Police spokeswoman Joanna Lazar said the 58-year-old man, whose name was not reported, allegedly lunged forward from a group of worshipers and threw the paint at about 8 a.m. local time Sunday. The painting, which depicts the Madonna and Christ with darker skin, possibly from years of deterioration and/or poor restoration attempts, is housed at the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa.
The painting survived the attack due to a pane of protective glass, Polskie Radio reported Monday.
"The faithful are calling us with tears in their eyes, asking what has happened," Father Robert Jasiulewicz, spokesman for the Pauline monastery, told the Polish Press Agency.
"We are calming them that the painting is in one piece, and that it has not been damaged in any way," he added.
Lazar said the suspect will probably be charged with "desecrating a religious space," which, if convicted, could mean he'd face up to two years in prison.