The Marian titles/images shown below are arranged in alphabetical order by country and are representative of the diverse cultures of the parishioners at Immaculate Conception Church, Astoria.
A German nobleman, Wolfgang Langenmantel (1568-1637) was distraught when his wife Sophia was planning to divorce him. To save the marriage, Wolfgang sought counsel from Fr. Jakob Rem, a Jesuit priest, respected for his wisdom and piety, at the University of Ingolstadt. On his fourth visit there on 28 September 1615, Wolfgang brought his ‘wedding ribbon’ to Fr. Rem. In the marriage ceremony of that time and place, the maid of honor joined together the arms of the bride and groom with a ribbon to symbolize their union for life. Fr. Rem, in a solemn ritual act, raised the ribbon before the image of ‘Our Lady of the Snows’, while at the same time untying its knots one by one. As he smoothed out the ribbon, it became dazzling white. This was taken as confirmation that their prayers were heard. Consequently, the divorce was averted, and Wolfgang remained happily married! To commemorate the turn of the century in the year 1700, Wolfgang’s grandson, Fr. Hieronymus Langenmantel, Canon of St. Peter am Perlach, installed a family altar in the church, as was customary then. He commissioned Johann Schmidtner to provide a painting to be placed over the altar. Schmidtner was inspired by the story of Wolfgang and Fr. Rem, and so based his painting on that event. The image came to be venerated as Mary Untier of Knots. The painting has survived wars, revolutions, and secular opposition, and continues to draw people to it.
The history of the shrine begins in 1630, with a farmer who emigrated to Argentina from Portugal. Coming from a place where the Faith flourished, he was saddened by the lack of religious influence in his adopted district, and in particular in his village of Sumampa. He decided to help the situation by building a chapel on his land. He decided to write to a friend in Brazil, he asked the friend to send him a small statue of Our Lady for his chapel. The friend, unsure of how the farmer wanted Our Lady to be depicted, sent two statues—one of the Madonna with Child, the other a representation of the Immaculate Conception. Having first been transported by sea, the images were then placed on a cart for the journey inland. Because of hostile natives in the region, a number of carts and pack horses banded together in a caravan. When darkness overtook the travelers after leaving Buenos Aires, they camped at the isolated ranch of Don Rosendo de Oramus. Early the next morning, the wagons and animals were readied for the rest of their journey. One by one the carts began to move, all except the one that carried the images of Our Lady. Progress was stalled when the driver was unable to coax the animals forward. The other drivers in the caravan came to help—but all the efforts were unsuccessful. Finally, it was decided that the animals might somehow be influenced supernaturally. And so it seemed, since the animals willingly moved when the statue of the Immaculate Conception was removed from the cart. The statue of the Madonna and Child continued its journey and arrived safely in Sumampa, where it is still venerated under the title of Our Lady of Consolation. As for the statue of the Immaculate Conception that was taken off the cart, it was solemnly carried to the ranch and enthroned in a room of its own. This room soon became a popular shrine and remained so for the next 40 years. Additional chapels, including the private one of Dona Ana de Mattos, became the temporary shrines for Our Lady of Luján over time. As other miracles were attributed to her intercession, the pilgrims began to come to pray in ever greater numbers. In 1677 her image was kept in a church built in her honor, until a larger one replaced it in 1763. Work on a large Basilica reached its completion in 1904 when the image of Our Lady of Luján was solemnly transferred there. Every October large crowds of youth walk the 40 miles from Buenos Aires to Luján in an overnight pilgrimage of great Marian devotion. During the period of independence in the late 18th and early 19th century, the flag of the free Argentina was designed by Sargent Major Carlos Belgrano to reflect the “blue and white of the Immaculata of Luján.” She has always been invoked as the patroness of all the regions of La Plata: Paraguay, Uraguay and Argentina.
Since the time of St. Luke, thousands of pictures and statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been carved, painted, or fashioned in some way. One such picture is Our Lady of the Bowed Head, from Vienna, Austria. A Carmelite Monk, Venerable Dominic of Jesus and Mary, found one in 1610. He was looking over an old broken down house which he wanted to convert into a Carmelite Monastery. Fr. Dominic walked around the outside of the house and passed by a pile of garbage. But as he entered the house and started looking over the rooms, suddenly he felt the urge to go back to the pile of garbage. The good priest took a closer look at the heap of garbage and his eyes fell upon an old oil painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Dominic cleaned the picture and repainted the damaged parts. He prayed to the Madonna with great confidence, asking her for many graces and blessings. One evening Fr. Dominic noticed that the picture of Our Lady had some dust on it. Taking out his handkerchief he began to dust the picture when suddenly the face of Our Lady came to life! She smiled at the holy priest and nodded her head as a sign of thanksgiving. Dominic was afraid that what he was seeing was a trick of the devil. But Our Lady cleared up his doubts saying, "Fear not, my son, for your request is granted! (Dominic had earlier requested a favor of her.) Your prayer will be answered and will be part of the reward, which you will receive for the love that you have for my Son Jesus and myself. Now Dominic I want you to ask me with all confidence, what favor you would like me to give you." The holy monk then fell upon his knees. "O my dear Mother, I offer myself entirely to thee and to thy dear Son Jesus, and I desire to do anything that thou and Jesus will ask of me. O my Lady, I know that the soul of a benefactor is suffering in Purgatory. Wouldst thou please be so kind as to deliver this soul from the fires of Purgatory?" "Dominic, my son," Our Lady encouraged, "I will deliver this soul from Purgatory, if you will make many sacrifices and will have many Masses offered for this soul." Then the apparition of Mary faded away. The good monk hurried to do as Our Lady had asked. Sometime later, when all had been completed, he again knelt before the miraculous painting of Our Lady. Suddenly Mary appeared to him again, but this time she appeared with the soul of the special benefactor, whom she had delivered from Purgatory. The benefactor was grateful, "Thank you, Fr. Dominic, for helping to release my soul from the fires of Purgatory with your prayers and sacrifices." "Dominic," Our Lady encouraged, "I would like you to ask me for more favors and blessings. I am the Mother of God and I delight in helping my children to obtain graces for their salvation." Fr. Dominic thought for a moment and then spoke, "Dear Mother, wouldst thou please be so kind as to listen mercifully to the prayers of all those who will honor thy image and ask for thy help." Our Lady replied, "All those who ask for my protection and honor this picture with devotion will obtain an answer to their prayers and will receive many graces. Moreover, I will pay special attention to the prayers which are offered to me, for the relief of the souls in Purgatory." He then took the picture and had it placed in the Oratory of St. Charles, which was attached to the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale. Many people came to pray before the picture of Our Lady and it became a source of many graces and blessings. When people prayed to Our Lady of the Bowed Head, she heard their prayers and granted them special favors and graces; souls were comforted or released from Purgatory, people were cured and sinners were converted.
Our Lady of Copacabana is the patron saint of Bolivia, named after the beach resort town near Rio de Janeiro. The present site of the shrine was founded by the Incas. Legend says, Inca fishermen were caught by a fierce storm in 1576, and began to pray, when the Blessed Virgin appeared to them and led them to safety. In gratitude, the Incas decided to build a shrine and place a statue of the Blessed Mother in it.The features and colors of this particular Madonna are distinctly Indian. In 1583, an adobe-style church was built in the area and soon became a famous destination. It is said the image never leaves the site, and those who come to venerate the statute, come into the church and leave walking backward in order not to turn their backs on her. In 1940, it was elevated to the rank of Basilica.
One morning in 1717, three fishermen in Brazil poled their boat into the Parahyba River which flowed along the outskirts of their village. Their luck was bad - for hours they cast their nets but caught no fish. They decided to give up for the day; then for some reason, they wanted to make one more try. Alves threw out his net and slowly pulled it in. There was something in it – not a fish, but something that looked like a chunk of wood. When he lifted it from the net, it turned out to be a headless statue of the Blessed Virgin. The fisherman cast his net into the water again. When he pulled it into his boat, he found that this time it held a roundish piece of wood – the head from the very same statue. He picked up both pieces and found that they fitted perfectly together. Obeying an impulse, Alves lowered his net one more time. When Alves began to pull the net back in, he found he could hardly lift the net because it was bulging with fish. His companions threw out their nets and they had the same luck. A few more casts and their boats were filled with fish. The next day they fastened the head to the body of the statue, cleaned it, and one of them set it up in his humble dwelling. The story of the statue and the immense catch of fish spread and every evening people came to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin. They gave it the name Aparecida, “She who appeared.” Soon a little chapel was erected – the crowds were too big for the humble cottage; then a larger chapel was built. Our Lady well repaid those who honored her, for numerous cures and even extraordinary miracles took place at her shrine. In 1846, work began on the construction of a new church, completed in 1888, and the statue was transferred to it. In 1904 by order of the Holy Father, the image was solemnly crowned. In 1909 the church was raised to the level of a minor basilica; in 1930 Pope Pius XI promoted it to a Basilica and officially declared Our Lady of Aparecida the Patroness of Brazil.
The story begins in 1595, when the Augustinian missionaries from Spain arrived in Chile teaching the Gospel along with making the Blessed Virgin Mary known and honored, under the invocation of Carmen. This devotion quickly spread throughout the town. The first Cofradía del Carmen was created in Concepción in 1648 to publicize their devotion. Thus, every July 16 (the day the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel), the Augustinian Fathers took the image in procession through the main streets of the city. In 1817 the generals José de San Martín and Bernardo O'Higgins welcomed the Virgen del Carmen as Patroness, swearing fidelity to her, while they were in Mendoza, years after the “Rancagua disaster.” All the officers and troops of the Liberation Army also promise this fidelity. The patriots, full of courage, invoke their Patron in the crossing of the Andes and in the Battle of Chacabuco, achieving victory thanks to his intercession on February 12, 1817. Later the entire town, together with the civil, religious and military authorities, met on March 14, 1818 in the Cathedral of Santiago and took an oath that had its fruit in the Battle of Maipú, on April 5, 1818. The General Bernardo O'Higgins laid the first stone of what would become the Votive Temple of Maipú, currently a Sanctuary. The second great moment of national devotion to the Patroness was during the War of the Pacific, which highlights the fact that Arturo Prat, at the moment of dying in the roadstead of Iquique, was wearing the Carmen Scapular like all his crew. Shortly after, in 1887, Monsignor Don Ramón Ángel Jara -author of the traditional Prayer to the Virgen del Carmen for Chile- conceived the idea of erecting a monument of gratitude to the Virgin, on Mount Carmelo itself. With the cannon bronze of the Chilean Army he cast an image of the Virgin, which - placed in a granite monument - remains until today in view of the pilgrims who come to pray on the holy mountain. After the War of the Pacific, the people of Chile officially requested the Holy See to proclaim the Virgin of Carmen as Patroness of Chile and then her coronation as Queen, which was obtained in 1923 thanks to the Vatican decree issued by Pope Pius XI .
Our Lady of China appeared near Peiping. It stands in a village named Dong Lu. A Poor Mission was started there by the Vincentian Fathers. It was a poor place, perhaps the poorest in the whole region, formerly called "the place of beggars." In 1900, there were some seven hundred Christians gathered about the little hamlet. Suddenly, the famous Boxer rebellion swept China and grew to such proportions, that even small places like Dong Lu could not escape its fury. In April 1900, a force of ten thousand rioters attacked Dong Lu. The soldiers, in senseless rage, started to shoot into the sky. Then suddenly they fled, frightened, and never came back again. According to the legend, a woman in white appeared above the settlement, and the rioters' bullets were aimed at her. When the apparition did not fade, attackers had not even time to reorganize because a strange horseman put them to flight. Soon after they had disappeared beyond the horizon. Father Wu, a Chinese priest, confessed to his flock that he invoked the help of Mary. A new church was built on the site and Father Wu placed a picture of Our Lady on the main altar. He asked the painter to dress Our Lady in the royal robes of the dowager Empress Tzi-Hsi. The image of the Blessed Virgin in the royal robes of the pagan Empress, with the Christ Child on her knees, is a vivid expression of Chinese tradition. It is a shrine of the Mother and her Son. Though her robes be pagan, she belongs to every age, to all people and to every race. As was told and promised in the Old Testament: "I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge and of holy hope." The Dong Lu church was completely destroyed recently by the Chinese Communists, but the picture of Our Lady of China remains intact because only a copy of the picture was used in the church. The original was hidden in the wall behind the copy, and this was recovered and found intact. It is now in possession of Chinese priests who carry out their activities in disguise.
Way up on the Andean Plateau, 150 kilometers to the north of Bogota, Colombia, is the city of Chiquinquira, founded in 1856, and where at the country house of the Spaniard Don Antonio de Santana, a wondrous miracle occurred. Don Antonio, in 1555, being a devout Christian had an oratory built in his home and requested the Dominican Brother, Fray Andrews Jadraque, to have the image of the Holy Virgin painted. The silversmith and painter, Alonzo de Narvaez did the work. The brother demanded that the Virgin bear a rosary, the official emblem of his order. The cloth had room for two other images at the side, and it was decided to put Saint Anthony of Padua at the right and Saint Andrew the Apostle at the left. The painting was done in tempora, but since the chapel was of straw, the paint faded under the action of the sun, the air, and the rain. The damage was such that the town priest had it removed from the altar as unworthy for the celebration of Holy Mass. The canvas was taken to Chiquinquira and was used for a rag to dry the wheat under the sun. Seven years later Dona Maria Ramos arrived from Spain and grieved to find the chapel used for animals. Day after day she prayed to Mary to comfort her soul, hopeful that her prayers would be heard. On Friday, December 26, 1586, at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, the canvas was suddenly brightened by the Holy Virgin. Maria was in pious astonishment, almost in a trance, and soon the miracle drew crowds of people. This wonderful happening was followed by miraculous cures. The Church authorities ordered an investigation to be made of the Virgin of Chiquinquira to verify the truth of the miracle and in the year 1630, the Dominican Brotherhood authorized by the archbishop of Bogota, took charge of the sanctuary, and built a church which was replaced by the present Basilica in 1801. The Holy See, after discussion of the wonderful miracle, granted a liturgical feast day that is celebrated with special services also in some sections of Venezuela and Ecuador as well. In 1919, by order of the Holy See, the Holy Image was crowned with splendor in Bogota, and in 1944 it was granted the gold scepter and precious jewels as the mother queen of Colombia.
The image of Our Lady of the Angels is only about three inches high, and is carved in a simple fashion on dark stone. She has a round, sweet face, slanted eyes and a delicate mouth. Her coloring is leaden, with scattered golden sparkles. She carries the Christ Child on her left arm. Only the faces of Mary and the Child are visible; the rest is covered by a cloak that is gathered in pleats. The statuette is displayed in a large gold monstrance that surrounds it and enlarges its appearance. While searching for firewood on August 2, 1635, the feast of the Holy Angels, a poor mestizo woman named Juana Pereira discovered this small image of the Virgin sitting beside the footpath near Cartago, Costa Rica. Juana took it home with her, but it soon disappeared only to be re-discovered at the same place beside the same path. The statue repeated this behavior five more times – taken to homes and then the parish church – and returning on its own to the site where Juana found it. The locals finally took this to mean that Our Lady wanted a shrine built there, and so it was. The shrine soon became a point of pilgrimage, especially for the poor and outcast. The image was solemnly crowned in 1926. In 1935 Pope Pius XI declared the shrine of the Queen of Angels a basilica. The stone on which the statue was originally sitting is in the basilica, and is being slowly worn away by the touch of the hands of the pilgrims. A spring of water appeared from beneath the stone, and its waters carried away to heal the sick.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Trsat is the largest pilgrimage centre of Western Croatia. Its foundation is reported to be, according to tradition, related to the miraculous transport of the Nazareth Barn, and its stay on Trsat (1291 – 1294). Shortly after the relocation of the Mother of God’s house to Loreto, Prince Nikola I of Krk built the first small church on the place where the barn stood on Trsat. Marija`s Trsat became a pilgrimage point of convergence, the reputation of which was strengthened by the astounding painting of the Lady of Trsat, which was a gift given to the inconsolable Croats in 1367 by Pope Urban V for the loss of the Holy Barn. In the XV century, the Sanctuary was taken over by Franciscans, who have remained its guardians to the present day.
In the mountains outside Santiago in Cuba is an old pilgrimage church, “Nuestra Senora de la Caridad,” which means, “Our Lady of Charity,” also known as “Our Lady of Cobre.” It is the national shrine of Cuba. Early in the 17th century, three sailors left the Bay of Nipe to collect salt. Their vessel was small, so that when a storm arose they were drifting and rocked violently on the roaring ocean. One of the men wore a medal stamped with an image of the Blessed Virgin, and the three began to pray for her protection. The storm suddenly cleared, and the men saw something they could not immediately identify coming toward them across the water. We still have the testimony of one of the men, Juan Moreno, regarding this incident. It was taken in 1687: “Having camped in the French Key, which is in the middle of the Bay of Nipe, waiting for a good time to leave for the salt mines, being a morning of calm seas, they left the French Keys, before daybreak. Juan y Rodrigo de Hoyos and myself embarked in a canoe, headed for the salt mines, and far from the French Key we saw something white above the foam of the water, which we couldn’t distinguish. As we got closer, birds and dry branches appeared. The aforementioned Indians said, “It looks like a girl.” While they were discussing this among themselves, they saw an image of Our Lady, the Holy Virgin, on top of a small wooden plank, holding the baby Jesus in her arms. On this small tablet, was written in large letters, which read, ‘I am the Virgin of Charity.’ Looking at her clothes, they realized that they were not wet.” Upon returning home, the men revealed what they had discovered and told the story of what had happened to them. A government official, Don Francisco Sanchez de Moya, had a small chapel built in her honor. The Village of Cobre, where the shrine is, is surrounded by high hills that roll back to the Sierra Maestra Mountains. The village is named Cobre because of the rich deposit of copper. A lamp of copper is kept burning before the statue of Our Lady. Twice the statue mysteriously disappeared from the locked church, and then returned just as unaccountably. In each case Our Lady indicated where richer deposits of copper could be found.
Legend tells that people sought refuge here during the disastrous raids of the ‘Tartars’ in the thirteenth century. Fearful of the attackers and lacking water, they prayed to the Mother of God. A stream of water that gushed out from the ground and a storm with lightning that set the invaders’ camp on fire and drove them away were powerful answers to prayers – never to be forgotten. The scene is depicted behind the high altar. The Mother of God is holding her Son on her left hand, while making a gesture of invitation with her right hand. Little Jesus holds bolts of lightning, directed against a military camp. The victory over pagans is symbolised by a crescent on which Mary stands. The story of the miracle, first recorded in the seventeenth century, may be questioned by modern historians. The fact is that Central Moravia, with Hostýn as a significant landmark rising high above the nearby cities of Zlín, Kroměříž, Přerov and Vsetín, was the westernmost region affected by the Mongol invasion of 1241. There is little doubt that this campaign, led after the death of Genghis Khan against European countries, is what the ancient author meant by the ‘Tartars’. The first mention of the name ‘Hostýn’ is recorded in 1544. Pilgrim processions to the mountain, believed to be ‘Svatý’ (‘holy’ in Czech), are first testified in 1625. The construction of a Baroque church was finished in 1748 but in just forty years the shrine was closed and pilgrimages banned under Emperor Joseph II of Austria. However, this did not prevent people from praying in the remnants of the church that had even been deprived of its roof. Official permission to reconstruct was issued only in the 1840s.
A portrait of the Virgin Mary in a Nativity scene. It is 13 inches (33 centimeters) wide by 18 inches (45 centimeters) high, and is painted on cloth. It is a primitive work of the Spanish school, painted c.1500. The Spanish brothers Alfonso and Antonio Trejo, two of the first European settlers on Santo Domingo, brought the portrait to the island some time prior to 1502, and eventually donated it to the parish church at Higuey. It’s first shrine was finished in 1572, and in 1971 it was moved to its present Basilica. The image was crowned on 15 August 1922 during the pontificate of Pius XI. Due to its age, centuries of handling by the faithful, and exposure to candle smoke, it was in sad shape, and was restored in 1978. On 25 January 1979 by Pope John Paul II crowned the image with a gold and silver tiara, his gift to the Virgin. It’s frame is made of gold, enamel and precious stones, and was constructed by an unknown 18th century artisan. The Dominicans see the image as exemplifying Our Lady watching over the island and the growth of Christianity there. The feast day is marked by services, all-night vigils, singing, dancing, and festivals in many of the towns. Legend says that the pious daughter of a rich merchant asked her father to bring her a portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia from Santo Domingo, but no one had heard of that title. The merchant, staying overnight at a friend’s house in Higuey, described his problem as they sat outdoors after dinner. An old man with a long beard, who just happened to be passing by, pulled a rolled up painting from his bindle, gave it to the merchant, and said, “This is what you are looking for.” It was the Virgin of Altagracia. They gave the old man a place to stay for the night, but by dawn he was gone, not to be seen again. The merchant placed the image on their mantle, but it repeatedly disappeared only to be found outside, and the family finally returned it to the church.
The devotion originated in 1696, 85 years after the Archbishop of Quito blessed the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success in 1611. This is the story of the miracle of Our Lady of the Cloud also known as Virgin de la Nube. In 1696, the Bishop of Quito became quite ill. The people of a village on the outskirts of Quito, decided to organize a novena to the Blessed Mother asking for his recovery. A procession to the Cathedral in Quito was formed and on their return back, the Chaplain who was leading the Rosary saw a figure forming in a cloud. The Blessed Mother appeared standing on a cloud. She wore a crown over a long white veil and in her left hand she carried her Divine Son. She was dressed in a white silk tunic that draped to her feet. This apparition was viewed by over 500 people at that time and lasted the length of a Glory Be, one Our Father and one Hail Mary. Testimonies are conserved in the Archives of the Quito Archdiocese. The Bishop was immediately healed in confirmation of this miracle and lived a few more years. This devotion has spread to the United States through immigrants from Ecuador in Chicago and New York where annual festivities take place on January 1.
This miraculous image of Our Lady of Quito currently in the capital of Ecuador is said to date from the first Spanish settlement there in the year 1534. At the very least, it has certainly been venerated there for a long time, and is popularly called by the people of Quito Our Lady of the Earthquake. The painting represents the Sorrowful Mother, and in the early years of the twentieth century, devotion to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Quito was introduced into England by the Servite Friars in London. Pope Saint Pius X accorded them an indulgence for those who should pray before her picture, and the devotion was greatly promoted in England by the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus, Mother Cornelia Connelly’s congregation. The original image at Quito was solemnly crowned in 1918. On April 20, 1906, thirty-six boys attending the boarding school of the Jesuit Fathers at Quito, Ecuador, together with Father Andrew Roesch, witnessed the first miracle of this famous picture of Our Lady. While in the refectory they all saw the Blessed Mother slowly open and shut her eyes. The same miracle occurred no less than seven times after that, in favor of the boys at the school, but this time in the chapel to which the picture had been taken. Ecclesiastical authorities soon investigated these incidents and finally concluded by ordering the picture to be transferred in procession from the college to the church of the Jesuit Fathers. Once at the church the prodigy was repeated several times before large crowds, and many, many conversions took place because of these miracles. At one time the wonder continued for three consecutive days. At Riobamba, before a faithful reproduction of Our Lady of Quito, the same wonder was seen by more than 20 persons, including the president of the city. In Quito this picture is known as the Dolorosa del Colegie. Our Lady appeared to Mother Mariana and predicted many things about our own times. “…. I make it known to you that from the end of the 19th century and shortly after the middle of the 20th century…. the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs (morals)….“They will focus principally on the children in order to sustain this general corruption. Woe to the children of these times! It will be difficult to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, and also that of Confirmation…“As for the Sacrament of Matrimony… it will be attacked and deeply profaned… The Catholic spirit will rapidly decay; the precious light of the Faith will gradually be extinguished… Added to this will be the effects of secular education, which will be one reason for the dearth of priestly and religious vocations. “The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed, and despised… The Devil will try to persecute the ministers of the Lord in every possible way; he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from the spirit of their vocation and will corrupt many of them. These depraved priests, who will scandalize the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church fall upon all priests…“Further, in these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury, which will ensnare the rest into sin and conquer innumerable frivolous souls, who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women. In this supreme moment of need of the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent.” In a subsequent apparition, Our Lady told Mother Mariana that these apparitions were not to become generally known until the twentieth century.
Tradition has it that sometime in 1682 some merchants found an abandoned box on the shore of Salvador’s "Mar del Sur." They were unable to open the box. As it was tightly closed and sealed, they surmised that it contained something of value, and decided to take it to the City of San Miguel where they would find out how to open it. They tied the box on a donkey’s back and undertook the long and dangerous journey to the city where they arrived on November 21, meaning to inform the local authorities of their find. But when they went by the parish church, now a cathedral, the donkey lay down on the ground. They were then able to open the box and were surprised to find that it contained a lovely image of Our Lady holding the Child.
In 1858, there lived in the village of Lourdes, a little peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, 14 years old, uneducated, simple, poor, good. On February 11, she was sent with two more girls to collect wood. They walked to the Rock of Massabielle, where the two companions crossed a mountain stream; while Bernadette was removing her shoes to follow them she became conscious of a ravishing beautiful Lady, standing in the hollow of the rock, looking at her. Bernadette fell involuntarily upon her knees, gazing enraptured at the lovely Lady, who smiled lovingly at Bernadette and then disappeared. The mysterious Lady from heaven appeared in all, eighteen times to the little girl and among other things told her to drink the water from a mysterious fountain which was not yet observed. Bernadette scratched in the sand at a spot indicated, and water began to trickle through the earth; after a few days there gushed forth every day 27,000 gallons of pure, clear spring water, and this water flows still. Bernadette was asked by Our Lady of Lourdes, who always showed her a sweet heavenly courtesy, to request the priest to have a church built on the spot, that processions should be made to the grotto and that people should drink of the water. The main emphasis of her message was that the faithful should visit the grotto in order to do penance for their sins and for those of the whole world. In answer to Bernadette’s inquiry, “Who are you?” the Lady answered, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Four years after, the Bishop declared upon an exhaustive and scrupulous investigation, to the faithful, that they are “justified in believing the reality of the apparitions.” In 1873, a basilica was built on top of the rock and in 1883 another church was built below and in front of the rock. From 1867 when records began to be kept till 1908, about 5,000,000 pilgrims had visited the grotto; now about 1,000,000 people visit Lourdes every year. Although Our Lady never at any time promised that pilgrims who visited the grotto would be healed of their physical ills, remarkable cures began at once and have continued ever since. Many of them are of such a character that they can be ascribed only to supernatural power. Bernadette died in 1879 at the age of 35, and was later canonized. The body of the blessed Saint can still be seen in its glass coffin, intact and incorrupt, looking as its photographs show, like a young woman asleep. The chair at which she prayed, the altar where she received her First Holy Communion, the bed in which she slept, the room in which she lived – all can be seen at Lourdes.
It was almost midnight, when Sister Laboure was awakened by someone calling her. She saw at the foot of her bed a beautiful child, beckoning her to follow; arriving at the chapel, she beheld Our Lady, who spoke to her for two hours. On November 27, while the community was assembled for prayer, Mary came for a second visit. Her head was covered with a soft white veil, she stood on a ball on which was a serpent with crushed head. In her hands Our Lady held a small ball, the globe, with a tiny cross at its top, and offered it to God as she prayed. Upon her fingers were many rings, filled with precious stones of varied beauty and brilliancy. As rays of light shot forth from those stones, Our Lady lowered her eyes and spoke to Catherine Laboure: “This ball which you see is the world; I am praying for it and for everyone in the world. The rays are the graces which I give to everyone who asks for them. But there are no rays for some of these stones; many people do not receive graces because they do not ask for them.” Then Mary’s arms were lowered and she became brighter and lovelier; a group of words encircled her head: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” And a voice said: “Have a medal made according to this picture. All who wear it when it is blessed will receive many graces especially if they wear it suspended about their necks.” The vision of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal turned and showed the letter “M” surmounted by a cross with a crossbar beneath it; under the initial of the name Mary were the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary: the first encircled by a crown of thorns; the second transfixed by a sword. Encircling the entire picture were 12 stars with a golden frame. In December 1831, the third apparition repeated the request for the making of the medal of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Sister Catherine told her superior and her confessor about Mary’s request. When Father Aladel told the archbishop, his Excellency said, “Have a medal made at once and send me some of the first made.” In June, 1832, the first 2,000 medals appeared. So many miracles were wrought by the use of the medal, that it was called “The Miraculous Medal.” Six years later another desire of Our Blessed Mother’s was answered when an altar was constructed on the very spot where she appeared, in the Chapel of the Apparitions. Sister Catherine Laboure died in 1876, December 31, and all felt she had gone directly to Heaven. On July 27, 1947, she was canonized by Pope Pius XII. When her casket was opened shortly before, her body looked as lovely as it did when she died fifty-six years before.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, also known as the Chapel of Grace (German: Gnadenkapelle), is the national shrine of Bavaria dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is known for the many healings which are said to have taken place there, and is commonly called the Lourdes of Germany. The octagonal chapel which houses the image of Our Lady dates to about A.D. 660, and is the oldest Marian shrine in Germany. The image of Mary venerated there is a Black Madonna of great antiquity (possibly about 1330), carved from linden wood. The shrine became a popular pilgrim destination when it became known for the miraculous recovery in 1489 of a young boy who had been drowned, after his mother laid his body before the image and prayed to the Blessed Mother for a miracle. Many of the votive offerings which have been given to the shrine over the centuries are displayed in the porch encircling the church. Also to be seen are the small, silver urns in which many members of the German nobility would have their hearts placed after their deaths to be brought here. The shrine has been served by the Capuchin friars for centuries. One member of the Order, Brother Conrad of Parzham, O.F.M. Cap., (1818-1894) served there as porter for over 40 years. During his lifetime of service he developed a reputation for holiness and miraculous healings. He has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church. The shrine was honored by a visit by Pope John Paul II in November 1980. He was accompanied by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was born in a nearby town. On 11 September 2006, Ratzinger, newly elected as Pope Benedict XVI, returned to the shrine and donated the episcopal ring he had worn while he was the Archbishop of Munich. The ring is now a part of the scepter held by the Blessed Virgin.
One of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Greece, this shrine is perhaps second only to the cave of Saint John on Patmos. It was here in 1882 that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a nun named Pelagia and requested that local Church authorities dig at a certain spot to recover an icon of her that had been buried centuries prior to this. The nun hesitated at first but then went ahead and contacted her bishop. The Bishop agreed to the excavation and locals willingly joined in. Unfortunately, after finding nothing, much of this early enthusiasm vanished. In addition, an illness broke out at this time and that further dampened interest in looking for the icon. Then in December the Bishop gave a moving speech on the subject and re-invigorated the crowd. The search finally unearthed the icon on January 30, 1823. It was placed in the Bishop’s residence and people came from miles around to venerate the icon. A church, Panayia Evangelistria, was built in honor of Our Lady and finished seven years later. According to tradition, it is one of three paintings made by Saint Luke. The actual title is Our Lady of Good Tidings. It was not long before miracles began to be reported by those who had visited the Shrine. One of those was a Muslim from Turkey, Mustafa Aga, who had an incurable disease and was completely healed after a visit here. In return he gave the shrine a marble fountain that was placed in the church yard. Another story concerns a Greek man living in the U.S. who was blind. He asked Our Lady for healing and promised her that he would offer whatever he first saw after being healed. He was healed, and the first thing he saw was an orange tree. He donated a silver miniature orange tree to the shrine, which sits inside the entrance to the church.
Our Lady of Guam, the miraculous statue to which the natives have such deep devotion, is three feet high, all ivory from the delicate classical face of Our Lady to the hem of her exquisite gown. She has a head of brown hair, adorned with a beautiful crown, and golden rings hang from her tiny ears. According to the Jesuit history of the island, Our Lady’s coming was miraculous. A Spanish soldier, in the year 1825, was fishing a distance from the shore between the village of Mirizo and Umatac when he saw a strange object floating upon the waves. He moved closer and saw that it was a statue, supported by giant golden crabs, holding lighted candles in their claws. The soldiers claiming the statue as their own, installed it as Patroness in their barracks. They made a shrine for her, a wall recess with doors like a cupboard or camarino, from which Our Lady of the Cupboard takes her name. She is called Santa Maria de Camarino. She made her home many years in the barracks, but the atmosphere did not always please her. She would be found missing, only to return with the edge of her mantle full of burs. When the soldiers were drunk with coconut brew, she would slam the doors of her cupboard shut against them. No one remembers how she came to leave the barracks for the cathedral of Agana, but on the fourteenth of April a great earthquake occurred, terrorizing the natives and destroying their homes. It is believed that on that day she deserted the uncouth soldiers and showed herself to be the Patroness of the people and of Guam in particular. Many miracles of protection are attributed to Our Lady of Guam on this day. On the eve of this day the people place a lighted candle outside their tight-closed shutters; they do this in memory of their Fathers who made the promise to Santa Maria de Camarino. In 1825 and again in 1834, they vowed to celebrate yearly a special feast for her protection from Linao, the earthquake, and Pagyo, the typhoon. On its part the miraculous statue has seen to it that no devout life has since that time been lost. Earthquakes and typhoons have come and left destruction, yet they have never taken one life or harmed the children of Santa Maria de Camarino, Our Lady of Guam.
The popular tradition that dates back centuries states that the Blessed Virgin Mary travelled through the Americas with the Holy Child Jesus. The Infant Jesus fell asleep when they reached Guatemala and so they stayed there. The depiction of this story is found in the modern representation of Our Lady of the Rosary. The first known image of Our Lady of the Rosary in Guatemala was commissioned in 1592. The statue depicts the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child in her arms and is made of pure silver. The image of the Blessed Virgin has a large rosary in her right hand and in the other hand she holds the Child who seems to be trying to free Himself from her embrace. The original statue exists to this day, the robes of Our Lady and pedestal are not visible, having been covered by elaborate garments and ornaments. In 1821, Guatemalan patriots adopted Our Lady of the Rosary as the patron of the national independence movement. The Virgin of the Rosary was solemnly declared “Queen of Guatemala” in 1833 and was crowned canonically on Jan. 26, 1934 in a ceremony in the principal square of Guatemala City in front of the Cathedral because there was no church large enough to hold the multitude that had gathered. The crown on the head of the blessed image is a valuable silver jewel with which the people of Guatemala wanted to show their devotion and enthusiasm for their patroness. It is studded with 121 emeralds, 80 pearls and 44 diamonds, a gold rose and more. Devotees claim the coloring of her beautiful face changes from bright pink to a much more faded shade whenever there is a conflict or some national misfortune is imminent. The entire month of October is occasion for national celebration, feasting, and constant pilgrimages to the sanctuary of the Virgin of the Rosary.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Succour) or Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, associated with the Byzantine icon of the same name, said to be from the 13th or 14th century. The icon depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary wearing a dress of dark red with blue mantle and veil. On the left is the archangel Michael, carrying the lance and sponge as instruments of Jesus Christ's crucifixion. On the right is the archangel Gabriel carrying a 3-bar cross and nails. This type of icon is a later type of the Hodegetria composition, where Mary is pointing to her Son, known as a Theotokos of the Passion. The Christ-child has been alarmed by a pre-sentiment of his Passion, and has run to his mother for comfort. The facial expression of the Virgin Mary is solemn and is looking directly at the viewer instead of her son. The Greek initials on top read Mother of God, Michael Archangel, Gabriel Archangel, and Jesus Christ, respectively. Jesus is portrayed clinging to his mother with a dangling sandal. The earliest written account of the image comes from a Latin and Italian plaque placed in the church of Saint Matthew where it was first venerated by the public in 1499. The writer of the icon is unknown, but according to legend the icon was stolen by a merchant from Crete who was sailing to Rome. The merchant supposedly sailed and hid the icon while traveling at sea, until a storm hit hard and the sailors prayed to the icon for help. When the merchant arrived in Rome he fell ill, and as his dying wish he asked another merchant to place the icon in a church where it could be venerated. The merchant then confided to his wife about the icon. Upon seeing the beautiful icon, the merchant's wife refused to give it to the church but instead hung it in her home. Later on, the Virgin Mary appeared to the merchant's daughter, requesting that the icon be turned into a parish for veneration. The Virgin Mary indicated to the little girl that she ought to be placed between the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. The wife then went to the Augustinian Friars to whom she gave up the icon. On March 27, 1499, the icon was transferred to the church and the icon was venerated there for 300 years. The icon is under the care of the Redemptorist fathers of St. Alphonse of Ligouri Church where the icon is now enshrined. Among the best known shrines are those in the USA, Haiti, Chile, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Singapore and the Philippines.
The story of our Lady of Suyapa began on a Saturday in February of 1747. It is told that a local peasant, Alejandro Colindres, was on his way back to the village of Suyapa after a long day of gathering corn. As night fell, he decided to spend the night near a ravine about halfway to Suyapa. When he laid down on the ground, he felt a hard object, perhaps a stone, under him and tossed it far away. Upon lying down again, however, he found that the object had returned. He placed the object into his bag and discovered, in the morning, that the object that had returned to him was not a stone, but rather a small carved image of Our Lady.
The Mariapócs icon is considered a weeping Madonna, and thus a miraculous image to which many cures and miracles are attributed. The first such event of weeping occurred in 1696 and led to the removal of the image from Pócs, and its installation over the main altar at St. Stephen’s in Vienna. In August 1715, a copy of the icon, sent to Máriapócs by the Austrian emperor, began to weep. Two events of weeping are recorded for this icon, one in 1715, the other in 1905. In 1756 the wooden church of Mariapócs gave way to a large stone church whose two towers were completed a century later, in 1856. Mariapócs became a site of frequent pilgrimages, and more miraculous happenings. The 1946 erection to basilica was a highpoint in the history of the shrine, and coincided with the 250th anniversary of the original icon’s weeping, and the 300th anniversary of the Union of Ungvar celebrating the union of Hungary’s orthodox Christians with the Church of Rome. Dormant during the Communist regime (1948–1989) Mariapócs draws again over half a million pilgrims annually. It has the reputation of being the largest pilgrimage shrine of the entire Byzantine Catholic Church.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is located at the small town of Velankanni in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The Roman Catholic Latin Rite Basilica is devoted to Our Lady of Good Health. Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health of Velankanni can be traced to the mid-16th century and is attributed to three miracles at sites around where the Basilica stands: the apparition of Mary and the Christ Child to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm. These accounts are based on oral tradition and there are no written or attested records in support of them. The Holy See has not approved these apparitions. The chapel was finally built by Portuguese sailors. More than 500 years later, the nine-day festival and celebration is still observed and draws nearly 2 million pilgrims each year. The Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni, also known as the "Lourdes of the East," is one of the most-frequented religious sites in India.
The apparition in County Mayo in Ireland of Our Lady of Knock is reported to have occurred on the evening of August 21, 1879, the vigil of the octave of the feast of the Assumption. Those who witnessed the miracle ranged in age from five years old to seventy-five. The apparition was described as follows: “Our Lady was wearing a large, brilliant crown and clothed in white garments. On her right was Saint Joseph, his head inclined toward her and on her left Saint John the Evangelist. To the left of Saint John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb.” Standing only a few feet off the ground, the Blessed Virgin wore a white cloak and was described by witnesses as being incredibly beautiful. She wore a bright golden crown, and appeared to be praying with her eyes looking toward heaven with her arms bend in front of her with her palms facing inward. Fifteen parishioners stood to witness the apparition for two hours as they recited the rosary. Although it was daylight when the apparition began, the weather turned for the worse and it began to rain heavily. The area around the apparition appeared unaffected, however, as the ground remained dry as long as the vision lasted. She did not speak, but the gable of the church where the manifestation was made was covered with a cloud of light. Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, also wore white robes and stood on the Virgin’s right. He inclined his head respectfully toward the Blessed Virgin. Saint John the Evangelist wore a mitre, and appeared to be preaching as he held a book in his left hand. Since then thousands of people have gone to Knock to pray to Our Lady. Their prayerful, penitential and reverential spirit has been commended again and again by visitors from other lands. No sign of commercialism detracts from the purely religious atmosphere of that hallowed spot. People from all walks of life kneel in humble supplication before the shrine of Our Lady, fully confident that she has sanctified that spot by her apparition.
Santa Maria della Consolazione is a 16th century devotional, confraternity and former hospital church just to the south of the Campodoglio at the foot of the Palatine Hill, in rione Campitelli. The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Consolation. A nobleman imprisoned on the Campodoglio in 1385, named Giordanello degli Alberini, left two gold florins in his will for a painting of the Blessed Virgin to be executed on an outside wall visible from the execution site, as a consolation for those about to die. The location chosen was on an external wall of a granary belonging to the Mattei family, which stood below the rock. There it remained for the next eighty five years. The icon came to prominence owing to a miracle recorded in 1470. According to the story, a young man (whose name seems not to have been recorded) was condemned to death for murder despite swearing that he was innocent. When he was hanged, it was found that he was not choking despite dangling off the end of the noose and so he was cut down. He testified that the icon had spoken to him, saying "Go, because you are consoled", and an invisible hand had supported him. As a result he was pardoned. Hence the name of the icon, and of the future church.
Bernardo Daddi’s Virgin, often called the Madonna delle Grazie (Madonna of the Graces) was the third rendition of this iconic image at Orsanmichele. Though the first two were both destroyed, the Madonna at Orsanmichele had reportedly been performing miraculous cures since 1292. It was believed that these miraculous abilities transferred between each reproduction of the painting, a concept that epitomizes the Italians’ belief in the power of imagery. A religious cult was soon founded around the adoration of the image, called the Campagnia della Madonna di Orsanmichele. The members of the confraternity were often called the Laudesi, referring to the lauds (hymns) that members pledged to worship the iconic painting with. Daddi completed the Madonna delle Grazie in 1347, just a few months before the first wave of the Black Plague hit Florence, killing over half of the city’s population within a year. This devastating loss shocked and terrified the Florentines, such an event could only be explained by the wrath of God. Many religious societies did exceedingly well, especially the Campagnia della Madonna di Orsanmichele, as they were flooded with donations, gifts, and new members seeking redemption or a cure.
The beautiful litany of Our Lady of Loreto was the votive offering with which a celebrated Florentine composer, of the early years of the eighteenth century, repaid a miracle of the Blessed Virgin. This composer, whose name was Barroni, all at once lost his hearing, like Beethoven; after having exhausted the succor of art without success, he invoked that of Mary, and set out on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Loreto. There he was cured, after praying with faith, and in his gratitude to the Holy Madonna, he composed, by inspiration, in her praise, a chorus, which, under the title of Litanie della Santa Casa, was performed for the first time on the 15th of August, 1737. This litany was repeated every year afterwards for the feast of the Madonna; Rossini, happening to pass by Our Lady of Loreto, was struck with the charm of this composition, and is said to have introduced it into his Tancredi (Gazette Musicale). The front area of the church was constructed during the pontificate of Pope Sixtus V in 1586, and it was he who founded the order of Knights of Loreto, who were a company of knights especially devoted to defend the shores of the Italian Mediterranean against the incursions of barbarians.
Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah in northern Israel in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726, it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception. Saint Teresa of Avila called Carmel “the Order of the Virgin.” Saint John of the Cross credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel, and helping him escape from prison. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her First Communion day, Thérèse dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life she frequently spoke of Mary. There is a tradition—which may not be historical—that Mary appeared to Saint Simon Stock, a leader of the Carmelites, and gave him a scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The scapular is a modified version of Mary’s own garment. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way.
Unlike so many of Our Lady’s titles, which go back centuries for their origin, this one is quite recent. The events which gave rise to this title took place less than one hundred years ago. By the last half of the nineteenth century the Valley of Pompei near Naples was practically deserted. Of the comparatively few people who still lived there, most had lost their ancient Catholic faith; ignorance and superstition prevailed. Only a handful of people bothered to attend the services in the little parish chapel. In October 1872, a man named Bartolo Longo came to the valley. He was the husband of the Countess of Fusco, who had some property there; and Bartolo came to see what condition it was in. He had been reared a Catholic and was probably still one in name, although it seems he was not very devout. On October 9th, a few days after his arrival, he was walking along a rather desolate road when suddenly a voice seemed to speak to him. It told him that if he wished to be saved, he should spread devotion to the Rosary and that the Blessed Virgin had promised that was the way to find salvation. Bartolo fell on his knees and replied that if the Virgin had truly so promised that he would be saved, he would not leave the valley until he had popularized the Rosary. His early efforts to interest the people in the Rosary devotion do not seem to have been very successful, but he persisted, and in two or three years he had gathered quite a group around him for daily recitation of the prayers in the little chapel. The Bishop visited the valley in 1875, and complimented Bartolo on the good work he had done. He suggested that a church be built there in honor of Our Lady of Pompei, and then, turning prophet, the Bishop pointed to a field near the chapel and declared that someday a basilica would stand on that spot. As the number of people taking part in the daily recitation of the Rosary grew, it was decided to obtain a picture of the Blessed Virgin, to help the faithful meditate as they prayed. On October 13, 1875, Bartolo went to Naples to see if he could find a suitable picture, but after searching for several days, to his great disappointment, he found that any really good picture would cost around four hundred francs, and he had nowhere near that amount to spend. He didn’t want to return empty handed, however, and disappoint the good people of Pompei, so he somewhat reluctantly accepted a secondhand painting from a junk store for five lire. A trucker not knowing what the package contained pitched it on top of a load of garbage and so the picture arrived at the chapel. The people were pleased with the dilapidated picture and enshrined it. Almost immediately several miracles took place through Mary’s intercession as Our Lady of Pompei. A church was built, 1876-1891 and a new basilica, 1934-1939, ordered by Pope Pius XI.
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been considered to be a spiritual guide from the earliest times. The Evangelist John portrayed Mary as a guide at the wedding feast of Cana when, the wine having run out, she brings the servants to Jesus and instructs them to do whatever he tells them. By the year 250 Coptic Orthodox Christians were singing a Christmas hymn to the Blessed Mother which showed her as a compassionate guide who rescues us from dangers and trouble. The name of the Blessed Mother in Hebrew is Miryam which means ‘drop of the sea.’ St. Jerome, in his Latin translation of the Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea, translated the name as Stilla Maris (Drop of the Sea). A later copyist miscopied the translation as Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) and the error persisted probably because Stella Maris is another name for Polaris or the North Star, which has been used for celestial navigation at sea since the earliest times. Stella Maris (Polaris, the North Star) is a reliable gauge of North if you find yourself lost on a clear night without a compass. It is easy to see how Mary, the mother of Jesus, was seen as a sign of hope and a guiding star for Christians, and especially by the Gentiles. Old Testament Israelites metaphorically referred to the Gentiles as ‘the sea’ (anyone beyond the coasts of Israel). Mary, as Star of the Sea, leads all, including the Gentiles, to Jesus.
The apparitions and events in Akita, Japan, center around a three foot high statue of Our Lady with a Japanese face in the chapel of the Eucharistic Handmaids of the Sacred Heart. These supernatural happenings involve Sr. Agnes Sasagawa, to whom Our Lady gave her messages. Sister had been very ill, and when the apparitions began, she was nearly deaf. On June 12, 1973, when she opened the tabernacle for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a very strong light came from it and filled the entire chapel. This happened for three days. When Sister asked the other Sisters if they had seen anything out of the ordinary, they said no. This strong light also came from the tabernacle on the feast of Corpus Christi. When Sr. Sasagawa told the Bishop of Akita, he advised her to keep it in her heart. On the Vigil of the Feast of the Sacred Heart that same year, Sr. Sasagawa's guardian angel appeared to her and asked her to pray the Fatima decade prayer after each decade of the Rosary. In 1973 this prayer was not well known in Japan and Sister had trouble understanding it, but the Sisters began to recite the prayer and it has now spread throughout Japan. On the same occasion as the apparition of her guardian angel, a wound in the form of a cross appeared in the hollow of Sr. Sasagawa's left hand and began to bleed. The bleeding ended on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The following Friday, the wound bled and stopped the next day. This continued for a month. Sister's guardian angel later spoke to her in chapel saying: "Pray not only for yourself, but for the people of all nations. The world today is wounding the Sacred Heart of Jesus through so much sin and ingratitude." After hearing this, Sister heard a voice come from the statue in the chapel: "My daughter, you obeyed me very well; you have renounced everything. This deafness is a great suffering for you. Have patience; you will be healed. It is a trial. Pray in reparation for all people. Pray much for the Holy Father, for the bishops and the priests." On July 6, 1973, a bleeding wound appeared on the right hand of the statue of Our Lady in the chapel. On other days, the face of the statue bled. Sister's guardian angel told her: "This flowing of blood is significant. It will be shed for the conversion of men and in reparation for sins. To the devotion to the Sacred Heart add the devotion to the Precious Blood." Other messages followed. About a month after seeing the wound in the right hand of Our Lady's statue, Sr. Sasagawa heard: "My daughter, if you love Our Lord, listen to me. Many people in the world grieve Our Lord. I ask for souls who will console Him, and who will make reparation. The Heavenly Father is preparing a great punishment for the world. Many times I have tried with my Son to soften the anger of the Father. I presented to Him many atoning souls who make reparation by prayers and sacrifices. That is what I ask of you. Honor poverty. Live poorly. You must keep your vows, which are like three nails to nail you to the Cross – the nails of poverty, chastity, and obedience." Beginning on September 20, 1973, the statue began to sweat from the face to the feet. Tears began to flow down the face. Also, a very pleasant odor was felt in the chapel. This happened many times in the presence of others, including the Bishop. In all, the statue wept a total of 101 times. On October 13, 1973, Our Lady gave Sister Sasagawa this serious message: "As I said before if mankind does not repent, the Heavenly Father will inflict a very serious punishment on the whole world; a punishment the likes of which has never happened before. Many people will perish. Pray the Rosary often. Only I can prevent the disaster. Whoever entrusts themselves to me will be saved." The statue continued to weep and other messages followed.
On June 30, 1985, the blessed mother began weeping through her statue owned by an ordinary housewife, Julia Kim, who was operating a beauty salon located near Moohak-Dang (a shrine of several Korean martyrs in the 19th century) in the small city of Naju, Korea. “Naju” in Chinese characters means a town of silk. Naju city indeed is small, but peaceful and beautiful like a stretch of silk. Showing the visible signs of her weeping for a total of 700 days until January 14, 1992, the Blessed Mother has been calling us and pleading us, revealing to us her extreme sufferings, sometimes also sweating and shedding blood from her nose. Also for the conversion of sinners, after preparing for 400 days, she exuded fragrant oil from her statue by squeezing her whole body for 700 consecutive days between November 24, 1992 and October 23, 1994. She said that this fragrant oil and the fragrance of roses were signs of her presence, love and friendship. The Blessed Mother has especially warned us about sacrilegious communions. That all may believe in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist and be saved, she has given us amazing Eucharistic signs. She has also given us many messages of the combined love of Jesus and herself through Julia since July 18, 1985 until February 16, 2003.
The beginnings of the devotion to the Blessed Virgin of Ta’Pinu are so ancient that they are lost in the midst of time. Before taking the name of Ta’ Pinu the local church was a small chapel, known as Tal– Ġentili, dedicated to the Assumption, which existed before 1545 AD. Documented records show that it had been rebuilt, which means that the Chapel was there long before 1545. In 1575 the apostolic visitor Pietro Duzina, delegated by Pope Gregory XIII, found it in a very bad state, so he ordered its demolishing. When demolition began a workman broke his arm when he struck the first blow – this was taken as an omen and that the chapel should be preserved for future generations. It was the only chapel on the island to survive Duzina’s decree. In 1587, the chapel’s property changed hands and consequently, the name Tal-Ġentili was dropped and it became known as Ta’ Pinu – named after Pinu Gauci who had become the procurator of the Church in 1598, who paid for its restoration, and also commissioned the painting of the Assumption of Our Lady for the main altar. Eventually, due to the happenings of 1883, the modest unknown chapel in the countryside became a revered Marian Shrine, visited by droves of Gozitans, Maltese and people beyond the sea! Indeed, a few years later the decision was taken to build a worthy sanctuary, in honour of the Mother of God, to accommodate the huge crowds. Due to some setbacks, construction of the church began thirty years later, in 1920. Indeed, 30th May 2020, was the centenary of the blessing of the first stone. The neo-Romanesque church was constructed in front of the old chapel, which remains intact behind the altar, and still houses the miraculous painting of the Assumption of Our Lady.
Greatly astonished, the Franciscan bishop of Mexico, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, contemplates the fresh roses of Castille that sprinkle with colors the floor of his episcopal palace. Tears run down his cheeks as he recognizes the beautiful image that has just appeared on the rough cloth that Juan Diego has unfolded in his presence. It is Tuesday, December 12, 1531, scarcely ten years after the conquest of Mexico, and the Mother of God has come to the defeated Indians to "show and give" all her "love and compassion, help and defense, because I am your merciful mother." For four days the Virgin has told her wishes to Juan Diego, talking to him in nahualtl, his own tongue. When she identified herself, Mary used the word coatlallope, a compound noun made up of coatl, that is: serpent, the preposition a, and llope, to crush; in other words, she identified herself as "the one who crushes the serpent." Others reconstruct the name as Tlecuauhtlapcupeuh, which means: "The one who comes from the region of light as the Eagle of Fire." In any event, the nahualtl word sounded to the Spanish friars like Guadalupe, relating the Tepeyac apparition with the beloved title which the conquistadores venerated in the Basilica raised by King Alfonso XI in 1340. The Spanish image of "Guadalupe" is an ancient wood carving dressed in rich brocade cloaks that give it the triangular shape much favored at the time. She is very different from the Tepeyac painting, not only because of her Iberian-Byzantine features, but also because she carries the Child Jesus in her left arm and holds a royal scepter in her right hand, displaying a gold crown on her head. The Guadalupe of Cáceres, whose origin, according to legend, is placed about the sixth century, was found on the shore of the Guadalupe River (hidden river in Arabic) in the Villuercas mountain range, around 1326, after the Moors were driven out of that area. Four hundred years elapsed before western culture recognized with admiration that the image imprinted on the native cloth was truly a Mexica codex, a message from heaven loaded with symbols. Helen Behrens, a North American anthropologist, discovered in 1945 what the eyes of the Indians had "read" in the painting of the "Mother of the true God by whom one lives" in December of 1531. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe remained stamped on a coarse cloth made from maguey fibers. It was on the ayate used by the Indians to carry things and not on the tilma which is usually of a finer cotton texture. The weft of the ayate is so simple and coarse that one can see through it easily, and the fiber of the maguey is such an unsuitable material that no painter would have chosen it to paint on. The face imprinted in the ayate is that of a young mestizo girl; an ethnic anticipation, since at that time there were no mestizos of that age in Mexico. Mary thus assumes the sorrows of thousands of children, the first of a new race, which at that time was rejected both by the Indians and by the conquerors. The Virgin is standing and her face leans delicately, somewhat reminiscent of the traditional "Immaculates." The blue star sprinkled cloak is the Tilma de Turquesa (turquoise tilma) used by the nobles that denoted the rank and importance of the bearer. Sun rays completely surround the Virgin of Guadalupe as if to indicate that she is their dawn. This young girl is a few months pregnant, as implied by the black bow at her waist, the slight protuberance below it, and the increased intensity of the sun rays at the waist. Her foot rests on a black moon (symbol of evil to the Mexica) and the angel, who supports her with a severe gesture, has his eagle wings unfolded. The Virgin of Guadalupe presented herself to her children as the "Mother of the Creator and Preserver of All the Universe," who comes to her people because she wishes to protect all of them, Indians and Spaniards, with the same motherly love. With the wonderful imprint on the ayate a new world was beginning, the dawn of the sixth sun that the Mexicans were awaiting.
The small village of "El Viejo" clustered around a Franciscan mission of the early colonial period, is very near the Pacific coast. The Sanctuary of Our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo, is located in this village of far western Nicaragua. Although there is no historic evidence of it, it is said that the image, which has been venerated there since the sixteenth century, was brought to America by a relative of St. Therese of Avila, whose last name was Cepeda. Some have even maintained that it was the saint's brother, Rodrigo de Cepeda Ahumada, but there is no proof of this. Tradition holds that St. Therese of Jesus gave this image to her relative, who took it with him everywhere. He arrived with it in Central America, landing at "Realejo," which was then the most important port of Nicaragua. Soon he moved to the Franciscan mission in search of a healthier climate. A room in his house became an oratory, where the neighbors went attracted by the beautiful expression of the Immaculate Virgin's face. When Cepeda received orders to transfer to Peru, he tried to take the image of the Immaculata with him, but the move kept getting postponed time and time again because of bad weather; until he realized it was God's will that he give up his beloved image and leave it among the people who had learned to love her so quickly. The Virgin remained forever in Nicaragua.
When the Muslim’s invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century, the Christians of Seville built a façade before the image to keep the Moors from defacing it. The church was profaned and turned into a Muslim place of worship, and so after a period of centuries the knowledge of the existence and location of the image was lost. In the year 1248, when St. Fernando III was besieging Seville, when the Saint was kneeling in prayer before the Virgin of the Kings, Our Lady spoke to him through the statue and said: “You have a constant in my image of the Antigua that you love so much and which is in Seville.” Then, Our Lady encouraged him to continue the siege, promising him the victory. St. Fernando was instantly overwhelmed with a holy desire to venerate the image of the Virgin de la Antigua, and was miraculously guided through the city and into the mosque where the image lay hidden behind a wall. Upon his arrival, the blank wall faded from sight, becoming as transparent as the finest pane of glass, allowing Fernando to gaze upon what no man had beheld for many centuries. There, untouched, its secret hidden by the solid wall, was the painted image of the Queen of Heaven holding her Infant Son in her arms. Fernando was completely unaware of the passage of time as he prayed before the heavenly portrait. It had always been his intention to make Mary the Mistress and Queen of Seville, and when he conquered the city he shattered the obstructing wall and brought this glorious masterpiece to light for all of Christendom. When the Spanish knights crossed the ocean and came to the New World, they also brought their devotion to Our Lady under the image of the Virgen de la Antiqua. One of these images has been displayed at the Cathedral of Mexico since the year 1652.
In the early Sixteenth century, a guarani converted Indian of the Franciscan mission of Tobati, was in danger of death. He was surrounded by the fierce mbayáes, a tribe which had refused to accept the Christian faith and had declared itself an all-out enemy of the converts. In the forest thickness a massive tree trunk provided safe refuge. He hid there, cringing and trembling; he asked for protection from his Mother in Heaven, the Immaculate that the good friars have taught him to love. There he promises the Virgin that if he survives, he will carve a pretty image with the wood of the protective trunk. Nobody saw him, his persecutors went by without discovering his presence, and as soon as he could the Indian sculptor went back and took from the tree the wood he needed for his work. Two images came out of the trunk; the larger one went to the church of Tobati, and the Indian kept the smaller one for his personal devotion. Years later the great flood that created the Lake of Ypacaray threatened to destroy the nearby towns, and the Franciscan friars, accompanied by the inhabitants of the region, organized public prayers pleading for the calming of the waters. It is related that Father Luis de Bolaños blessed the waters and was recognised as the one the Indian had carved years earlier, and which from then on was called La Virgen de los Milagros (the Virgin of Miracles). Our Lady of Caacupé is a handsome wood carving with a delicate oval face and blue eyes; like the lmmaculate she joins her hands on her breast in prayer and her blond hair falls to her shoulders. The small image measures some 50 centimeters. The image stands on a sphere resting on a large half moon. Mary's feet seem to step on a serpent, an allusion to Genesis and Apocalyptic texts.
Devotion to the Virgin of Mercy dates back to the time of the founding of Lima. It is known that the Mercederian friars, who came to Peru with the conquerors, had already built their primitive convent chapel around 1535. This chapel served as Lima's first parish until the construction of the main Church in 1540. The Mercederians not only evangelized the region, but they also participated in the city's development, building beautiful churches that have been preserved as a valuable cultural and religious patrimony. With these friars came their celestial patroness, the Virgin of Mercy, a Marian title of the thirteenth century. Tradition has it that around 1218, St. Peter Nolasco and James I, King of Aragon and Catalonia, experienced separately a vision of the Most Holy Virgin who asked them to found a religious order dedicated to rescuing the many Christian captives held by the Moslems. This Order of Our Lady of Mercy, approved as a military order in 1235 by Pope Gregory IX, was able to liberate thousands of Christian prisoners, and later became dedicated to teaching and social work. The Mercederian friars' habit imitates the garments worn by the Virgin when she appeared to the founder of the order. The image of the Virgin of Mercy is dressed all in white; over her long tunic she wears a scapular with the shield of the order imprinted breast high. A cloak covers her shoulders and her long hair is veiled by a fine lace mantilla. Some images have her standing, with the child in her arms, and others with her arms extended showing a royal scepter in her right hand and in the left some open chains, a symbol of liberation. Such is the appearance of the beautiful image venerated in the Basilica of Mercy in the capital of Peru. It was enthroned at the beginning of the seventeenth century and has been considered the patroness of the capital. In 1730 she was proclaimed "Patroness of the Peruvian Lands" and in 1823 "Patroness of the Armies of the Republic." On the first centennial of the nation's independence, the image was solemnly crowned and received the title of "Grand Marshall of Peru," on September 24, 1921, Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. Since then it was declared a national holiday and every year the army renders homage to her high military rank. The image carries numerous decorations granted by the Republic of Peru, its governors and national institutions. In 1970 the town council of Lima gave her the "Keys of the City," and in 1971 the president of the Republic conferred on her the Great Peruvian Cross of Naval Merit, gestures which evidence the affection and devotion of Peru to Our Lady of Mercy, that many consider their national patroness.
In Antipolo, one finds the religious shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, popularly known as the Virgin of Antipolo (Birhen ng Antipolo). The origin of our Virgin of Antipolo dates back to Spanish era, when galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico were at its height. On March 25,1626, Don Juan Niño de Tabora left the shores of Mexico aboard El Almirante to make its voyage to the Philippines. On this trip, Governor Tabora brought along the brown image of our Blessed Virgin Mother. For three months, the El Almirante safely braved the dangers of the stormy seas and a fire aboard the ship, arriving in the ports of Manila on July 18, 1626. Governor Tabora, realizing that the galleon’s safe and successful journey was due to the presence of the image of the Blessed Virgin on board, called for the pompous celebration of the image’s arrival. Amidst pageantry and fireworks, the procession started from the Church of San Ignacio, the Jesuit Church in Intramuros, up to the Manila Catholic Cathedral, the first house of the Blessed Virgin’s image. It is said that the events surrounding the safe voyage, the Blessed Virgin was named Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje. During the Japanese occupation, the Blessed Image of our Lady of Antipolo was evacuated to the mountains of Angono, then at Santolan. The five hundred people who journeyed with the Brown Virgin all felt safe through their trips along steep mountain trails. For a while, the Blessed Virgin was housed in the Ocampo residence at Quiapo, previous to its transfer to the Quiapo Church where it stayed until October 15, 1945, then finally got transferred to its original and permanent sanctuary at the Church of Antipolo. Every year, devotees commemorate this transfer, as they join the “Alay Lakad” from Quiapo Church to the Antipolo Cathedral starting at around 8:00 PM (30th of April) until dawn of the following day (1st of May). It is a national tradition in the Philippines to make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Antipolo, particularly before departing for a long journey.
Our Lady of Guides is also known as Our Lady of Guidance, She is currently displayed in the Ermita Church, and is the patroness of Manila. One of the sailors on the island of Luzon in 1570, while walking in the woods near the native settlement of Manila, came upon a religious ceremony held by the Natives. They were honoring an image of the Mother of God, a statue on a rough pedestal. The natives told the sailors that the statue had the power to make their petitions come true, and indeed, miracles were performed. Since nothing of the origin could be learned, the sailors determined to name the statue by some “Lady Title”; the lot fell upon “Our Lady of Guidance”; everyone agreed she had guided them on their dangerous journey. When the cathedral at Manila was built the statue was enshrined there. A hundred years later, this cathedral having been destroyed, a new church was built, and it is visible from the sea. In its high tower a light was set as a beacon to incoming ships, a fit place for Our Lady of Guides. Later the statue was placed within the walls of the restored cathedral. As to the mysterious nature of the statue's unknown origin, some think the statue floated in from a wrecked ship, and was so seized by the natives. The statue of Our Lady of Guidance was canonically crowned in the year 1955 by the Papal Nuncio to the Philippine Islands. The shrine is visited by laborers seeking employment in many countries, and when they return they leave gifts of thanks for the Queen of Heaven before her statue.
The story of Our Lady of Peñafrancia began in Paris on September 4th, 1401 when Simon Vela was born. While born into a rich family he eventually gave all his riches to the church, charities, and the poor. Simon preferred to spend time in the church and one day lost consciousness while devoutly praying. He was awoken by a voice, telling him to travel to Peña de Francia (Rock of France), where he would find the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For five disheartening years Simon traveled west, and came across a hill in which he saw the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus in her arms. There, with the help of five men from a nearby town, he began to dig where she had directed, and on May 19th, 1434, they uncovered an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus. The Filipino tradition of honoring Our Lady of Peñafrancia began in the Bicol region in 1712, when Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, the son of a Spanish government official, fell very ill. While ill, he and his family prayed to Our Lady of Peñafrancia, and he vowed that if he recovered he would construct a shrine in her name. When he recovered he was eventually ordained a priest in Naga City, and set forth his plans to construct the shrine. During the construction he also ordered for an image to be made, similar to the one he prayed to while sick. Unfortunately the local artisans had run out of red paint, and so a dog was killed in order to coat and paint the image. This prompted a miracle as the dead dog that was thrown into the river began to swim to the bewilderment of hundreds of people. News of many more miracles also spread and so did the devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia. Today, millions of people gather every year on the third Saturday of September in the Bicol region to honor Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
The history of Our Lady of Czestochowa is the history of Poland. Tradition holds that this picture of Mary was done by St Luke the Evangelist on a piece of wood cut from the table of the Last Supper. It was the Christians of Jerusalem who presented this picture to St Helen, the mother of Constantine. She in turn gave it to her son and so it was put in his palace at Constantinople. The salvation of this city while besieged by the Saracens was ascribed to Our Lady’s intercession. The Byzantine Emperors showed great devotion for this picture and were able to hide it during the Iconoclast (breaking of images) persecution, thus saving it from destruction at the hands of the heretics who tried to destroy all statues and images. In 989, upon the marriage of Princess Anna, the sister of the Emperor, to Prince Vladimir of Kiev, the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa was a wedding gift taken to her, to the Ukraine. In the fourteenth century the picture was again in danger due to the Tartar raids. In a dream the wish of Our Lady was made known to Prince Ladislaus of Opol and in fulfillment of it, the holy image was taken to Jasna Gora. At that time the monks of St Paul the Hermit were invited to come from Hungary and be the custodians of the shrine. During the Hussite persecution, heretic s plundered the monastery and the church. They hurled the precious image of Our Lady of Czestochowa to the ground and it was broken into three pieces. But when they tried to carry it off, the wagon bearing the image could not be moved. In rage one of them drew a sword and struck Our Lady’s cheek twice. As he raised his arm a third time he fell dead on the spot. Seeing this, his comrades fled in terror. Under King Ladislaus II of Poland a commission of artists restored the painting but no effort on their part could remove the sword strokes which remain to this day. These artists at the time placed a silver background over the upper part of the picture on which five scenes were engraved. These are: the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Christ child, the Scourging at the Pillar, Christ mocked by the soldiers, and St Barbara, to whom Poles had a great devotion. The Kings of Poland were especially devoted to Our Lady of the Bright Hill; at her shrine they, with their people sought intercession in all needs of the nation. In danger from the Turks, during invasion by Swedes, under siege by Prussians, Austrians and Russians, after the partition of Poland in 1795, during the German invasion of 1939, and today under Communism, the hearts of Poles have ever turned to Our Queen. Her shrine at Jasna Gora is for them a symbol of their faith and hope.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, appeared 6 times to 3 shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, between May 13 and October 13, 1917. She came to the little village of Fatima which had remained faithful to the Catholic Church during the recent persecutions by the government. Our Lady came with a message from God to every man, woman, and child of our century. Our Lady of Fatima promised that the whole world would be in peace, and that many souls would go to Heaven if her requests were listened to and obeyed. She told us that war is a punishment for sin; that God would punish the world for its sins in our time by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and persecution of the Holy Father, the Pope, unless we listened to and obeyed the command of God. At Fatima, Pope John Paul II said on May 13; "the message of Fatima is more relevant and more urgent" then when Our Lady first appeared. The message is an anguished appeal of our Heavenly Mother, Who sees us in great danger and Who comes to offer Her help and advice. Her message is also a prophesy, a clear indication of what was about to transpire in the 20th century, and what is still going to happen infallibly in the near future, depending on our response to Her requests. As a great sign of the whole message truly coming from God, a marvelous miracle was worked in the sky above Fatima before 70,000 witnesses on October 13, 1917 at the time, date and place that Lucy and the other two children had prophesied in the name of Our Lady of Fatima. The children were told by Our Lady that God would perform a miracle so that people would believe in the apparitions. The date was October 13, 1917, in Fatima. On that date, 70,000 people came to see the phenomenon. The miracle occurred with the sun. All could stare perfectly at the sun without blinking, or even hurting their eyes. While all were watching the sun, it rotated, got large and small, got close to the people, and got far away from them. The sun "danced. “ Every single person who was there testified to seeing the sun dance, even non-believers who immediately dropped onto their knees and begged for forgiveness.
A 13th-century devotion that started in Italy came to be the patroness of Puerto Rico when a new bishop arrived to find the Catholic Church on the island in disarray. The islands were placed in the care of Our Lady of the Divine Providence after a newly appointed bishop from Spain brought the devotion. Bishop Gil E. Tomas was a native of the Catalonia region of Spain, where a popular shrine had been built and he brought that spirituality with him. Some 800 years later, the affection for the Blessed Mother is apparent as the Puerto Rican community and others at St. Philip Benizi Church, Jonesboro, celebrate this feast. “It should be important to everybody, no matter the nationality, because she is the mother of our Lord. She always hears our calls,” said Haydee Santiago, a coordinator of the annual event. The original image of Our Lady of the Divine Providence was an oil painting. The Virgin Mary cradles a sleeping infant Jesus, while she looks at him and gently holds his hand. Pope Paul VI in 1969, declared Our Lady Mother of Divine Providence the principal patroness of Puerto Rico. It also decreed that the Virgin’s solemnity be transferred from Jan. 2 to Nov. 19, the day that the island was discovered. The intention was to join the two celebrations of the Puerto Ricans: love of their gorgeous island and love for the Mother of God, according to the University of Dayton’s Marian Library/Marian Research Institute.
Kibeho is best known as a place of apparitions and pilgrimages. The first apparition of Mary was on November 28, 1981 when Alphonsine Mumureke, a young student of the Kibeho High School, saw a lady of incomparable beauty who presented herself under the name of "Nyina Wa Jambo," which means "Mother of the Word." Alphonsine immediately recognized her as the Blessed Virgin Mary. The phenomenon occurred several times in succession, at long or short intervals. The Virgin asked everybody to convert, to keep faith and to pray without hypocrisy. The first reactions caused by these unusual events within the community of the Kibeho High School as well as outside of the high school were not temperate. There were a lot of points of view that ranged from skepticism that feared trickery to unswaying belief and intolerance of any skepticism. At the beginning, Alphonsine was viewed as a mad girl, or an unhappy girl possessed by evil; or, according to some, as a mediocre student wanting to play a prank to make her more accepted in the school conducted by the Congregation of Benebikira Sisters (Daughters of the Virgin Mary). Many people begged for signs of credibility. At the time of the ecstasies, students and teachers were free to apply tests on the body of Alphonsine in order to check and to verify her sincerity. It was even suggested that if it was really the Blessed Virgin Mary who had visited the school, they would take it seriously, if she at least appeared to other students instead of just that poor Alphonsine from Gisaka, a region which had a reputation for the practice of magic. Alphonsine asked the Virgin to respond to the challenge by appearing to others and exhorted her schoolmates also to ask her for themselves to receive necessary enlightenment. A short time later, two new alleged seers appeared in the high school, one after the other, and in close proximity to Alphonsine: notably Nathalie Mukamazimpaka on January 12, 1982, and Marie Claire Mukangango on March 2, 1982. If, for some, the increased number of the seers complicated the disconcerting situation created by Alphonsine, for others, the two new cases, especially the one of Marie Claire, were interpreted as a good sign coming from heaven to show that the prayer of Alphonsine had been accepted and to sustain the faith of all those that were still hesitating to take her apparitions seriously. Different witnesses declared that they began to believe in the apparitions after the extraordinary experience of Marie Claire. In short, the public opinion tried to find a natural explanation for the phenomenon, but without success. In spite of the critics and objections, a movement of belief began to develop quickly enough inside and outside of Kibeho High School. Before the Christmas holidays of 1981, a group of "converted" students and teachers appeared at a regular prayer meeting with Alphonsine, where they recited the rosary accompanied by hymns in the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The apparitions of Kibeho officially ended on November 28, 1989, a date on which Alphonsine, who was at the beginning of these events, experienced the Virgin's last apparition in public. She specified that she would not have any more apparitions publicly. This meaningful fact, which was introduced 8 years after the Virgin's first apparition at Kibeho, is recognized as an important historical reference for anybody who would like to know what happened and form a judgment on it. This date of November 28, 1989, is kept by the ecclesiastical authority as the time-limit for the occurrence of these phenomena.
Bishop Gavin Dunbar was the Bishop of Aberdeen from 1518 to 1532. On his appointment, Bishop Dunbar hired Father Alexander Galloway to design a bridge over the river Dee. However, there was the difficulty of exactly where to put the bridge. Bishop Dunbar was a very devout man, he prayed to Our Lady for inspiration. Then he saw, in a vision, the exact location to build the bridge, and that is where it was built, and where it is today. This inspired him to dedicate the bridge to Our Lady. Eventually, in 1527, the bridge was completed and a chapel was built on the south side of the bridge. With great ceremony, a statue of Our Lady was carried to the chapel and installed in 1527. The Reformation came to north east Scotland in 1593 and a decree was passed that Catholics must either give up their faith or emigrate. It is against this tumultuous background, that the statue of Our Lady of Aberdeen was being hidden and treasured by the faithful. However, it was becoming increasingly difficult, and the faithful decided that it must be sent abroad for safekeeping. Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, the daughter of King Philip II of Spain, agreed to accept the statue as a gift and to keep it safe. In Aberdeen there was an important merchant, William Laing, who liaised with Father Barthelemy de los Rios, an Augustinian Friar and chaplain to the Archduchess. They arranged for a Spanish ship to come to Aberdeen harbor and William Laing smuggled the statue aboard, saying only that it came from an important family who adhered to the old faith, and that it was to go to Isabella. During its passage the ship suffered from a short sharp storm that destroyed the mast and sails. While they were drifting and trying to make some repairs, a Dutch pirate ship decided to attack. The Spanish guns were still in full working order, and the Dutch were soon seen off. The harbor master was amazed to see the battered ship limp into port in 1625. When they landed, the sailors loudly praised the statue. The statue settled down to a period of peace in the Augustinian monastery in Brussels until war threatened it once again. In 1695 Brussels came under attack by the invading French army. The French revolutionary troops kicked the Augustinians out of their monastery, and used it as stables and a hospital for their wounded soldiers. The statue was under threat once again, and this time an Englishman, a resident in Brussels called Jean-Baptiste Joseph Morris, took the statue and hid it in his house in Brussels for eight years. In 1805, Napoleon I, Emperor of France, granted permission for the Augustinians to go back to their monastery, and the statue once again was restored to its rightful place of honor. The Augustinians did not last long there, however, and so on 7th April 1814, the statue was moved once again, this time to a nearby church, Notre Dame du Finistere. A separate chapel was opened in 1852. A niche was built at the far end, and in this the statue reigns today.
The devotion to Santa Maria Della Catena, venerated under the title of Our Lady of the Chain, had its origin in Palermo, Sicily. At the end of the fourteenth century the historian Mongitore, in his book Palermo Devoted to Mary, relates: In the year 1392, while Martin I reigned over Sicily, three young men were condemned to die on the gallows. While these young men were being conducted under heavy guard to the square of the Marina, where the execution was to take place, the Blessed Virgin Mary came to their assistance, either to protect their innocence, or in answer to their fervent prayers. Suddenly, the skies darkened and a terrific storm broke out over the square. The people who had gathered to witness the execution fled for shelter. The guards and the prisoners found shelter in the Church of St. Mary of the Port. The storm raged all day, and the execution had to be postponed. Precautions were taken that the prisoners might not escape. Extra chains were fastened on them and the doors of the Church were securely locked. That night, the guards that were on duty fell asleep and the three young condemned men found themselves at the foot of an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They prayed fervently for deliverance. While they were praying, the chains mysteriously fell to the ground. The doors of the Church opened by themselves, and they heard these words coming from the Image of the Blessed Virgin: 'Go, you are free, do not fear. The Divine Infant Whom I hold in my arms, has heard your prayers and has granted your freedom'. The young men silently walked out of the Church. The guards awakened from their sleep, not seeing their prisoners, sought them and, finally, caught up with them. The prisoners would have been chained again, had it not been for the people who interceded for them with the King. The King having heard what had happened, granted them their freedom, saying: The Blessed Virgin Mary has set them free, so will I. The news of the miracle which occurred in the Church of St. Mary of the Port very soon reached every comer of Sicily and became known to the people all over Italy. Faithful from all parts of Sicily and Italy began their pilgrimages to the Holy Shrine to pay their homage to the miraculous image which, from then on, was given the title 'Our Lady of the Chain'. The devotion to Our Blessed Lady of the Chain increased rapidly, as many were the miracles and favors which were obtained from God through the intercession of Our Lady of the Chain, at the Shrine dedicated to her honor.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna del Tindari in Tindari in the diocese of Patti (Province of Messina) is situated on top of a hill overlooking the sea. A Greek colony had built the city of Tindari three centuries before the Christian era, but it was later destroyed by an earthquake. According to tradition, during the time of iconoclasm the effigy of the Mother of God was transported by sea to the eastern shores of Sicily. A raging tempest forced the ship to land at Tindari where the sailors entrusted monks with the image of Our Lady. This was the origin of Our Lady of Tindari. The sanctuary was robbed and burnt by pirates in subsequent centuries but was also assiduously rebuilt and restored by bishop and faithful. The official feast day is that of September 8. The image is that of a "Madonna Bruna," a dark Madonna. It was crowned in 1940 and attracts many pilgrims yearly.
According to tradition this statue was carved out of cedar and juniper by Saint Necodemus to propagate devotion to the Virgin Mary. It was polychromed by Saint Luke. The apostle Saint James gave it to Saint Calocero, who built a small chapel where it was displayed on the height of Cuesta de la Vega in present day Madrid. This sanctuary was free of the profanations during the persecutions suffered by the Christians in Gothic Spain. It became a large church during the fourth century under the Emperor Constantine. During the Arab invasion of the 8th Century, the Christians of Old Madrid hid the image of Mary to avoid its being profaned or destroyed. It was sealed in a niche formed in one of the dados of the ramparts in a section close to the shrine. Once the statue was placed there in the year 714, they covered the place over so that it looked like a plain mending of the ramparts. For three centuries and a half the Mohammedans were in Madrid. The shrine was briefly turned into a Mosque, but in 1083 Alfonso VI conquered Madrid and the old shrine was purified and converted back into a church dedicated to Mary. King Alfonso ordered that on the wall of the major chapel a picture of the Blessed Virgin be painted to take the place of the lost image. In the course of centuries knowledge of the whereabouts of the statue had been hidden and lost. After many efforts, the king determined to celebrate a novena of prayers, fasts, and penances as well as almsgiving, asking heaven to grant that it be found. At the end of the novena, a procession took place on November 9, 1085. When the procession, in which the king himself and many other notables marched, came opposite to where the statue was hidden, the stones of the wall fell away and the statue was revealed in the niche with two candles on either side that were still miraculously alight, having burned continuously for over three-hundred years. The next day the statue was taken to the church. All of Madrid celebrated a festival of great jubilation. The statue was borne by four prelates and carried to the church of Our Lady. It was given the name of Nuestra Senora de la Almudena, Our Lady of Almudena, for the statue was hidden near a Moorish granary. Alfonso VI ordered the building of a larger church which was given over to the Augustinians. In 1664 the municipal government of Madrid decided to participate in the feast and the procession celebrated in honor of the Holy Patroness. When the church was torn down in 1868, the statue was taken to the church in the Calle del Sacramento.
Our Lady of Covadonga/Cuadonga also named "La Santina" is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the name of a Marian shrine devoted to her at Covadonga/Cuadonga, Asturias. The shrine in northwestern Spain rose to prominence following the Battle of Covadonga in about 720, which was the first defeat of the Moors during their invasion of Spain. A statue of the Virgin Mary, hidden in one of the caves, was believed to have miraculously aided the Christian victory. Covadonga/Cuadonga is a mountainous region in the province of Asturias in the extreme north west of Spain. Following the Islamic Arab invasion of Spain in 711, Roderic, the Christian Visigoth King of Spain was defeated and killed at the Battle of Guadalete. The battle was decisive and led to the swift conquest of most of Visigothic Spain. The remnant of the Visigoth nobility retreated to the remote mountains of northern Spain. According to texts written in northern Iberia during the ninth century, they elected in 718 a man named Pelayo, or Pelagius, as their leader. Pelayo's father had been a dignitary at the court of the Visigoth King Egica. Pelayo gathered a band of warriors to resist Islamic encroachment. When in 722 the Arab commander of Spain sent an army to eliminate this resistance, the Christian army made its stand at a place of many caves known as Covadonga. According to tradition Pelayo retreated to a cave where a hermit had secreted a statue of the Virgin Mary, saved from the Muslim conquest. He prayed to the virgin for victory. In the subsequent battle the Christians made use of the natural defenses. The Moorish commander fell in the battle, and his soldiers fled. This victory, considered the first of the Christian Reconquista of Spain, established the independence of the Kingdom of Asturias in northwest Spain. Pelayo credited the intercession of the Virgin Mary for his victory. And in recognition of this miraculous intercession, King Alfonso I, the Catholic (739-757) commanded that a monastery and chapel be built on the site in honor of Our Lady of Covadonga. The sanctuary came to be run by Augustinian canons but was destroyed by fire on 17 October 1777. The shrine was rebuilt piecemeal, until replaced by a great Basilica that was consecrated in 1901. The basilica houses the current statue of Our Lady of Covadonga, dating to the 16th century. Pope John Paul II visited the shrine during his papacy.
In Spain, Mount Montserrat has been dedicated to the veneration of Mary, Our Lady of Montserrat. It is a mountain standing alone, ten leagues from Barcelona, which was, according to the celebrated naturalist Humboldt, the great Atlas of the ancients, at the foot of which the fine kingdom of Valencia displayed the golden apples of the garden of the Hesperides. This mountain, which owed its name of Monte Serrats (sawed mountain) to its extraordinary form, seems as if composed of inlaid work, which makes it look as if divided and covered with spiral cones, or pine cones; so that it appears, from afar, to have been the work of men. At a distance, Montserrat is a pile of grottoes and Gothic pyramids; when near, each cone appears a mountain by itself; and all the cones, terminated by needles, or points, which make a great noise when the wind blows, form an enormous mass of about five leagues in circumference. It was probably this singular conformation that led to the invention of the fable of the giants, who had heaped mountain upon mountain to scale the heavens. It is on a platform of his celebrated mountain that the superb convent has been built, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, which is one of the most celebrated pilgrimages of Christendom. An inscription, of the year 1239, preserved in the convent above a large picture of the same period, thus records the foundation of this fine monastery: “In the year 808, under the government of the Count of Barcelona, Geoffry le Velu, three young shepherds having one night seen a great light descend from the sky, and heard melodious music in the air, informed their relations of it. The bailiff and the Bishop of Mauresa having repaired, with all these people, to the spot which they pointed out, saw likewise the light from heaven, and after some search, they discovered the image of the Blessed Virgin, which they wanted to remove to Mauresa; but comimg to the place where the monastery now stands, they could not advance any farther. This prodigy induced the Count of Barcelona to build a convent of women there, from which he took the nuns of the royal abbey of Las Puellas of Barcelona; the first abbess of Our Lady of Montserrat was his daughter Richilda, who took possession of it about the year 895. This community of nuns subsisted until about the year 976, when the Count of Barcelona, Borrell, with the consent of the pope, placed Benedictine monks at Montserrat.”
In Zaragossa, Spain, the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar is a day of special rejoicing. Our Lady of the Pillar is the patroness of policemen and postmen; and the day is commemorated with processions, conventions, and other festivities. The image of Our Lady of the Pillar is a wooden statue decorated with gold; it is about fifteen inches high. The crown adorning the head of the statue is very intricate. It was made in forty-four days by thirty-three workmen; in it there are 2,836 diamonds cut triangularly, 2725 roses, 145 pearls, 74 emeralds, 62 rubies and 46 sapphires. The crown of the Infant is identical with that of the Virgin, except in size. The history of this particular statue of Our Lady is unique and interesting. It is said that in the year 40 A.D. the Virgin visited the Apostle Saint James while he was at prayer one night on the shore of the Ebro River in Zaragossa. Mary was standing on a column of marble, and she gave St. James her effigy, requesting that he build a chapel in her honor. Saint James complied. To the small chapel has been added a large temple which has been called Our Lady of the Pillar. Throughout the years the kisses of the pilgrims have made a hole in the pedestal, so large that a man’s head can rest therein. Many miracles have been performed at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar: one in 1640 when the limb of a man, Juan, native of Colanda, was cured. In remembrance of the apparition of Our Lady, the people of Zaragossa made a vow in 1642 to honor always Mary, as the patroness of Zaragossa. More than a hundred years ago, Zaragossa was besieged by a large French army. A few men and women with sixteen cannon and some shotguns, defended the town for two months. The French sacked the famous town, and took everything; but they did not dare touch the treasures of Our Lady of the Pillar. One of the generals boldly took one of the jewels to carry home to his wife, offering the Virgin in exchange a valuable gift. In the first battle, a cannon ball took off his leg. It was during this terrible siege that the people began to recite the verse so well known to the Spanish, “The Virgin of the Pillar says she does not want to be French. She desires to be the leader of the Aragon troops.”
Our Lady of Madhu is Sri Lanka’s holiest Catholic shrine. The story of Our Lady of Madhu begins in the second half of the 17th century. The statue of Our Lady of Good Counsel, was moved from Mantai — on the Jaffna peninsula — to Madhu. The move was ostensibly to protect the image from the colonial Dutch, who had closed churches and banned priests. Saint Joseph Vaz, an Oratorian priest from Goa, also came to the area during this period and took refuge at Madhu. The shrine had been established for almost two centuries, when a large church was built in 1872, along with a grotto and presbytery for priests. Madhu Shrine received papal recognition when Pius XI gave permission for a solemn canonical “coronation” of Our Lady of Madhu, which was accomplished in 1924, with the church being formally consecrated in 1944. During the Sri Lankan civil war (1983-2009), Madhu Shrine was a neutral area for refugees. Its status as a safe space, however, did not protect refugees from being shelled in during what came to be known as “The Madhu Church massacre.” Also during this period, a claymore mine was also detonated under a school bus in the area, killing 16 adults and children. Our Lady of Madhu was brought out three times for a “penitential pilgrimage” throughout Sri Lanka to end the war. When the Sri Lankan government moved to exert authority over the area, the statue of Our Lady of Madhu was moved into rebel-held areas for safekeeping before finally being returned. While July 2 is the official festival day for Our Lady of Madhu, the celebration that draws most crowds is the Feast of the Assumption on August 15. On that date, Our Lady of Madhu is brought out for a formal procession. It is said that during the period of the civil war, Sri Lankans would look closely at Our Lady of Madhu’s Crown during the procession—if it fell, it would mean that fighting would resume. There are a number of other legends associated with Madhu Shrine, particularly surrounding snakes. It is said that when Joseph Vaz came to Madhu, snakes fled the area, only returning when Our Lady of Madhu was taken away from the area for safekeeping during the civil war. When Our Lady of Madhu returned, it is said that the snakes were driven away once again.
Renowned for its faithfulness to Christianity, tradition holds that the Convent of Our Lady of Saidnaya was constructed by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 547 A.D., after he had two visions of Mary, one that indicated where to build the church and the other outlining its design. Justinian dedicated the finished project to the feast of Mary’s Nativity, and annually thereafter on September 8, and through to the present day, both Muslim and Christian pilgrims have come to commemorate the feast day of Our Lady of Saidnaya. Also located in the convent of Saidnaya is an icon of the Holy Mother and Child known as the Shaghurah and reputed to have been painted by Luke the Evangelist which is believed to protect its owners from harm in times of danger. Saidnaya enjoyed religious peace throughout its history, even during times of war, such as during the Crusades. Local Muslims visit the convent sanctuary on the day of Friday prayers and share in the legends regarding this holy place. Christians and Muslims from the region and from faraway places seek the shrine for healing. Numerous accounts of miraculous healings have been reported, some which are documented in writing by those who experienced them throughout history.
Mary Kourbet Al-Akhras, known as Myrna, was born in Damascus in 1964. Myrna spent her childhood and adolescence between Beirut, Lebanon and Damascus at the rhythm of her family's traveling. And had a quite normal upbringing together with her two brothers and two sisters. On a journey to Bulgaria In July 1980, Nicolas visited the Alexander Nevsky Orthodox church in Sofia, where he bought 10 small replicas of the icon of the Virgin of Kazan. On November 22, 1982, Myrna was praying at the bedside of her sister-in-law Layla, who was seriously ill. An Orthodox and a Moslem woman were there also. Suddenly Myrna felt that her body was shivering as if some force was coming out from inside her. The Moslem woman, Mayada Kowzaly, then noticed a strange light radiating from Myrna's hands, and a moment after, an oily substance, which seemed to flow right out of her skin. Mayada shouted at her to look at her hands. But Myrna was utterly confused and couldn't comprehend what was happening or what to do. Mayada then quickly told her to put her hands on her sister-in-law. And to everyone's amazement and joy, the sick woman instantly felt better and after a while her illness miraculously disappeared altogether. In the evening Myrna was picked up by her husband, Nicolas. The women excitedly told him what had happened, but Nicolas was rather skeptical and didn't really know what to make of it. The phenomenon occurred again on November 25 and Myrna's mother was cured in the same manner.On November 27, 1982, a three-inch tall picture of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child began exuding oil. It flowed out from the bottom of the image and onto the floor next to Nicolas and Myrna's bed. When oil also began appearing on Myrna's hands, Nicholas decided to call all his relatives to come and witness what was happening. Everyone came and they all began praying together. Within the first hour, four large dishes full of oil extruded from the Icon. Suddenly all sound began to disappear, like a vacuum, from Myrna's ears and soon she could hear nothing at all. She then heard a woman's soft voice, as if it came from inside a seashell, saying: "Do not be frightened. I am with you. Open the doors and do not deprive anyone from seeing me. Light a candle for me". Myrna thought she was imagining things and was afraid to tell anyone about the experience. Word soon spread and in these first days, thousands visited the Icon day and night. Among them were non-Christians, Moslems, Orthodox, and Catholics of every rite. Many sick people were healed by the miraculous oil. From November 27, 1982 until November 26, 1990, the icon regularly oozed oil, following the rhythm of the liturgical cycle.
The Abbey of Our Lady of Exile is snugly nestled in the hills of the lush flora and fauna of Trinidad’s northern range six hundred and sixty feet above sea level. After the conquest of the Spaniards by Christopher Columbus in 1498 and the decimation of a large portion of the Indigenous peoples, the re-population of the islands drew from a wide spectrum: African slaves, East Indian indentured labourers, French land-owners, English aristocrats, Spanish conquistadors, Chinese labourers, Portuguese, Syrians, Jews, etc. With this potpourri, came an attendant array of customs, rhythms and belief systems, all intermingling with each other and drawing as well from the vestiges of the Indigenes. Although the British assumed political control in 1797, French was spoken in several quarters and Roman Catholicism held its own. Today English is the lingua franca. Hinduism, Islam, Protestantism, Pentecostalism, the Orisha Faith, the Spiritual Baptists and Roman Catholicism all co-exist, at times with a bit of syncretism, side by side with each other. Into this microcosm came the monks from the ancient abbey of São Bento in Bahia, Brazil, in the year 1912. They were fleeing religious persecution. On their arrival at Tunapuna, they dedicated the land to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of “Our Lady of Exile”, as the account from the Gospel of Matthew reminded them of their own flight. Under the astute leadership of Dom Mayeul de Caigny and Dom Hugh van der Sanden, the monastery of Mount St Benedict flourished and soon became part of the spiritual landscape of Trinidad and the wider Caribbean. Inspired by the open spirituality of the Rule of St Benedict, the monks opened the ears of their hearts and their monastery to the diverse peoples inhabiting these lands.
It was at the foot of the cross that the Lord entrusted St. John and Our Lady to each other with the words “Son, behold thy Mother” … “Mother, behold thy Son.” (Jn. 19:26-27) John, the first priest to offer the Sacred Body of the Lord, and representing all priests, was to be spiritually supported by His Mother. Mary was to be materially supported by John, “who took her unto his own.” We know that the Lord left her behind on earth for a reason: to nurture the infant Church by her prayer and example, to be a presence and support for the Apostles amidst their untiring labors. According to tradition, the Apostles disbanded after the martyrdom of St. James in Jerusalem. St. John went on to found the “seven Churches of Asia” mentioned in the Apocalypse, and made a home in Ephesus where his new Mother might dwell. This is confirmed by the fact that at the time of the Council of Ephesus, churches were named after saints who had lived or died in the locale. Hence there still stands in Ephesus the ruined basilicas of Holy Mary and St. John.
The tradition of Our Lady of Walsingham began with an apparition of the Immaculate Mother of God to Richeldis de Faverches, a Catholic English noblewoman, in 1061 in the village of Walsingham in Norfolk, England. The Mother of God revealed the architectural plans of the Holy House of the Holy Family in Nazareth and she asked Lady Richeldis to build the house as a shrine and place of pilgrimage. The Holy House of Walsingham was an exact copy of the home in which the Annunciation occurred. The chapel was founded in the time of Edward the Confessor, about 1053, the earliest deeds naming Richeldis, the mother of Geoffrey of Favraches as the founder. In 1169, Geoffrey granted to God and St. Mary and to Edwy his clerk the chapel of our Lady which his mother had founded at Walsingham with the intention that Edwy should found a priory. These gifts were, shortly afterwards, confirmed to the Austin Canons of Walsingham by Robert de Brucurt and Roger, earl of Clare. By 1500, Our Lady of Walsingham had become one of the greatest religious centers in England, and Europe, together with Glastonbury and Canterbury. It became the third most popular place of pilgrimage next to Rome and Compostella, Spain. The suppression of Walsingham came late in 1538. The Protestant bishop Latimer wrote of the image of Mary that “She hath been the Devil’s instrument, I fear, to bring many to eternal fire; now she herself with her older sister of Walsingham, her younger sister of Ipswich, and their two sisters of Doncaster and Penrhys will make a jolly muster in Smithfield. They would not be all day in burning.” Horrid words that reveal the hate of early Anglicans for images and for the Blessed Virgin. King Henry VIII approved for the image of Our Lady of Walsingham to be burned. It was the month of July, the images of Our Lady of Walsingham and Ipswich were brought up to London with all the jewels that hung around them, at the King’s commandment, and they were burnt at Chelsea. In 1897 Pope Leo XIII re-established the restored 14th century Slipper Chapel as a Roman Catholic shrine, now the center of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Holy House had been rebuilt at the Church of the Annunciation at King’s Lynn. There is a prophecy that when England returns to Our Lady of Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception was established in 1476 by Pope Sixtus IV, but this feast was not declared to be either official doctrine or dogma. Later, the 16th century Council of Trent upheld the same position, which allowed the faithful the flexibility to accept the teaching or not. But on December 8, 1854 – only 155 years ago – Pope Pius IX pronounced the doctrine that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.” This doctrine, as specified in the papal constitution “Ineffabilis Deus”, settled the matter officially. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary maintains Mary’s immunity from original sin - that original sin was never in her soul from the moment her soul was joined to her physical body. Today, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated as a Holy Day of obligation in the United States, and we Americans view ourselves as under the protection of our national patroness “Mary of the Immaculate Conception.”
The small image of the Virgin of the Thirty Three is a wood carving originating in the missions that the Jesuits had in Paraguay in mid eighteenth century. The image was made in one of the Guarani workshops that flourished in these famous missions. Around 1779 the image was placed in the chapel that the Jesuits looked after in the village of Pintado and later, when the entire village moved to what is now the city of Florida, the residents took with them the beloved image before which their ancestors had prayed. On April 19, 1825, thirty-three Orientals, Uruguayan patriots, landed on the beaches of the Agraciada to commence the liberation of their country. When they reached Florida, they went to the small church and placed the future of the new nation at the feet of the Virgin. National Independence is proclaimed on August 25, and the members of the Constitutional Court having signed the Act of Independence, presented themselves again before the image and placed their nascent country under her protection. Ever since, the natives have called this image La Virgen de los Treinta y Tres (The Virgin of the Thirty Three). On August 25, 1975, on the 150th anniversary of its independence, the Uruguayan nation officially declared this image of the Virgin and the church where it was venerated "Historic Monuments." The Virgin of the Thirty Three is thirty-six centimeters high. It is a baroque carving of the Assumption of the Virgin, whose cloak and robes seem to move because of their many pleats. Since 1857, "The Liberator of Uruguay" has a gold crown with precious stones, a gift of the second leader of the Thirty Three, who later became president of the Republic. The disproportionate size of this crown - an extraordinary gold work - has become the distinctive feature of this Marian image.
When the Spaniards arrived at the region of Guanare, around 1591, a group of Indians of the Coromoto tribe decided to abandon their land and flee towards the Tucupido River, since they did not want to have anything to do with the white men or with the religion they brought with them. Fifty years later, still not having converted to the Gospel, the Indians live in a small village not far from the Spaniards' town. Both groups live in peace, but remain isolated from each other. Such was the state of affairs when on a morning of the year 1651, the chief of the Coromotos and his wife watch an extraordinary vision: in the ravine of the Tucupido River, upon the waters, a beautiful lady is looking at them with a loving expression on her face; the small child she carries also smiles amiably. The mysterious lady summons the Indian chief and orders him: "Leave the forest with your people and go to the white men in order to receive the water on the head so as to be able to enter heaven." Impressed by what he has seen and heard, the chief decides to obey the beautiful lady and leaves with his tribe to be schooled in the Christian religion. But the Indian, used to the freedom of the forests, cannot become accustomed to the new way of life and he returns to his village with his family. The lady appears again, this time at the Indian's humble hut. Although the Virgin presents herself surrounded by a luminous aura whose rays fill the hut with fire, she does not succeed in moving the chief, who, annoyed, tries to throw her out and even takes his weapons in hand with the intention of threatening the inopportune lady. Smiling all the way, the Virgin approaches the chief gently and when he stretches out his hand angrily to catch her, she disappears before his eyes. A small holy card, where the image of the Lady was printed, was left in the Coromoto Indian's closed fist. The Virgin of Coromoto is a tiny relic that measures twenty-seven millimeters high and twenty-two wide. The holy card's material could be parchment or tissue paper. The Virgin is painted seated, and on her lap sits the Child Jesus. It seems to have been drawn with a fine pen, sketched as a portrait done in India ink with dots and dashes. The Virgin and Child are looking straight ahead; their heads erect with royal crowns upon them. The back of the throne which supports them has two columns joined together by an arch. The Virgin's shoulders are covered by a crimson cloak with dark purple reflections, and a white veil falls symmetrically over her hair. She wears a straw colored tunic and the Child a white one. At the request of the nation's bishops, on October 7, 1944 Pius XII declared her "Patroness of the Republic of Venezuela" and her canonical coronation was celebrated on the third centenary of her apparition, on September 11, 1952. His Eminence Cardinal Manuel Arteaga Betancourt, Archbishop of Havana, representing Pope Pius XII, crowned the sacred image of Our Lady of Coromoto. The Venezuelans celebrate their patroness each year on three different occasions: on February 2 and September 8 and 11.
The fact that the Blessed Virgin visited a small group of Catholics in the little jungle village of Lavang, in Vietnam, in 1798, is not surprising to anyone who knows the ways of the Mother of God. She has always been faithful to her children by grace. It was as a result of one period of persecution that a number of Vietnamese Catholics found refuge about 1785 in a jungle that hardy foresters would hesitate to penetrate. Here they stayed hidden, suffering privations, dangers, and illnesses, in order to practice their religion. One of the few comforts they had was reciting the rosary every day at dusk. On one such evening, they were first frightened and then enchanted to behold a Woman and Child standing nearby in a mysterious glow of light. Simple as these people were, some among them recognized the Virgin Mother and Her Child. All listened entranced while Mary told them softly that she was fully aware of their hardships and of their chronic sickness due to contaminated water. She told them to gather certain leaves that grew near and make a strong tea of them; this would keep them healthy. Solemnly she added, “From this day on, prayers said on this spot will be heard – and answered.” The year was 1798. Not long after the Virgin’s visit, the people heard that the persecution they escaped had ended. Most went back to their original homes; they could talk about little but the apparition they had seen, and word of this miracle spread. By 1820 even the Buddhists believed in Our Lady’s promise and built the first little shrine, a pagoda, on the spot where Mary had been seen. Within a short time these Buddhists became Christians; and their small shrine became the first Church of Our Lady of Lavang. The faithful found solace and courage in this devotion in times of oppression and general misery that have come again and again to the Vietnamese. In 1885 during a period of rabid anti-Christianity, the Lavang chapel was burned; a priest, Father Philip Minh, now Blessed Philip, was beheaded. There was another lull between attacks and work was begun on a building to replace the burnt chapel. There were great difficulties in transporting supplies plus a lack of adequate funds, but the great church of Our Lady of Lavang somehow evolved to completion and was dedicated in 1901 in the name of the Protecting Mother of the faithful. A congress of all dioceses of Vietnam was called and Lavang became a place of pilgrimage for countless devout people of Southeast Asia. During the Marian Congress of 1961, a new basilica of Our Lady of Lavang was dedicated by Archbishop Peter Ngo-Dinh Thue of Hue. At that time he told Catholics of South Vietnam that he received messages still from Catholics in North Communist Vietnam who say they never fail to believe that the Holy Virgin of Lavang will one day deliver their country from Communist oppressors.