One of the first prayer cards I ever owned was of Our Lady of Czestochowa. She is also known as the Black Madonna. Tradition holds that St. Luke, writer of the third gospel, is the writer of this icon, and that the surface the image is on was a cypress table- top belonging to the Holy Family.
An “identical” replica has been made of this icon, and has been blessed and is making a pilgrimage throughout the world on a mission to promote life and the family. You can read all about the travels of the icon and also find out if the icon will be in your area by visiting the From Ocean to Ocean website. This is a pilgrimage run by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians (which just makes me super happy).
As I understand it, icons are not just art work, but are like windows into heaven. The icon writer has prayed and studied all throughout the process of making the icon. And it is always supposed to tell a story. Here, we see Mary gesturing toward the child, Jesus, directing us to Him as the source of salvation. She is acting as the “Odigitria” or the “One Who Shows the Way.” He extends His hand in blessing and holds a book, perhaps of the gospels. The marks on Mary’s face and neck are from several attacks on the image by those who wished to destroy it.
Important note of clarification for those who are unfamiliar with icons and their use in the Christian tradition:
“As an image, an icon is not and cannot be the object of worship, because the image is not God Himself. It only makes possible, facilitates the spiritual contact of a man with the Creator and with saints. The Christian does not worship the icon itself, but the living God, who through the reality displayed in the icon, draws the person to Himself.” Look here for other answers to frequently asked questions.
Whether Our Lady of Czestochowa’s replica is coming to your area or not, you can go here to request free prayer cards for your family and join in the mission in support of life and the family.