Ebony Madonna — two slashes on your face by hateful hands —
All these hearts: those of platinum, gold, silver, or precious stones —  cannot soothe,
cannot erase the painful wondering which shows in your eyes.

(Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Czarney portret)

The two slashes on the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa were inflicted by Hussite soldiers in the fifteenth century. Legend says that numerous artists tried to repair the painting by covering over the slashes, but each time, the slashes re-appeared.

The artist adds her own interpretation to the famous icon: tears run down the Holy Mother’s face as she mourns for the fate of the Polish nation. Her Son looks up and touches his Mother’s chin in a gesture of comfort. Around the Madonna’s shoulders is a blue and gold ribbon from which hangs the Virtuti Militari — the highest Polish Military honor that is given in recognition of bravery. In the background is a wall covered with votive hearts, offered to the Blessed Icon by the faithful in thanksgiving for miraculous healings and other graces.

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