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    Communists arrested the painting of the Holy Mary. Radom remembers this event

    The celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the start of the peregrination of the copy of the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa will take place on Friday and Saturday in Radom. The anniversary is connected to the story of the daring theft of the image, which the communist authorities arrested on the pilgrimage route and imprisoned at Jasna Gora.

    The copy of the miraculous image of Jasna Gora will be welcomed in Radom on Friday at 8:30 p.m. in front of the cathedral.


    “On that day, a thanksgiving Mass will also be celebrated at midnight for those called to divine service and for the intention of new priestly vocations. Throughout the night, prayer groups, including Jasna Gora pilgrims and the Knights of Columbus, will keep vigil in front of the image,” Father Damian Foltyn, spokesman for the Radom bishop’s curia, said.


    On Saturday at 10 a.m. a solemn Holy Mass will be celebrated in the cathedral, during which the renewal of the Jasna Gora vows and the entrusting of the Radom diocese to the Mother of God will take place. The celebrations will be presided over by Marek Solarczyk, Bishop of Radom.


    The jubilee refers to the event of 18 June 1972, when the image imprisoned in 1966 by the communist authorities and stolen by a priest from Radom returned to the pilgrimage route.


    The Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa is a faithful copy of the painting of Our Lady of Czestochowa from Jasna Gora. It was made in 1957 at the request of Primate Stefan Wyszynski by the artist Leonard Torwirt. In the same year, it was consecrated by Pope Pius XII. The copy, called the Image of the Visitation, became an important element of the Great Novena inaugurated on 3 May. From 26 August 1957, it travelled through all the dioceses as part of the preparations of Poles for the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland. The pilgrimage was a great religious event. Wherever the Icon of the Visitation appeared, crowds of people greeted it. The communist authorities repeatedly interfered with the passage of the vehicle with the painting and ordered the route to be changed so that the painting could avoid the crowds of believers waiting by the roadside.


    In June 1966, during the journey from Frombork to Warsaw, the communists kidnapped a copy of the painting and drove it directly to the cathedral in Warsaw. After the end of the celebrations, the authorities did not agree to the image being transported to other places of peregrination.


    In September, however, the Primate decided that a copy of the painting would go to Katowice for the celebrations. On its way there, however, it was arrested by the communists and taken to Jasna Gora. Under the threat of losing their monastery and seminary, the Pauline Fathers placed the painting behind a screen in the St Paul’s Chapel, with the following inscription:


    “Here is the Image, imprisoned by the authorities, which wandered around Poland.”


    For six years, only the frames of the painting went on pilgrimage in the Polish dioceses, arousing great emotion in the faithful. In 1972, with the permission of Primate Wyszynski, the painting was secretly stolen from Jasna Góra by Father Jozef Wojcik, then a parish vicar in Radom, with the help of the first parish priest at Przymorze in Gdansk, Father Roman Siudek, and two nuns, Maria Kordos and Helena Tretowska. First, they made a key to the chapel where the painting was kept, then they stealthily took it out of the church and transported it from Czestochowa to Radom.


    On Sunday, 18 June, to the great surprise of the faithful who had expected empty frames, the bishops, led by Primate Stefan Wyszynski and Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, carried a copy of the Jasna Góra painting into the Radom cathedral.


    The first nationwide visit lasted 23 years and ended on 12 October 1980. 




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