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“The theological and historical symbols featuring on the new collector’s banknote of the National Bank of Poland underscores the unique role that the painting of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa and the cult of Virgin Mary have played in the history of the Polish nation,” said Father Jan Stanisław Rudziński, the custodian of Jasna Góra’s Votive Art Collection. The banknote was issued on 21 August, five days prior to the anniversary celebrations at Jasna Góra. The Pauline Fathers are hoping that the celebrations will help in the unification of Poles.

The banknote entitled “The 300 th anniversary of the coronation of the painting of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa” issued by the National Bank of Poland and printed by Polska Wytwórnia Papierów Wartościowych S.A. was revealed during the press conference at Jasna Góra, where celebrations commemorating the 1717 coronation of the painting of the Black Madonna in Częstochowa will be held on 26 August. According to Father Jan Stanisław Rudziński, such coronations had previously happened only in Rome and Italy.

Initiative of Pauline Fathers, decision of President of National Bank of Poland, work done by PWPW S.A.

Mr Piotr Wojcieszek, director of the Department of Banknotes and Secured Prints at PWPW S.A., said that the company manufactures banknotes following its clients’ orders, of which the main and key client is the National Bank of Poland, and, as he stressed, "it's the Bank that decides on the theme of the collector’s banknote for the given year”. He considers it important that the banknote entitled “The 300 th anniversary of the coronation of the painting of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa” has joined the collection already featuring, among others, a banknote entitled “The 1050 th anniversary of the baptism of Poland” (issued in 2016, remark by CP PAP).

 “When I see reactions at international conferences that sometimes take place in Muslim countries (...), I see that the elements presented on these banknotes not only don’t give rise to any aggression or opposition, but instead stir up great respect,” said Piotr Wojcieszek during his interview with CP PAP.

He also noted that “you can frequently hear voices that contemporary states, including the Polish state, make the mistake of combining the things that are God’s with things that are Caesar’s.” He considers this a “mistake”, because “a person is not separate from his or her convictions and beliefs, and he or she can be an employee, a clerk, a parent, a colleague, or a friend,” whereas “the things that are important to us and what we believe in make it possible for our job to be done more professionally, creatively, with greater dedication, and our convictions and beliefs make us treat others in a certain way.”

Piotr Wojcieszek said that PWPW S.A. has recently celebrated its triumph during the international conference in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, where the banknote entitled “The 1050 th anniversary of the baptism of Poland” issued by the National Bank of Poland and printed by PWPW S.A. was considered the best collector’s banknote in the world.

 “It was voted for by representatives of several dozen countries, of which many are not even Catholic or Christian, and frequently those are countries that could declare a kind of enmity towards Christianity,” said Mr Wojcieszek. He believes that this can prove that “when our respect for other people arises from our faith, including people who have completely different beliefs and convictions, and if this respect is shown in our decisions, choices, and actions, then such activities would not only be professional, but also to a degree apostolic.”

Ninth collector’s banknote from National Bank of Poland

Ms Barbara Jaroszek, acting director of the Issuance and Treasury Department of the National Bank of Poland, stressed that the Bank is the sole issuer of currency, and therefore it commissions the production of collector’s pieces to manufacturers such as PWPW S.A. and the Polish Mint.

She said that each year the collector’s pieces’ issuance plan features from a dozen up to more than twenty subjects that honour important events and persons from Polish history. She added that each year the Bank receives more than one hundred so-called issuance initiatives, from among which the Bank’s president picks those that are finally issued the following year.

Ms Jaroszek said that the initiative to issue the banknote entitled “The 300 th anniversary of the coronation of the painting of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa” was put forward in July last year by the Order of Pauline Fathers and the president of the National Bank of Poland, professor Adam Glapiński.

One such treasure a year

The representative of the National Bank of Poland stressed that preparing a collector’s banknote is a very complex job, and therefore the bank issues only one such banknote per year. First, during the preparation stage, the Bank requests that the initiator indicate the substantive consultant. In the case of the banknote celebrating the 300 th anniversary of the coronation of the painting of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa it was Father Jan Stanisław Rudziński who selected the symbols placed on the banknote. Next, some of those symbols were included in the banknote’s art, and some were used as security features to prevent forgery. “We need to remember that it is also a piece of currency that we could, in theory, use in normal cash transactions,” said Barbara Jaroszek.

Pauline Fathers pray for Poles’ unity

 “This banknote illustrates how much we wanted to inform those who do not know or who would like to know that there would be such an anniversary, as well as what it means for Poles that we are celebrating this anniversary for the first time in free Poland,” said the definitor general of the Order of Pauline Fathers, father Mariusz Tabulski.

He said that the painting’s coronation in 1717 came “as if on the threshold of difficult moments in the history of our country turned out to be providential, and we could pray to the Virgin Mary during the times of captivity.” He explained that for Poles the coronation constituted hope to which they returned in difficult times.

 “We are celebrating this anniversary for the first time in free Poland maybe also to unify Poland,” said father Tabulski. He stressed that the spiritual aspect of this event is the most important, but he also noted that “there is the social and the patriotic aspect to it, too.”

He believes that Poles are deeply divided, but the fact that the Mother of God is the most important person for Poles gives him hope that people can unify around these values that have bound Poles to Her for centuries, irrespective of their current political views.

 “This is what we’re hoping for and what we’re praying for at Jasna Góra, and we invite Poles to mature to greater unity through the meetings with Our Queen,” stressed father Mariusz Tabulski.

He also likes the banknote itself. “I have participated in the making of this banknote, and I am really happy that it is already available for purchase and that it is so beautiful,” said the definitor general of the Order of Pauline Fathers. He was the most impressed by the print on the banknote “becoming radiant and coming to life” in UV light.

Father Mariusz admitted that during the works on the banknote’s design there were problems with presenting the motifs of Jasna Góra and the painting's coronation without simultaneously including an image of the Virgin Mary. He had explained that the banknote “may end up in various situations”, it may, for example, be washed with clothing, and so the “image of the Mother of God must not be defiled”.

Father Jan Stanisław Rudziński, the custodian of the Jasna Góra’s Votive Art Collection, added that a banknote, a legal tender, must not feature images that are used for cult purposes only. “The painting from Jasna Góra is too well known, it is practically a national relic and an element of the sacrum; images of holy people, such as Jesus, Mary, and the saints cannot be placed on banknotes, because they can only be presented through appropriate symbols,” he explained.

As the banknote’s substantive consultant, father Jan Stanisław Rudziński, appreciated the fact that in the making of it the latest aesthetic and securing solutions had been used. He also noted that during the joint preparatory works conducted with the National Bank of Poland the copies of the crowns that were stolen from the painting of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa in 1909 still hadn’t been made. “We used a computer visualisation, largely reconstructive one and very reminiscent of the original crowns,” he said.

Modern presentation of profound ideas

The 20 zloty banknote designed by PWPW S.A.’s Justyna Kopecka has the dimensions of 150 x 77 millimetres. It has been printed in the circulation of 55 000 notes.

All elements on the collector’s banknote are described in detail by director Barbara Janoszek.

The banknote’s obverse shows the images of the crowns donated by the Pope Clement XI. Mary’s crown is topped with the stars that are a reference to the woman from the apocalyptic vision. The crowns of Mary and Child Jesus are supported by pairs of angels, which is a reference to the cult of Guardian Angels that has been propagated by Pauline Fathers of Jasna Góra since the 17 th century. Beneath Jesus’ crown there is Mary’s monogram, which also functions as one of the banknote’s security features, the so-called recto-verso. On the right hand side there are stylised vine motifs from the painting’s baroque frame. The watermark features the coat of arms of the Pauline Fathers, that is a raven with a loaf of bread in its beak, and two lions resting against a palm trunk. The top left hand corner features a plant motif from the antependium of the altar standing in the Mother of God’s chapel.

The reverse features a print from the collections of the Vatican Library published in Rome in 1717. The print shows the coronation of the painting of the Black Madonna: an illumination of the sanctuary with a view of the coronation altar. On the left hand side there is the plan of the Jasna Góra monastery with fortifications, and a fleur-de-lis below. On the right hand side there is a plant motif from the painting’s frame and a water mark – the coat of arms of the Pauline Fathers.

It is printed on a paper banknote substrate, and in addition to beautiful art it also features a number of state-of-the-art security features. It is the first collector’s banknote to feature a multi-tone watermark that changes smoothly into a wire watermark, as well as multi-colour UV (on the reverse).

Special status of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa

In the banknote’s description posted on the website of the National Bank of Poland father Jan Stanisław Rudziński says that Virgin Mary has enjoyed special status in Poland for centuries: she is Mother, Protector, and Queen. It was already recorded by Jan Długosz in the “Annals of the Kingdom of Poland” calling the Mother of God the Most Honoured Queen of the world and of us.

Across the ages, many Polish rulers prayed for her intercession before her painting, and Jasna Góra became the destination of pilgrimages of all social classes that brought gifts to the Mother of God in the form of regalia. The cult of Virgin Mary was expressed and expanded in the vows of king Jan Kazimierz made at the Lvov cathedral after the Swedish invasion. The vows in Lvov were complemented by the solemn coronation of the painting of the Black Madonna in 1717.

Stolen in 1909 by a common thief, the crowns were replaced on 28 July 2017 with replicas donated by the Italian Crotone diocese. On 17 May 2017 the golden Crotone crowns, decorated with topazes and pearls, were consecrated by Pope Frances in St. Peter’s Square. The prior of the Jasna Góra Monastery, father Marian Waligóra was there to witness the consecration.

Text prepared in co-operation with PWPW S.A..
Source: PAP Press Centre

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