The Votive offerings of the Nation, sewed with jewels, meteorites and hearts
It has been a year since the solemn celebrations of the 100th anniversary of re- coronation of the Picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa, when in 1909 after robbing the Wonderful Image of papal crowns, endowed by Klemens XI in 1717 (also a pearly dress), a year later new crowns were endowed by Holy Father Pius X, friendly to Polish matters. The solemn coronation of the Picture of Mother of God of Jasna Góra took place on 22 May 1910 and then became a great national holiday, raising hopes for gaining independence of Homeland, which happened in a short time.
Preparing Votive offerings
The intention of reminiscence and celebrating the hundredth anniversary of these events found its expression in the endowment of solemn new crowns and robes for the Picture of Our Lady. They are the Votive offerings of the Polish Nation. Unusual social lively engagement, massive influx of votive offerings from the faithful (from the most modest to the priceless), innovatory, exceptional artistic concept of crowns and robes, realized by the artist Mariusz Drapikowski, famous for the authorship of amber dress - caused that for the whole year 2010 the realization of this Votive offerings became a common matter of the Church and a significant part of the Polish society. There was no lack of reliable and professional information because conferences and scientific sessions, articles of particular authors in Catholic newspapers, programmes, among the others, in Radio Jasna Góra in the cycle 'Mysteries of the Holy fortress', excellent long and medium films, and also short information on TV, gave an opportunity for a detailed observation and continuation of this jubilee throughout nearly a year. Also another trend lasted continuously which accompanied these events. It was a spiritual life of Jasna Góra Sanctuary where for nearly a year the creative actions were accompanied by a prayer, took up in this place and by masses of pilgrims. Special divine services were celebrated, and many Holy Mass sermons and homilies were preached during novenas. These were volatile actions, getting blotted out of memory, whose commemoration is, however, an important duty and, in fact, a very difficult and busy task. The difficulty of realizing this edition was taken up by the editorial office 'Sunday' together with Pauline Fathers, publishing a book by Father Jan Pach at the end of the year 2011, devoted to celebrations of the hundredth anniversary of re-coronation of the Picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa.
The title of the book is 'The queen in new robes; the solemn putting on the Votive offerings of the polish Nation - Crowns and Robes of Love, Gratitude, Suffering and Hope on 4 September 2010'. This title does not define the character of this publication because it is not easy indeed. The book of format 23.5cm x 15.5 cm, made vertically, in a hard glossy cover, sewed in its ridge, is easy in usage. It contains 208 pages of printed text on white offset paper with transparent, legible font. After the page 208 a colourful photographic album begins, entitled 'With the eye of a photographer', containing 80 pages of documentation of the jubilee celebrations, a review of successive dresses of the Picture, details of new robes and crowns of Jesus and Mary. The list of contents in the chronological order is preceded by the introduction and word by Prior of Jasna Góra. After it, there is an order of all celebrated devotions, spiritually preparing for putting votive crowns and robes on the Picture of Our Lady, completed on 4 September 2010, with a celebration participated by the Polish Episcopate. The arrangement of the contents is divided into three vast parts:
I. A novena of the first Saturdays of the month (p.19-59) includes the texts of homilies preached by bishops during monthly devotions to Mary - the Queen of Poland, celebrated in the Chapel of the Wonderful Picture. The first novena devotion celebrated on 2 January, started the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the re-coronation, the eighth took place on 7 August. The last one - the ninth homily of this novena was preached during celebrations of putting on new robes and crowns on 4 September 2010.
II. A novena before the celebration of Our Lady of Jasna Góra on 26 August 2010 (p.69 - 163) began on 17 August (because of rain it was celebrated in the Chapel). Next days of the novena were celebrated till 25 August with the participation of the faithful on the square of Jasna Góra. The novena was conducted by Father Jan Pach. All preached homilies and sung songs were published in this part of the text.
III. The last part (p.176 - 208): solemn putting the Votive Offerings of the Nation on the Picture - votive crowns and robes on 4 September 2010, includes a detailed report of the whole program of the celebration. It is preceded by a short text by Mariusz Drapikowski, the creator of the crowns and robes, explaining their symbolism in the artist's interpretation. In the conclusion selected texts of anonymous givers of the votive offerings were added on three pages. The whole publication is ended by the photographic album 'With the eye of a photographer'.
A detailed learning the content of the text allows for defining the character of this publication as a kind of a chronicle whose task became showing and commemorating this extremely strong and deep trend of the spiritual life, radiating from Jasna Góra, which was connecting the Church in Poland and the faithful for the whole period of jubilee celebrations. In each part of the book there is a direct reference to the celebrations of the re-coronation of the Picture on 22 May 1910, citing large parts of those texts (successfully printed) in sermons and homilies. These are the sermons of Fr. Prof. Antoni Szlagowski 'Welcome Queen', preached in the Chapel of the Wonderful Picture during the coronation as well as fragments of memoir of Blessed Fr. Ignacy Kłopotowski from his book 'Coronation on Jasna Góra in 1910'. During the celebration of the novena before the celebration of Our Lady of Jasna Góra on 26 August 2010, the devotions were accompanied by old Mary's songs which were composed specially for the day of coronation of 22 May 1910 last century. Their texts were also printed. Two songs from this collection accompanied also the celebrations on 4 September 2010. After them a new musical piece of work 'A crown of crowns' was performed, with the music by Piotr Rubik for the words of Jacek Cygan. Both homilies of bishops preached during the first novena - the first Saturdays of the month as well as the homilies of the second novena - before the celebration of Our lady of Jasna Góra on 26 August concern mainly the issues of Mary's theology, based on a deep dogmatic knowledge. But on their background there is a clear native trend of Polish Mary's cult, inseparably connected with the history of the Nation. Theological reflections in the published homilies are interspersed with a story about the history of the cult of Our Lady - the Queen of Poland present in the Wonderful Image throughout six centuries of her reign. Those parts of the text are especially moving which, reflecting on the significance of God's Mother of Jasna Góra, tell about the latest times, remind us of the events of the last century till the present days - happy and tragic moments, which are shared between the Church and the Nation. Collected in the recently published book 'The queen in new robes' these unusual 'chronicles of our times' will be a priceless testimony of spiritual life in the future and a testimony of the national consciousness from the beginning of the new millennium.
New forms of Polish Mary's cult
Even initial perceptions, resulting from the analysis of the texts, indicate the recently forming new form of Polish Mary's cult. As Fr. Prof. Janusz St. Pasierb, an art historian and poet noted in the 60s of XX century, a significant signal of the change was the peregrination of the Picture of Our Lady of Jasna Góra. During the period of communist captivity and reducing pilgrimages, when the faithful could not come to Mary, the Lady of Jasna Gora came out to the faithful from her sanctuary, walking through Poland and when the copy of the Image was captured, the empty frame of the Picture were walking through the country, which were full of Her mystical presence. The jubilee of the hundredth anniversary of the re-coronation of the Picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa, expressed by the Votive offerings of the Polish Nation - Crown and Robes of Love, Gratitude, Suffering and Hope, solemnly put on the Image on 4 September 2010, became an expression of new not practised form of Mary's religiousness before in the Polish society. The tradition of the direct decoration of the Picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa with crowns is dated back from the end of XV century. From the half of XVII century the Image was also decorated with votive dresses sewed with jewels. Both crowns and robes made of a large number of expensive gifts, mainly jewels, as ready pieces of works were put on the Image, changing successive decorations according to the order of the liturgical calendar. The faithful and founders did not participate directly in the material realization of these decorations of the Image. There was not a tradition till the papal coronation in 1717, that greater religious ceremonies would accompany creating dresses for the Queen of Poland - Mary. Symbolical significance of royal dresses of Mary and Jesus took new image during partitions of Poland because the cult of the Queen of Poland - God's Mother of Jasna Góra - was inseparably connected with the idea of reviving Homeland. An obvious testimony of patriotic cult became the re-coronation of the Picture of Our Lady of Jasna Góra in 1910 from the gift of Pius X. The jubilee celebrated on the hundredth anniversary of these events - crowned with endowing new robes and crowns as the Votive offerings of the Nation - the expression of love, gratitude, suffering and hope for God's Mother of Jasna Góra - became a matter not only religious but also public. This big collective effort of the participation in the jubilee connected the Church and the faithful into a common family of Mary, united from the beginning with the soul, heart and action in the realization of this unusual undertaking. New coronation robes of Mary the Queen of Poland is Votive offering of the Nation and also a symbol and message of common existence of the Church and the Nation for the nearest times. Among the riches of the material used for new robes and crowns, an exceptional range are the fragments of the material of unusual, and of extra-earthly origin, the meteorites - which fell onto the Earth - and decorate the dress of Mary and placed in her crown three exceptional meteorites - from the Moon, Mars and Mercury. Mystical jewels came from the outer space onto the Earth, in order to decorate the robes of Mary. In the beginning of the new millennium, the hidden and exceptional symbolism of these stones may be far-reaching, more significant and innovatory because the presence of the cosmic guests has raised and spread our cult and love to God's Mother of Jasna Góra into the dimension of the outer space.