Here we have always been free
John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Częstochowa six times. In addition to his great spiritual heritage, he left here numerous votas, including the Golden Rose - the highest papal decoration for the sanctuary and golden crowns consecrated and donated the day before his death that nowadays decorate the Miraculous Picture of Black Madonna.
The first pilgrimage of John Paul II to Częstochowa took place in June 1979 under the motto "Gaude Mater Polonia". It was very significant in religious and patriotic terms. During his homily he spoke memorable words: "Here we have always been free."
During his second pilgrimage, in 1983, he offered the Sanctuary of Jasna Góra a belt of his cassock, shot and bloodied during the attack, 13 May 1981. The third pilgrimage took place in 1987.
In 1991, in Częstochowa, John Paul II presided over the celebration of the 6th World Youth Day, which was attended by one and a half million young people. Since the fall of communism it was the first opportunity to meet so many young people from the West and the East. During this visit, the Pope agreed to accept the Honorary Citizenship of Czestochowa, making it the first city in the world of which the Polish Pope became Honorary Citizen. During his 1997 pilgrimage, the Holy Father participated in the European celebrations of the millennium of St. Adalbert's death. He also performed the canonization of St. Hedwig Queen of Poland.
He arrived to Częstochowa for the last time in 1999. During this trip to Poland he visited 21 towns and villages. The motto of the pilgrimage was: "God is love".
Series of black and white photos: archive of Częstochowa City Hall
Other photos are provided by Jasna Góra and the author is Zdzisław Sowiński.