tabletop built by Jesus during his time as a carpenter. Some also believe that while Mary sat for the painting, she recounted to Luke the events of the life of Jesus, which is now known as the Gospel of Luke. But how this image got the name Our Lady of Czestochowa is based on another legend!

Emperor Constantine was gifted the image from his mother, and then care of the image transferred to Charlemagne, who then presented it to Price Leo of Ruthenia, of northwest Hungary. Then, the image was transferred to Poland as an answer to a request made in a dream of Prince Ladislaus of Opola. In 1382, the Prince’s fortress was invaded, and during the attack, an arrow struck the painting. The prince was fearful the image would fall into enemy hands, so he fled with it one night before stopping in the town of Czestochowa.

To ensure it’s safety, the prince had a Pauline monastery and church built at the location to house the painting. After two major attacks over the next three hundred years, with the image remaining defended, King John II Casimir Vasa crowned the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa as Queen of Poland. He placed the whole country under her care and protection.

The Mysterious Black Madonna: San Antonio's Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa

Facebook/Diocese of Laredo Vocations

Founded in Poland in 1881, the Seraphic Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi Congregation endured much persecution. However, their order continues to grow worldwide, as well as their work to help the poor, the homeless, and all who needed help. The San Antonio site contains serene ambiance within manicured landscaping and is open to the public. Daily mass is held at 9 a.m. Visit this reverend place in southeastern San Antonio.