Today we visited the Jasna Gora in Czestochowa. This is a Monastery in Poland, and one of the most important places for Poles and their culture. The most important part of the Monastery is the Black Madonna, an icon of the Virgin Mary. The poles regard the Black Madonna as the Queen of Poland, a King of Poland committed himself to the icon. The Vatican later sent a Crown for the new Queen to wear and the baby Jesus in the portrait; the original crowns were stolen, now only replicas remain. The Black Madonna is so important because she provides protection for the people of Poland. It is believed that the icon saved the Monastery and its people many times when Poland was attacked.
Our tour guide exhibited great love for Poland. During the tour we not only talked about the history of the Monastery, but the general history Poland, which seem inseparable. Our guide was proud of the fact that Poles have fought for freedom and did not like to be partitioned before WWI. She even pointed out that today Polish soldiers fight for freedom because they are a part of NATO. The Church was the source of resistance during the communist era post WWII. So unsurprising, I saw the Solidarity symbol throughout different pieces of art and in different buildings. There was also a focus on WWII and concentration camps and how that impacted Poles. There were Rosaries made out of bread and water that Catholic Poles wore, depictions of Poles in concentration camp uniforms in art and an emphasis of the Poles, especially during the Warsaw uprising.
After seeing this today, I have a further understanding of how Poles see themselves. They pride themselves on their religion. There were many different masses going on while we there and I saw many people kneeling throughout different spaces. They also really love the Black Madonna, people give gifts to the icon and those gifts are put on display. They also are very prideful of John Paul II, the only Polish Pope. I think this space also really depicts Poles as the martyrs of the Nazis. Which is problematic for Jewish and Polish relations, there should not be this competitive nature when it comes to being victims.