Shrine of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Logo

517 S Belle Vista Ave

Youngstown, OH 44509

Ph: (330) 799-1888

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The Madonna of Csiksomlyo

One of the most treasured Marian relics of the Hungarian Catholics is the “Weeping Madonna of Gyro,” venerated in the cathedral of that city.  Though this hallowed relic has been linked with many miraculous events, the primary reason of its singular popularity with the Hungarians is to be found in its unusual origin.  It came from the land of the brave nation from which the Hungarian people have always felt spiritually akin because of the similarity of their turbulent past.  Ireland was the original home of the Madonna of Gyro.  For centuries it belonged to the heroic Irish people who, like the Hungarians, fought bitterly in the defense of their Catholic faith and culture.  Until the l7th Century its home was the Cathedral of Clonfert.  In l649, England dispatched Oliver Cromwell on a punitive expedition to Ireland and the religious persecution began.   Walter Lynch, Bishop of Tuam, in order to prevent the precious relic from falling into impious hands took it into exile when he left the country.  After much travel, he was welcomed with open arms by the bishop of the city of Gyor, and was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of that See.  Though the desire to return to his beloved Ireland had lived in his heart to the end, he died without ever setting foot again on his native soil.  As a token of his gratitude to his adoptive land, on his deathbed, he bequeathed the sacred relic to the cathedral church of Gyor. Thus the land of Magyars became the second home of the Irish Madonna.

Somewhat similar to the strange story of the “Weeping Madonna of Gyor” is the background of the new Shrine of Our Lady, Comforter of the Afflicted, known as the Madonna of Csiksomlyo (Cheekshomlyo) in the city of Youngstown,  Ohio.  The parallel is almost perfect, though in an inverse order.  There we saw a venerable image of the Blessed Virgin exiled from Ireland, the western most country of Europe, find a new home in an eastern country of the continent, Hungary; here, at the new Shrine in Youngstown, we see the beautiful replica of a famous, four hundred year old Hungarian Madonna, venerated for centuries in an eastern province of Hungary, named Transylvania, presently dominated by the Communists, reach the western shores of the free world and find a new refuge in America, the home of many Irish.

The Franciscan Fathers of Transylvania, the guardians of the ancient sanctuary of the Madonna  were forced out of their native land by the tyranny of the godless Communists.  Unlike Bishop Lynch, they could not bring the original statue of their famous Madonna along with them.  Today the sacred relic is isolated from the faithful, and its public veneration is forbidden. Still, the Madonna is in the midst of her martyred people, the Sekler-Magyars, sharing their tears, chains, prisons, humiliations and miseries.  However, these exiled Franciscans have brought along with them, engraved in their hearts, their gracious Mother’s hallowed image.

Here in their new home they have built a new sanctuary for their gracious Patroness  to extend the cult of the Madonna of Csiksomlyo, to keep it alive in the land of the free while it is being suppressed in their captive native country.  They open the gates of their lovely new shrine to the American public, confident that just as the Irish Madonna in Gyor had conquered the souls of the Hungarians, so the Hungarian Madonna of Csiksomlyo will soon find her way into the hearts of the American people.

This brief summary of the stormy, yet glorious history of the miraculous statue of the Madonna of Csiksomlyo will contribute, we hope, to a continuous spreading of her fame and popularity in this beautiful land.