After my long morning hike I returned to the hotel for breakfast, consumed a lot of coffee, and spent some time editing the many photographs I had taken this past week in Poland. Around noon, looking out my hotel window, I noticed a lot of folks carrying Easter baskets as they walked toward the monastery.
This is another Polish custom my dad had always followed, as did many others in my home town who were of Polish decent, the blessing of the Easter baskets. I decided to walk on over and have a look at how they observe it here in Poland.
At home most families packed a rather large basket. Our family included kielbasa, bacon, dyed and peeled eggs, butter shaped like a lamb, ham, paska bread and red and white horseradish. Here in Poland the baskets were much smaller and seemed more ceremonial. Here are a few a woman allowed me to photograph.
And there seemed to be no set religious service. People, mostly families, the entire few hours I was at the Monastery, came, had their baskets blessed by a priest and left. In my Parish at home there was a single service at which time all of the baskets in the community were blessed. After having their baskets blessed, many people stayed and enjoyed the impressive grounds of the Jasna Gora Monastery, which is actually a medieval fortress. I also decided to stay and explore this historic place.
I again visited the beautiful Basilica and Shrine of the Black Madonna and did not take photographs out of respect. I have since learned that photography is allowed. Unfortunately, because of the Holy Days the museums were all closed but there was still plenty to see.
I made my way up to the upper walls that surround the Monastery. They withstood the onslaught of Swedish attackers in the 17th century and it was attributed to the protection of the Black Madonna.
They also provided me with a nice view of downtown Czestochowa and I was able to see were I had hiked earlier in the day, beyond the smokestack in the distance.
Above the walls were the towering steeples that can be seen from all around the surrounding countryside.
And below the walls were the beautiful statutes depicting the Stations of the Cross. This is a link to some more photographs of the many sights of this impressive and historic structure. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eight-Czestochowa-Monastery-Saturday-April-15-2017-
And, of course their was another, and more important aspect of the ancient fortress, it’s religious and spiritual importance to the Polish nation. As mentioned in my early post the Black Madonna arrived at the Monastery in 1382. During the middle ages hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visited the shrine.
And on September 8 1717 the Polish King declared Our Lady of Czestochowa as the Queen of Poland.
It was a favorite pilgrimage site of Pope John Paul II and almost 4 1/2 million pilgrims visit the shrine every year.
But it’s importance to me stems from it’s importance to my dad and his devotion to the Black Madonna until the day of his death. I feel so at peace in this place.
I spent a few hours exploring the many nooks and crannies of the old fortress and the many paintings and statutes that adorn them. Here is a link to some more photographs from my tour of the Monastery.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Eight-Czestochowa-Monastery-part-two-Saturday-April-15-2017-
I left the Monastery through it’s main gate as still more families were entering to have their Easter baskets blessed.
This proud grandfather and his grandson were happy to pose for this photograph.
I decided to explore more of this charming city and so I headed to a lake I saw on the maps. I again walked through mainly upscale residential neighborhoods.
But as can be found everywhere in Poland there was always a church,
and a restaurant mixed in.
It was another mile to the lake and, having walked a lot earlier in the day, I was tired when I finally found it. It was a quiet little lake, with a few swans swimming about and some locals casting their fishing lines into the waters. I would liked to have stayed a little while and enjoy the peace and quiet but it again looked like rain so I decided to head back.
The rain held off, and it was a nice, but long walk back to my hotel. I knew I was close when I came to the beautiful park that is situated between my hotel and the Monastery.
It was another wonderful day in Poland and the lovely city of Czestochowa. And the one thing needed to make it complete was to find a good restaurant for dinner. And this I did. I had a delightful meal at the famous and highly recommended Dobry Ro. This was their interesting version of mushroom soup, made with a puff pastry. Delicious. k.
I returned to my hotel tired but with many new and wonderful memories. I felt so much at home in this foreign.. Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eight-Czestochowa-afternoon-walk-to-lake-
And the day wasn’t over, I had fallen asleep around 9 pm so I was pretty much in a deep sleep when at 11 pm I heard explosions. Awakening from my sleep I first thought I was at home and it was July or New Years Eve. Seeing the strange room of my hotel I realized I was in Poland and now really started to wonder what was happening. I went to the window and figured out that the source of the explosions was fireworks coming from the direction of the monastery. I posted this on Facebook and was told, by some friends the Eastern Orthodox churches in Europe do this to celebrate Easter. Interesting. Here is a short video I uploaded to my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/H3Jsrk1UzCY The fireworks were over soon and, fortunately, I was back asleep, getting rest for another wonderful day in Poland.
“…I pray that young people from East and West will walk together along the path of freedom, working to overcome all conflicts between races and peoples, so as to build a world of authentic brotherhood and carry the liberating message of the Gospel everywhere.” – Pope John Paul II, Czestochowa, Poland, 1991