Unity through life

'Black Madonna’ icon visits local parishes on ecumenical pilgrimage for life

 Black Madonna image on truck
The Black Madonna replica icon was an attention-getter as it traveled through Chicago in May via the flatbed truck dubbed the “Life Mobile.” Photo: Courtesy Human Life International


By Kim Haub 

A replica of the Our Lady of Czestochowa icon — the Black Madonna — is coming to seven Western Washington parishes in July as part of a worldwide pilgrimage promoting respect for human life.

“This is an amazing and powerful event,” said Meg Collier, pro-life advocate and secretary at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Bremerton, where the icon will make its first stop in the Seattle Archdiocese. “It will bring awareness to life issues and [that] anything is possible with God,” Collier said. “I can’t wait to see what God does through his Holy Spirit here at our parish.”

Human Life International’s “From Ocean to Ocean” campaign will also bring the Black Madonna to parishes in Sumner, Renton, Bellingham, Bothell, Mercer Island and Tacoma, as well as an Orthodox church in Kirkland.

The original icon has resided in both Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian countries and is venerated by people in both churches. Since 1382, it has been enshrined in a Polish monastery, where millions of pilgrims have visited and the Pauline fathers and brothers keep records of miraculous events attributed to Mary’s intercession.

The pilgrimage of the replica icon, coordinated by Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox leaders, began two years ago at the Pacific Ocean in Vladivostok, Russia. “The Russians had the idea to take the icon to the frontline of the worldwide culture of death,” said Father Peter West, vice president of missions for Human Life International. “Our goal is to bring an end to the global attack on human life.”

Organizers also hope that the shared devotion to Mary will build mutual respect between the two churches, and spark more efforts to promote faith, life and family.

The traveling icon was touched to the original icon in Poland and was blessed by the archbishop of Krakow, who entrusted “the defense of life and family to Mary” and prayed for the campaign’s success, explained Father West, who is accompanying the icon across the U.S.

Before coming to the U.S., the Black Madonna traveled across Europe to Fatima, Portugal. On July 4, the icon will meet the Pacific Ocean again in Astoria, Oregon, the beginning of stops in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. After the last U.S. stop in Phoenix, Arizona, this fall, the pilgrimage will continue in Mexico, Central America and South America.

Although promoting life is the campaign’s goal, “working together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters is a fruit of the pilgrimage,” Father West said.


Join the pilgrimage

Black Madonna
This icon is a replica of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the Black Madonna. The original icon, kept in a Polish monastery, is venerated in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. Photo: Courtesy Human Life International

View the Black Madonna icon and participate in activities surrounding the pilgrimage at these parishes in Western Washington:  

July 5-6 — Our Lady Star of the Sea, Bremerton. Father Peter West, vice president of missions for Human Life International, will preach at all weekend Masses. On July 6 from 2-3 p.m., those interested can join Father West in prayer outside Planned Parenthood, 723 N.E. Riddell Road in east Bremerton. Parking is limited, so carpools are recommended. http://www.starofthesea.net/

July 7 — St. Andrew, Sumner. Exposition of Blessed Sacrament from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by Benediction and recitation of the rosary. Mass at 7 p.m. with the icon present. http://www.standrewsumner.org/

July 8 — St. Stephen the Martyr, Renton. Afternoon and evening; details to be announced. www.ststephenslife.com

July 11-12 — Sacred Heart, Bellingham. 6 p.m. rosary, 7 p.m. Mass celebrated by Father West, followed by a reception in the parish hall. Overnight adoration from 8 p.m. July 11 to 8:50 a.m. July 12, followed by 9 a.m. Mass. http://www.sacredheartbellingham.org/

July 19-20 — St. Brendan, Bothell. The icon will be processed into church at all weekend Masses. Veneration of the icon and a potluck reception will follow the noon Spanish Mass. www.saintbrendan.org

July 21 — St. Monica, Mercer Island. 7:30am Mass with Father West, followed by discussion about the icon. http://www.stmonica.cc/

July 21 — Sts. Peter and Paul, Tacoma. The icon is expected to arrive at 4 p.m. and remain in the parish until 10 a.m. July 22. http://www.parafiatacoma.com/

Learn more about Our Lady of Czestochowa at www.jasnagora.pl/en and on EWTN.


July 1, 2014