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    Poland Celebrates National Holiday Honoring Mary, Queen of Poland

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    On May 3rd, Poland celebrates the Feast of Our Lady Queen of Poland. This national and religious holiday is rooted in significant historical events, such as the defense of Jasna Góra against the Swedes in 1655, King Jan Kazimierz’s marriage vows to entrust the kingdom to the care of the Blessed Mother, and the adoption of the May 3rd Constitution in 1791.

    The celebration of the Queen of Poland began in 1656 when King Jan Kazimierz chose Mary as the Patroness of the Nation in Lviv’s cathedral. The constitution of 1764 also declared that Poland honors Mary under the Image of Jasna Góra and “receives her protection in times of need.”

    During the era of partitions, pilgrimages to Jasna Góra became a religious and patriotic demonstration. The Christian tradition of venerating Mary as queen, not in a political sense, but in an evangelical one, dates back to the 4th century. In the Middle Ages, she was already honored as the Queen of Poland.

    The most famous Polish Marian prayer, “Under Your Protection,” is the oldest Marian prayer, dating back to the 3rd century. The central part of the May devotions to the Blessed Mother is the Litanies of Loreto, which originated in 12th-century France and contains the invocation, “Queen of Poland.” In 2015, a new invocation, “Mother of Mercy,” was added with the approval of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

    In 1918, after regaining independence, Poland began celebrating the Feast of Our Lady Queen of Poland and the anniversary of the May 3rd Constitution. The holiday was officially established in 1923 upon the request of Polish bishops and approved by Pope Benedict XV.

    After World War II, the communist authorities banned public celebrations of the May 3rd Constitution, and attempts at demonstrations were suppressed by the police. The holiday was officially abolished in 1951, and penalties were imposed for leaving the Polish flag up until May 3rd, instead of taking it down on May 1st for the labor holiday.

    Since 1990, May 3rd has been a national holiday and a day off work to commemorate the May 3rd Constitution, and the Feast of Our Lady Queen of Poland remains a significant religious celebration for Polish Catholics.

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