From Auschwitz we bused to Częstochowa, and visited Jasna Góra, a pretty monastery that houses the much venerated Black Madonna. A photo I had taken out of pure curiosity in the monastery provided a clue that helped broaden my understanding of the period when things began coming apart for the Polish-Lithuanian Coalition and the huge geographical area controlled by that alliance. As we passed through the Monastery a large painting with a big Polish sign underneath intrigued me, so I snapped it. Looking at it a few days ago, I translated the sign and the painting was indeed important. It refers to what is called the Lwów Oath sworn on April 1, 1656. The Swedes had invaded Poland. They marched into Warsaw in 1655. This was the beginning of the 5-rear-long Swedish Deluge. In November 1655 the Swedes threatened to take the monastery at Jasna Góra, but a force of 3200 was fought off by about 150 monks and locals successfully. Their heroism inspired all of Poland to rise up. The Black Madonna (Mary) became the “miraculous” power behind the Polish resistance.
The nobles rallied around their king in 1655. As a concession to Poland’s nobles, King Jan II Kasimierz vowed in Lwów to dedicate Poland and its territories to the Blessed Virgin’s protection and also vowed to protect Polish peasants from bondage. As a result of this vow, the Polish peasants got involved. This stubborn, brave, Polish rebellion put pressure on scattered occupying forces and drove out the Swedes by 1657 and the Russians, who had taken the Ukraine from the Commonwealth, by 1661. So that’s what the photo was about. Our guide did not talk much about this event. Research on the above photo has clued me in.
I have a few photos for you of Jasna Góra. In Warsaw that evening our group went to a mediocre dinner whose main attraction was a dumpling-making lesson (why didn’t our hosts call them perogies?). The meal that followed was disappointing and the furniture was uncomfortable.
Auschwitz, which we visited first on the same day, deserved to be addressed on its own in my post of August 1.