The story of the American Czestochowa begins in 1951, when Pauline Father Michael M. Zembruski arrived in the U.S. as a missionary. As he traveled the country preaching to Polish parishes, he saw a need to celebrate and preserve Polish culture among Polish-Americans, and he dreamed of a shrine that would serve as both a religious and cultural center.
In 1953, he received permission to establish a monastery and bought a 40-acre farm with a house and barn. Today, Our Lady of Czestochowa, which was blessed by Pope John XXIII in 1962, spans more than 100 acres. The grounds include the shrine and monastery, plus a cemetery, library, retreat house and even a Polish-language radio station. The Pauline fathers stay busy welcoming pilgrims, offering masses in Polish and English, teaching Polish school and mentoring a youth ministry.
The fare celebrates and sustains the mission.
Traditional foods such as golabki (stuffed cabbage), pierogi (dumplings) and grilled kielbasa complement standard fair offerings like funnel cake and hot dogs. The shrine cafeteria will also be open for festivalgoers seeking more options. Masses will be conducted in English and Polish during the festivities. Guests are encouraged to visit the shrine and take in the exhibits.
Admission to the event includes all midway rides, and exhibits, including a Polish village, stage shows and events like a Polskie Wesele (wedding). War buffs should look for re-enactors honoring Polish soldiers and warriors from the 16th to the 20th centuries, including Rick Orly and the Husaria, the elite cavalry known as "the winged horsemen" for their fantastical animal capes and feathered armor.
For Catholics, the Monastery of Jasna Gora, home of the beloved icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, is a holy place suffused with miracles and mystery. Known as the "Black Madonna," the icon of Jasna Gora (a copy is on display at the Doylestown shrine) is credited with such miraculous feats as protecting itself from Tartar looters in 1382 by enveloping its chapel in a cloud.
By 1386 a monastery had been founded to enshrine the icon, and later, a cathedral was built around the chapel; today, it is the third-largest Catholic shrine in the world.
National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, 654 Ferry Road, Doylestown, noon-8 p.m. Saturday-Monday and Sept. 8-9, $10, 215-345-0600, polishamericanfestival.com.
Art Attack is a partnership with Drexel University and is supported by a grant from the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.