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Twelfth International Mariological Congress
Czestochowa, Poland (August 1996)


Traditionally Approved

40 - 999 1400 - 1499
1000 - 1099 1500 - 1599
1100 - 1199 1600 - 1699
1200 - 1299 1700 - 1799
1300 - 1399 1800 - 1899

Vatican Approved
Bishop Approved
Coptic Approved
Approved for Faith Expression
Apparitions to Saints
Unapproved Apparitions

Source: International Marian Reasearch institute (IMRI)

- Request for the definition of the dogma of Mary as Mediatrix, Coredemptrix and Advocate

The twelfth International Mariological Congress took place at Czestochowa, Poland, August 18-24, 1996, at the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. (In Polish, the shrine is referred to as Jasna Gora--the Bright Mountain.) The theme for the congress, as determined
by the Pontifical Marian Academy, was:

"Mary, Mother of the Lord, in the Mystery of Salvation, Celebrated Today in the Holy Spirit, by the Churches of the East and West."

In his address to the members of the Mariological Congress, Pope John Paul wrote that "on the threshold of the third millennium, we want to draw closer to the Mother of God in a special way, to learn from her the attitude of letting go that makes possible a deeper understanding of the mystery of salvation." He noted that the contemplation of Mary "as she to whom God. . .conferred the special role of being Mother of His Son, is the common experience of faith of the Churches of the East and West. . . .It is good that the very theme of the congress this year clearly indicates the ecumenical character of Mariological reflection." The shrine of Czestochowa, which stands on the boundaries between Eastern and Western Europe, between the Eastern and Western Church, was an appropriate site for the congress. Two themes or motifs occurred throughout the many presentations of the Mariological Congress: the presence of Mary in the liturgies of the East and West, and the Virgin Mary as a focus of ecumenical convergence between East and West.

The congress consisted of major addresses at the plenary sessions in the morning, and, in the afternoon, presentations at the nine language groups (English, Croatian, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Latin-American). Each morning, the participants gathered in the chapel of Jasna Gora for Morning Prayer and Mass, celebrated together in Latin, including a short homily in Latin.

The opening address for the Mariological Congress was given by Fr. Jesus Castellano Cervera, O.C.D. He pointed out how the liturgical texts from the East and West give witness to a faith uniting the churches in their belief and their communion with the Mother of the Savior. Five presentations dealt with the presence of Mary in the Eastern Churches--the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, Byzantine. Another five presentations dealt with the presence of Mary in the liturgies of the Western Churches: the Anglican, the Reformed, the Mozarabic, Ambrosian, the Greco-Slavic.

The sessions on Thursday, August 22, 1996, occurred in the Cathedral of Krakow, where the capitulants were welcomed by Francis Cardinal Marcharski, Pope John Paul's successor in that archdiocese. At the cathedral of Krakow, Fr. Rene Laurentin gave a conference, "East and West: Convergences and Differences on the Virgin Mary." After the visit to Crakow, the participants traveled through Wadowice (birthplace of John Paul II) to Auschwitz, the site of the Nazi concentration camp and the place of martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe and thousands of others victims of the Holocaust.

As the Mariological Congress concluded on Friday, August 23, the Marian Congress--with the theme "Mary and the Eucharist"-- began. As was the case in Spain where the 1992 Mariological and Marian congresses of Huelva served as preparation for the Eucharistic Congress of Toledo in 1993, so the 1996 congresses of Czestochowa were a preparation for the 1997 Eucharistic Congress of Wroclaw (Poland). In his message to the participants in the International Marian Congress of Jasna Gora, the Pope reflected that "just as Mary is found in the origins of the mission of the Word Incarnate, and for this reason, also in the origins of the Eucharist, so too this year's Marian Congress marks the beginning of the spiritual preparation of the Church to experience in a profitable way the Eucharistic Congress of 1997."

Joint Resolution

In a joint resolution, the delegates of both congresses dedicated themselves to: "implementing a program with a common agenda for the Third Millennnium--with Mary, the model of faith (1997), the woman of hope (1998), and the Mother of Beautiful Love (belle amour) (1999). At the Mariological Congress, the papal legate, Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of Detroit and papal legate to the congress, announced that the new president of the Pontifical Marian Academy, replacing Fr. Paul Melada, O.F.M., would be Fr. Gaspar Calvo Moralejo, O.F.M., and the new secretary, Fr. Stefano Cecchin, O.F.M.

The Shrine of Jasna Gora

The heart of the shrine is the miraculous icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Its origins date back to the 14th century, when Prince Vladislaus of Opole established a foundation for the Order of Hermits of St. Paul (Paulines) and gave them the icon of the Virgin Mary brought from Ruthenia. In 1430, the icon was stolen and the precious stones that had been attached to it were ripped off by the sword of the invaders (leaving what appears to scars on the icon's face). In 1655, after the routing of invading Swedish armies, the king of Poland, John Casimirus, officially proclaimed Our Lady Queen of Poland. Over the centuries, the pilgrims coming to Czestochowa have included royalty and heads of state, as well as ordinary folk. Pilgrimages continued during the 123 years that Poland spent under foreign partition (1795-1918), the Second World War, and the period under Communism.

In 1957, a copy of the icon of Czestochowa was sent on a continual pilgrimage throughout the parishes of Poland that was to last twenty-three years as preparation for the millennium of Christianity in Poland (1980).

During the Communist occupation, when the primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski was imprisoned by the Communists in 1954, the custom arose of a short prayer at 9:00 p.m.. Each evening since 1954 crowds gather in the chapel for this service of prayer known as the 'Call of Jasna Gora': "Mary, Mother of Poland, we are with you and we are mindful of your presence. Together with you we keep vigil. . . ."

Dialogue on Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate

During the International Mariological Congress at Czestochowa, Poland, August 18-23, 1996, a meeting composed of representatives from the Marian theological faculties and the Mariological societies was held to consider the advisability of petitioning the Holy See for the dogmatic definition of the Virgin Mary as coredemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate. This meeting at the International Mariological Congress was held at the request of the Holy See. Among the twenty-two members present at the meeting were Rene Laurentin, Stefano de Fiores, S.M.M., Jesus Castellano Cervera, O.C.D., Ignacio M. Calabuig, O.S.M., and Johann Roten, S.M. The moderator of the meeting was Candido Pozo, S.J., president of the Spanish Mariological Society. Representatives from the Orthodox, Reformed, and Anglican churches were also present. There was unanimous agreement at the meeting not to petition the Holy See to make such a declaration at this time. There were two reasons for this decision: the first dealt with the theological clarifications which must first be made, and the second dealt with the ecumenical dialogue.

In accord with the precedent set at Vatican II, the participants agreed that a doctrinal declaration should not "settle questions which have not yet been fully clarified by the work of theologians" (LG 54); they noted that Vatican II had already stated that the "Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix" (LG 62). Although these titles are in common use, they are subject to ambiguous and different interpretations. The word "coredemptrix" did not appear in the magisterium until the pontificate of Pius XII. Earlier in the twentieth century, Pius XI had formed national commissions to study the possibility of a dogmatic definition of Mary as mediatrix. The pneumatological consequences of calling Mary "advocate" must also be carefully studied.

The second reason the theologians gave for recommending that the Holy See not define these Marian prerogatives dealt with the ecumenical dialogue. In the encyclical Ut unum sint, Pope John Paul II outlined a path for ecumenical dialogue among all the followers of Christ. The various churches should explore the common ground that unites them together as followers of Christ. He suggests that all Christians consider the Virgin Mary as "Mother of God, icon of the Church, spiritual mother who intercedes for all the disciples of Christ and for the whole of humanity" (n. 79). The theologians wished to follow the line of dialogue as outlined in the encyclical as the way to promote unity among all the churches. Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and the Reformed were united at Jasna Gora to consider the role of the Virgin Mary in the mystery of Christ. This dialogue at Jasna Gora presents an example of an exchange of views which searches for common ground and which brings together and unites.

- Request for the definition of the dogma of Mary as Mediatrix, Coredemptrix and Advocate

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