POLISH STUDIES ENDOWMENT COMMITTEE

Dr. Anna Niedźwiedź

Dr. Anna Niedźwiedź

October 21, 2008

Our Lady of Czestochowa: religious or national symbol of Poland?

Dr. Anna Niedźwiedź is from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków,
Poland, where she teaches cultural anthropology. Her lecture focused on
the symbolic meanings connected with the image of the Black Madonna in
Polish culture and popular religiosity. Enhanced by ethnographical
examples that revealed the complexity of this religious image, the
presentation strongly appealed to the audience.

“The lecture
shed light on an important aspect of Polish culture and national
identity. I was in awe of the Lady, who in many respects is treated as
one of the family in Polish households. I saw in Our Lady of
Czestochowa an ideal that not only provided communal unity and national
identity, but also touched each individual with a personal experience.
I understand now why she was so important throughout Poland’s tumultuous
history, and why she retains such reverence today.”
(Bridget
Swirski)

“I like to refer to myself as “Polish-American since 1902” and
have traveled to Poland twice, once to study the language, once to study
Warsaw. On October 21, I attended Dr. Anna Niedźwiedź’s presentation on
the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. I did not want to miss the
opportunity to learn more – from anthropology/religion/art history
perspectives – about the famous image of She who protects my 90-year-old
grandma in Pittsburgh, She who I believe is capable of displays of
synchronicity both subtle and miraculous. I have not (yet) been to
Częstochowa, but I think that anywhere in Poland where you find the
Black Madonna, you feel Her power. Even if you understand only one word
of Polish in a hundred. I encourage anyone with curiosity about Poland
to enrich their lives by going there: to hear the language, to see the
landscape, to feel the history. Until you can get there, buy some
Chopin CDs and be grateful to organizations like the UW Polish Studies
Endowment Committee for bringing Poland to Seattle!“
(Julianne
Crowl)

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