Wednesday, 25 September 2019

16th century England - Persecution and Martyrdom of Christ's Church

William Lacy, Priest, martyred 1582.

William Lacy was a Yorkshire gentleman, born at Hauton, who for some time enjoyed a place of trust in that country under Queen Elizabeth, and had a fair prospect of being advanced higher had not his religion stood in his way. He was one of the chief gentlemen of those days whose house was open to the priests that came over from the Colleges abroad, where they always met with a kind welcome, and were sure to want no service or assistance that he could afford or procure them. But as he was taught by these gentlemen that neither he or his could in conscience frequent the Protestant churches, his absenting himself was soon taken notice of, and he was obliged to give up his charge. Neither was this all, but so many means were found to distress him, and such heavy fines imposed upon him every month for his and his family’s recusancy, that he was obliged to leave his house and home, and to travel about, sheltering himself sometimes with one friend, sometime another; and being never able to stay long in a place without danger of being apprehended and imprisoned by the adversaries of his faith.  At length, his wife dying, he took a resolution, although he was now pretty well advanced in years, to go abroad in order to dedicate the remainder of his days to the service of God and his neighbours,  in the ecclesiastical state.

            He had no sooner taken this resolution, but he took the first opportunity to pass over into France to the College lately translated from Douai to Rheims, where he was received according to his merits, and diligently applied himself to the study of divinity, frequenting the schools with the young divines, and giving great edification to all by his humility and other virtues.  After having for some time, exercised himself in this manner in the English College of Rheims, he went from thence to Pont-a-Musson in Lorraine, to follow his studies there; from whence his devotion carried him to Rome, to visit the holy places consecrated by the sufferings of the apostles and martyrs.  Here he procured a dispensation that he might be made priest; for having been married to a widow, he could not be ordained without a dispensation – which was the easier granted  him in consideration of his personal merit and great virtues.  So having made the Spiritual Exercises in the English College at Rome, he received all his orders, and shortly after returned home to labour in the mission, which he did with great fruit for the space of about two years, bringing over many souls to Christ and His Church.

            He frequently visited the Catholics that were prisoners for their conscience in York Castle, where on the 22d of July, 1582, having been with others present at Mass, celebrated before day by Mr Bell, and making the best of his way out of the Castle, upon the keepers and turnkeys taking an alarm, he was seized under the Castle walls, and carried in the morning before the Lord Mayor of York and Councillor Check, who, having strictly examined him, committed him prisoner to the Castle, with orders that he be loaded with irons, which he kissed when they were put on him by the keepers. With this load of chains he was hurried away to Thorp, the Archbishop’s seat to be examined by him. What passed here, says my author, between him and the Archbishop, we could by no means come to know, because after this interview Mr Lacy was cast into a dungeon by himself, so that we could not have any access to him.

            Upon 11th August he was brought to the bar, where he was arraigned for having been made priest at Rome;  which  he acknowledged, and which appeared from the letters of ordination he had about him at the time of his apprehension.  But the judge, not content with this confession, pressed him further with that murthering  question  whether he acknowledged the Queen to be supreme head of the Church of England. He replied that in this matter, as well as in all other things, he believed as the Catholic Church of God and all good Christians believed.  Upon this he was brought in guilty of high treason, and had sentence to die as in cases of high treason. He heard the fatal sentence with a serene countenance and an undaunted courage, saying God be  forever blessed! I am now old, and by the course of nature could not expect to live long. This will be no more to me than to pay the common debt a little before time. I am rejoiced, therefore, at the things which have been said to me.  We shall go into the house of the Lord, and so shall be with the Lord for ever.

            The day appointed for his death was the 22d of August, when Mr.Lacy and Mr Kirkeman, another gentleman of the same character, were laid upon a hurdle and drawn to the place of execution. On the way they made their confessions to each other; and when they came to the gallows, Mr.Lacy first made his prayer to prepare himself for his last conflict, and then ascending the ladder, began to speak to the people, and to exhort them to provide for the salvation of their souls by flying from heresy. But the ministers, apprehending that the cause of their religion would suffer by such discourses, procured to have his mouth effectually stopped by hastening the hangman to fling him off the ladder, and so put an end to his mortal life.

            He suffered at York, August 22, 1582.

                                                          Taken from ‘Martyrs to the Catholic Faith’

                                                                       ‘Memoirs of Missionary Priests

                                                                     and other Catholics of both sexes

                                                            that have suffered death in England on

                                                      religious accounts from the year 1577 to 1684.’

                                                                                             by  Bishop Challoner V.A.L.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Francis McCullagh (1874-1956) - War Correspondent 'extraordinaire'.


Over the past few years I have read several articles and books written by Francis McCullagh, an Irishman, who in his day became an internationally  famous newspaper reporter, specialising as a war correspondent, who additionally  wrote several books on his experiences. His writings reveal a man of deep integrity, outstanding moral and physical courage, strong religious faith, and a passion for the truth. If one day a film were to be made of his life and experiences, I suspect it would be hardly believable, except to confirm the old saying that ‘life is stranger than fiction’.  
I believe that the story of his life deserves to be plucked from the obscurity into which it has fallen, and relayed anew to today’s world, so in need  of heroes of the calibre of Francis McCullagh, good men in every way.
This post only touches the surface of McCullagh’s life, but it is, as it were, a taster. It deserves much, much more, and perhaps one day the full story will be told.


Much of the following report is taken from the obituary of Francis McCullagh, published in 1956 in the Fermanagh Herald -  with acknowledgement and thanks Also acknowledgement to ‘Studies, an Irish quarterly review’ for a report on the life of Francis McCullagh, by John Horgan. Also ‘El Gran Corresponsal de Guerra’,  Francis McCullagh, 1874 – 1956  by John Horgan.

                                            Francis McCullagh, 1874-1956

                   'Tyrone-born war correspondent dies in New York, USA.'
                           (headline in Fermanagh Herald- December, 1956)

Francis McCullagh was born on 30 April 1874 in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, to James and Bridget McCullagh. His father was a publican, with  premises and dwelling at Bridge Street, Omagh. He had one brother, who emigrated to New Zealand and who pre-deceased him, and three sisters, two of whom also emigrated, one to New York and the other to England. Two of his sisters, the one in Ireland and the one in England,  survived him.

From the Christian Brother’s  schools, Francis McCullagh passed to St. Columb’s College at Derry, then under the Presidency of Dr Charles McHugh, afterwards Bishop of Derry, and just emerging as a force in Catholic education in the north. At the College, Francis McCullagh read the prescribed course with distinction, and deciding to take up journalism, secured an appointment on a Catholic paper in Glasgow.

Career  -  His career in journalism was outstanding, broken only by a short stay in his early years at St Columb’s College to decide whether or not he had a vocation to the priesthood.   He left after some months, persuaded that the priesthood was not for him, and moved to Glasgow where he gained journalistic experience with a Scottish newspaper. Having an innate desire to travel the world, he decided after a relatively short time, to take the plunge, purchasing a one-way boat ticket to Colombo where he soon became editor of  ‘The Catholic Messenger’.  Two years later he moved to Bangkok where he had charge of the ‘Siam Free Press’. His next post was in Tokyo where he was English editor of ‘The Japan Times’, and then of the Port  Arthur ‘Novi Krai’, together with an appointment as Eastern representative of the ‘New York Herald Tribune’, then at the height of its influence. Many countries provided fields for his activity.  China, Russia, Spain, Portugal, the Balkans, Morocco, the United States, and England, all saw him at various times establishing his growing reputation as an outstanding reporter and journalist.  Over the years he became multi-lingual, teaching himself Russian and Japanese, in which he became highly proficient, and to a lesser degree, German, Italian, Latin, and a little Greek.

Amid the Guns of Port Arthur ……

His international fame was assured when in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) he secured the only news story of the destruction of the Russian fleet while at anchor in the great base of Port Arthur.

At the time Francis  McCullagh was aboard a British cargo vessel in the harbour, and had a grand-stand view of the piece-meal sinking of some of Russia’s finest naval units.  The vessel he was on flew the British flag, and was the only ship not fired on by the Japanese. McCullagh’s report of the engagement was read throughout the world and accurately divined the course of the struggle, predicting that the Japanese would emerge the victors.  After the Port Arthur disaster he followed the Russian fortunes, and during the Russian retreat from Mukden was captured along with 3000 soldiers, and sent as a prisoner- of- war to Japan.

His value as an astute and informed observer was appreciated by the Tsarist Government, and he was selected in 1905 to accompany the Russian leader Count Witte to the United States, who was to discuss with President Teddy Roosevelt, terms for a peace settlement. Together, they laid the foundations for the Portsmouth Peace Conference, which ended the Russo-Japanese War.


                                                                         Francis McCullagh

The Portuguese Revolution of 1910, involved  the overthrow of the  Portuguese Monarchy and the dethronement of King Manoel, and signalled the advent of the Portuguese First Republic, with McCullagh fully engaged by the world's newspapers as the reporter on- the-spot,  these included the ‘Westminster Gazette’ and the ‘Daily News’. The Italian venture into Tripoli in 1911, aspects of which he was subsequently highly critical, found him similarly engaged.              

McCullagh developed a special affection for Portugal, and in later years often re-visited the country.  

He was next in Agadir where he was expelled by the Moors, after which he  went to the Balkans to report on the First Balkan War.

The First Balkan War, October 1912 to May 1913, comprised military actions by the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies, and achieved rapid success.
Outside the Tchataldja lines, McCullagh was taken prisoner by the Bulgars, but as a recognised War Correspondent with the Turkish army, he avoided execution. He was put across the frontier and travelled to Serbia where old King Peter, the pride of the Montenegrins, decorated him with the ‘Order of Sava’.

The Great War - The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 found him in Russia, where he was attached to the Russian Army south of Warsaw. It was here that Von Hindenberg and Ludendorff launched their massive movements that were to culminate in the frightful Russian losses at the Mausurian Lakes, the flower of the Russian armies being either captured or destroyed. Francis McCullagh was recalled and received a commission in the 12th Worcester’s, transferring to the Royal Irish Fusiliers.  Throughout the war he acted as Intelligence officer at the Dardanelles, in Serbia and in Macedonia.   
The end of the war saw him appointed to the staff of General Knox’s Military Mission, formed to assist the White Russians in their struggle with the Bolsheviks.

A Narrow Escape  -  It was while with General Knox’s mission, when Bolshevik forces smashed those of Admiral Kolchak and his British supporters, that  Captain McCullagh, a fluent linguist, saved the lives of the entire personnel of the mission through his knowledge of Russian.
This incident led to one of Captain McCullagh’s most remarkable exploits, when he disguised himself as a Russian peasant, went on alone to Ekaterinburg, and was the first non-Russian to reach the scene of the death of the Tsar and his family, and to interview their executioner.
               He had many adventures in Siberia, and was captured by the Bolsheviks at Krasnoyarsk while retreating with Kolchak’s army after the fall of Omsk.
            Captured in early 1919, he persuaded his captors that he was a journalist rather than a British army officer, and was allowed to spend many months wandering around Russia before the increasingly suspicious Russian security services arrested him in Moscow, where he was imprisoned for more than a year.  He was released in 1920 as a result of the O’Grady – Litvinov Agreement, and was returned to England.

Image result for Captain Francis McCullagh

                          Gens. Sakharov and Kolchak; Francis McCullagh(ext.rt)

Bolshevik  Revolution  -  He returned to Russia in 1922 on behalf of Mr Frank Munsey, the  owner and editor of the ‘New York Herald’, who wanted a reliable and  up-to-date  report on the relationship  between the Bolshevik Government and the Christian Churches. McCullagh’s report highlighted the virtual collapse of the Russian Orthodox Church and its take-over by Bolshevik agents, with the Catholic Church the one remaining Christian organisation continuing to oppose the government.  McCullagh was able to attend the ‘State’ trial of several Catholic Bishops and priests accused of treason on various trumped-up charges, which resulted in findings of guilt for those charged, and the death sentence on two Bishops, Mgr Konstantin Budkiewicz and Archbishop John Cieplak.
                         ‘On March 21, 1923, the trial opened in Moscow  of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Achrida, John Cieplak; Monsignors Maletzky and Budkiewicz; Exarch Fedorov, head of the Uniat Church; eleven  priests and one Catholic layman, all charged with offences against the State; viz. refusal to hand-over church valuables, which included the Eucharistic vessels,  from churches and religious houses, to agents of the State;  also teaching  the Catholic faith to children and young people, both in church and in their homes.’

 The result of this travesty of a trial, held in the former ‘Club of the Nobility’ now the ‘House of the Red Labour Unions’ near Opera Square, Moscow, which lasted a mere five days from March 21 to March 25, 1923, was a finding of guilt for all the accused, with Archbishop Cieplak and Monsignor Budkiewicz sentenced to death, and varying terms of imprisonment for the remaining defendants, ranging from 10 years in solitary confinement, to 3 years; with the one lay defendant sentenced to 6 months imprisonment.

Monsignor Budkiewicz was executed (murdered - shot in the head) in a cellar, during the night of 30/31 March, the night of Good Friday/Holy Saturday.  As a result of international outrage and condemnation of the trial, the death sentence on Archbishop Cieplak was commuted to one of 10 years imprisonment in solitary confinement.
McCullagh  completes his work with an analysis of the Christian Churches in Russia at that time, concluding with the destruction and virtual dissolution of the Russian Orthodox Church, which included the murder of 28 Bishops and 1200 priests.

         McCullagh was expelled by the Soviet Government in 1923. The full and comprehensive report of his visit is contained in his book ‘the Bolshevik Persecution of Christianity’ published in 1924 by John Murray, London. 

                                       The Bolshevik (1920) by Kustodiev

Mexican Terror  -  McCullagh  went to Mexico during the anti-Catholic persecution in that country from 1926 until 1929, and managed to evade the State police and informants by his use of disguise, particularly when visiting known Catholics. To get into Mexico he first travelled up the Amazon by canoe, crossed nomad - fashion over Central America, and on to the officially closed Mexican border which he contrived to cross. In his book 'Red Mexico', McCullagh reported first hand on his experiences in Mexico, which included a full account of the arrest and execution without trial of Father Pro S.J. and three young Catholic men, for the alleged attempted murder of President Obregon by throwing two bombs at the car in which he was travelling. The bombs were thrown by the occupants of a passing car travelling in the opposite direction, which after exploding caused only minor injuries and damage. There was absolutely no evidence against the accused men, but one was a Catholic priest and the others were known Catholics, and as such they were seen as legitimate targets by the State, and were executed without trial.

                                                    Father Pro at Chapultepec  (Red Mexico)

His Books  -  Throughout his life, splendid and excellently informed articles and reports poured from his pen, and he found time, too, to write several books. Of these, the best known are ‘With the Cossacks’; The Fall of Abd-Ul-Hamid’ (last Sultan of Turkey and known as Abdul the Damned); ‘Italy’s War for a Desert’; ‘Tales from Turkey’; ‘Red Mexico’; ‘A Prisoner of the Reds’;  ‘The Bolshevil Persecution of Christianity’; ‘In Franco’s Spain’.

A man of strong Catholic faith and deep convictions, he was fearless in his denunciation of international, national, and religious authority, when he considered that they had acted wrongly or unjustly in matters of State. He was especially severe in his criticism of international (capitalist) arms dealers, whom he regarded as generally unprincipled and the lowest of the low, making huge fortunes out of war.

I have read several of McCullagh’s books’;  viz.  ‘A Prisoner of the Reds – the Story of a British Officer captured in Siberia’;   ‘The Bolshevik Persecution of Christianity’;  ‘Red Mexico’;   and ‘In Franco’s Spain’, and in every one McCullagh’s  religious faith shines through like a beacon in the darkness. I have not yet read his other books, but intend to do so soon.

I include short extracts from those books I have read, which reveal just a little of McCullagh's  deep  faith:-

“Nor can I ever forget the Masses I have heard on dark, frosty mornings in isolated Catholic churches far in the heart of Red Russia, and how astonishingly the calm and dignity of the noble service contrasted with the mad roar of revolution outside.  The church was dark, save where the altar candles made the silvery hair of the priest shine like a nimbus and lit up the altar, evoking a picture of the same Sacrifice being offered in a dimly lit Roman catacomb in commemoration of Sebastian the Soldier or of Agnes the Virgin Martyr, while a tyranny as bad as Lenin’s howled itself hoarse outside.” (‘A Prisoner of the Reds’)  

“The trial opened on Wednesday, March 21, 1923, under the Bolshevik Judge Galkin. The look  of extreme hatred conveyed by Galkin towards the accused – glances so charged with intense malignity that, if looks could kill, they would cause instant death.
The world wherein for the moment I found myself, was animated by that same passionate intolerance which had led the Roman mob, the Roman officials, and even the Roman intellectuals of Trajan’s time to loathe the Christians with a fury so immeasurable as to embarrass and alarm even Caesar himself.”  (‘The Bolshevik Persecution of Christianity’

              Mgr Budkiewicz - executed (murdered) by the Bolshevik Government 1923


“He  (Fr Pro)  was fearless, for at a time when he was one of the most ‘wanted’ men in Mexico City, he visited the prisons daily, bringing gifts to the Catholic prisoners, but also hearing confessions and distributing Holy Communion whenever the opportunity arose; and on such occasions he disarmed suspicion by chatting amicably with the warders and gendarmes.” (‘Red Mexico’)

File:Miguel Pro.gif

               Fr Miguel Pro S.J.- awaiting execution November, 1927.    


“This war is only one more ill, and not the worst; the worst ills are hidden: there are more terrible things in peace than there are in battle, even in that peace which is marked by a brighter tone in the stock markets, and by quiet conditions in the foreign exchanges. Some people in England and America have started a crusade against war: why do they not start a crusade against sin, the cause of war?  But let's say no more about it. In this world which looks so pleasant, there are, beneath the surface, horrors too awful for words.” (‘In Franco’s Spain’ - a quote from the Padre of a convent, in which the resident nuns, spared by the Republican forces to continue their work, nursed some fifteen hundred female inmates of a lunatic asylum, many diseased and mentally ill, most of whom had been forced into a life of  prostitution from a young age.) 



For many years the sole home Francis McCullagh knew was his flat in Paris, or the London club of which he was a member. With World War 2 imminent, he moved  from Paris to New York, where, while still keeping in touch with friends, his work- load diminished and his career slowly came to a  halt, for he was now of an age  for whom the battlefields of the Second World War had no place. In 1953 he was taken to a local hospital suffering from dementia, where he remained in deteriorating health for the next three years, eventually dying in 1956.

His death was recorded in the London Times and the New York Times, and in Ireland by the Irish Independent, Fermanagh Herald,  and some local newspapers.


‘Trotsky of Russia knows Francis McCullagh.  So does President Calles of Mexico. Peter, the King of Serbia, was McCullagh’s friend.  The head-hunters of the upper Amazon list Francis McCullagh as one of their principal deities. The warring tribes of Morocco call him blood brother.  A room is always ready for him in the Imperial Palace of Siam. The latchstrings of hundreds of Siberian peasant huts are out in anticipation of his coming.’  (ack. ‘El Gran Corresponsal de Guerra’,  Francis McCullagh, 1874 – 1956,  by John Horgan)

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

'Our Lady of Czestochowa' - The Black Madonna

 'Ballade to Our Lady of Czestochowa’        by  Hilaire Belloc


Lady and Queen and Mystery manifold
And very Regent of the untroubled sky.
Whom in a dream St.Hilda did behold
And heard a Woodland music passing by:
You shall receive me when the clouds are high
With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.


Steep are the seas and savaging and cold
In broken waters terrible to try;
And vast against the winter night the wold,
And harbourless for any sail to lie.
But you shall lead me to the lights, and I
Shall hymn  you in a harbour story told.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.


Help of the half-defeated, House of gold,
Shrine of the Sword, and Tower of Ivory;
Splendour apart, supreme and aureoled.
The Battler’s vision and the World’s reply,
You shall restore me, O my last Ally,
To vengeance and the glories of the  bold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.


Prince of the degradations, bought and sold,
These verses written in your crumbling sty,
Proclaim the faith that I have held and hold,
And publish that in which I mean to live and die.



The Black Madonna of Czestochowa also known as Our Lady of Czestochowa, is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary, housed at the Jasna Gora Monastery, In  Czestochowa, Poland

Nuestra Señora de Czestochowa.jpg

The Icon

The four-foot-high painting displays a traditional composition well known in the icons of Eastern Christians. The Virgin Mary is shown as the Hodegetria ("One Who Shows the Way").  The Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand. The icon shows the Madonna in fleur-de-lis robes.

The legend concerning the two scars on the Black Madonna’s right cheek, is that the Hussites stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites tried to get away but their horses refused to move. They threw the portrait down to the ground and one of the plunderers drew his sword upon the image and inflicted two deep strikes. When the robber tried to inflict a third strike, he fell to the ground and writhed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty in covering up those slashes as the painting was done with tempera infused with diluted wax.

The origins of the icon and the date of its composition are still contested among scholars. One difficulty in dating the icon is due in part to its original image being painted over after being badly damaged by Hussite raiders in 1430. The wooden boards that backed the painting were broken and the canvas slashed.  Medieval restorers unfamiliar with the encaustic method found that the paints they applied to the damaged areas "simply sloughed off the image" according to the medieval chronicler Risinius, and their solution was to erase the original image and to repaint it on the original panel. The original features of an Orthodox icon were softened; the nose was made more aquiline.

Coronation as Queen and Protectress of Poland[

In August 1382 the hilltop parish church was transferred to the Paulites, a hermitic order from Hungary.  The golden fleur-de-lis painted on the Virgin's blue veil parallel the heraldic azure, semée de lis, or of the French royal coat of arms, and the most likely explanation for their presence is that the icon had been present in Hungary during the reign of either Charles 1 of Hungary and/or Louis the Great, the Hungarian kings of the Anjou dynasty, who probably had the fleur-de-lis of their family's coat of arms painted on the icon. This would suggest that the icon was probably originally brought to Jasna Gora by the Pauline monks from their founding monastery in Hungary.

The Black Madonna is said to have miraculously saved the monastery of Jasna Góra (English: Bright Mount) from a Swedish invasion.  The Siege of Jasna Góra took place in the winter of 1655 during the Second Northern War, as the Swedish invasion of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth is known. The Swedes were attempting to capture the Jasna Góra monastery in Częstochowa. Seventy monks and 180 local volunteers, mostly from the szlachta (Polish nobility), held off 4,000 Swedes for 40 days, saved their sacred icon and, according to some accounts, turned the course of the war.  This event led King John ll Casimir Vasa to "crown" Our Lady of Częstochowa ("the Black Madonna) as Queen and Protector of Poland, in the cathedral of Lwow on 1 April 1656. Prior to this event, several royal nobilities had offered crowns to the image throughout the years, replacing its iron sheet crown by gold and several jewels. In later years, various jewels were interchanged and repositioned around the image to preserve the aesthetic of the icon with the replacement of stolen crowns.


The icon of Our Lady of  Częstochowa has been intimately associated with Poland for the past 600 years. Its history prior to its arrival in Poland is shrouded in numerous legends which trace the icon's origin to Saint Luke who painted it on a cedar table top from the house of the Holy Family. The same legend holds that the painting was discovered in Jerusalem in 326 by St. Helena, who brought it back to Constantinople and presented it to her son, Constantine the Great.

Arrival in Częstochowa

The oldest documents from Jasna Gora state that the picture travelled from 
Constantinople via Belz.  Eventually it came into the possession of Wladyslaw Opollzyk, Duke of Opole, and adviser to Louis of Anjou, King of Poland and Hungary. Ukrainian sources state that earlier in its history it was brought to Belz with much ceremony and honors by King Levi 1 of Anjou, and later taken by Władysław from the Castle of Belz, when the town was incorporated into the Polish kingdom. A popular story tells that in late August 1384, Wladyslaw was passing Częstochowa with the picture when his horses refused to go on. He was advised in a dream to leave the icon at Jasna Gora.
Art historians say that the original painting was a Byzantine icon created around the sixth or ninth century. They agree that Prince Władysław brought it to the monastery in the 14th century.  


Częstochowa is regarded as the most popular shrine in Poland, with many Polish Catholics making a pilgrimage there every year. A pilgrimage has left Warsaw every August 6 since 1711 for the nine-day, 140-mile trek. Elderly pilgrims recall stealing through the dark countryside at great personal risk during the German Nazi occupation. Pope John Paul II secretly visited as a student pilgrim during World War II.  
The feast day of Our Lady of Częstochowa is celebrated on August 26.
Several Pontiffs have recognized the image, namely:-

 Pope Clement XI issued a Canonical Coronation for the image through the Vatican Chapter on 8 September 1717

Pope Pius X, after the crowns were stolen on 23 October 1909, the Pontiff replaced the crowns on 22 May 1910.

 Pope John Paul II gifted another set of crowns as a native of Poland, which was placed on 26 August 2005.

                                  (Ack. Wikipedia)


Hilaire Belloc, born France 1870,  died Guildford, England, 1953, was an Anglo-French writer and historian, and one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. Belloc was also an orator, poet, sailor, satirist, writer of letters, soldier, and political activist.
Hilaire Belloc portrait by E. O. Hoppé, 1915
Hilaire Belloc portrait by Emil Otto Hoppé, 1915  (Wikipedia)

His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man. Belloc became a naturalised British subject in 1902 while retaining his French citizenship.
His poetry encompassed comic verses for children and religious poetry. His widely sold Cautionary Tales for Children included "Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion" and "Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death". He also collaborated with G.K.Chesterton on a number of works.

                                                                                                                  (Ack. Wikipedia)

(I Recommend Wikipedia’s entry on Belloc, which contains much additional information of great interest.)