The Jasna Góra Monastery is located in Poland’s spiritual capital, the city of Częstochowa, within the Silesian Voivodeship in southern Poland. The site is one of Poland’s official national Historic Monuments.
Jasna Góra is a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was founded in 1382 by Pauline monks. The Paulite order named the hill in the western part of the city ‘Jasna Góra’ (Bright Hill) and erected the monastery; which has been a pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages.
The image of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, also known as Our Lady of Częstochowa, to which miraculous powers are attributed, is one of Jasna Góra’s most precious treasures.
Each year, thousands of believers are drawn to the site to see the Black Madonna painting in the Chapel of Our Lady and to look around the monastery. It is estimated that over 4 million pilgrims visit the shrine every year from as many as 80 different countries. Many Polish pilgrims travel there by foot with the average distance for a pilgrim group to travel being around 350 km over an 11 day period. Pilgrims usually plan their journeys so that they arrive in Jasna Góra in time for the Assumption of Mary.
The Chapel of Our Lady is the oldest part of the monastery and this is where the Black Madonna can be viewed. The picture is unveiled from 6am to noon and from 1.30pm until 9.20pm. During weekends times are 6am to 1pm and 2pm until 9.20pm.
There’s a lot more to Jasna Góra than the Black Madonna such as the 17th century basilica with its opulent baroque furnishings, the 106m tall bell tower, an arsenal with an impressive collection of Turkish weapons from the 1683 Battle of Vienna and a museum.
You’ll find some very interesting artefacts in the museum such as the founding documents of Jasna Góra from 1382 and a cross made from steel from the rubble of the World Trade Center.
Among the monastery’s most important exhibits is the medal from the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize received by Lech Wałęsa, the former Polish president and trade-union organizer and rosaries made from breadcrumbs by concentration camp prisoners.
There are typically numerous pilgrims and tourists at Jasna Góra Monastery, and the volume of excited voices can be high. However, upon entering the Monastery, it is expected etiquette for visitors to be silent or as quiet as possible out of respect. Often, there is a long line of people who wait to approach the shrine of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. Upon arriving at the place of the shrine at which one would pass in front of the icon of Our Lady, it is expected and a sign of respect for pilgrims to drop to their knees, and traverse the anterior of the shrine on their knees.