This is translated from Polish that appeared on jasnagora.com under Source materials and scientific studies and titled ‘Zabytki Jasnej Góry – Papieska Koronacja Cudownego Obrazu’
FIRST PAPAL CORONATION OF THE MIRACULOUS IMAGE IN POLAND (BASED ON THE ACTS OF THE POLISH PROVINCE OF THE PAULINE ORDER)
The first coronation of the Icon of Our Lady of Jasna Góra took place on 8 September 1717. The problems connected with this event are extensive. They deserve a separate monographic study, especially since we have extensive archival material. In the present sketch, we shall limit ourselves to describing the coronation ceremony itself without going into the genesis of this act in detail. To start with, however, we should show, at least in outline, the formation of the idea of Mary’s royalty in the Polish nation, which with its origins goes back to the Middle Ages, more precisely to the Jagiellonian era. In its initial development phase, this royalty manifested itself primarily in iconography depicting Mary as a Woman clothed with the sun, at whose feet rulers knelt, offering their royal insignia as a gesture of homage. It seems that this idea was connected with the Jasna Góra sanctuary from the beginning. Długosz, in his Liber Beneficiorum (IX,123), already refers to the Mother of God of Jasna Góra as “the most worthy Queen of ours and the world”. Jasna Góra was already influential not only among the lower strata of Polish society at that time but also became a pilgrimage destination for magnates and even Polish monarchs, both from the Jagiellonian dynasty and the elected kings. They offered their gifts to Our Lady in the form of regalia, e.g. Zygmunt II August offered a royal sceptre, Władysław IV in 1648 two crowns for the head of Mary and the Infant, and finally, August II the Strong in 1717 a gold crown set with diamonds, which was placed over the Icon. These private forms of personal devotion to Mary, as well as entrusting the whole state to her care, found their development in the vows of King John Casimir made in the Lviv Cathedral on 1 April 1656. The Lviv vow can be regarded as the official establishment of Mary as Queen of Poland. Since it was made in connection with the victorious defence of Jasna Góra, the title of Queen of Poland clung even more closely to the Icon of Jasna Góra. This act was already sanctioned at that time by Nuncio Peter Vidoni. He intoned the invocation ‘Regina Regni Poloniae’ three times during the ceremony.
Some sceptical researchers denied the event’s unprecedented nature, which was because similar acts had taken place elsewhere, such as in France in 1638. Similarities and differences between the different versions have been pointed out. Even the thesis of a dependence of the vows of John Casimir on those of Louis XIII has been put forward (see W. Folkierski, Z wywczasów bibliofil. A French source for the Lviv vows of John Casimir 1657, Kraków 1927, pp. 1-25). It is, however, a fact that the 17th century saw a kind of transition from private manifestations of the veneration of Mary as Queen to the actual and official promotion of her as Queen of Poland.
The fulfilment of the Lviv vows was the solemn coronation of the Miraculous Picture in 1717. An act of political significance was then sanctioned liturgically. Mary became the actual and full-fledged Queen of Poland. All in
all, it can be said that the idea of Mary’s queenship over the Polish nation went through various stages of development, starting from private forms of putting the state under Mary’s protection, up to the official and confirmed by the highest authority of the Church recognition of her as the Queen of Poland.
Let us then discuss the coronation ceremonies of interest to us. The Pauline Fathers were preparing for them very eagerly, as they were perfectly aware of the event’s uniqueness. It was the first coronation of a miraculous painting of the Mother of God outside Rome and Italy. It is worth recalling that the first such ceremony occurred in the Eternal City in 1631. The required consent of the Holy See for the present coronation was probably obtained with the support of Nuncio Jerome Grimaldi. He was to perform the solemn act himself. However, he entrusted the coronation duty to Bishop Krzysztof Szembek of Chelm due to unfavourable circumstances. Pope Clement XI, who also donated the precious crowns, made the final decision on the coronation.
A concrete preparation for the ceremony was sending a letter by the Provincial Father Constantine Moszyński notifying all the Pauline Monasteries about the coronation. A letter of similar content was also sent to individual Polish dioceses by the officiant of the coronation of the Icon, Bishop Szembek. Although Mary – as the author of the letter writes – is crowned with a diadem of glory in Heaven, on Earth, there is also the custom of crowning Her images, which was previously known only in Italy. Now, however, Clement XI, in his generous graciousness, deigned to offer the crown to the ‘Archithaumaturga’ of Jasna Góra and to grant great indulgences to those taking part in this solemn ceremony. Bishop Szembek encouraged people to participate in it in large numbers. At the same time, he announced that it was he who was entrusted with the duty of coronation. Long before the coronation, on 22 July 1717, the Chancellor of the Kingdom, Jan Szembek, arrived at Jasna Góra. The following day, he handed over the crowns previously received from the Nuncio in Saxony and presented the decree authorising Bishop Szembek to perform the coronation and the “modus coromandi Sacram Imaginem”.
The Pauline Fathers also took care of the external appearance of the sanctuary. At the expense of Father Prior, magnificent triumphal arches were erected, an adequate supply of ammunition was collected, and fireworks were prepared. Well-known Polish preachers and music bands from Warsaw, Krakow and Wrocław were also invited to add splendour to the services. Thought was also given to the pilgrims, many of whom were expected. A spacious wooden shed was built for them and decorated with green branches. The interior was adapted for the liturgical rites. It later turned out that this idea was extremely fortunate. A crowd of 2,000 pilgrims who could not fit inside the fortress walls had gathered. During the days of the octave, not only did the poor sleep in the open air, but the wealthy also did not shy away from camping out among the crowds. Services were held in the shed mentioned above. Permission to hold liturgical services there was sought from the Bishop of Cracow, Kazimierz Łubieński. He granted it on 3 September 1717. He also allowed the bishops participating in the coronation rite to use their own pontificals. This permission was given “because of the great number of people who came not only from the Kingdom of Poland but also from neighbouring provinces”.
It is worth mentioning in passing the descriptions of the gates through which pilgrims entered the Sanctuary. The first was built before the Revellin and was decorated with various paintings. Cherubs held up crowns, and an inscription below encouraged them to enter the doors of the Queen’s House. On the reverse of this gate was a golden crown with a sceptre and royal apple and the inscription “The glory of the reigning Mary resounds above the stars”. A second gate, decorated with the Pauline coat of arms, was placed on the revellín, right next to the drawbridge. The third gate, on the other hand, depicted key moments in the history of the Miraculous Image. One of the paintings showed the conquest of Jerusalem by Emperor Titus and the miraculous rescue of Our Lady’s image from the war’s inferno. Another depicted the transfer of the Icon from Jerusalem to Constantinople, where it remained for the next five centuries. The third painting depicted a view of the Belianske Castle, where the Holy Icon – according to tradition – was carefully kept for five hundred years.
The theme of the fourth painting was an attack by the Hussites in 1430. The fact that Hussites killed forty monks, robbed the treasury, and the Image lost was recalled realistically. At the same time, an old legend about the stoppage of the horses carrying the Image was recalled. At the sight of this unusual event, one of the Hussite attackers allegedly threw the Image off the cart, while another injured the Image, “quorum cicatrices nullo penicillo obliterari poterant pictires” (whose scars could not be erased with any painter’s brush). On the same gate, from the side of the drawbridge, a faithful view of Jasna Góra, besieged by the Swedes and defended with “speciali protectione Beatissimae Matris” (the special protection of the Most Blessed Mother) was painted. It also featured portraits of King Augustus II and Pope Clement XI handing over crowns to the Pauline Fathers, which outweighed the diadems of all kings and earthly princes when placed on the scales. The gate was also decorated with the coats of arms of Poland, Lithuania and Saxony. On the topmost tier of the gate, Mary is depicted as the Conqueror of heresy, holding the symbols of victory and trampling down the ‘acies et castra acatholicorum’ (ranks and camps of non-Catholics).
The sanctuary had already been prepared when Bishop Krzysztof Szembek arrived in Częstochowa on 6 September. Having received the crowns from Chancellor Jan Szembek the following day, he made a ceremonial ingress to Jasna Góra. On entering, he was greeted in the church’s vestibule by the provincial of the Pauline Fathers, who was waiting for him, accompanied by the Fathers and the Brothers. As was customary, the Bishop responded to the words addressed to him with a greeting and then entered first the basilica and then the Chapel of Our Lady. The Bishop was followed by the prelates carrying crowns. The procession took place to the accompaniment of cannon salutes and the singing of the hymn ‘Te Deum laudamus’, accompanied by orchestras. Immediately after his arrival, the Litany of Loreto was chanted, after which the crowns were placed in the chapel of St Joseph. Finally, the Bishop was escorted amidst warm ovations to the room prepared for him in the monastery.
Solemn vespers inaugurating the day of the coronation were also held that evening. The sermon was preached by Fr J. A. Karsznicki, Canon of the Chelm Cathedral. He referred to the story of the painting of the Image by St Luke on the tabletop of the Holy Family of Nazareth. He described his sermon as frequenting the bread from the Marian table, which is full for all. He addressed first the senators, the knights, and then the Pauline priests who would be eating the bitter bread of human sins in the confessionals because of the feast. “Do not regret your fatigue,” said the preacher, “pilgrims from distant places, distant provinces have come to this holy place … be sure that the Most Blessed Queen of Heaven and Earth will bring new illuminations of divine graces to their consciences, will enlighten the darkness, who, holding in her hands the lumen ad revelationem gentium (the light to enlighten the gentiles), will not abandon those who trust in her protection.
The long-awaited day of the coronation – the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God – had finally arrived. Even before dawn, the miraculous Icon was moved from the chapel to the basilica and placed under a precious canopy – a gift from the Bishop of Wrocław. Beautiful fabrics were hung on the walls of the sanctuary.
Around eight o’clock, the celebrant and his attendants entered the large hall of the monastery (probably the Knights’ Hall) and sat under the canopy. Next to him stood the magnates and clergy in accordance with the precedent of the time. Among them were the Bishop of Vilnius Konstantin Brzostowski, Bishop Tarło, suffragan of Poznań, as well as the abbots of Jędrzejów, Sulejów, Łęczyce and Jemielniki and the apostolic protonotaries of Tarnow and Czarnynową. The states of the Commonwealth were represented by Stefan Leszczyński, Voivode of Kalisz, Józef Potocki, Voivode of Kyiv, Adam Tarło, Voivode of Lublin, Jan Koniecpolski, Voivode of Sieradz, Jan Szembek, Chancellor of the Kingdom, and Aleksander Szembek, the Constable. Fr Constantine Pawłowski, the definitor, made the introductory speech. In it, he asked the Bishop to deliver the crowns and to fulfil the coronation duty. The Bishop then ordered the decree of the Vatican Chapter and the letter of the Nuncio instructing him to perform the coronation act to be read. At the same time, he ordered the crowns to be brought, which the prelates present there did. In his short speech, the Bishop emphasised that the day of the coronation was a bright ray amidst the many sorrows Poland was experiencing. He expressed his gratitude to God for having been granted the honour of crowning the Miraculous Picture with the diadems. The choice of the celebrant for the coronation was, after all, not a coincidence. In the territory of the Chelm diocese, where Bishop Szembek had just ruled, there was the Bełsk Castle – the former place where the Icon of Our Lady was kept. The Bishop expressed his appreciation for the Pauline Fathers. They constantly stand guard over the Queen of the Polish Crown as if they were a living crown. He urged those gathered to rejoice, putting it in words:
“Many have longed to see the Queen of Poland crowned. This is a day chosen out of a thousand others, a day given to us by the Lord. Therefore, let us rejoice with inexpressible joy and be glad in it”.
The documents stating the transfer of the crowns were then signed. Amid the sound of cannon shots, a procession set off along the ramparts attended by clergy and government officials. Under the canopy walked the celebrant. Next to him, the provincial and the prior of Jasna Góra carrying the crowns. During the procession, the Magnificat was sung with the appropriate antiphon: “Beatam me dicent omnes generationes” (All generations will call me blessed). The faithful enthusiastically took up this hymn, which was sung until everyone had entered the church. Then the cannon salutes rang out again. The celebrant approached the altar where the Miraculous Picture had been placed and placed the crown first on the Blessed Mother, then on the Child. The Pauline Fathers present immediately attached the crowns to the Image. Again a cannon salute was fired from the fortress walls. The Bishop blessed those gathered and intoned the song “Ave maris stella” (Hail, star of the sea) sung by the people alternating with the orchestra. The responsory was recited: V. A golden crown on Her head. R. You have crowned her, O Lord, above all the works of your hands. Prayers were also raised for the Holy Father and the Cardinals.
Immediately after the coronation, Terce was solemnly celebrated by the Bishop, together with the clergy present. After the liturgy of the hours, Mass began. Father Athanasius Kiersnicki, a Jesuit and royal preacher, preached the sermon. He called Mary of Jasna Góra the Polish Monarch. As the preacher argued, she wanted to be called the Queen of Poland. He referred to the fact of the Mariophany experienced by the Jesuit J. Mancynell. It was to him that Mary supposedly said: “Voca me Reginam Poloniae” (Call me the Queen of Poland). It was always from the Lady of Jasna Góra that help was sought in the difficulties the Homeland was experiencing. “Here the Sarmatian crowns on the heads of Ludviks, Jagiellons, Sigismunds, Ladislaus, Casimirs, Michals, Janes, Augusts, free heads and voices were always seeking advice, both in battle and in peace”. The preacher expressed the hope that, under the reign of the Most Serene Regent, “tearful clouds will subside, lamentations will cease, and salty streams of eyes will dry up”.
After the rites were over, a meal was taken in the refectory, where a toast was made to the Pope, the King and the celebrant of the coronation. Then, around 4 pm, the guests gathered again in one of the monastery’s rooms to listen to the theological disputes. The texts previously printed in the Jasna Góra print shop and beautifully bound were distributed to the listeners.
When it was time for Vespers, the Coronation Bishop and his attendants went down to the large church to once again preside over the Liturgy of the Hours. After Vespers, the sermon was given by Father Tomasz Srebrnicki, rector of the Krakow Jesuit College. He recalled that Poland had been waiting for this coronation since 1382. But when the day finally came, Poles could not rejoice enough: “that we have somehow with domestic and foreign turmoil – unaccustomed to triumphs”. Discreetly, he pointed out that Mary should be a model for every ruler because it can be said of her first that she was the Servant of the Lord and only then the Queen. Whims often guide earthly rulers in their actions. In contrast, Mary always rushes to the aid of her people in every need. One must give one’s heart to her, and she will repay this sincere gift with a crown of eternal happiness.
After vespers, Bishop Szembek approached the altar and blessed the crowned image. Immediately afterwards, the Litany of Loreto was sung in the manner of Jasna Góra. The faithful joined in this prayer. Then, to the sound of wonderful music, a procession was formed. At its head walked the monks and other clergy dressed in festive robes. In their hands, they carried lighted candles. The Bishop approached the altar and, assisted by the Provincial and the Prior, lifted up the Holy Image. Cannon shots announced that the Queen of Poland was returning to her chamber. The image was placed on a specially prepared decorative float and carried under a canopy. The procession circled the fortress walls and entered the chapel of the Mother of God with the singing of the ancient song “O Glorified Host”. “What was the people’s piety, the exultation, admiration, sighs and tears of great joy,” writes the Jasna Góra chronicler, an eyewitness of these events.
“I can hardly recount it. When the procession entered the chapel, salutes were fired from the fortress walls. Then, Bishop Szembek placed the Picture in the altar and intoned a solemn ‘Te Deum laudamus’, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity and a solemn blessing. Finally, Prior Athanasius Kiedrzynski thanked the celebrant for performing the solemn act of coronation.”
Throughout the octave, Jasna Góra was filled with the bustle of countless pilgrims participating with devotion in numerous services. Many homilies were delivered, in which the preachers emphasised Mary’s royal function in the Polish nation, encouraging pious religious practices. The momentum of the coronation celebrations is evidenced by the numbers recorded by the chronicler in the Acts of the Polish Province (T. VI, p. 739). On the day of the coronation and during the whole octave at Jasna Góra, a total of 3252 Masses were celebrated in the basilica and the chapel of Our Lady, not counting many celebrated outside the sanctuary. In turn, 148,300 Holy Communions were distributed to pilgrims. It can be said that the celebration was nationwide and was attended by representatives of all social strata, from state dignitaries to poor peasants. It cannot be ruled out that pilgrims from neighbouring countries were also present. However, there is no certain source information on this.
The coronation reverberated throughout Poland. Churches were given the name of the Queen of Poland (the first of which is the church of the XX. Piarists in Krakow, consecrated in 1728). As well as confraternities were founded: the Confraternity of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Częstochowa was erected at Jasna Góra by Clement XI in 1718. Confraternity of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Częstochowa and the Confraternity of Mary Queen of Poland was founded by Bishop K. Szaniawski in 1728. The coronation at Jasna Góra was followed by other events that strengthened the Polish nation’s awareness that Mary is its Queen. It is enough to mention the second coronation of the Icon in 1910, the laying of the sceptre and the royal apple by Polish women in 1925 or the decoration of the Icon with the Millennium crowns on 3 May 1966.
Actorum Provinclae Polonae, T. VI, in Jasnogórskie Archive (AJG), ref. 536, ABMK 1644, pp.720-749.
Sermons on the Coronation Ceremony “New Crown of Glory to the Most Blessed Queen of Poland Virgin Mary in Przecudownym Rytrakcie…”, Jasna Góra 1718, published by Fr. Antoni Nowakowski, director of Jasnogórska Drukarnia, pp.520.
Cichor D., The first papal coronation of a miraculous image in Poland, [in:] Jasna Góra, ed. Abramek R. J., published by the General Curia of the Pauline Order and the Jasna Góra Monastery, Częstochowa, No. 9, 1989, pp. 33-38
From the Coronation Sermons of Jasna Góra 270 years ago
This year, 8 September marks the 270th anniversary of the first solemn coronation on Polish soil of the miraculous painting of Our Lady at Jasna Góra. It was at the same time one of the first coronations outside Italy, according to the canonical rules and liturgical ceremonial established in 1631 by the Vatican Chapter of St. Peter. As it were, the coronation at Jasna Góra officially confirmed the title previously attributed to Mary as “Queen of Poland and Poles”. – “Patroness and Queen of the Polish Kingdom with the Principalities: Lithuanian, Ruthenian, Prussian, Mazovian, Samogitian, Livonian, Chernigovian…”. The coronation festivities provided a unique opportunity to recall this royal character of Marian devotion from the Jasna Góra pulpit.
A collection of seventeen coronation sermons preached in the days of the octave of the feast, lasting from 7 to 15 September, has been preserved, published by Father Antoni Nowakowski, a Pauline priest, in the Jasna Góra printing house under the common title “The New Crown of Glory of the Supreme Monarchess …. of the Earth to the Most Blessed Queen of Poland, Our Saviour’s Virgin Mary, Our Mother, in an exquisite ritual at Jasna Góra Częstochowska, by the will of the Holy Father Clement XI, Supreme Shepherd of the Divine Church, in the Year of the Lord 1717, on 7 September, by His Excellency Christopher of Slupov Szembek, Bishop of Chelm, crowned… At Jasna Góra Czętochowa printing press in the year 1718”. The preachers were a group of excellent speakers familiar with the principles of rhetoric and poetics of the oratorical art. Therefore, from the rich collection, we present several fragments of sermons, so characteristic in their content for the message, flowing from Jasna Góra over the centuries, about the One who, being the Mother of God and the people, became from the faith and hope of the nation for its defence the Queen of Poland forever.
“What is it that you, Our Blessed and Brightest Virgin and Lady, have found to your liking in us unworthy and often ungrateful Poles? Have you found something peculiar in us that would please you? I know that “similer simili gaudet” – like is to like, but is there – what is there in Poland similar to you? What would be such an expensive and unappreciated gem? I do not see in our Poland anything dearer, nothing more significant, which is the envy of the Crown, as is “aurea libertas”, our golden freedom. Let us reflect here that at that time and in that place, in that most beautiful of portraits, the Most Blessed Queen of Heaven, when (…) Louis, King of Poland and Hungary, first and foremost granted freedom to the Polish people and took a special liking to Her. And no wonder, since she, not only by birth but from the very first moment of her conception, is free with the freedom of all of us people (…), is it not the most beautiful to reign in a free state?”… (Dominic Paprocki – a Pauline priest, from a sermon on 13.9.1717).
“(…) Take this Queen of Heaven’s diadem in reflection, and consider, O how heavy is Her holy head. Amor meus pondus meum. (…) With a crown upon Her head, She took with Her the affection (…), the whole of Poland oppressed. The adornment of Her Most Holy Head has come, or else greater care, more frequent thoughts of us, and greater favour have come. For whatever the Most Holy Mother has witnessed to the whole of Poland up to this time, She has done it out of common pity as the “universalis Mater” (Univeral Mother) of all the oppressed. Now, by taking the crown, She seems to place upon herself a bond that in every difficulty, in every evil and every need She will give royal help, advice and protection…”. (Dionizy Chełstowski – Pauline, from a sermon on 15.9.1717).
“Glorious in Mary’s maidenhood, wondrous humility, but mercy most sweet. The mercy we all desire, mercy we all invoke, for mercy saved the whole world. Be merciful to us, ‘Mater misericordiae’ (Mother of Mercy), merciful to the Republic’s needs, merciful to the Christian Kingdom, and all sick, crippled, afflicted, and enslaved people. Just as You showed mercy to sinners of various states more than once, more than a million at this Miraculous Picture, so too, be ‘Mater misericordiae’, for this is a royal virtue. Thou Brightest Queen, who art our life… and singularly our hope, welcome us happily…”. (Cyprian Sapecki – Dominican, from a sermon on 10.9.1717).
“After the coronation of the brightest Polish Monarchs, our Homeland, with its new Coronate in Kraków, goes “in Rupellam” to Skałka, where St. Stanislaus of Kraków, from Boleslaus the Brave, died for his sheep (…) cut in 72 pieces (…) to receive the blessing for a happy pastoral reign. Let us also go this day with our Blessed Virgin Mary: “in Rupellam”. Let us go before the Throne of our Christ – “Petra autem erat Christus” – with bowed head, broken knee, beating forehead against the ground, contrite and humbled heart. Let us say: Bless the Immortal King of Glory and Thy Mother, that Her honour in this place may not cease until the end of the world. Bless us, faithful protectors and devotees, whom she has deigned to take to her side, to the end of the world. Bless all the people for the honour of Thy and Thy Mother’s gathering until the end of the world…”. (Dominic Frydrychowicz – Dominican, from a sermon on 14.9.1717).
“Sit Mons, iste, Mons Sinai. Let this mountain be equal to Mount Sinai, which from the Hebrew translates as defensive … so that here everyone who takes refuge in his distress against the visible and the invisible, the spiritual and the bodily enemies, may find the strong Defender in Mary. Sit Mons iste, Mons Carmeli. Let this mountain be equal to Mount Carmel, which translates into consolation or merriment … so that here each in his tribulations may receive the desired consolation. Sit Mons iste, Mons Syon. Let this mountain be like the mountains of Zion, which explain themselves by the accumulation of good (…) so that everyone who seeks this place may accumulate divine, temporal, and eternal blessings for himself. Sit Mon iste, Mons Thabor.
Let this mountain be equal to Mount Tabor, which is translated as cleansing or election … so that all sinners, purified by holy penance, may become worthy of sharing in the elect of the Lord. Sit Mons iste, Mons Hermon. Let this mountain be equal to Mount Hermon, which translates as extinction, destruction … that by the power of the majesty of the image of this reigning Mary, all heresies, all dissenters, all “in universum” enemies of this holy place be exterminated. Sit Mons iste, Mons Pinguis. May this mountain be the Mountain of God’s dwelling with us, so that, out of His infinite mercy, He deigns to be our God “protegendo, gubernando, salvando” and we, His faithful subjects (…) May the Most High Majesty be praised forever and ever, who has deigned to honour this place with the glorification of the Holy Image of the Most Pure Virgin, where Mary’s reign may never cease forever and ever”. (Florian Straszyński – Dominican, from a sermon on 10.9.1717).
The published texts were prepared in accordance with the Publishing Manual for Historical Sources from the 16th to the Mid-19th Centuries. Wrocław 1953.
Witkowska A., Z jasnogórskich kazań koronacyjnych sprzed 270 lat, [w:] Jasna Góra, ed. Abramek R. J., wyd. Kuria Generalna Zakonu Paulinów i Klasztor Jasnogórski, Częstochowa, No. 9, 1987, pp. 30-32
Coronation of the image – Confraternity of the Crowned Virgin at Jasna Góra – on the 280th anniversary of the coronation of the image
After the real seven sorrows, the double-edged sword for Mary at Jasna Góra: after the sea twice, the fire twice, the attacks on the fortress by three Swedish Generals, a moment of triumph, of joy, of the crowning of the Mother of God, has dawned.
The idea of crowning images is very ancient, as far back as Gregory III.
In 725, Gregory IV crowned the images of the Mother of God in 848: 1496, the statue of Our Lady in the House of Loretto was crowned: (*) And Alexander Sforza, Dean of the Chapter of St. Peter at the Vatican in 1630, bequeathed a large sum of his property and used the proceeds to make golden crowns to adorn the images of Christ and Mary in the Papal States. From this fund, the image of the Madonna of the fever was crowned, and then that of the Child Jesus, in the same image, in the chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica on the Vatican. (*)
Aware of this, Cardinal Benedict Odeschalchi, and at the same time knowing the miraculousness of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Jasna Góra, famous for more than 330 years, assured the congregation during his three-week stay there in 1713 that he would endeavour to obtain the privilege of crowning the image and that two crowns would be sent from Rome accordingly. Having arrived in Rome, Odeschalchi obtained from the Chapter of St. Peter at the Vatican and its dean Cardinal Albano, two golden crowns for the Icon of Mary at Jasna Góra, and also a double Bull of Clement XI the Pope, including the privilege of crowning the Icon and the permission to take the crowns outside the borders of the Papal States; since, according to Cardinal Sforza’s note, the crowns were destined first of all for the Papal States. In addition, the Pope authorised his Nuncio to the Republic to complete the coronation. Unfortunately, Nuncio Grimaldi could not perform this task himself but entrusted this honour to Bishop Krzysztof Szembek of Chelm. By a circular of 4 July 1717, the Bishop informed the whole country of this important event and set it for 8 September 1717, the day of the Nativity of Mary.
The news of the coronation, hitherto unheard of in our country, attracted hosts of pious pilgrims to Jasna Góra from all parts of the country, who were counted in many hundreds of thousands, so much so that in the church of Jasna Góra alone, during the feast and its octave, nearly 150,000 of them attended the Holy Communion, not counting those who, because of the great crowd and congestion, communed in other churches of Czestochowa.
In addition to the Coronating Bishop, many other bishops and Church dignitaries, many military governors and other dignitaries from the Crown, Lithuania and abroad also came. In addition, there were over five hundred secular priests and up to eight hundred, including religious orders.
On the eve of the coronation day, the crowns sent from Rome were carried by two dignitaries of the Church in a carriage arranged in the shape of a throne. Behind them, in a similar carriage, rode the Bishop, and, welcomed at the church’s door, he led the crowns to the Chapel of the Spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, St. Joseph.
At the dawn of 8 September, the thunder of cannons on the ramparts heralded the great day when Heaven and Earth were crowned with the Queen’s Image. The Icon of the Mother of God on a throne, under a canopy, was brought in procession from the chapel to the great altar and placed in the great altar most splendidly adorned. The Bishop sat on his throne, surrounded by high clerical dignitaries and senators, and at that moment, the whole congregation of the Pauline Fathers, as servants of Mary, to whom the precious treasure is entrusted to guard, led by their General, approached the celebrant for the coronation in procession and begged him to crown the miraculous Image. The celebrant recommended that the documents authorising the coronation to be announced. The following documents were read publicly to all present:
- A papal bull with the privilege of crowning the Icon of Mary.
- A decree of the Chapter of St. Peter at the Vatican.
- The authorisation of the Apostolic Nuncio to carry out this act.
A procession then went to collect the crowns from the chapel of St Joseph. Then, with solemn singing of the words of Our Lady herself, “My soul glorifies the Lord”, the crowns were brought before the altar. Here, with appropriate prayers and the consecration of the crowns, the Bishop crowned the heads of the Image, the Child Jesus and the Immaculate Virgin.
When he had completed this, two hundred cannons set up on the ramparts of the fortress, and the sound of all the bells announced the news to the faithful, whom not only the vast walls of the shrine but even the whole surrounding hill could not embrace, who then bowed their heads in reverence, adoration, joy and joy, gratitude and thanksgiving to God and Mary.
In front of the crowned Icon on the basilica’s altar, the Coronating Bishop celebrated Mass pontifically, assisted by the first dignitaries. The sermon was preached by the royal preacher coming from Warsaw, Rev. Andrzej Karsznicki, S.J. Vespers was also celebrated by the Coronating Bishop, while the sermon on Mary’s honour and adoration was preached by the preacher coming from Krakow, Rev. Srebrnicki, S.J. After Vespers the Coronation Bishop himself removed the Miraculous Icon decorated with two crowns from the altar and placed it on a magnificent portable throne and so under the canopy.
After vespers, the celebrant himself took down from the altar the Miraculous Picture, adorned with two crowns, placed it on a magnificent portable throne and, under a canopy, carried it in procession, singing the thanksgiving hymn Te Deum, to the chapel where it was placed in its proper place above the altar. Finally, the people inside the church were given the apostolic blessing.
The solemnity lasted the whole octave, with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, processions, blessings, and the sound and volleys of cannon. The days of the coronation, that is, the eve of the solemnity of the Nativity, and the whole octave, were truly like a picture of eternity, like a single day; for throughout these nine days, prayers, songs and music never ceased; when the shadows of the night did not allow Mary to be venerated in the shrine, so the outside was enlightened, and the pious people under Heaven, on the hill, did not stop singing and venerating Mary. The weather, too, was favourable, with thousands of stars shining brilliantly in the blue of the sky as if in competition with the festivities of the earthlings.
On the very day of the coronation, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered in the chapel and the church, starting before dawn until the afternoon, in front of all the altars. However, time and altars were scarce, and 240 priests had to celebrate Mass in other churches. And the faithful, as we have already mentioned, nearly 150,000 were fed with the heavenly food, the Body and Blood of the Lord, at Jasna Góra alone.
Nor can we omit to mention that for this Coronation Ceremony, out of the precious stones deposited for centuries in the Jasna Góra treasury and only previously fastened to the image, Brother Makary Szypowski, an expert in the art of jewellery and gold smithery, embroidered three dresses with all his knowledge of the art:
- on dark blue velvet, embroidered with diamonds.
- on green velvet, embroidered with pearls and other stones.
- on blue velvet resplendent with rubies.
These dresses were stitched in 1843 on a new velvet background: the first on a crimson background, the second on a blue background, and the third on a green background. On the latter shine, among others, three pearls of rare price and size, one expressing a face, the other a heart. To this day, they are an admiration for visitors, a testimony of faith and devotion to Mary by our forefathers and mothers; so that one could repeat what Andrzej Załuski, Bishop of Krakow, said to his sister Ogińska, Voivode of Troki, about many of these holy women.
All her jewels, what they had, they had them hung on the altar of the Mother of God.
We also add that the golden crowns sent from Rome were adorned with diamonds from the Jasna Góra treasury.
After the completion of the coronation of the Icon, the grateful Pauline Fathers’ Order sent two priests from their midst, Priests Kozbialowicz and Karsznicki, to Rome to thank both the Holy Father and the Chapter of the Vatican Basilica for the grace and privileges of the coronation, as well as for the gold crowns they had received.
They came to the Holy City of Christianity on the solemnity of the Resurrection of Our Lord in 1718. Not only did Pope Clement XI accept the deputation most favourably, but he also endowed the sanctuary of Our Lady of Jasna Góra with new spiritual graces. Namely, by his Bull of 4 April 1718, he granted a certificate for establishing the Confraternity of the Crowned Virgin Mary of Jasna Góra and the Finding of the Holy Cross. Moreover, the members of this confraternity were granted the privilege of receiving the crowns and crowns of Our Lady of Jasna Góra. (…)
Having returned from Rome, two delegates deposited the papal bull, according to the canonical regulations, in the hands of the proper Bishop of the diocese. Then, having received the said Bull, Kazimierz Łubieński, Duke of Siewierz, Bishop of Krakow, in a pastoral letter of 27 July 1718, had them read from the pulpits throughout the diocese, designated the day before the Feast of the Nativity of Mary for the canonical introduction of the Confraternity.
Again a multitude of faithful, pious pilgrims gathered on 7 September 1718, which was also the eve of the anniversary of the crowning of the Icon. The prince-bishop also came and was surrounded by the first dignitaries of the country, clergy, senators, knights, former confraternities of Jasna Góra, and a long procession of persons wishing to belong to the new confraternity dressed in the emblems of Our Lady of Jasna Góra, after the reading of the papal bull, an appropriate speech, and the singing of the hymn composed by St. Casimir “Omni die” to the sound of bells and the salvo of cannons, he introduced the new Confraternity. The following day, the same prince-bishop celebrated a great Mass, after which he presented the Queen of Heaven with a costly golden votive offering with the inscription: Sit scabellum pedum Magnae Matris Dei persona totaque dominus mea. Let my person and my whole house be your footstool, O Mighty Mother of God! And the first to write his name in the album of the brotherhood with his own hand.
(Taken from the book: Souvenir from Częstochowa. Description of the Monastery and the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary at Jasnogóra, Częstochowa. Published by J. Słociński and M. Jarosiński 1875, pp. 64-74 (footnotes omitted from the text).
Jasna Góra, published by the General Curia of the Pauline Order and Jasna Góra Monastery, Częstochowa, No. 9, 1997, pp. 22-23