One of my fondest memories of my many times in Poland was the visit to the (difficult to spell) city of Czestochowa famous for its cathedral of Jasna Gora and painting of the Black Madonna which is Poland’s holiest icon and the cause, every summer, for a mass pilgrimage of young and old to the city.
My own journey to the city followed the pilgrimage route north from Krakow through a real life Jurassic Park and Europe’s only official desert at Blendowska . But we weren’t pilgrims I hasten to add, we drove. You have to suffer to be pilgrims in the usual sense and my Polish friends and I took it rather easy: sight-seeing at the ancient castles enroute enjoying local food and drink at cafes and bars along the way before we eventually got to Czestochowa and joined a few hundreds of people to look at the painting. Indeed at that time of year, there were precious few pilgrims on the road but it has been in my mind to return to Poland, during pilgrimage season, and photograph the them because I thought it would make a great story.
Two Polish girlfriends later my Japanese wife now is unlikely to let me go off for a two week camping trip to Czestochowa with thousands of young Polish girls so I guess I’ll have a to find a new project. Plus the story has already been done so well by the talented Erica McDonald from New York. Check out her new website where you will find a great gallery on the pilgrimage along with many other wonderful stories and single images (look especially at the St Kitts story and Surf Manor Adult Home in the New York collection).
I have been an admirer of Erica’s work for a couple of years now and it is good to see a lot of her best images collected together here. Take a look.
The image above is from that most magical of cities, Krakow, and has a nicely Catholic theme. I don’t have any images of the pilgrimage route to show you because I was mostly concentrating on the (first) Polish girlfriend in those days and didn’t actually take many good photos of the trip itself.
Now if I could only convince my wife of the need for a more professional return to Poland…