The Catholic Southern Front

August 6, 2011

Our Lady of Hostyn

Filed under: Uncategorized — Conservative @ 10:47 pm

Normally when you see an image of the Virgin Mary flanked by lightning bolts, it is presented to show us her infinite intercession with her Son to hold back some Divine Justice for the sins of man, the wrath of God. In a minor basilica, the Church of the Assumption, nestled on a hill barely 200 feet high in the middle of Europe, there is an exception. In this image, she holds the child Jesus, and the fiery lightning pouring forth from His hand is being directed by her. 

In the southeast corner of the Czech Republic which makes up today’s Moravia, the Carpathians fade from mountains into hills and the last hill (of any account) is known by the name of Hostyn. Because of its location, this territory has been important, worth holding on to; signs of civilization have been found dating back two thousand years before the Age of Christ. It’s name literally means “trader castle” and probably stems from a fortress built there by the Celts in 200 BC. Story has it that the residents there traded in their pagan gods when Saint Cyril (at the time still known as Constantine) arrived and built a cave chapel marked with a painting of the Holy Virgin.

It’s always been a crossroads, Hostyn, a place where history happened. In June of the year 1241, it so happened that it was in the path of Mongolian invaders – the Tatars. Having already devastated Russia and Slovakia and Poland, the hordes’ advance towards the treasures of Bohemia went straight through Hostyn.
With the armies of King Wenceslaus occupied in the north, the great “Moravian Open” was left to its own defense. City after city fell to the hordes. Those with forewarning and quick feet escaped to live in the forests while the Mongols raped, slaughtered, and burned what was left. The villagers who lived near Hostyn at least had the ancient walls to hide behind. It wasn’t long though before they began to suffer. Hunger and sickness set in as the siege dragged on for weeks. With no natural supply of water, thirst drove them to the brink of despair.
In a final plea for help, they called upon the Mother of God to deliver them.
Suddenly, a roll of thunder echoed through the hills. The sky grew dark and crackled with electricity. When the first drops of rain began to fall, the besieged Moravians ran to gather buckets. They weren’t necessary. In a rocky clearing, the ground opened and a fountain of water spouted forth. The people slaked their thirst and sang praises in honor of the Virgin Mary who had answered their prayers.
Outside the walls, the Tatar camp was in chaos. Bolts of lightning knocked men from their horses and tents were bursting into flames. The very ground beneath their feet burned like coals. Terrified and beaten, the invaders fled, never to turn westward again in their lust for war.
After the miraculous victory, the residents erected a massive stone statue of the Blessed Mother. Hostyn became holy ground, a place of pilgrimage that continued even during the iconoclasm of the Calvinists three hundred years later when ownership of the lands fell into the hands of a national traitor and the original statue and shrines were destroyed.
The love of the people of Moravia for the Holy Virgin proved too strong though for the false faith imposed upon them and like every other occupier, the Calvinists disappeared too. As did the Austrians. And the Hungarians. And the Germans. And the Russians… Churches and shrines were rebuilt, each time grander and more numerous than before, all in honor of their divine protectress, the Victorious Guardian of Moravia.

I know far more about my Polish half than I do my Slovakian one, but I like to imagine that my relatives of the distant past took part in this miracle at Hostyn. I’m positive at least that they venerated our Holy Mother under the protection of her holy and miraculous mantle. I’m positive because I know that my father did. He was at the 1981 dedication of the “Czech” Shrine in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC – the Shrine that was dedicated by name to Our Lady of Hostyn.

(c) 2012

The Blessed Virgin Mary: Enmity And War – can be bought from


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