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THE NATIONAL SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF CZESTOCHOWA TIMELINE HISTORY


Fr. Michael Zembrzuski, a Pauline Father, came to the United States, bringing with himself a faithful copy of the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa (blessed by Pope St John XXIII ), hoping to establish an American Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa, similar to the one in Poland.

1951

Father Michael was granted permission from the Holy See and Cardinal O’Hara of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to establish a monastery and shrine on the land, which he previously purchased in Doylestown, PA.

1953

On June 26th, 1955, a small wooden, barn chapel has been dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa with the celebration of the first Mass, thus marking the beginning of the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, PA. The dedication of the first chapel created a new center of Marian devotion and a place of pilgrimage. Many pilgrim groups started coming to this little Shrine. The first pilgrimage ever recorded came from St. Laurentius parish in Philadelphia on June 26, 1955 for the dedication ceremony of the barn chapel.

1955

The barn chapel soon proved to be inadequate for the many Polish and American pilgrims. In 1960, with the financial support of the faithful, more property was acquired. A new vision was proposed to build a shrine which would commemorate the one thousand years of faith of the Polish people.

1960

The groundbreaking ceremony, presided by Archbishop John Krol of Philadelphia, took place on Beacon Hill – the highest point in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where the new Church was to be build. In the same year, the Shrine Cemetery was opened and consecrated. Adam Styka, a famous painter, became the first one to be buried at the cemetery.

1964

On Sunday, October 16, 1966, with a great crowd of pilgrims, in the presence of the President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson and his family, representatives of the Catholic Church and State officials, Archbishop John Krol solemnly dedicated the new Shrine in the honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

1966

The annual Polish-American Festival has been started on the Shrine grounds.

1967

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow (future Pope John Paul II) visited the Shrine of American Czestochowa for the first time.

1969

The barn chapel was transported in its entirety and relocated to its current location in the Shrine’s cemetery.

1972

Second visit of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (future Pope John Paul II) along with the delegation of Polish Bishops. They came to USA for the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia and were staying at the Pauline Fathers Monastery in Doylestown.

1976

On April 13, 1980 George H. W. Bush have visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa as a Presidential Candidate. During this time he was campaigning for the Presidential nomination in the Pennsylvania Republican primary. He eventually ended up becoming a Vice President of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981. Finally George H. W. Bush became a US President in 1989. When he was visiting our Shrine, he was greeted by Fr. Lucius Tyrasinski, the superior of the Monastery and he participated in the Communion Breakfast. He also wrote in our Shrine guest book: “With very happy memories of a wonderful day – and with thanks to the volunteers and to Fr. Lucius. Most Sincerely, George Bush. April 13, 1980”.

1980


In August 1980 Pope John Paul II blessed and signed the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which is now located in the lower church at the Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

1980

Burning of the mortgage of the Shrine and paying off the debt, thus saving Shrine’s existance.

1981

President of the United States, Ronald Reagan came to the Shrine for the conclusion of the Polish-American Festival.

1984

The Polish Primate, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw, visits the Shrine for the first time. It was for first time that a Polish Primate had come officially to visit a Polonia center in USA.

1985

The First Walking Pilgrimage arrived at the Shrine. The Pilgrims walked from Great Meadows, NJ at the conclusion of the Marian Year. Since then, more walking pilgrimage groups to American Czestochowa have emerged (from Trenton, NJ and Philadelphia, PA), attracting more people every year.

1988

Dedication of the new Shrine buildings: Ave Maria Retreat House, Visitor Center, and the Lower Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which houses a true replica of the altar in Czestochowa, Poland. The Altar of the Main Church has also been consecrated.

2001

Death and funeral of Fr. Michael Zembrzuski,the founder of American Czestochowa.

2003

On June 26, 2005, celebrations of Golden Jubilee of the Shrine took place. Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Cardinal Justin Rigali – Archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Jozef Glemp – Primate of Poland, Cardinal Adam Maida – Archbishop of Detroit, Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz – Archbishop of Wroclaw, and along with other Archbishops, Bishops, and Priests from Vatican, Poland, and United States.

2005

Dedication of the Rosary Garden by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz , Archbishop of Krakow took place. This year has also marked the beginning of the Fatima Day Devotions & Processions at the Shrine.

2008

Our Shrine has been granted the designation of “National Shrine” by the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

2009

American Czestochowa has been visited, for the first time, by the Prime Minister and the President of Poland. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo visited the Shrine in April, where as, President Andrzej Duda came for the dedication of the Monument of the Cursed Soldiers in September.

2016

Celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the Coronation of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Czestochowa took place. The Mosaic of the Blessed Mother created from photos from “The Living Crown of Mary” project, has also been presented.

2017

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