Częstochowa

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Częstochowa

Częstochowa (chĕN´stəkô´və), city (1993 est. pop. 258,800), Śląskie prov., S Poland, on the Warta River. It is an important railway and industrial center, known especially for its iron and steel plant and iron-smelting works. Other industries include iron-ore mining, food processing, sawmilling, and the manufacture of chemicals and textiles. Iron ore is mined in the vicinity. Częstochowa is a celebrated religious center, and a world-famous place of pilgrimage. Its monastery stands on the Jasna Gora [mountain of light] and contains an image of Mary known as the Black Madonna, supposedly painted by St. Luke and brought to Częstochowa in the 14th cent. In 1655, when Charles X of Sweden overran Poland, the prior and a handful of soldiers defended the monastery and its relic for 40 days until the Swedes abandoned the siege. Fired by what they thought to be a miracle, the Polish people rose to successful resistance. The event figures prominently in Henryk Sienkiewicz's novel The Deluge. The monastery was again defended against the Swedes in 1702. Venerated as the "Queen of Poland," the image became the national symbol of Poland.

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