Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Pope's Patron

Black_madonna Posted by Hello

For those who hooked like me to CNN during the wake of Pope JPII, you might have noticed that beside the large cross at the altar where he was being viewed, there was a tiny icon of Our Lady right beside it. That is the Black Madonna from the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czechostowa, Poland.

She is the Patron Saint of the Pope. I was able to visit the place twice with my parents.

There are two version of the history of the Jasna Gora painting. There is a traditional version, steeped in legend and an historical one, reconstructed by art critics whose attention was drawn to this extraordinary image and its origins.

According to the traditional version, the painting was created by St. Luke the Evangelist on a table top from the house of the Holy Family. St. Luke was said to have painted two images of Mary, one of which found its way to Italy and was kept in Bologna where it is still venerated. The other was said to have been removed from Jerusalem and brought to Constantinopole by the Emperor Constantine and placed in a church. Six centuries later, the Russian Prince Lev obtained the painting from the emperor of the time in acknowledgement of his military achievements.

During the wars in Rus, Prince Ladislaus of Opole found the painting in the castle at Bełz and discovered it was being venerated as if it were miraculous. After the victory over the Tatars, he brought the painting to Czestochowa, entrusting it to Pauline Monks for safekeeping. This information is contained in a manuscript - one of the oldest - entitled "Translatio Tabulae", a copy of which, dated 1474, is conserved in the Jasna Góra archives.

According to art critics, the Jasna Góra painting was originally a Byzantine icon (of the Hodigitria type), dating between the sixth and ninth centuries.

The Miraculous presence of the image has always attracted pilgrims not only from all over Poland but from all over the world, as the numerous votive offerings show. It was painted on a wood panel measuring 122.2 x 82.2 x 3.5 cms. and features a bust of the Virgin with Jesus in her arms. Mary's face dominates the painting and observers find themselves immersed in her eyes. They look at Mary, who looks back at them.

The face of the Child is also turned towards the pilgrim but his eyes are looking elsewhere. The two faces have a serious and thoughtful expression adding to the emotional tone of the painting. Our Lady's right cheek is marked by two parallel slashes and a third horizontal cut. The neck of the image is marred with six scratches, two more visible than others. Jesus, dressed in a scarlet tunic is supported by His Mother's left hand, his right hand is raised in a magisterial gesture, of sovereignty and benediction. The hand of the Virgin rests on Her breast, as if she were indicating the Child. The Virgin's robe and mantle are decorated with lilies, the symbol of the Hungarian royal family. A six-pointed star is featured on Mary's brow. An important element are the auras around the Virgin and Child since their luminous quality contrasts with the dark facial tones.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

A dear Pope passes away....thoughts and recollections

I left the television on last night even as I slept. Somehow I sensed something might happen to the Pope. All of a sudden I woke up at around 4am with the news that Pope John Paul II has just passed away.

I suddenly remembered it was the feast of the Divine Mercy as well as first saturday. The Lord appeared to the then Sisten Faustina (now saint) in Poland, the birthplace of Pope JPII, which then brought about the devotion to the Divine Mercy. First Saturday is the day of Our Lady and we all know the pope has great devotion to the Blessed Mother. Karol Wotyla then served his priesthood at Kracow the site of the Divine Mercy Apparition.

The Holy Father firmly believed that it was Our Lady of Fatima who saved him from the almost fatal bullet fired by a Turk several years ago. As soon as he healed, he visited Portugal and offered the bullet to Our Lady. Today one can see this bullet embedded inside the crown of Our Lady of Fatima at the Apparition Chapel. Too bad I was not able to take a photo when I last visited the place.

The news has stated that he has been pope for 26 years. The number and date is very memorable for 26 years ago, I graduated from college, got my first job, went to my first trip of europe in Sept. to meet with the then Pope John Paul I. My parents and I had a private audience and I was able to take only one photo which seemed to be foreboding since it was cut on the head when I developed it. The following month, when we returned to Rome a new Pope was installed, Karol Wotyla, who chose the name Pope John Paul II.

A few years later, we visited his hometown in Watowice. His former residence is now a museum where one has to wear gigantic slippers prior to entry to the home. It keeps the house clean as well as acts as a cleaning agent as you walk the wooden floors.

I have kissed the hand of Pope Paul VI as a young kid when he visited Manila but as an adult, I was fortunate enough with my parents to have attended some of Pope John Paul II's private masses, easter celebrations, kissed his hand, offered some gifts, received communion and even lunched at his summer home. Dad is a Knight Commander, the highst honor given by the Pope to a lay person.

Another thought entered my mind before the pope's death. I somehow thought that the Pope was trying to hang on to dear life at all costs in order to delay the coming of the anti christ. Scary but try reading the book of revelation. He maybe somewhere on earth roaming and surely is eyeing the Vatican.

I also thought of the empty frames at the ceiling of St. Paul outside the walls in Rome. Soon it will be decreased when a new Pope is proclaimed. As I stated in a previous post, legend says, once all the frames in that ceiling is filled up, it will be the end of the world. The last time I visited, there was just a handful of empty frames left. One can never tell how long a Pope will reign specially knowing what happened to Pope John Paul I.

Right now I am sure the Holy Father is smiling at us in heaven. I am sure he will pray for continued peace, solidarity, and the englightenment of leaders towards preserving the family.

I prayed to him earlier and asked him to greet my mom.