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Jasna Góra Monastery, Poland

The Jasna Góra Monastery in Cz?stochowa, Poland, is the most famous Polish shrine to the Virgin Mary and the country’s greatest place of pilgrimage – for many its spiritual capital. The image of the Black Madonna of Cz?stochowa, to which miraculous powers are attributed, is Jasna Góra’s most precious treasure.

Founded in 1382 by Pauline monks who came from Hungary at the invitation of W?adys?aw, Duke of Opole. The monastery has been a pilgrimage destination for hundreds of years, and it contains the most important icon of the Virgin Mary in this part of Europe. The icon, depicting the Mother of God with the Christ Child, is known as the Black Madonna of Cz?stochowa or Our Lady of Cz?stochowa, which is widely venerated and credited with many miracles. Among these, it is credited with miraculously saving the Jasna Góra monastery during a siege that took place at the time of The Deluge, a 17th-century Swedish invasion. Although this event was of little military importance, the event stimulated the Polish resistance. The Poles could not immediately change the course of the war but after an alliance with the Crimean Khanate they repulsed the Swedes. Shortly thereafter, in the cathedral of Lviv, on April 1, 1656, Jan Kazimierz, the King of Poland, solemnly pronounced his vow to consecrate the country to the protection of the Mother of God and proclaimed Her the Patron and Queen of the lands in his kingdom.

Since the Middle Ages, every year thousands of Poles go in pilgrim groups to visit Jasna Góra. It is estimated that in 2012 103,000 pilgrims went to the shrine. There are a few hundred groups. The average distance to travel is about 350 kilometres (217 miles), made in 11 days.

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