Maternity of Mary! For, in predestining Mary to be the Mother of the Word, God also decreed to give her to us as our Mother. He willed that she should accomplish in union with her Son the work of our Redemption, and that by
regenerating us to the life of grace, she should become our Mother in the spiritual order.
The Divine Maternity is the starting point of the work of our salvation. In believing Mary to be the Mother of God, we also believe that the Word was made Flesh.
By engendering the Word, Mary conceived and brought forth from her chaste womb that same Son, whom God the Father has generated from all eternity of His own substance. It is due to Mary that the Son of God, being Himself God, could say that He received from the Father the command to die for us; to Mary the Father owes His authority over the Son.
The Body of Jesus was formed of the pure substance of Mary’s body. What intimacy in their intercourse: Mother and Son. The relation of Mary toward the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, is that of His fruitful Spouse. By her consent to become the Mother of God, she consecrated the gift of her own self to the Holy Spirit, her Heavenly Bridegroom. Mary never ceased to direct all her actions, thoughts and aspirations to the Holy Spirit; and He on His part let no moment go by in which He did not exhibit the signs of His peculiar love toward the Bride of His Heart, Mary.
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Jan. 2: OUR LADY OF THE PILLAR
In Sargossa, 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 Our Lady of the Pillar 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 Sargosso. 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 Sargossa made a vow in 1642 to honor always Mary, as the patroness of Sargossa. More than a hundred years ago, Sargossa was besieged by a large French army. A few men and women with sixteen cannons 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 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.”
Dr. C. E. Kamp of the University of California gives an account of this story in his book, FEASTS AND CUSTOMS OF THE SPANISH.
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Jan. 3: OUR LADY OF SICHEM
The shrine in Brabant in the duchy of Louvain, is a replacement of the one below Mount Garizim, Israel. Hadrian restored the temple on Mount Garizim and dedicated it to Jupiter. A small Christian community settled there; and on several occasions they suffered greatly at the hands of the Samaritans. In 474 the emperor, to avenge an unjust attack of the sect, gave Mount Garizim to the Christians, who built on it a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. After the Mohammedan conquest, Christianity practically disappeared from the district. The French made amends by erecting a shrine to Mary in the duchy of Louvain. The Mother of God rewarded them magnanimously for this. It is said that Mary in 1306 also moved the hearts of the people by causing four drops of blood to flow from the eyes of the statue dedicated to her. This revived the faith of the people and increased their fervor. Numerous miracles resulted.
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Jan. 4: OUR LADY OF TREVES
St. Jerome Emiliani, founder of the Congregation of Semasca, when still a layman experienced in a marvelous way the mercy of Our Blessed Lady. It happened that he was once entrusted with the defense of Castelnuevo, in Fruili, Italy, when this was stormed by the enemy. Jerome was captured and confined in a dark prison, where he was loaded down with chains. Being a man of many vices, he began to feel remorse for his past life, almost to the point of despair. Then, he thought of Mary, the Mother of God, as the Mother of Divine Mercy. To her he turned, promising to lead a better life in the future, if this loving Mother would deliver him from his miserable condition. In an instant, Jerome beheld his prison filled with light, and the Virgin Mary descending from Heaven to loose with her own hands, the chains with which he was bound. Moreover, she handed him a key with which to open the door of the prison and escape. Eluding his captors, he directed his steps toward Treves, to the shrine of the Mother of God. When he arrived in Treves, he prostrated himself before the image of Our Lady and laid on her altar the instruments of his torture. He then retired to a life of penance until God sent him companions to start his order. He always exhorted not only these, but all with whom he came in contact, to reverence the powerful Queen of Heaven by often reciting the “Hail Holy Queen” and other Marian hymns. St. Jerome Emiliani died a holy death in 1537.
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Jan. 5: OUR LADY OF ABUNDANCE OR PROSPERITY
The Blessed Virgin under the above title is venerated at Cursi, Italy. The story begins in the first half of the seventeenth century. At that time the Puglie region of Italy was suffering from a severe drought. For almost three years not a drop of rain had fallen. By the spring of 1641, matters were desperate. April had arrived and the heat was as in mid-summer. Thus prospects for relief and a good harvest that year appeared dim. Then the people of Cursi and vicinity prayed fervently to the Blessed Mother, begging her to come to their aid and save them from the famine that drew ever nearer. She heard their plea. She appeared to a shepherd, Baglio Orlando Natali. Thoroughly frightened by the appearance of the lovely lady, he ran away. She called him back, reassured him and told him she was the Queen of Heaven, sorry for the misfortune that had befallen him and his fellow-citizens. She told Baglio to go to the pastor of the parish, and tell him in her name to assemble all the people of Cursi and come with them to this place. Here on this spot she wished a Church to be erected. When it was completed she would take Cursi and the surrounding section under her protection. As a token of her deep regard, that very year there would be a harvest of such abundance as none had ever seen before. Finally she told Baglio that he was to change his way of life, for she had selected him to be her true follower, and that he was to serve in the new Church when it would be completed. So saying, she vanished as suddenly as she had appeared. Baglio lost no time in telling the pastor of this strange happening. The good Father gathered together the people, and led by Baglio, they all marched to the spot where the Virgin had appeared. There they fell to their knees and with one voice raised their hearts in prayers of praise and love to the Most Holy Virgin. After some little time they re-assembled and started on the return march to the town. They had gone but a short distance, when a little cloud drifted into sight – then another, until the entire sky was overcast. Rain fell and drenched the whole crowd; but not one minded – in fact, all were so happy, that they laughed and shouted and played around in the downpour. It rained for three days. The news of this happening quickly spread and great crowds hurried to the place of the apparition to offer their thanks to the Madonna. When the time of harvest arrived, the crops in that area were so abundant that every barn was filled to overflowing. Soon the grateful people erected a Church in honor of Holy Mary of Abundance or of Prosperity. Baglio, his old life behind him, donned the garb of a hermit and vowed to spend the rest of his life in prayer and in looking after the new shrine. Some years later this Church was destroyed by fire resulting from a lightning stroke; but the people, recalling the goodness of the Virgin, immediately set to work and built the present beautiful sanctuary. On the high altar there is a Greco-Byzantine fresco of the Madonna of Abundance or Prosperity- it depicts the Virgin with the Divine Infant. In their hands both hold sprigs of olives and ears of corn.
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Jan. 6: OUR LADY OF CANA
After his return to Galilee with His first disciples, Jesus and His Mother were invited to a wedding at Cana, near Nazareth. The bride was related to St. Joseph’s family, the groom to St. Ann. Both were wealthy. The Blessed Virgin urged Jesus to accept the invitation; He promised to attend the wedding and to take care of the supply of wine. Our Lord considered this wedding of great importance for several reasons. He wished to begin His public ministry by sanctifying and blessing the institution of marriage; to strengthen and unite His new disciples by performing His first public miracle among them; and to refute the unjust criticism that He was neglecting His work, His Mother and His relatives. Two days of festivities preceded the wedding, which was followed by an evening banquet. It was here that Mary noticed the wine was scarce. She reminded Jesus that He had promised to supply the wine. The Divine Savior had just been speaking of His Heavenly Father; He replied with loving, calm, impersonal majesty: “What is that to you or to me, Woman? My hour has not yet come.” Mary understood that Jesus was waiting for the eternal Father’s permission to perform His first great miracle in public. Entirely relieved of anxiety for the guests, and trusting the Father would reveal the Lord’s power at the right moment, she went to the worried servants and said to them with quiet modesty and confidence: “Do whatever He tells you.” A moment later Jesus told the waiters to bring the water jars to Him and turn them upside down. The servants brought in six large, stone jars, which when full were so heavy, two men had to carry one. That they were now empty was evident. Then Jesus said to the waiters: “Fill the jars with water.” After this was done, Jesus went to the jars and blessed them; then He said to the waiters: “Draw out now and take them to the chief steward.” When the chief steward, who did not know where the wine came from, tasted the water after it had become wine, he went to the bridegroom, exclaiming in surprise: “Every man first sets forth the good wine, and when they have drunk freely, then that which is poorer in quality. But you have kept the good wine until now!” When the bridegroom and the bride’s father tasted the miraculous wine, they too were amazed, for the servants insisted they had just filled the jars with nothing but water from the well. Then all the guests drank the new wine and were silent with awe and reverence as they realized they had just witnessed a striking miracle wrought by the Master, Jesus of Nazareth, at the request of His beloved Mother.
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Jan. 7: OUR LADY OF EGYPT
Only one child escaped the cruel sword of Herod, Mary’s Son, safe in the arms of his Mother fleeing with Him into Egypt. How much Our Lady suffered during that long journey across the desert: anxiety, fatigue, hunger, thirst, want of shelter! While in Egypt, Mary’s interest in the Gentiles must have greatly increased. It was not in vain that Mary and her Son were sent into Egypt; God had his reasons. Egypt is a true picture of the Blessed Sacrament, hidden away in so many Tabernacles, surrounded by so many people who do not suspect His presence; it is nothing to so many that pass by. But what is IT to those who know? What was Jesus to Mary and Joseph in the Land of Egypt? He was their ALL – with Him exile did not exist; with Him, God’s will was easy, God’s arrangements, the best; with HIM, it was impossible to complain, impossible to have any regrets about the past or impatient wonderings about the future. Mary was absorbed in the present, because she had Jesus with Her: He had to be cared for, fed, taught, thought about, worked for, lived for in Egypt! It was in Egypt that the Child grew, and it was there that Mary heard His first words, watched His first tottering steps, and taught Him His first (vocal) prayers. And as the Child grew, Mary grew, too, in grace and virtue; imbibing more and more of the spirit of her Son from the services she rendered Him; making great progress in her new school, the school of the Cross; getting daily more food for meditation and prayer, enlarging her heart and preparing herself to become a second Eve – the Mother of ALL the living. What a blessing and joy to the people of Egypt to have the Holy Family living amongst them! How this must have stirred up their zeal and courage! Joseph knew least about it all, and yet had apparently to take the chief part and bear all the anxiety. He received the warning message form the Angel; he had to break the news to Mary that the Child’s life was in danger and that they must flee immediately – even in the middle of the night. Joseph had to take the Child and His Mother into Egypt; to anyone else but Joseph this would have seemed an unreasonable command. Those who live close to Jesus and Mary do not criticize God’s dealings; they have only one thing to do – obey. Peace and joy will result.
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Jan. 8: OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR
At the outbreak of the French Revolution, an Ursuline nun, Madame St. Michel Gensoul (Frances Agatha Gensoul), was obliged to leave her convent in France, return to the world and wait the time when convents would be reopened. Meanwhile she received a letter from a relative in the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans (Mother St. Andre Madier), saying that sixteen other Ursulines, to escape the government of France, had come to Havana, Cuba, to open a community there. Mother St. Michel decided to devote herself to spiritual labors in Louisiana, but her Bishop refused consent, since he hoped the convents of France would soon resume activity, and he told the religious that only the Pope could give her permission, and since he (the Pope) was a prisoner of Napoleon the entire project was out of the question. Following an impulse, Mother St. Michel wrote to the Pope and then turning for aid to Our Blessed Mother, she prayed: “O most Holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain for me a prompt and favorable answer to this letter, I promise to have you honored at New Orleans under the title of OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR.” The letter was sent from Montpellier to Rome on March 19, 1809, and despite all things to the contrary, Pope Pius replied on April 29, 1809. The request had been obtained thru the prompt aid of Our Lady. In thanksgiving, Mother St. Michel ordered sculptured a beautiful statue of Our Lady, holding the Infant Jesus in her arms; Jesus holds in His Hands a globe, representing the world. Bishop Fournier, recognizing in all this the acts of Divine Providence, asked permission to bless the statue. Mother St. Michel and several postulants with the precious statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, arrived in New Orleans December 31, 1810. The statue was set up in the chapel of the Sisters on Ursuline St. and Mother St. Michel who taught there, lost no time in spreading devotion to Our Lady, which soon became popular. Two signal favors showed Our Lady’s pleasure at the devotion: in 1812 a great fire broke out near the convent, which was doomed for destruction. An old lay sister placed a small statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on a window ledge facing the approaching flames; at the same time Mother St. Michel fell on her knees and prayed: “Our Lady of Prompt Succor, we are lost if you do not come to our aid.” The wind veered, the fire died down and the convent was saved. Another great favor was bestowed during the Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1814. Never before was the city in hopelessly greater danger. Very Rev. Wm. Doubourg, urged the people to pray to Our Lady. Early Sunday morning while the raging battle could be heard in the city, the convent chapel of Our Lady of Prompt Succor was crowded with petitioners, begging Mary for prompt aid. The statue was placed upon the altar and Mother Superior in the name of the community vowed if the American forces were victorious and God spared the city, the Ursulines would see that each year a Mass of Thanksgiving be offered in honor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The battle lasted 25 minutes; the routed British lost 2,600 of their 20,000 men, while Jackson lost 13 of his 2,000. Jackson declared only the aid of the Almighty could have brought about such results. He went himself to the convent afterwards to thank the Ursulines for their prayers and for their nursing of the American wounded. Many favors continue to be obtained through Mary’s intercession, as records testify. Pope Leo XIII, June 21, 1894, issued a decree of privilege to crown the famous statue, which was done Nov. 14, 1894. The two crowns: one for the infant, the other for Mary were made of “exquisite artistry” – gold, silver, precious stone, donated by hundreds of faithful clients of Our Lady. This was the first of such a ceremony conducted in the United States.
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Jan. 9: OUR LADY OF CLEMENCY or Mercy of Absam
This shrine is probably the only one in the world where Our Lady’s shrine is enclosed in glass. It dates from the late 18th century.
On a dark snowy day in 1797, Rosina Bucher, a young girl of the village of Absam near Innsbruck, was sitting by the window sewing. It was between three and four in the afternoon and the light was just beginning to fade. Rosina looked up and saw a face in the window pane. She looked closely, not sure that she saw right, and finally called her mother. Others, including the parish priest, were called in to observe the strange happening. All agreed that it was a face, the face of the Mother of Sorrows. It was turned slightly and there was a strange expression on it.
The window was made up of several small panes of glass quite dark in color. They removed the pane of glass with the picture on it, which was on the inside of the double window. After they had examined the glass, it was sent to experts in painting and glasswork. Here it was discovered that the face disappeared when water was put on the glass, but came back as soon as the glass was dry. They analyzed it chemically, and could not discover by what process the picture had been placed there.
Rosina’s mother thought it was an omen of trouble. The parish priest, on the contrary, felt that Our Lady’s blessing must rest on the house. He asked her to let him have the picture for the Church. Here it soon became a popular shrine.
Our Lady of Clemency of Absam has since become a place of pilgrimage. Many miracles have been recorded from the pilgrims who prayed there.
The picture is quite small, the size of a small pane of glass. It is not at all pretty, and popularly known as Our Lady of Mercy and Clemency of Absam – clemency, because in spite of the absence of beauty, Mary’s heart is filled with love and kindness to those who pray at this shrine and implore her help.
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Jan. 10: OUR LADY OF GUIDES
One of the sailors to land 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. Since nothing of its 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. This 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 unknown origin, some think the statue floated in from a wrecked ship, and was so seized by the natives. Today the devotion to Our Lady of Guides still flourishes. For all of us who travel this wide lonely world, she is the patroness, the “Queenly Lighthouse”, the Star of the Sea.
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Jan. 11: OUR LADY OF BESSIERE
Among the many miracles said to have taken place at the shrine of Our Lady of Bessiere, in Limousin, France, is one told of a certain heretic who had derided the devotion paid to Our Lady. He would waylay pilgrims, mock them, sneer at them and taunt them with sarcastic reproach and ridicule. He was severely punished one day by seeing on his return home, his house go up in flames before his very eyes. All attempts to put out the flames were fruitless. His house was consumed without anybody being able to discover whence the fire originated. As the fire was at its height, Our Lady appeared in the flames and frowned upon the heretic. She was seen by all present, who fell upon their knees urging the heretic to do the same. Frightened and frustrated, he prostrated, calling upon the Mother of God to be merciful to him. His pleas were not in vain. He died after a penitential life, a true believer.
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Jan. 12: OUR LADY OF CONQUEST
In the North Chapel of the beautiful cathedral of Santa Fe stands a little statue (scarcely three feet tall) of Our Lady. Her regal countenance wears a serene detached expression that is strangely impressive. This is Our Lady of Conquest, the statue Don Diego de Vargas carried with him in the bloodless conquest of New Mexico. He is said to have vowed to build a chapel for her and hold a yearly procession if she would grant him a speedy and bloodless victory over the Indian, which she did. The shrine symbolizes a spirit of deep-rooted Faith and devotion which characterized the “Conquistadores” of this land.
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Jan. 13: OUR LADY OF VICTORY
Among shrines dedicated to Our Lady of Victory, that at Prague has become world-famous because it is also the home of the statue of the Infant of Prague. The story of the shrine is an unusual one. In 1620 the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand II and Prince Maxmilian of Bavaria gained a major victory over a coalition of Protestant armies in the battle of the White Mountains near Prague. The previous day, Rev. Fr. Dominic of Jesus-Maria, a discalced Carmelite, had found in the castle of Strakowicz a picture representing the nativity of Christ. It showed the Blessed Virgin kneeling before her Divine Son, while St. Joseph stood behind her holding a lantern. In the background were two shepherds. The Calvanists had shown their fanaticism by piercing the eyes of Mary and her spouse, St. Joseph. Carrying the picture to the camp, the monk held it up and urged the soldiers to restore Mary’s honor. His words decided the hesitation of the generals and gave courage to the men. They adopted Mary’s name as their battle cry and Mary blessed their efforts. In the moment of success, they hailed the painting as Our Lady of Victory and carried it in triumph into Prague, where their leaders adorned it with rich jewels.
In gratitude to God for his great success, and in recognition of the help given by Father Dominic, Ferdinand II founded several Carmelite monasteries, including one at Prague which was solemnly blessed under invocation of Our Lady of Victory.
Before this time however, Father Dominic had taken the picture of Our Lady of Victory to Rome where it was first venerated in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, then carried – in the presence of Pope Gregory XV – to the church of St. Paul near the Carmelite convent, on May 8, 1622. Pope Paul V subsequently changed the name of the church to Our Lady of Victory, and the feast was officially inaugurated. The original painting was destroyed in a fire in 1833 and has been replaced by a copy. Another copy hangs in the church of Our Lady of Victory in Prague, in a building erected in 1706 replacing the earlier church. From the Shrine of Our Lady of Victory in Prague, came to the entire world the devotion to the Infant of Prague. Our need for Mary’s help continues as long as we live, and so long, too, we need her guidance. The struggle between the forces of evil and the forces of good will continue until the end of time. The devil whose intelligence and power exceed those we can command in our own right, has an acute appreciation of the value of our souls “bought with a great price”. Our sure way to defeat him is to range ourselves under Mary’s banner, to call on her to bring us victory, and to acknowledge her as Our Lady of Victory when she protects us from dangers and brings us triumphant through temptation.
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Jan. 14: OUR LADY OF SPEECH OR OF THE WORD
In the year 1514, Our Lady, venerated at a shrine near Montserrat, Spain, was invoked in behalf of a dumb man, to whom she restored his speech. From then on she was given the title Our Lady of Speech. Here again the words of the “Memorare” were verified: “…never was it known…” Vested with the almighty power of her Divine Son, Mary, imitating Him, walks the earth, going about doing good, granting petitions, supplying needs, giving solace, comfort and aid. She is indeed Our Lady of the Word; Mother of the Word Incarnate; “And the Word was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us”, through her “Fiat”. As a consequence, even while on earth, His Mother’s word had great influence upon Christ. “They have no wine”, uttered in behalf of the embarrassed newlyweds at Cana, brought forth her Son’s first unplanned miracle. And so, down the ages, Mary hearkens to the words of her Calvary-born children and speaks in their behalf to Jesus. Her intercession, her word, her speech is never in vain.
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Jan. 15: OUR LADY OF BANNEUX
Mariette Beco, waiting for her brother to come home, pressed her face against the window while darkness fell; it was seven o’clock in Banneux. Mrs. Beco was working in a back room; the rest of the family had retired – none of them had attended Mass that Sunday morning – the father was a lapsed Catholic. Suddenly Marietta called, “Mother, there is a lady in the garden. It is the Holy Virgin.” Mrs. Beco scoffed at this. Taking a rosary Marietta had found on the road, she began to pray it. When Julien came home and heard what had happened, he said there was nothing in the garden’ perhaps the icicles reflected weirdly and confused Marietta. The pastor was informed, but he did not put much stock in the story, thinking the vision of Beauraing and Lourdes was resulting in an epidemic of visions. He sent word to Marietta to forget about it and not spread stories. The next morning, Wednesday, the priest was surprised to see Marietta at Holy Mass – she had quit school because she failed in her First Holy Communion examination three times, and after that had not gone to church any more. That day Marietta went to school and for the first time in her life knew her lessons well. The next evening she went into the garden, knelt and said the rosary; her father followed her with a coat which he threw around her shoulders. He tried to get the pastor who was out, then called a neighbor, a practicing Catholic, and together they followed. The child was being beckoned on to the highway by the lady, till they reached a spring, into which Marietta plunged her hands at the command of the lady, who said, “This spring is set aside for me. Good night!” Then she vanished. When they reached home, the Abbé was waiting for them. Marietta described the lady: “Her robe was long and white; she wore a blue belt and rays of light shone from her head. She was a little more than five feet tall; her right foot was bare and under it a golden rose. Her hands were raised to her breast on which was a golden heart. A rosary hung from her right arm” – all similar to the Lourdes apparition. There were six or seven more apparitions; at one of these Marietta, at the advice of the pastor asked the lady her name, to which Mary replied, “I am the Virgin of the poor”, and leading the girl to a spring, said, “This spring is for all nations…for the sick…I would like a chapel built. I come to relieve suffering. Have faith in me and pray much. My dear child, pray hard…” At the end of each visit Mary would say “Au revoir”, which means, “until we meet”, but at the last visit she said, “Adieu”, which means, “good-bye”. She blessed Marietta then at which the girl fainted. Marietta did not see the lady depart. The Beco family and many others became model Catholics. The chapel was built, and the spring became the site of numberless cures. During the German occupation of Belgium in 1942, the bishop encouraged the cult of Our Lady of Banneux, Our Lady of the Poor.
In 1947, the bishop approved the devotion. In 1948 the cornerstone of a new basilica was laid; this was to supplant the small chapel. During the war, Marietta married a Dutch salesman. During the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, an American chaplain found them and their fifteen month old baby living in a cellar of a small home occupied by American troops.
Belgium is one more reminder in these days when communism seems to be sweeping everything before it that our great hope – our only hope – lies in our carrying out the requests Our Lady made at Fatima and other places. Mary prays for us without ceasing, but we, too, must pray, must sacrifice. We must do our part, if we expect Mary to help us.
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Jan. 16: OUR LADY REFUGE OF SINNERS
The worst evil that can befall us is unquestionably SIN, which makes us an object of abhorrence in the sight of God. It likewise deprives our soul of all share in the spiritual life, and subjects it in some degree, to the dominion of the spirit of darkness.
God’s infinite mercy has not only prepared for us a potent remedy against sin in the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior, but it has also given us poor sinners a secure refuge in the assistance of Mary. In the Old Law there were cities of refuge to which the guilty could flee for safety; in the New Law, Mary’s mantle is for us that citadel of refuge for sinful souls. How can the Divine Wrath strike us, if we are covered by the mantle of Mary, the chosen daughter and the honored Mother of God?
Mary is thus not merely a pledge of our safety, but by her unrivaled sanctity, she is an earnest of pardon for all sinners who have recourse to her intercession. She not only disarms the just anger of God roused by our sins, but also obtains for her true clients sincere and heartfelt conversion. All we need do is turn toward her with FAITH, to obtain Divine Clemency and the means to rise from the mire of sin.
To be cleansed from sin and to be admitted again into the friendship of God is a grace beyond compare; but to be kept free from fresh falls is even more important, as our salvation depends entirely upon final perseverance. Mary, by her intercession, helps us detest past sins and faults; and keeps us from renewed relapses.
Thru God’s permission we are tempted in all sorts of ways; but Mary’s watchful assistance helps us put Satan to flight while she suggests to us, thru our Angel Guardian, all manner of good thoughts and holy aspirations.
More than ever at the hour of death, Mary shelters her devoted children, driving the Tempter far from us, and encouraging us to fight valiantly to the last gasp.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us SINNERS, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
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Jan. 17: OUR LADY OF PONTMAIN
It was in the winter of 1871 in the village of Pontmain, France, Eugene Barbedette was busy in his father’s barn helping prepare the animal feed, he stood in the open doorway admiring the beautiful evening. Suddenly the gaze of the 12-year old was held there, opposite the barn and in a framework of stars, stood a beautiful lady – motionless – smiling at him. “Do you see anything?” he shouted to the others, “Look, over there!” “Yes,” cried his brother Joseph, “a beautiful lady dressed in a blue robe with golden stars, yes, and blue shoes with golden buckles…and, she has a golden crown which is getting bigger, and a black veil.” Since the father did not see her, he told the boys to get on with their work; then curiously, he asked, “Eugene, do you still see anything?” “Yes, she’s still there,” the boy answered and ran to fetch his mother; she saw nothing, but with a woman’s intuition, she thought it might be the Blessed Virgin and assembling the family gently, all prayed five Paters and Aves in honor of the Mother of God. She called for a nun at the convent next door, who brought her two little charges with her, the latter, Francoise and Jean Marie, reaching the door of the barn, called out “Oh, look at that lovely lady with the golden stars!” and clapped their hands with delight. The news spread quickly, people gathered, with them the cure, M. Guerin. The Magnificat was intoned, and Eugene shouted, “Look what she is doing.” Slowly a great white streamer unfolded and in large letters they read: “Pray, my children, God will answer your prayers very soon. He will not allow you to be touched.” The cure then intoned the hymn, “My Sweet Jesus…”. At that a red cross with the wounded body of Christ appeared before the Virgin, who held it. At the top in large red letters was written, “Jesus Christ”. The crowd burst into tears, while the cure ordered night prayers to be said; a white veil hid the vision, while our Lady smiled at the children, a smile which haunted them all thru life with its beauty. Something of the sorrow of farewell was depicted on the faces of Eugene and Joseph, for the cure said quickly, “Can you still see anything?” “No, it is quite finished,” they answered.
At the moment the message was being written in the sky a messenger passing in front of the crowd had shouted, “You may well pray, the Russians are at Laval.” But they never entered it. On the 17th of January, at six o’clock at night the very hour the Virgin appeared to the children of Pontmain, the division of soldiers, without apparent reason, received the order to retire.
On the 28th of January, the armistice was signed at Versailles. After long and searching inquiry, Mgr. Wicart, the Bishop of Laval, proclaimed the authenticity of the vision, and at the very spot where Our Lady had appeared, a basilica was erected in honor of Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain. There the Queen of Heaven receives her countless children and gives them fresh hope in their trials, as she gave France peace in her hour of need. The basilica is a magnificent structure in the 13th century style, and one may still see the barn where Eugene and Joseph worked when Mary appeared.
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Jan. 18: OUR LADY OF DIJON
In the fifth century the Abbey of St. Etienne of Dijon had a regular chapter which observed the Rule of St. Augustine; it was given over to secular canons, and later Clement XI made the church the cathedral of Dijon. During the Revolution it was transformed into a forage storage house. In atonement to Our Lady for this outrage, the Faithful of France rebuilt the shrine, and pleaded that the Holy See grant numerous relics and valuable keepsakes be placed there. Our Blessed mother responded to the generosity and love of the people by granting favors and cures and extending her God-given miraculous power over the people. The image of Our Lady of Dijon in Burgundy was formerly named Our Lady of Good Hope. In the year 1513, Mary delivered the city of Dijon from the hands of the Swiss; in thanksgiving for this favor, she was titled Our Lady of Dijon, and a general procession to her shrine is made every year.
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Jan. 19: OUR LADY’S FINDING OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE
When Jesus was twelve years old, in the eyes of the Law considered a man, he attended the Temple with His parents. Jesus, looked upon as human by His parents, wandered from them on His own. So, on their return journey, they thought Him in the caravan, visiting friends or relatives, and being feted on this first recognition as man. So sociable and friendly was the Boy that Mary and Joseph saw nothing strange in starting back home without Him. Women were placed in the center of the caravan; men and boys in front and back to protect the women. At close of day families united; and Mary and Joseph sought their Boy casually among friends. Then followed three long days of misgivings when they wondered whether another Herod had snuffed out the life of their Boy. They recalled Simeon’s prophecy and a third sword of sorrow pierced Mary’s heart. On the third day with growing anxiety, they came to God’s Temple to tell Him their sorrow and to plead for His mercy and help. Hardly had they turned to God, when they heard His voice, and God revealed to them the Child they had encircled blindly all these worried days. Loving Mother that she is, Mary believed that her Son must have reason for His truancy. So, when she found Him among the Doctors of the Temple, she gave Him a chance to explain Himself. Her pride in His wisdom before these brilliant men of the Law did not keep her from her duty in teaching Him obedience and submission. “Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold, thy Father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” Mary did not place her own grief first in gently chiding Jesus, but tried to direct His attention to His Foster Father’s love for Him. Christ was not unsympathetic to His parent’s grief. He knew what they must have suffered for these three days; yet, He did not want them to become too attached to Him, nor too possessive, lest they later felt His permanent absence too much when His public life began. So, He reminded them kindly that He must be about His Father’s business, and they returned to their home, and He was subject to them. The saddest part of the Finding in the Temple must have been in the silent journey homeward. Jesus could not find words to erase the pain in His parents’ hearts at this first step toward the cross. Mary’s was the desolation of a Mother who wanted to give her child to God, but could not conceal completely the sacrifice it entailed. Joseph, like all good fathers, sensed the cloud hanging over their lives, and did his best to stand quietly by Mary’s side as a pillar and understanding champion of his Foster-Son, an inspiration and a support to both. This was the last time St. Joseph’s name is mentioned in Scripture. We do not know for certainty, but lay history tells us that Joseph died when Jesus was 29 years old, one year before the miracle at Cana, a model in death for parents who do not live to share their children’s success and glory. This is just one more proof of the equalizing goodness of God who gives to all something for each sacrifice. Though Joseph was deprived of seeing His Son honored on earth, his was the singular privilege of dying in the arms of Jesus and Mary, an honor that made him our “patron of a happy death.”
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Jan. 20: OUR LADY OF TABLES
At Montpellier, France, there is a very ancient, renowned church containing a shrine of Mary – the Blessed Virgin holds her Son in her arms, extended over the city, so to say. She stands upon a bezant pedestal or table. She is fondly called the “arms of the city of Montpellier.”
This statue is the so-called famous statue of black wood – Notre-Dame-des-Tables. To preserve it, the icon was hidden for a long time within a silver statue of the Blessed Virgin, life-size, and screened from the public view. It was stolen by the Calvinists and has since disappeared from history.
Nevertheless, Mary still extends over the city, as mentioned above, her arms of love, and miraculous power. The votive tables, or tables testifying to her intercessory power and love give name to the shrine.
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Jan. 21: OUR LADY OF EXILE
Tradition tells us that St. John took Mary to his house in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus: she also spent some of the time of her exile at Ephesus. Mary pondered over the wonderful mysteries of her life; she prayed for the new child of hers, the Church; she helped the Apostles. Mary was to all during those long years (15-23) a pillar of strength. Every day she received Holy Communion; she said again her “Ecce Ancilla” when her God incarnate was within her. But her desire, her longing for her Son was incomparable. Why did Jesus leave her behind to suffer so?
She had to nurse the new-born Church and strengthen the Apostles with her example; and supply them with many details of Her Son’s Life. She had to establish her position as Mother of the Church. During those long years of exile, the Church learned to regard Mary as its Mother. Our Lord would give her still more time to increase her merits by more suffering. He wanted her crown to be the most beautiful possible, and there was only one way to make it so, by suffering which intensifies love, humility and submission to God’s will. Another reason might have been that she might be the better able to sympathize with the exiled children of Eve; so Mary was left in exile to gain much that she could not have gained otherwise.
The lesson of the exile is, “For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.” Mother Mary still “walks the earth” as her many apparitions, especially of late years testify. I am not alone in this vale of tears, in this earthly exile, my Mother is always with me. All I need do is keep my hand tightly clasped in hers, walk in her footsteps, remain securely under the protection of her mantle, and never fear, but be secure and safe until she clasps me in her arms eternally and leads me to the throne of her Son to enjoy the mansion He is even now preparing for me, His beloved.
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Jan. 22: OUR LADY OF BETHLEHEM
We do not know how long the Holy Family remained in Bethlehem, but, regardless, often in later years on their way from Nazareth to Jerusalem to pray in the Temple, they must have stopped off at Bethlehem, visited the cave of the Divine Birth and talked with the shepherds and those of the town who befriended them and were kind to them during the crises of the Nativity. How they must have stood, pondering on the events now past, as their gaze fell on the road which they had taken to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. The text, “And thou, Bethlehem, are not the least of the cities of Juda, for out of thee shall come the Savior who will deliver His people from their sins,” must have been frequently on their lips, as they in gratitude called down a blessing on the city of Bethlehem, for having given them the shelter it had on that glorious night of the Nativity, that “Silent Night, Holy Night”.
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Jan. 23: OUR LADY’S ESPOUSALS
According to tradition, when Mary was of marriageable age, numerous suitors sought her hand. All were rejected and the humble virgin, was given in Marriage to St. Joseph, a lowly artisan. Joseph was already known as a just and God-fearing man; but he was not so bold as to aspire to the hand of one so accomplished as the daughter of Anne and Joachim. What was his joy at being the choice of Providence. What was his happiness in possessing as his spouse a virgin in whom the holiness of God shone so clearly. His whole soul turned to God in thanksgiving. It was also a great joy for Mary to receive Joseph as her spouse. She bore with solicitude a heavenly secret hidden in the depths of her heart. She had made a vow of virginity, and she prayed to have a spouse who, though truly married to her, would consent to respect her virginity; and this man God had prepared in the person of virtuous Joseph. The marriage of Mary and Joseph was very real since each accepted the other as spouse with all their mutual rights; yet when Mary disclosed her intentions of remaining a virgin, Joseph acquiesced as to an order that came from heaven. What joy this brought to Mary.
The marriage of Mary and Joseph would not have served as a model for Christian marriages had it not been visited by some trials. Some months passed, when Joseph perceived that Mary would soon be a Mother. His holy spouse had kept the Annunciation a secret. Joseph was troubled at the time. After much prayer, Joseph decided to leave Mary quietly; but heaven intervened to render homage to Mary’s virginity and to reassure Joseph’s conscience.
An angel appeared to Joseph during the night and said, “Fear not, Joseph, to take unto thee Mary, thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.” Thus Joseph learned at once the irreproachable fidelity of Mary and the richness of the treasure he had in his home.
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Jan. 24: OUR LADY OF PEACE
In July, 1917, the three children of Fatima were granted a vision of hell. They gazed in horror and fear; then they raised their eyes in desperate appeal to Our Lady, who looked down upon them with somber tenderness saying: “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wants to establish throughout the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people will do what I ask, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war (World War I) is going to end. But if they do not stop offending God, another and worse war will break out in the reign of Piux XII. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish world for its crimes by means of war, hunger, and persecution.
“To forestall this, I shall come to ask the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.
“If they heed my request, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she shall spread her errors throughout the world promoting wars and persecutions of the Church, the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me; which will be converted, and some time of peace will be given to the world.” The consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary took place on October 31, 1942, when His Holiness Pope Pius XII consecrated the world and Russia in particular to Mary at the close of the Fatima Jubilee. In every one of the apparitions, Our Lady requested the recitation of the rosary. “Continue to say the rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain peace for world.” In October she revealed, “I am the Lady of the Rosary”.
She can bring peace to the world, if her pleas are heeded.
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Jan. 25: OUR LADY’S SHROUD & TOMB
The last earthly abode of the Blessed Mother, and the tomb of St. Mary Magdalen may have been discovered at the site of the ruins of Ephesus along the Aegean Sea in Turkey, according to Professor Louis Massignon, French orientalist and archeologist. He believes the Blessed Mother died at Ephesus where she is said to have returned with St. John the Apostle, after the death of Christ. The mystic, Catherine Emmerich, who died in 1824, described a vision she received of the death of the Blessed Virgin at Ephesus, a city that was completely unknown to her. It is believed that St. Mary Magdalen accompanied St. John and Our Lady to Ephesus. Another tradition holds that the Dormition shrine in Jerusalem marks the place where the Blessed Mother died.
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Jan. 26: OUR LADY OF LONG FIELDS
For a long time part of Madrid was nothing but a field of matreeds (tules) particularly in the district of Atocha. Here is a shrine to Our Lady of Atocha, a Spanish contraction for “Theotokos”, meaning “Mother of God” or a simplification of “Antiocha” which in the 12th Century under this title was already ancient and beloved. Today the statue stands in the center of the 20th century noise and business, a little dark Madonna with an enigmatic smile on her face, and nobody knows where she came from but everybody from gold-braided officer to the ragged street urchins pay her most polite respect and give her most unqualified love. She was in Madrid when there was only a field of reeds and a hermitage. The Moor and the Moslem came – they respected her and left her alone. When Toledo was sacked in 1170, she remained there calm and accessible, watching over her children. In 1525 Charles V brought her his bride and asked her blessing upon their marriage; Don Juan of Austria, departing for the last crusade at the Battle of Lepanto, knelt at her feet and pledged his sword to her; after his death, they sent in thanksgiving his sword to her along with the captured Moorish banners. Despite all these trappings of the high and wealthy, she still remains Our Lady of the People, beloved of farmers, of St. Isadore. What connection has she with us, this Spanish Madonna of the long and curious history? From her we can learn that she is ALL in ALL to ALL of us. Atocha is Madrid’s royal shrine: kings kneel there, generals, churchmen of high rank; there is not a Spaniard of public importance for a thousand years who would not be proud to kneel and ask her help. Her gowns are made from the bridal gowns of queens; yet no shrine better demonstrates how little it matters where we rank in the world or what we do for a living. The Queen of Heaven, who married a carpenter is God’s answer to the problem of social position which troubles so many of this world. One asks her for victory for his armies, one for rain for his thirsty fields; she answers all, impartially and lovingly, paying no more attention to one than to the other. MARY is the meeting place of all peoples, the Mother of ALL. In a class-conscious world one needs to be reminded that the only dignity is that of the soul, not the accidental and perishable dignity of the body.
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Jan. 27: OUR LADY OF LIFE
In some churches of the Byzantine rite, a commemoration is made of the dedication of the church of the GOD-BEARER at the Seven Towers at Constantinople. The story goes, that the Emperor Leo I (d. 474) had a vision of the Blessed Virgin who pointed out a certain spring; he took a blind man to wash in its waters and the man was healed. Later on, the Emperor Justinian built a church at the spot. This church was destroyed after the Turks took Constantinople, but in 1834 it was rebuilt and brought back to use by the Orthodox Greeks. The icon called our Lady, FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, refers to her bearing the Word of God made Flesh Who brings the waters of life to mankind. “…in me is all hope of life…” Ecclesiasticus: 24
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Jan. 28: OUR LADY OF SUCCOR
In 1613 the Spanish governor of Manila sent out a small fleet, made up of two large galleys and several barques, to assist a neighboring settlement which was under siege by the pirates. The two galleys were named for Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Guidance. The chief gunner on the Guadalupe was one Francis Lopez, a man given to all kinds of wickedness. He had only one soft spot in his hard heart, and that was for Our Lady of the Rosary. Wicked as he was, he never neglected this offering to the Mother of Mercy. On the voyage in question, the Guadalupe struck a rock and sank and everyone had to swim for shore. Francis arrived safely, but promptly got embroiled in a free-for-all with the native galley slaves, who saw an opportunity to escape from the Spaniards. The slaves entrenched themselves behind the cliffs and rolled rocks down on their former masters. Francis was horribly wounded and left for dead, when the few survivors pulled away in a small boat, sent from the Guidance. For two weeks he lay helpless and in a frightful state from his wounds. He was surrounded by the dead, and deserted by the living. In his lucid moments he prayed not to be delivered, not for health, but for a priest. Francis was in no state to face God without confession, and he begged Our Lady of the Rosary to send him a priest. Two weeks later, the other galley was in trouble and blown off its course. It was carried into the straits where the Guadalupe had gone down, and with all the efforts of the crew, it could not be gotten around the cape. Finally the captain gave up, dropped anchor, and sent the crew ashore for fresh water. One of the sailors heard someone calling his name. The wounded man he found was almost too horrible to look upon, but his request was plain enough, “For the love of God, get me a priest!” The Franciscan chaplain of the Guidance was hastily summoned, and the man made his confession, and died. Favorable winds filled the sails of the Guidance, and in an hour the vessel was back on course. Back in Manila, the sacristans were decorating the sanctuary for a feast. Dusting around the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary, one of the ladies noticed an odd fact. “His little shoes are wet and muddy,” she said, pointing to the Infant, “and Our Lady’s skirts are damp and full of wet sand, as though she had been walking on the beach!” The prior, Father Michael Ruiz, was summoned to see the phenomenon. He confirmed that the Mother’s robe and the Baby’s shoes showed definite signs of a journey in a wet sandy place, and that the niche where the statue stood was perfectly dry. He carefully noted the day and the time, and summoned a visiting Franciscan who examined the statue and finally took the Baby’s sandals to his room with him as a proof of the incident. Weeks later, when the Guidance came home, the story was put together. Our Lady had heard the cry of her wandering child, and no one ever doubted that the sand on her robe came from the beach where Lopez died, calling on her for help.
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Jan. 29: OUR LADY OF CHATILION-SUR-SEINE
St. Bernard is said to have had a great devotion to Our Lady of Chatilion-sur-Seine, because of a miracle which was wrought by the Blessed Virgin in his favor. Bernard, the third of a family of seven children, was educated with particular care, because while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny. At the age of nine he was sent to a famous school in France at Chatilion-sur-Seine, kept by the secular priests of Saint-Vorles. No one speaks as sublimely of the Queen of Heaven as he does. Mary appeared to Bernard as he wrote and inspired him with heavenly words and wisdom. The most hardened sinners, heretics and agnostics Mary brought to him and she proved a bulwark to his efforts to lead men to her and to Christ, her Divine Son.
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Jan. 30: MADONNA OF THE ROSE
History shows that the rose is the favorite flower of Our Lady herself. In her apparition at Guadaloupe, she made use of roses as a sign of her presence and even arranged them with her own beautiful hands in the tilma of Juan Diego. At LaSallette she wore a profusion of roses in three garlands and had tiny roses around the rim of her slippers. She brought beautiful roses with her at Lourdes, Pontmain, Pellevoisin, Beauraing, and Banneaux. To Sister Josefa Menendez she showed her Immaculate Heart encircled with little white roses. Mary’s wedding garment, according to approved revelation, was “richly embroidered with blue, white, violet, and gold roses.” At the Incarnation, while the Angel vanished down the path that led up to Heaven, showers of half-blown roses fell on Mary. In the city of Damascus, very familiar to Mary, hundreds of men and women earn their living by working with roses, from which they distill rosewater and extract attar and syrup of roses. These people carry the scent of roses with them wherever they go. This is a lesson for us: let us become so saturated with the virtues of Mary that we carry their fragrance and attract other souls to Our Divine Lord through His Mother, the Mystical Rose. Among the many feasts of Our Lady we find mentioned in an old Latin chronicle: “January 30, Our Lady of the Rose, at Lucca in Italy. Three roses were found in January in the arms of the Lady statue there.” Cardinal Newman says “Mary is the most beautiful flower ever seen in the spiritual world. It is by the power of God’s grace that from this barren and desolate earth there ever sprung up at all flowers of holiness and glory; and Mary is the Queen of them. She is the Queen of spiritual flowers; and therefore, is called the Rose, for the rose is called of all flowers the most beautiful. But, moreover, she is the Mystical or Hidden rose, for mystical means hidden.” In the stately college of King’s Chapel, in Cambridge, England, one of the most renowned universities, built by Henry VIII in memory of his father, there can be discerned, hidden in one of the Tudor Rose-bosses on the walls, a small head of Our Lady which somehow escaped observation at the despoliation of images at the Protestant Reformation. Brother John, a clever carver, was hired to carve all of the roses; knowing of the king’s quarrel with the pope, he secretly carved a tiny head of Mary, half-hidden within the rose petals in the upper tier of decorations, saying, “There you remain, Our Lady of the Rose, even if wicked men try to drive you and your Son from this Church.” His words came true, when the place was stripped of every trace of Faith, the diminutive head of the Mother of God still remained. But a rose has thorns, and so had the Mystical Rose—the sharpest for herself alone; so she could have compassion on our infirmities. Never did the breath of evil spoil the splendor of this Mystical Rose, thou has been hailed to shed thy fragrance sweet, to flood our desert with thy perfume rare. We beg thee, daily kneeling at thy feet, let fall thy petals for our repose, shower upon us thy aroma, O thou Mystical Rose.”
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Jan. 31: HIDDEN LIFE OF MARY
Human life is one and indivisible; the same man is leading the same life, but in different aspects, when he plays, when he prays; no part of the life of any person is the same. Religiously speaking, everybody lives a hidden life in his personal relations with God. It is clear that nothing is known of Mary’s inner or hidden life, since we have no record of her spiritual strivings, aspirations, gifts, graces, watchings, consolations; if she spoke to anybody of them, her confidence was respected. Mary valued this element of hiddenness and privacy. St. Luke tells us after the shepherds had worshipped the new-born Babe at Bethlehem, “Mary kept in mind all these words, pondering them in her heart.” From the above we learn that Mary pondered, meditated on, thought about, the things of God. Since she had been chosen to bear the Divine Son of God and to co-operate in the redemption of the world, she fed her soul upon the things of God, ceaselessly, to a degree beyond what has ever been vouchsafed to any other human being; the fact that she was full of grace involves that. Like any other loving mother, she was “wrapped up” in her Son and His life, but her Son is God and her very love of Him was divine contemplation. There is, too, the evidence of the Magnificat: “My soul doth magnify the Lord…holy is His name.” Praise of and thanksgiving to Almighty God, were the very stuff of Mary’s life, a pattern of what they are meant to be in all Christianity – the heart of the matter. The Mass is a Eucharist, a thanksgiving; it is also a sacrifice of praise. There is much speculation about Our Lady’s inner or hidden life among French spiritual writers of the 17th century. It was emphasized that the Holy Spirit was the principle and author of her perfect dispositions. Mary is the most perfect image of Christ, lovingly portrayed by the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus was constantly united with His Father in Heaven, so, Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God, must have been living with the presence of God the Father in her heart, and for more than thirty years in the physical life of her Son. Her thoughts could not have been centered on anything but the spiritual.
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