Pilgrimage to Czestochowa, Poland
On August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, as many as 500,000 people crowd the city of Częstochowa to pay their respects to the Black Madonna. For nearly 300 years, a pilgrimage has left Warsaw and 32 other towns and walked in procession to Częstochowa for up to 21 days.
While it is not uncommon for elders to walk up to 30 kilometers a day, the pilgrimage has become increasing youthful, attracting faithful teenagers who comprise nearly half of all pilgrims. The number of young people participating increased significantly during the early 1980s, when the pilgrimage became a form of resistance against the now collapsed Communist government. Today, the teens make the pilgrimage for a variety of reasons, but many look forward to both the adventure and the sense of community in a safe and spiritual setting.
From early in the morning to late in the evening, a stready stream of pilgrims approaches the shrine by way of the tree-lined main avenue. The icon is displayed on a altar in the Chapel of Our Lady in Jasna Góra Monastery, which is lined with the discarded crutches and wheelchairs of those pilgrims the icon has healed.