Jasna Góra Monastery is one of the largest Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Located in Częstochowa, Poland, the monastery is home to the famous Black Madonna of Częstochowa, or the Our Lady of Częstochowa, a four-foot-high Gothic painting displaying the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that Luke the Evangelist completed the iconic painting, and it is further purported that the painting was done on a tabletop built by Jesus himself and that it was discovered by St Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine.
On average, 14,000 people visit the monastery each day to see the Black Madonna, a painting credited with several miracles, including the saving of the monastery during a 17th-century Swedish invasion. It is believed that the original painting was a Byzantine icon dating back to sometime between the 6th and 9th centuries. During a 15th-century restoration, it was painted anew, as the restorers were not able to apply tempera colors over the wax paint.
Visitors should remember to be silent upon entrance to the monastery shrine. The gates are open from 5:30am until 8:30pm, and crowds should be expected around the Black Madonna. The busiest pilgrimage dates include May 3 (Feast of Mary, Queen of Poland), August 15 (Feast of the Assumption), August 26 (Feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa), September 8 (Feast of the Nativity of Mary), and December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception).