him into his carriage. They stopped at St. Andrea Delle Fratee because the Baron wished to see a priest there. In order to kill time, Rathisbonne entered the church. He was not very much impressed and was walking around rather listlessly. Suddenly the church seemed to be plunged into darkness and all the light concentrated on one chapel. Very much startled he saw there our Blessed Mother bathed in glorious light, Her face radiant. He went toward her. She motioned with her right hand for him to kneel. As he knelt, he realized at last the sad state of his soul. He perceived that mankind had been redeemed through the Blood of Christ, and he was seized with a great longing to be taken into the Church of Christ. The Blessed Virgin spoke not a word, but these things came to him as he knelt before her.
The next day Alphonse was baptized by Cardinal Patrizi, vicar of Pope Gregory XVI. The Holy Father as bishop of Rome, ordered an official inquiry and after four months the authenticity of the miracle was recognized. Alphonse Maria Rathisbonne, as he was named after his baptism, devoted the remainder of his life to winning over his fellow Jews to Christ.
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Dec. 2: OUR LADY OF DIDINIA
Our Lady of Didinia is in Cappadocia. It was before this shrine that St. Basil begged the Blessed Virgin to remedy the disorders caused by Julian the Apostate. The Saint was granted a vision from Mary, which foretold the death of the emperor. The godless Julian threatened the city of Caesarea with destruction because of a grudge he bore. St. Basil gathered the frightened inhabitants on Mt. Didinia, where there was an ancient Mary Church. After three days of prayer and fasting, Basil had a vision in which he saw Mary surrounded by celestial soldiery and heard her say, “Do call Mercury to me. He shall kill the blasphemer of my Son.” On the night of Julian’s death, both Basil and Libanius went to the Church of St. Mercury, and found the arms which usually hung there, missing. They went back to Mt. Didinia and spread the news of the death of the tyrant to the inhabitants. When the people went back to the city, they found the lance of Mercury in its accustomed place, but it was wet with blood.
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Dec. 3: OUR LADY OF VICTORY (Paris)
The church of Our Lady of Victories in Paris was built in 1629 by King Louis XIII in Thanksgiving for favors granted him by the Blessed Mother. The parishioners for a century and a half were known for their devotion to the Blessed Virgin. With the French Revolution the church fell upon evil ways and days. All sorts of outrages were performed in it by the revolutionists. Afterwards it was used by a schismatic sect and later became a stock exchange. In 1809 it was restored to its original purpose but there were few parishioners left. Father Charles Fritche des Gennettes was transferred to the church of Our Lady of Victories in 1832. He had been the pastor of Catherine Laboure. Father noticed that scarcely anyone came to Mass or received the sacraments. He tried all in his power, but to no avail, to bring the people back to the faith. Discouraged, he decided it was his duty as a failure to resign. On Sunday December 3, while saying Mass in an almost empty church, he, at the cannon of the Mass, cried out in distress. At that moment he heard a calm distinct voice say very solemnly; “Consecrate your parish to the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary”. After Mass he wondered whether he had imagined it, then again during his thanksgiving, he heard the same words. No longer doubting, he took a pen and composed the rules for the confraternity of Our Lady and received the Bishop’s approval the same week. The following Sunday, he told the ten people at Mass about his project and said there would be vespers of OUR LADY that evening, and afterwards all details of the Confraternity of Our Lady would be given. When Father Bennettes entered the church that evening, he found it filled for the first time in years; more than 400 people were there. The parish continues to flourish from then on. People came to the church from all other parts of Paris and France and finally, all parts of the world knew of the famous shrine, which now holds about 90,000 thank offerings for cures and favors. In March 1855, a thanksgiving octave, for the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was held. At the end of the octave, the statue was seen to move. This happened again and Pope Pius IX took this as a sign of thanks for his act, and ordered the statue to be crowned June 1850. St. Therese of the Child Jesus was cured through the intercession of Our Lady of Victories. The Miraculous Medal which Our Lady gave us in 1830 shows the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The devotion to Our Lady of Victories, which was originated six years later, is primarily devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The green scapular (1840) is really a medal of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in cloth form (see “Badge of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” –Blangy 1840 in “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey pp. 24-29).
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Dec. 4: VIRGIN MOST PURE
“Thou art all fair, O beloved, and there is not a spot in Thee!” God communicates in wonderful ways with our poor souls in this world. How did He deal with the Soul of His spotless Mother? The Church has kept on tiptoe all the centuries trying to catch a glimpse of Mary’s greatness, and trying in some imperfect way to describe the vision she beholds! The Church takes the events of Mary’s life one by one during the year and concentrates her children’s thoughts on them, in order that by close attention to each, they may grow gradually in knowledge of Mary. In December she bids us think of the moments when Mary’s soul was created by God. Mary’s spotless soul—there was joy that day before the Angels of God—Augustus sat on his throne, and at Rome and other centers of civilization the fashionable world with its life of self-indulgence was rushing madly and heedlessly through life; and amidst the orgies of the Empire this SOUL was created; and God looked down with Infinite Complacency, for this was to be His own Mother. Then Mary was born, and there was merry-making in the Galilean village; neighbors came to admire the Babe. Little they knew what that Babe was, in God’s eyes! Mary grew up a sweet and lovely child, fair as the flowers around her that flung their beauty on the winds under the hot Syrian sun. And her SOUL—sweet and lovely that it was to God. She blossomed in the garden of God’s flowers. The story of the saints’ lives gives us a glimpse into the workings of grace in innocent souls; what took place in Mary’s soul during these years? The chastity of Mary’s Heart; the purity; the stainless fragrance of her love for God, who can tell about that? It is a secret that God is keeping in heaven; He must not tell us everything here below; in heaven we shall listen eagerly to the story of Mary’s life. How intently shall we study the growth and development of this greatest soul, this most perfect, most beautiful and fragrant of all the soul-flowers that have blossomed in God’s grace-garden.
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Dec. 5: VIRGIN MOST POWERFUL
In the litany we call Our Lady “Virgin Most Powerful”. To be powerful with God one must have faith. Mary’s faith in God and her divine Son is absolute. Humanly speaking, things were completely in darkness in Mary’s life; yet she had a faith and trust and confidence in God which were absolute. In its purest form, her whole life was a life of faith. To her, can be applied in the highest degree, Christ’s words ‘NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE TO YOU, IF YOU HAVE FAITH”. Mary, in her power gained victory over Satan; she converted sinners, she cured miraculously without number. Mary’s whole ambition was to empty herself, so that God might live in her, and so render her all powerful. She was FULL of Grace; FULL of the Spirit of JESUS. And as Jesus is full of the love towards us, so also is Mary. She sees in us the seal of the PRECIOUS BLOOD of her DIVINE SON; she loves us and renders to us, every service within her power. The spiritual canticle of St. John of the Cross can be applied to Mary…” The soul because of its perfect love can be called the bride of the God the Son, which signifies equality with Him. In this equality and friendship, all things are common”. Now, Mary’s love can never be doubted. In being the Mother of Jesus, she shares, in a special way, all things with HIM: Mary is the Mediatrix of ALL GRACES, because of her special union with God and her SON. By her intervention sinners are reconciled with God, punishment is averted and graces are obtained so that she may rightfully be called “UNIVERSAL MEDIATRIX”… Mary possesses all the prerogatives of Motherhood with regard to us. A Mother confers life, Mary is the mother of our life of grace, since she gave birth to Him in whom we are all born anew; Jesus provided for our every need, temporal as well as spiritual. St. Albert says that from her we receive the price of redemption, the waters of purification, bread for the nourishment of our souls, a remedy for our recovery, the armor for our defense, and the rewards of merit. St. John Mary Vianney says, “I think the Blessed Virgin will rest at the end of the world, but as long as there is an earth, she is being pulled at from all sides. The Blessed Virgin is like a Mother with many children, she is continually going from one to the other wherever help is needed”.
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Dec. 6: OUR LADY OF SEEZ
St. Latuin built the first cathedral to Our Lady in the diocese of Seez. If this can be accepted as true, then the original cathedral would date back to the middle of the 5th century. A later church replaced it; one dedicated under the title of Notre Dame du Vivier. The Normans at the beginning of the 9th century destroyed this structure. A third church was built, a hundred meters away on the site of a pagan temple… This one had added to it the names of the martyrs Sts. Gervais and Protase, whose relics were enshrined in it. A special chapel in the cathedral recalled the memory of the first cathedral dedicated to OUR LADY OF SEEZ, for Mary remained the principal patroness of the diocese. Many famous people made pilgrimages to Our Lady of Seez; among them were St. Germain, Bishop of Paris; St. Evroult, founder of the Abbey of Ouche; St. Osmond, Count of Seez, who became Bishop of Salisbury; St. Thierry, Abbot of St. Evroult; St. Louis was there in 1259; and about the same time Blessed Giles, one of the early companions of St. Francis came to recommend to Mary’s protection the first French convent of Franciscans, which he was going to found at Seez. The Augustinians served the sanctuary from 1127. In the latter half of the 18th century, the Bishop of SEEZ, in response to the wishes of the entire diocese, repaired and embellished the chapel of Our Lady at considerable expense. Later the work of redoing the entire cathedral was undertaken. In June of 1784, the cathedral chapter asked the Bishop to consecrate the new altar and the entire cathedral under the patronage of Our Lady. This was done in 1786. Mary rewarded the prelates for their zeal in promoting her honor by granting all of them the grace of martyrdom in the violent persecution that broke out in 1792. The beautiful façade of the cathedral was destroyed in 1795. A revolutionary bought the debris with the intent of building a house from it. Two attempts proved failures and he finally gave up the attempt.
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Dec. 7: OUR LADY OF CROWNS
From the beginning of history, we know of kings and princes who were marked above all others with the royal sign of their dignity—a crown. But much more fittingly this applies to Jesus, our King, and Mary, our Queen-Mother. The crowns of old were set with precious gems and sparkling pearls. Crowns were a sign of the possession of a country and of a people. The crowns of history were a mark of authority. The crowns of ancient times were a mark and an omen of justice for the enemies of the king and the offenders of morality. Crowns were always an indication of honor and majesty. We all know of the custom of crowning the May Queen with a garland of roses. Often we hear tell of the Rosary as the Crown of Mary, and an appropriate title it is. It has the richness of antiquity, and the tradition of many ages. The Rosary is a string of precious pearls, precious stones, depicting our faith which is a sign of Mary’s ownership of the hearts of her Christians; it is a sign of authority over the faithful flock of Christ’s church. The Rosary shows clearly that Mary is singularly honored and revered as Queen of all others. The Rosary is like a bouquet of sweet smelling flowers of every size and color, depicting the virtues we practice every time we say it with devotion. But above all gems, pearls and flowers, the Rosary is the instrument of intercession calling down God’s vengeance upon the enemies of God and blessings upon his children; with the Rosary we can win Mary’s love: with it we can acquire peace for individuals, families and nations; through her whom it honors, we can wend our way to the heart of God. We have everything to hope for and all to gain, if we place this rich crown upon the head of Mary each day. Through the Rosary we have as our Queen, Mother and Intercessor, her to whom God can refuse nothing, but nothing.
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Dec. 8, THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
At the very first moment of conception in the womb of St. Ann, Mary’s soul was flooded with the fullness of grace: “all fair, all beautiful.” The laws of man and of nature did not apply to Mary. Her soul was flooded with light so that she could make her acceptance of the Mystical Marriage with her God. “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse, you have wounded my heart…My sister, my Bride is a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up… Thou art beautiful, O my Love, sweet and comely; terrible as an army set in array… One is my dove; My perfect one is but one; she is the holy one of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her. How beautiful art thou, my dearest in delights!...Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death…”—thus God speaks to her in the “Canticle of Canticles,” and Mary replies: “I found Him Whom my soul loved…” Mary’s Suscipe – the most perfect act of surrender a creature ever made, an oblation which would have a permanent re-echo every moment of her life, her bridal consecration, her mystical union with God was spoken at the very first moment of her being. FIAT—Be it done to me… There was never a questioning of God’s will in the life of Mary; but it was always perfect acceptance of whatever He planned and wanted of her. Therein lies Sanctity—doing God’s will, not ours, regardless. Yes, even the Motherhood of Mary as the “Mater Dei” depended on this, for Christ in the Gospels says: “Who are My Mother and My Brethren? If anyone does the will of My Father, he is My Mother and My Brethren.” You, who love the Blessed Mother so intimately and bear the title of “Daughters of the Blessed Virgin of the Immaculate Conception”, should certainly desire with all your hearts to imitate Mary’s FIAT in every instance of life. Strive for this Initial (first and immediate) complete consecration to the Will of God in EVERYTHING, regardless. At the root, foundation of every life lived for God, there must be a “Suscipe” “Take O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my will…” and a Fiat in deepest love and conformity to God’s Holy Will. In return God will favor you with peace, joy of service, but, also, as He did His own dear Mother, with SUFFERING; but, always, He will give you the grace to say with Mary¸ “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy Will.” Mary is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast, and we are her children. Should not a daughter try to resemble her Mother in everything? Mary is the Treasure-house of God’s graces; she will give whatever we ask of her. “Holy Mary, Mother of god, Immaculate One, make me HOLY.”
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Dec. 9: THE CONCEPTION (in Naples)
From the first moment of her being, Mary was filled with Divine Life; from her was to come Christ, who would redeem the world; would return Divine Life to mankind; and God, that Mary might be a pure channel for the Incarnation, gave to her the fruits of the Redemption, still to come. Caryll Houselander, the saintly author, in her book, THE REED OF GOD, wrote of Mary, “It is Our Lady—and no other saint—whom we can really imitate…Each Saint has a special work to do; but Our Lady includes in her vocation, in her life’s work, the essential thing that was to be hidden in every other vocation, in every life; she is not only human, she is HUMANITY. The one thing Mary did and does, is the one thing we all must do, namely: bring Christ into the world. Christ must be born from every soul, formed in every life.” Mary, in the first instant of her being was adorned with grace, and by reason of that fact, free from original sin. Original Sin, the privation of sanctifying grace, is the punishment for the sin of Adam, our first parent. So, we are conceived in our mother’s womb, without grace, and are on that very account displeasing and without beauty in the eyes of God, since the grace that should be in us, is lacking. In the case of Mary alone, did God make an exception, in the womb of her holy mother Anna, she was already arrayed in Sanctifying Grace to an extraordinary degree. That is the basic thought of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Mary was bedecked as with precious bridal jewels, preordained for her from all eternity, that she might be the Immaculate, the all fair, the full of grace. How great Sanctifying Grace must be! God, Who can give all things, since all things belong to Him, must surely have given His Mother for her bridal array (as Spouse of the Holy Spirit), the very best that it was in His power to give and He knew nothing greater than the shining raiment of Sanctifying Grace. From this we see that in the eyes of God, holiness, virtue, purity of soul, all are the most precious things, while in the eyes of men, earthly possessions and material beauty are given the highest place. Regarding her great privilege, Mary speaks to us herself in the BOOK OF WISDOM, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything…I was set up from eternity…The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived (in God’s plan). When He prepared the heavens, I was present. When He compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters, that they should not pass their limits, I was with Him” (in thought before the eye of God). Already in the first plans God had in view for His world, Mary had an important role as Mother of the Redeemer of Mankind. Even then, because of the unique part she was to play in the plan for the salvation of mankind, God had decided to preserve her from original sin and to adorn her with grace. God Himself—in His own mind—painted the first and most beautiful Madonna: He was Himself, if one may say so, the first votary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No one, therefore, has any right to find fault with us if we poor mortals, too, render sincere honor to Our Lady. Mary speaks to us in these gracious words (taken from the Old Testament), “(My) children, hear me. Blessed are they that keep my ways, that hear me and watch daily at my gates. He that shall find me shall find life and shall have salvation from the Lord.” Such is the blessing that comes from devoutly honoring Mary.
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Dec. 10: OUR LADY OF LORETO
Tradition has it that the house where Mary was born, where the angel appeared to her and where Jesus spent His Childhood, was spirited away through the air to Italy on May 10, 1291, eight days before the Saracen massacre of the Christians in their last Palestine stronghold at Acre. The foundations of the house were left intact and may be seen in Nazareth today. While belief in the removal of the house from Nazareth is not a matter of faith, many cures have been attributed to the Holy House at Loreto, Italy, including miraculous recoveries from illnesses by three Popes, Pius II, Paul II and Pius IX. More than 50 popes have honored the shrine and many Papal Bulls have proclaimed that the House of Loreto is indeed the same that stood in Nazareth for 12 centuries. Loreto is near Ancona on the Adriatic coast. Andrew Yelaney, a TWA pilot, who was miraculously saved from death in a raging forest fire, designed a medal, “Our Lady of Loreto for Air Travelers”, which was officially dedicated April 11, 1959 by the Most Rev. Walter P. Kellenberg, Bishop of Rockville Center, L. I. The Bishop composed a prayer for the occasion which has been the accepted prayer for air travelers: “Dear Lady of Loreto, Patroness of all airmen and air travelers, I earnestly pray that through thy all-powerful intercession, I may be guarded and safely guided to my destination, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.” One side of the medal bears an engraving of Our Lady with the prayer, “Our Lady of Loreto, protect my flight.” Seven stars in the form of a halo represent the Blessed Mother’s Seven Sorrows. The reverse side bears the inscription, “Patroness of Aviators and Air Travelers,” and shows a passenger jet in flight above the Mediterranean, superimposed upon the course taken by the House of Nazareth. Our Lady’s protective mantle, in the form of a heavenly light, bathes the flying jet. The locations of Nazareth and the Shrine of Loreto are marked by tiny stars. It is believed that the Our Lady of Loreto Medal will become to air travelers what the St. Christopher Medal has been to land and sea travelers for many years. The old joke used as a warning to motorists that St. Christopher steps out when the speedometer hits 60, is modified by airmen into the slogan that Our Lady holds on for dear life even when the pilot is “cracking the sound barrier”.
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Dec. 11: MARY, QUEEN OF ANGELS
One of the loveliest and truest of titles of Mary is that of Queen-Mary by the grace of God, Queen and Empress of the World! Mary being Queen of Heaven and of earth, her first title of royal prerogative is QUEEN OF ANGELS, an astounding title as we consider the unspeakable beauty and majesty of these sublime creatures of God. Angel means, “one going” or “one sent”, hence a messenger, Mary, queen of angels, inferior to them by nature is in dignity superior to them, due to the fact that she has the supreme dignity of being Mother of God. Her close association with Jesus in the Incarnation made her an associate of the Angels. It was God’s way of manifesting His will to her.
The Great Messenger of the Annunciation, Gabriel, saluted her as “full of grace”, and knew that in the little house of Nazareth he was in the vestibule of heaven, he was the first one to salute the Queen of Angels. But Gabriel was not the only visitor to Mary. There were hosts of angels to wait upon her, ready to do her slightest bidding, hovering about her in admiration of her and adoration of her Child. Where else would the Angels be but with the King of Angels and the Queen of Angels?
One Angel in particular guarded Mary – Michael. When forced to flee into Egypt, the Holy Family was accompanied by Michael. The “Woman clothed with the Sun” conquered with the aid of Michael, he never left her; it is commonly believed that he was her Guardian Angel. He told her when she was about to leave this earth, and stood guard over her holy body and soul till she was assumed by angels into Heaven. “Thy throne, the wings of the angels”, what rejoicing of the angelic hosts at her entry into Heaven! It is not hard to believe that angels carried the House of Nazareth to Loreto; they loved that house, it was the palace of their queen. The truth of this, that Mary is the Queen of Angles, is of utmost importance to us. Every one of her titles means somethi9ng to us. The thought is this—that since she is set over the angels, since she is the nearest being to God, and since she is also our Mother, our Advocate, our Mercy, our Live, our Sweetness, our Hope, there can be no limit we place in the confidence of her intercession. Say AVE and you will hear the flutter of Gabriel’s wings and smell the flowers of paradise. “The name of Mary is the key of heaven; it is uttered, and the portals of Paradise open wide.” – St. Bernard
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Dec. 12: OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
“He (God) has not done thus for any other nation.” The story began on December 12, 1531. A Saturday, an elderly Indian convert Juan (59) Diego, was on his way to Mass at the Franciscan mission of Tlaltelolce just north of Mexico City early at dawn. Juan took a short cut over the hill of Tepayac, once the shrine of an Aztec goddess, Teonantrin. Suddenly he heard warbling of birds, sweeter and more cheerful than he had ever heard songsters give. The singing ceased as suddenly as it had begun. A voice from the hilltop called him, “Juanito, Juan Dieguito!” Though startled, he was not afraid, a strange joy filled his soul as he hurried up the hill; then he saw her, looking for all the world like a sweet Indian maid. Her robes sparkled as if she had just stepped out of the early sun; the rock on which she stood glowed iridescent colors, rainbow hues tinted the earth. Even the mesquite and prickly pear became things of strange beauty. She spoke, “Juanito, littlest of my little ones, where are you going?” Except for his Christian name, she spoke in perfect Indian. “I go to Mass and to catechism instruction,” Juan explained. “Know, littlest of my little ones,” she said charmingly, “that I am Mary, Virgin Mother of the God for whom we all live, Creator of the world, Master of Heaven and earth. I desire a temple to be built in my honor on this spot so all may know my love and compassion, my desire to help and protect. For I am a Mother of Mercy to you and to all who live in this land; all who love, trust me and implore my aid. Go to the bishop and tell him what I desire. I shall be grateful and fill your own life with blessings.” Bowing, Juan began the 3-mile walk to Mexico City. Bishop Zamuraga received the convert kindly, but did not believe him, dismissed him and told him to come some other time. Discouraged, Juan Diego trudged back to Tepayac; Mary was waiting on the crest of the hill; falling at her feet, he confessed his failure: “Pick some noble messenger”, he begged; “they will never believe me, I am like an old rope, a broken ladder, a worthless little man.” Patiently Mary explained she had thousands of competent messengers to choose from, but didn’t want them. She wanted her little Diego to help her. Her look of love warmed his heart, no longer tired, discouraged—next day he would go back to the Bishop. Juan with a supreme effort repeated Mary’s message. The Bishop explained he must have some sign or proof. Juan offered to ask Mary for a sign and the Bishop “left it up to the Lady.” When Juan left; the prelate sent men to follow him; they lost him in the fog, returned disgruntled telling the Bishop Juan was a trickster. When he reached the hill, Mary said to Juan, “Come here tomorrow and I shall give you the sign the Bishop requests.” Juan did not come; his uncle (only living kin) was dying. All night and the next, Juan kept vigil. Tuesday his uncle asked Juan to get the friars to administer the last sacraments. Juan took no short cut, thinking Mary will want to detain me with the Bishop’s sign, and he went a longer way. Mary stood before him, “Don’t be angry”, he pleaded; “I shall return.” Mary smiled, “I am your Mother, you are close to my heart. Your uncle is cured. Go to the top of the hill and pick the flowers there and bring them to me.” Bleak December, the ground frozen, yet gorgeous Castilian roses miraculously bloomed everywhere. Gathering them in his cloak, Juan brought them to Mary who arranged them into a design and told Juan to show them to no one but the Bishop.
The Bishop fell on his knees and stared, not, at the roses, but at the image Mary had painted on Juan’s coarse cloak—enchanted dawn hues, salmon pink garment covered with shimmering lace of gold, veil of blue-green covered with stars, a brooch bearing a cross at her throat, the moon at her feet, a winged angel bearing her up.
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Dec. 13: OUR LADY OF THE HOLY CHAPEL
St. Louis, on his return from the Holy Land, built at Paris the so-called Holy Chapel in honor of Mary. In it he placed relics of Our Lord’s Passion which he brought with him from the Sacred Places in Palestine. At the door of the chapel stands a graceful statue of Mary. At the feet of this statue the doctors and literati of the day loved to prostrate themselves and their works. Although the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary had not yet been declared, many believed in it, and prelates preached it from the pulpits, Duns Scotus among them and very ardently. One day as he knelt before Mary’s image preparing to champion her sinlessness against the antagonists, he asked her to bend her head forward. Mary did so. From that moment the head of the image remained inclined. The Faithful on witnessing this, championed the cause of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, praying to her under the title and receiving answers to petitions, special graces and miracles.
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Dec. 14: OUR LADY OF ALBA ROYALE
Our Lady of Alba Regis is a shrine in Hungary, built by St. Stephen, King of Hungary, who gave his kingdom to the Blessed Virgin; and so erected this shrine to commemorate the event and remind himself and his whole kingdom that she was royalty there, not he. The shrine is likewise known as Our Lady of Alba Royale, as indicated in the title above. As the saintly King Stephen came to his coronation, he begged that the crown be placed on the head of the statue of Mary, not on his own. The stately church built in honor of the Mother of God is at Stuhlweissenburg, Hungary, and was the place where the Kings of Hungary were both crowned and buried.
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Dec. 15: OUR LADY OF THE ARMED FORCES
The news reports tell of the bitter cold of the “uplands” of the Far East and elsewhere where the “boys” in the service of country are fighting or trying in some way to show their love of country and fatherland. Days and nights – nights and days of hopelessness for warmth and peace; and so many a mother prays to Mary for her son! “My boy, whom I zealously guarded from the little hurts and pains of life, lies down tonight in the dirty straw of some deserted barn, or even under the icy stars without even that much shelter, crouches on the rough floor of a moving truck, or plods wearily through the endless snow. Mary, my soul longs for peace for him – he is so young!” And comfortingly Mary whispers into the mother’s heart, “The night was cold at Bethlehem, the stable rough and dirty, the town filled with strangers and hostility. There, in the cold He lay that night long ago. I had good things planned for my Son—a tiny bed prepared at Nazareth, a warm safe home, little garments made during the long days of waiting. But it was at Bethlehem; the night was cold; the straw rough. And, He was just a Babe.” Prayerfully the soldier’s mother continues: “He’s so young to be away from me—from home and family—just a boy, really, with the dreams and hopes of a boy. A tow-headed, bright-eyed football captain last year—a serious, somber soldier now. My arms are empty, my heart is so heavy, and he is so young!” “My Son was young once, too, playing on the streets of Nazareth at twelve, the dusty hills—helping Joseph in the carpenter shop…brightening the small home with His boyish ways. My heart was so heavy during the long search through the unfamiliar streets of Jerusalem; and how my empty arms ached when I found Him among the doctors in the Temple—a boy no longer but a Man about His Father’s business.” “My son fights among an alien land far from all he knows and loves. He is whipped into near submission—my son who was so tall and straight and proud. He lies in the dust trampled by an enemy’s boot—my son who never hated anyone, who loved life and living. His wounds are deep and painful and he is so young!” “My Son walked among a hostile people in Jerusalem and along the Jordan. He was scourged at the pillar—He Who was also tall and straight and noble. He fell in the dust on the road to Calvary—He Who ministered to all and rejected none. His Hands and His Feet were pierced through with nails and His side was opened by the spear of the soldier. And –He was God!” “My heart is heavy for my son who walks alone and suffers this night—for he is so young!” My Son Who knew a soldier’s life, and fears, and pains, shall walk with you son tonight and heal his wounds of body—and heart—for He Is GOD. Your dear, good son carries with him all the time the sign of victory – the Rosary – and he prays my favorite prayer daily and even oftener when he can; the scent of his prayers delights me; I shall never forsake your son as long as he asks me to help him. Do you now know, I AM OUR LADY OF THE ARMED FORCES all over the world?”
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Dec. 16: OUR LADY OF GOOD OR HAPPY DELIVERANCE
In our nation’s oldest city stands the Shrine of Christian Motherhood, patroness for the glorious ideas of a truly Christian home—Our Lady of Mild and Happy Deliverance, brought from Madrid, Spain, and now famous in the U.S. This history of the shrine begins in 1565 when the Spaniards went ashore at what is now St. Augustine, Florida. On the hallowed spot where the first Holy Mass was celebrated, the shrine of Our Lady was built. A bright, smiling statue of the virgin, nursing the Infant, named La Leche (the milk) statue. England wanted Spanish Florida and in 1765 it became her colony—a political pawn. Twenty years later England returned Florida to Spain. During these years the Spanish had sought refuge in Cuba, taking with them all religious articles and treasures. The Statue was taken aboard a refugee ship, which disappeared on the sea. Returning to Florida in 1783, the Spaniards prayed for their statue to be returned. In 1822 Spain sold Florida to the United States, and in 1875 the Church bought the site of the shrine. Raids, massacres and land disputes did not lessen the devotion paid the Mother of God. Their shrine was gone; their beautiful statue lost at sea. Still Catholic mothers paid tribute to Mary. For two centuries the search for the statue continued. In 1938 Artist John Duer was commissioned to do a second copy from the original statue in Madrid, Spain. The La Leche chapel also contains the remains of Admiral Menendez, founder of St. Augustine. Every year on Low Sunday there is a solemn pilgrimage to the shrine and the statue is carried in procession. More and more mothers and fathers from every state in the union are joining the pilgrimage each year. They know the need of more fervent devotion to the Blessed Mother. La Leche spans time—from the era of faith in God and the love of motherhood to our modern era of indifference to God and the collapse of families. Those who take part in this devotion express their belief in God as the Giver of Life and openly rebuke the organizations advocating birth control. They are fearlessly protesting against self-styled leaders who trample the ideals of family life.
Today’s mothers must beg intercession from our Mother Mary for the preservation of the Christian family. They must model their home life after that of the Holy Family.
Not only will the Virgin of La Leche help those who turn to her in pregnancy; she is anxious to aid all families, who desire to preserve the glorious ideas of a truly Christian home. Mary is the Mother of us all, and she will not refuse any favor, of whatever nature it might be; she will give us the milk of her loving kindness in every need, just for the asking.
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Dec. 17: OUR LADY OF AMIENS
The shrine to Our Lady of Amiens is a cathedral. The church was erected by St. Firmin, the bishop of Amiens, who received the crown of martyrdom during the persecution of Diocletian. A part of the head of St. John the Baptist is preserved here; it was brought hither by a traveler named Galo, on his return to Constantinople. The old cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1218. It was rebuilt in Gothic style, complete in later centuries, and called the “Gothic Parthenon”. It is more spacious than Notre Dame in Paris and considerably larger than the cathedral in Reims. The choir is flanked by seven chapels, that in the center being the “Lady Chapel”. This shrine to Mary is so beautiful that one poet aptly wrote, “It is not possible to add anything to or to take anything from it”.
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Dec. 18: EXPECTATION OF OUR LADY
Expectation is part of the joy in every happy event. Could it have been otherwise with Our Lady? Added to the quiet pleasure of being espoused to good Joseph, came the startling knowledge that her first-born would be the Messiah. The expectation of Israel, prolonged and intensified for generations, became one with Mary’s brief confinement. There were problems, though, as every confinement of a mother oscillates from bright to dark, from joy to apprehension: so Mary’s mind could not have been a placid, unrippled sea. How was she to approach the awesome task of raising God the Son? What course would His life take? Mary did not take her exalted role to mean that she was dispensed from human courtesies. Mary waited out the final weeks of pregnancy. Our Lady had Joseph to share her joy; the attention and devotion tendered her by him provided needed strength as the final hours drew near. God interrupted their serenity by means of an imperial edict. The census had to be taken. Before the birth, Mary had to bear the risk of a long journey. Womanwise she knew her time would be accomplished before their return. As she packed the bands of cloth which were to swaddle the Infant, she knew that more than just a trip was in the offing. This trip would mark the end of all expectation; from that point on everything would be fulfillment, her fulfillment and ours.
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Dec. 19: OUR LADY OF TOLEDO, SPAIN
In the year 657 one day while St. Ildephonsus, Archbishop of Toledo, was saying matins, it is said Our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by a great number of the blessed, and holding her hand the book which he had composed in her honor, she thanked him for it, and out of gratitude gave him a white chasuble. This celestial gift is still preserved and is now at Oviedo -- Alphonsus, the chaste King of Castile, having transferred it to the church of St. Savior, which he had built.
Tradition claims that Ildephonsus’successor, Siagrius, tried to use the alb, but died in the act of putting it on. The garment is said to have been seen and touched by Herbert Losinga, Bishop of Norwich, as late as the eleventh century.
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Dec. 20: OUR LADY OF MOLENE
The shrine of Our Lady of Molene is in the abbey of the Order of St. Benedict in Langres. It was founded on the 20th of December, 1075, by St. Robert who was the abbot. Robert had a deep, childlike devotion to the Mother of God—by reason of a vision his mother saw before Robert was born—and he instilled the same into the hearts of his monks. Alberic, Robert’s successor, decided that the order be dedicated to Mary. According to legend, Mary bestowed on Alberic a white mantle; for that reason the monks changed their black habit and wore white. All their churches were dedicated to the Virgin and each had its Mary altar before which the office of Mary was chanted every Saturday. The monastery seal pictured the Virgin Mary crowned.
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Dec. 21: OUR LADY OF ST. ACHEUL
The church containing the shrine of Our Lady of Acheul, was located near Amiens; in fact, St. Acheul was the mother-church of the cathedral of Amiens. Legend tells that St. Firmin was the Apostle of Amiens and that he arrived there before the close of the third century after Christ. This early church devastated repeatedly by the invasion of the Normans, was totally destroyed in 1218. The present cathedral was not finished until the fifteenth century. The shrine of the Virgin of St. Acheul is noteworthy for a singular miracle or apparition occurring during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The celebrant, after the consecration, saw a hand take the Sacred Host and drop it into the chalice. Some of the faithful present likewise witnessed the same thing; a certain skeptic was brought to his knees in humble acceptance of the fact that the Holy Sacrifice is truly the same as that of Calvary. After the erection of the new cathedral at Amiens, St. Acheul was known as the church of Our Lady of Acheul. Miracles took place frequently and pilgrimages continued for many years.
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Dec. 22: OUR LADY OF CHARTRES, Mother of Youth
Our Lady of Chartres is the site of possibly the oldest existing devotion to Mary—tradition states that an ancient order of Celts paid homage, centuries before her birth to the mother of the prophesied Savior, the Virgin who was to bear a Son. The story of the students’ pilgrimage started in 1935 with a group of 15 young men and girls of the Sorbonne, who sacrificed their Pentecostal holidays in prayer to the Holy Spirit and to Mary. They marched to the shrine and prayed in common as did their predecessors. The next year there were 36 who went, and in the year after, 150. Then the war came; but during the eight hard years that followed, the pilgrimages were not given up, the numbers increased, until in 1948, about 6,500 students formed their line of march to Mary. Most were in their early twenties or late teens, from the universities, colleges and schools of Paris and the provinces; some from foreign countries. The number of unbelievers, atheists and Communists has always been high even among the students; while Protestants and Jews make up a goodly part of the pilgrims. Some come out of curiosity, some following the persistent urgings of a friend; some for the sport of hiking, or to answer an invitation to test their grit and endurance; but whatever their reasons for starting, few end without a definite spiritual “lift”. Many make the pilgrimage in bare feet, not easy, over gravel roads; the sick and crippled go too. These young people give France a new birth of devotion to Mary; something new and spotless has been born as in the warmth of Bernadette, the Cure’ of Ars, Vincent de Paul—relighted in the hearts of young moderns. France must now place her hope in youth, the youth of France and the youth of the Church, through Our Blessed Mother, the Lady of Chartres.
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Dec. 23: OUR LACY OF ARDILLIERS
Notre Dame Ardilliers has a statue, a fountain and a church dedicated to Our Lady at Saumur in Anjou, France. Its name is illustrious throughout that country. Crowds of people are attracted to the shrine, for there Our Lady cures many maladies for her devotees. The image represents Mary in pity holding in her arms her Divine Son, lifeless, His head supported by an angel. It is sometimes called Our Lady of Pity. The monastery founded by Charlemagne at Saumur, was destroyed by the Normans and the one surviving monk retired to a cave near the spring of Ardilliers, a statue of Our Lady his sole remaining treasure. A small statue near the spring, found in 1454 is believed to be the identical one just mentioned. The miracle wrought in connection with this image, caused the erection of a small arch above the spring. The waters were found to have healing powers. In 1553 a chapel was built and dedicated. It attained magnificent proportions as successive additions were made, notably by Cardinal Richelieu. Devotion to Our Lady became widespread as many miracles occurred. Mary’s clients at Ardilliers number such illustrious persons as Louis XII, Anne of Austria, Marie de Medici, Henriette of England, Cardinal Richelieu and others. The Founders of the Sulpician Company went there for inspiration; St. Gignon de Montfort begged blessings and Mary’s help on the Institute of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost and the Daughters of Wisdom he was about to found. Cities placed themselves under the protection of Notre Dame de Ardilliers and promised annual pilgrimages. During the Revolution the church and shrine were despoiled of their treasures but not destroyed, and the image was left unharmed. In 1849 the ravages of time necessitated the renovation of the chapel, which had been built by Richelieu, and pilgrimages became more frequent than ever.
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Dec. 24: OUR LADY’S NUPTIALS
The celebration of the virginal marriage of Our Lady to St. Joseph has been kept for a long time as a festival in Sens and in other areas of France in particular. Their marriage took place on Mount Sion. Mary wore a beautiful blue wedding dress which had been prepared for her by her relatives. St. Joseph in utter simplicity wore a long cloak and a robe of grey material. Many friends were at the wedding feast; also some of Mary’s Temple teachers and school companions. When the celebration was over, Mary and Joseph left for their home in Nazareth; this home had been given to Mary by her parents as a part of her inheritance. Those, who had not been able to attend the feast, welcomed the new couple at home. When these had departed, Mary was for the first time alone with Joseph. In deep humility Joseph spoke to Mary, somewhat like this: “My dear spouse, although I am unworthy of you, I thank God that he has chosen me for your betrothed husband. Consider me your servant; tell me what you want and I will do it.” To this Mary may have said, “My master, I am fortunate that God has given me you as a husband, but I must tell you what is in my heart.” Joseph urged Mary to speak freely so she did. “Our Creator has manifested His mercy in planning that we serve Him together. I beg you, Joseph, help me fulfill the vow of chastity which I made to God. In all other things I will be your servant. Make a similar resolution, so God will give us the eternal rewards for which we yearn.” With a look of joy, Joseph listened to Mary’s words; for unknown to her, he, too, had promised God to live chastely; then he also spoke freely: “Mary, my heart is glad to hear your feelings on this subject. When I was twelve years old, I made a like promise to God to serve Him in perpetual virginity. With His grace, I will be your faithful companion; I beg you to consider me a brother, chaste and purs.” Then, filled with joy, Mary and Joseph dedicated their lives to God, their supreme Master, and discussed earthly important matters. Ann and Joachim had left Mary an inheritance, which had been the custody of the Temple until now, but after the wedding it belonged to her. She and Joseph planned—they assigned 1/3 to their needs; 1/3 to the Temple; and the last third to the poor. Then turning to Mary, Joseph asked, “Is it your wish, my lady, that I continue my work as a carpenter?” Mary answered, “Yes, Joseph; this is God’s desire, too, that we be humble people. I will obey you, Joseph, for God in His infinite wisdom decreed that men be the natural head of the family, the house and the home. Let us ever live in accordance with the wishes of God.” Joseph replied, “May God’s will be done by us, Mary, my beloved, in whatever we do or say.” Each year Mary and Joseph renewed these promises and spent the anniversary day in prayer and recollection as much as they could. What a commemoration it must have been on the twenty-fourth of December, the eve of Christ’s birth! Only Mary and Joseph could personally tell us of this, and they will certainly do so when we see them in Heaven.
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Dec. 25: CHRIST’S NATIVITY—“Whisper Me Why”
Little Baby in a manger, whisper me why. Why did You Who knew in Your omniscience that they would drive nails into Your hands—why, did You become man? I knew the gates of Heaven could not have been opened again; but why did You become man? Whisper me, why! Because You loved us, that I know, but why do you love us so? Why do You Who from all eternity have seen the mushroom-cloud of man’s destruction of man, love us so? Little Baby in a manger, whisper me why. Whisper me why little Baby in a manger, why do You love us so? Why, knowing how little we love You, how little we love one another, why do You love us so? Why, when You have always known how we turn from one another because of pigmentation, of geography, of philosophy, why have You loved us so? Little Baby in a manger, whisper me why? Why do You love us when You have always known the inconstancy of our love?
You have known our sins, my sins, from all eternity; you have heard not only Peter’s thrice denial, but ours trillion times thrice, and yet You love us so. Whisper me, why? Little Baby in a manger, I kneel by Your side and wonder why, why we so unworthy are so blessed; why it is that God should love us as to give His only-begotten Son to us that we might have eternal life? This is the wonder—and the mystery of Christmas for me, that You should have loved us so!
That God should come in the thunder and the rain, I can understand; that He should cover the face of the earth with waters, purging the lands of all that is unworthy, I can understand; but that God knowing man, should become man, that is the wonder; and that God should come a helpless baby, I cannot understand; whisper me why, little Baby in a manger, whisper me, why? Why should You come without armor into a world so cruel, come in complete helplessness, dependent, possessed of no more strength than a baby’s clasp upon a mother’s finger? Why, whisper me, why?
I leaned close to the manger and felt a baby’s breath whisper: “Because there was Mary who is goodness and truth; who surrendered herself to God; offered herself as a reed to God, that through her God might become man, that through the channel of her purity there might come to mankind the graces for everlasting life; because there was Mary, that is the reason why.”
I looked into the Infant’s eyes and saw things I had not seen—things He saw from all eternity: a boy coming home from a baseball game, stopped in church for a visit to the Babe; the old lonely woman—holding a well-worn rosary in her hands, her line to heaven and earth, channeling her prayers; a priest drawing back the curtain of time showing the eternal Gift-victim in the victory of the Cross; a weary, muscle-aching father laboring for love of wife and children; a mother, loving noisy children, kissing a bruised knee, patting a tousled head; thoughtless children giving a quick kiss, saving a little prayer for the woman who gave them life; a consecrated virgin burning out her life, candlewise for thoughtless humanity, seeing in them other Babes in a manger. I saw and understood. We are a contradiction, but not with God; He knows us for what we are, and what we may become; not for our failures, but for our possibilities and triumphs; not for denials but for affirmations—for there is in all of us, through the Babe in the manger, the hope of a glorious destiny. He sees not the suffering but those who bear it, praying and loving Him, united with Him; sees us not driving the nails, but carrying the Cross with Him. He sees the spark of divinity in us; that which makes Him love us; we, seeking within ourselves what God so loved, what led Him to become man; so we might kindle that spark into a burning flame of love to conquer darkness; destroy the cold; make ourselves worthy of His great love, which brought Him, a helpless Babe, to the manger in Bethlehem. Knowing the possibilities in us, we should never kneel baffled, asking, “Babe in a manger, whisper me, why”, for we know the answer – MARY – LOVE – DIVINITY!
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Dec. 26: OUR LADY OF ACHEROPITA
Tradition has it that one night a woman in great brightness appeared to a watchman on duty where a new church was being built in Rossano Italy. She asked him to withdraw from the place. The next morning there was seen in the building a picture of the Blessed Virgin, painted, not by the hand of man. For that reason it came to be called Acheropita. The latest historical research has established that the image of Acheropita—a fresco on a pillar—was to be found in a small chapel near the cave of one of the many hermits who formed the aura of St. Nicholas of Vallone. It became an object of veneration for the people of Rossano and a new church had to be built to satisfy popular piety in a more worthy manner. The first title or name given to the image was that of Odigitria. It came to be called Acheropita for the first time around 1140. On May 26, 1949, the diocesan cathedral was erected at the shrine. From August 16 to October 16, 1949, a silver statue of Our Lady was carried on a triumphal pilgrimage through the archdiocese. On June 18, 1950, Cardinal Micara crowned the statue.
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Dec. 27: OUR LADY OF KNIGHTS
“Until I have been made Your Knight, Fair Lady, I cannot be classified as a true warrior, battling for my country. Your knights are victorious! Would that each man of our Armed Forces could bear that noble title, so that we all might bravely clash with our foes and bring peace to the world once again! Queen of the Skies, Patroness of our beloved United States of America, Our Lady of the Knights of the Skies, I look to you for Victory!” This is a paragraph from a letter written by an American sergeant, Leo Lovasik; I never met him, but I know something about him. Leo was born in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, November 13, 1921, where he spent eight years in a Catholic parochial school and received his high school diploma at a boarding school conducted by the priests of the Society of the Divine Word. Then for two years he worked in a Pennsylvania steel mill. In July, 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps. On August 30, 1943, Technical Sergeant Leo E. Lovasik died as a result of an airplane crash in the European theatre of war; like so many ordinary men who died in the service of country. But Leo was not quite an ordinary man. Of his fully equipped bomber, he wrote: “We have named the bomber ‘Valiant Virgin’, and had the title splendidly painted on the nose of it in honor of Our Blessed Lady. I am the only Catholic on the crew, and today as I knelt before her statue in the post chapel, I dedicated our bomber to her. Her eyes so mild, blended in purity and innocence, seemed to accept this tribute of honor willingly and joyfully.” Many a time when he was up in the heavens, searing the moonlit sky, he looked through the tiny window near his radio table and reflected “upon the ravishing wonders below, given us by the Creator.” Against the radiance of the bombers’ moon, he thought he could observe Mary silhouetted as Queen of the Skies. He liked to watch as each fleecy cloud, “passing before that moon, glides (as it were) into a dip of reverence to Our Lady of the Knights of the Skies. They are her servants too. They, the clouds, even bear her pure white symbol of loveliness.” We of this generation have been blessed abundantly with the finest of contemporaries—martyred bishops and priests, Congressional Medal of Honor winners, next-doo neighbors who, courageously and loyally above and beyond the call of duty, gave their lives for those they loved. But the U.S. as a nation is particularly fortunate to have provided the soil from whence came such a man as this sergeant. He received no congressional medal of honor. Men did not gather on street corners waving and cheering as he stood erect in an open convertible, while bands played. No streets or avenues or boulevards bear his name. Yet, despite all this he might well be as great as any of them: he had an unequaled love for his native land, and for her who is the Patroness of this Land. Technical Sergeant Leo Lovasik was one of Mary’s Knights. She was his Lady. That is a true blueprint for great Americans. And the United States, Mary’s Land, is a better land today because of this knight and other knights of the Queen of the Skies. For always, it is men like this who bring God’s blessings down upon us who are his fellowmen. We, too, are all Mary’s Knights, if we bear on our shoulder her accolade, the badge she gave St. Simon Stock, the same she asked us at Fatima to wear, her brown scapular. It is related of Blessed Henry Suso, another of Mary’s Knights, that he once plunged into the mud of the road to make way on the path for a poor woman. “Sir”, said she, “why should a noble gentleman like you, leave the pathway for one so humble as I?” “Don’t you know,” replied Blessed Henry, “that in you I see not only my own mother but the Blessed Lady, whose knight and servant I am, and all good womanhood, which I hold in honor and reverence? They are each another MARY to me.”
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Dec. 28: OUR LADY OF PONTOISE
Pontoise is an old town built around a bridge across the Oise; and its shrine dates from some time before the 13th Century; though its exact beginnings are lost in legend. The statue of Our lady of Pontoise is of marble, and was, according to the legend, carved by a pious youth in the quarry at Blangis, near Abbeville and brought to Pontoise. In 1226 it was made a parish church, and the statue was placed outside, over the main entrance. It was visited by the saint-king, Louis XI; and did not figure greatly in history until after 1431 when it was destroyed by the English. From this time on, the shrine had a violent history. The English, who were at that time still militantly Catholic determined to rebuild the shrine they had destroyed. It was partly finished when the French reconquered the territory. They finished the rebuilding in 1884. During the years of 1580 and 1650, when the plague was destroying the country, people flocked to Our Lady of Pontoise and the danger was averted. Again in 1849 a cholera epidemic was averted through her intercession, so that the shrine had the name of being powerful against plagues. In Reformation times a Protestant tried to steal the statue and failing that, knocked off the head of the Infant and threw it into the river. A fisherman had spread his nets just below the bridge and the severed head was saved and returned to the statue. In 1585 the church was destroyed again by the English; in 1790 by the revolutionaries. Each time the statue was saved and returned; the last time by a man who bid on it at an auction and kept it in his garden until the troubled days were over. The church was rebuilt in 1800 and a century later was still extant; the yearly thanksgiving procession for Our Lady’s protection from the plague was held annually. Replicas of the statue were placed over many doorways of the city after the plague of 1640, and some are still there.
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Dec. 29: OUR LADY OF SPIRE
The shrine of Our Lady of Spire is in Germany. St. Bernard, entering this church on the 29th of December, 1146, was honorably received by the monks, who conducted him to the choir singing the “Salve Regina.” At the close of the antiphon, St. Bernard saluted the image of the Blessed Virgin in these terms, “O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria”; and it is said she answered, “Salve Bernard.” The words of St. Bernard to the image of Mary are seen engraved in a circle on the pavement of the church, on the same spot where he pronounced them, and they have since been added to the Salve Regina which was composed in the year 1040, by Herman, surnamed Contractus, a Benedictine monk.
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Dec. 30: OUR LADY OF BOLOGNA
An image that has made its church at Bologna one of the most famous shrines in Italy, is that of Our Lady of Bologna. It came originally from Constantinople and belonged to some hernitesses who in 1193 built a chapel for it. The icon was attributed to St. Luke. At Rogationtide every year it is carried to the cathedral of Bologna, and there displayed for the veneration of the people. This or one like it, was one of the two or three representations of Mary that St. Bernadette did not find disappointing or worse.
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Dec. 31: OUR LADY OF THE CLOSING YEAR
We face a closing year with mixed emotions and strange nostalgia; happy at the thought that the unpleasant, the sad, the painful is at an end. We look forward hopefully to a better and brighter year; yet we experience a deep dread of what might cloud our horizon. How blindly foolish we mortals can be! We so easily lose sight of the loving Providence of Our Father, Who has counted the very hairs of our heads, and lets not a sparrow fall to the ground without His Holy Will. How childishly independent of both Father and Mother we appear, on our own, instead of clasping tightly our Mother Mary’s hand, and placing confidently the other into the mighty, but loving Hand of our dear Father, God. Mary will close for us the doors of the “might-have-been”; and open the “yet-to-be”. Drawing across the first the all-forgiving, the all-forgetting curtain of God’s infinite Love; she will open the bright doors of the coming year, and lead for us the way to Her Son’s Sacred Heart. Mary, Mediatrix of Grace, will also mediate with us in balancing our accounts; she will burn up the dross, and make clear the path for a new beginning of the future year. Strength, help, grace, all are ours for the asking. Could we wish for or hope for more?
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