American Czestochowa in Doylestown

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Czestochova)
Polish Americans decided to build the magnificent Shrine in honor of Our Lady of Czestochova before the anniversary of a Millenium (Thousand anniversary) of Christianity of Poland. A baptist of Mieszko the 1st, Polish prince, is considered as the beginning of an independent Polish state. This event took place in 966 ad. As you probably know the image of Black Madonna of Czestochova is considered miraculous. Here is Jasna Gora in Czestochowa's Monastery Website.
Please, read more about the beginning of Polish state in the article: Mieszko - Founder of the First Polish Royal Dynasty .


The entrance to the American Czestochowa. 240-foot tower is seen in the distance

The first chapel - Barn Chapel

The shrine was completed and dedicated in Doylestown, PA in a millenial year. On October 16, 1966. Archbishop John Krol (with Polish-American roots) and president Lyndon B. Johnson greeted nearly one hundred thousands pilgrims who came for shrine dedication. This shows the solidarity of the Polish Americans and American Catholics with their Polish brothers who lived under communism.


Katyn memorial in the back of the cemetery

Katyn memorial - magnification

In that time the conflict was growing between the communist government and the official celebrations of Polish millenium and the Polish Catholic Church. Authorized copy of Madonna of Czestochova travelled around Poland visiting parishes and families all over Poland. The communist government tried to prevent it by... imprisoning Madonna's pictures. The communists thought that imprisoning of the copies would diminish religious atmosphere of the millenium. The effect was just the opposite. When Madonna's picture was imprisoned, the empty frame with a candle was driven around and people were even more shocked and more upset with government than before. The families were receiving the empty frame and they prayed to black Madonna even with more feeling than before. The image was imprisoned until 1972. Later the black Madonna image was put back into the frame and was visiting Polish homes until 1980.


The Shrine from outside

The Shrine inside - the altar

The American version of Black Madonna image is done in slightly brighter tones than the original. The American copy was painted by Leonard Toweitt in Poland and was blessed by Pope John XXIII on Feb. 10, 1962. Before being enshrined in the new Shrine in Doylestown, the painting traveled to US Polish parishes throughout the country for 4 years.


Ave Maria Retreat House


Here is the following article Black Madonna from Czestochowa and Doylestown - Some History.

The photographs were done by John Chmielewski.

Check the articles about a Polish pope, John Paul II, about polish Church, religious traditions and Saints and about Polish immigration.


I recommend Eyewitness Travel Guide to Poland (Eyewitness Travel Guides) by Teresa Czerniewics-Umer, Malgorzata Omilanowska, Jerzy S. Majewski, DK Travel Writers


This comprehensive book about Poland, showed below, may also be useful for you:
The Rough Guide to Poland by Mark Salter, Jonathan Bousfield



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