conceive of it.
The fact that she is Queen of the Universe; still, she does not enjoy the loyalty of all and must suffer the indif-ference of those who do not deign to pay her homage. Above everything, she sorrows to see so many deny her Son. Catholic devotion to Mary is found on all the virtues which human nature should and would possess, but seldom does. Mary is worthy of the admiration which men give her. Hers is a heart adorned as no other human heart, with tenderness for the sinner Her Divine Son died to save; with meekness to confound the proud, with kindness toward human frailty; with love for all, because God has loved them first. It is, however, Mary’s holiness and purity that become the special object of our devotion; a purity of soul and body that we should revere and strive to imitate. Sin and Satan were never a part of Mary’s life – would that we could say the same. Not for a moment was there ever any difference between her will and that of the Most High. Not for a moment was there anything in Mary that could in any way displease her Lord. Of all God’s creatures, Mary is indeed all fair, the beloved of the Almighty. During this month dedicated to her, let us admire the sinlessness of God’s Mother, of our own Heavenly Mother. With God’s grace and Mary’s assistance and intercession, we can achieve that purity of soul that is pleasing to her and to her Son.
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May 2: OUR LADY OF OVIEDO
The Blessed Virgin is venerated under this title at Covadonga, a small village in the Cantabrian Mountains of Asturia, Spain. The stories of this nationally famous Madonna go back many centuries. In 711, the Moors crossed over from Northern Africa and landed near the site of modern Gibraltar; moving inland they were hired by the armies of the Visigoths, led by King Rodrigo. In the Battle of Guadalete the Visigoths were severely beaten; Rodrigo having failed, a relative, Don Pelayo, regrouped the scattered surviving Goths and slowly retreated into the hills and mountains of Asturia, taking shelter near Oviedo. One of the soldiers fleeing from punishment, which he rightly deserved for his conduct, took refuge in a cave on Mt. Auseba; as he was being pursued, a venerable hermit stepped from the cave and said to the pursuer, “This cave is the dwelling place of the Most Holy Mother of God”, and the fugitive placed himself under her protection; “If you will pardon him, you, too, will one day find here a haven, you will rebuild the empire and your name will live in glory.” Pelayo pardoned the man and knelt before the image of Mary, praying to her and proclaiming the Virgin the Patroness of his army and of all Spain. In 718 the Moors dispatched a powerful army under the command of General Alcamah, with orders to wipe out Pelayo and his troops. When this news reached Pelayo, he immediately took refuge in the cave and prayed to the Virgin, asking her to aid his outnumbered men. Alcamah arrived and ranged his archers in the valley below the rocky cliffs. He ordered them to hurl their arrows against the defenders hidden among the crags above. Arrows soon filled the air, but strangely enough all fell short of Pelayo’s men. Many rebounded from the hard rocks, killing those who had shot them. Pelayo’s men hurled huge rocks and trunks of trees down onto the Moors. A section of the mountain broke loose, slid down and crushed great numbers of the enemy. This disorganized the Moors and finally they fled in utter confusion, racing for the plains of Auseba. Then a terrific cloudburst broke over the mountain, causing the Deva River to overflow, and many perished in its raging waters. This unexpected defeat of the Moors was actually the beginning of the eight-century-long reconquest of Spain. Don Pelayo attributed the astonishing victory of his vastly outnumbered troops to the powerful aid of the Virgin of Oviedo. Sometime around the middle of the eighth century Alfonse I (739-757) erected the first little chapel at this cave and also a Benedictine Monastery of Holy Mary. Later a collegiate church was built nearby. It was destroyed by fire October 17, 1777, but was later rebuilt. The present basilica—higher on the mountainside than the cave itself—is a work of the nineteenth century, initiated by the Bishop of Oviedo, according to plans by Aparicio. It is known as the Basilica de la Virgen de Los Ballallas (Virgin of the Battles). In the cave itself, there is today the little chapel of Santa Maria and the image of Our Lady of Covadonga or Oviedo. The present statue was carved in 1908 by J. Samso Lengli and was solemnly crowned in 1918.
The following additional information comes from this source:
May 2: Our Lady of Oviedo, Spain (711)
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Oviedo, Spain, where they possess some of the Blessed Virgin’s hair.” The Cathedral of Oviedo was founded in 781 AD, and enlarged by Alfonso the Chaste, who made Oviedo the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias. The chapel was once called the Sancta Ovetensis, owing to the quantity and quality of relics contained in the Camara Santa (Holy Chamber). “There is in the city of Oviedo a Holy Chest that contains many and varied relics. It rests in the town where King Alfonso II, the Chaste, built a shrine to house it, and there it can be seen even today as it was well over a millennium ago. Like the Arc of the Covenant, or the Holy Grail, it is a singular thing the like of which is almost utterly unknown in the entire history of mankind. This Holy Chest is made of oak and was skillfully constructed without the use of any nails. It measures roughly four feet by three feet by two feet, and has been venerated by faithful Catholics since apostolic times. Indeed, it is believed to have been fashioned by devoted disciples of the twelve apostles. Many men and woman throughout history have given their entire lives in service to the holy relics contained therein, or to save the chest from pagans who sought its destruction. The chest originated in the Holy City of Jerusalem. When the Persian’s attacked and conquered Jerusalem in 614, many priceless relics from the region were gathered and placed in it for protection – as the Persians sought relics to destroy them. The chest was taken for safekeeping to a small community of Catholics in Alexandria, Egypt. A short time later, Alexandria was also sacked by the Muslims, and the chest was taken across the Mediterranean Sea to Spain, where St. Isidore kept it in Seville. Upon St. Isidore’s death, the chest was transferred to the city of Toledo, which was then becoming an important center in Spain. When the wave of Muslim aggression reached even Toledo in 711, the Holy Chest was taken to the Asturias and hidden in a well in Pelayo’s mountain. The chest has a lock and key, but by the time of the eleventh century it had not been opened for hundreds of years. The last time it was known to have been opened was when it was done by a living saint, St. Ildephonsus, for in it he had placed a chasuble that the Mother of God herself had given him during an apparition. By the year 1030, the exact contents of the Holy Chest were no longer known. Bishop Ponce of Oviedo, and with him many clerics, determined to examine the chest to unlock its secrets. As soon as the lid was raised only the slightest bit, “there burst forth so stupendous a light that the terrified clerics, some of them stricken stone-blind, dropped the lid and fled, leaving the mystery unsolved.” After Mass, on Friday, March 13, 1075, the key was again placed in the lock. On this occasion, God was pleased to reveal the contents of the Holy Chest. The chest contained the Sudarium, mentioned by St. John the Evangelist in his Gospel as the cloth that covered the face of Christ after the crucifixion. On it can be seen the bloodstains of Our Lord that evidence his passion and death. It alone is a treasure without reckoning… The chest also contained a piece of the True Cross of Our Lord, a small stone of the sepulcher in which He was buried, some of the cloths in which He was wrapped in the manger, several thorns from the Crucifixion, a piece of the earth of Mount Olivet touched by His feet when He ascended into heaven, one of the thirty coins given to Judas, the chasuble given by the Virgin Mary to Saint Ildephonsus, a chest of gold and precious stones containing the forehead of St. John the Baptist and his hair, and a host of other relics from many saints and prophets, including St. Stephen, the first martyr, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Peter the Apostle, St. Vincent, and the rod of Moses which parted the Red Sea and the manna supplied from heaven during the Exodus from Egypt, and many other priceless relics. King Alfonso VI commissioned a silversmith to sheath the Holy Chest in gilded silver, adorning it with figures of Our Lord and His angels and saints. It can still be seen even today.”
*from El Cid, God’s Own Champion, by James Fitzhenry
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May 3: OUR LADY OF JASNA GORA
Northeast of the ancient city of Krakow, Poland is the small town of Czestochowa. To every Pole the name means but one thing—Mary’s Sanctuary. On a nearby hill the Monks of St. Paul the Hermit have a monastery. In the chapel of Our Lady in their monastery church, is the famous painting of the Blessed Virgin. This painting of the Mother of God holding the Child Jesus in her arms, bears the title, Our Lady of the Bright Hill (Jasna Gora) she is the Patroness and Protectress of the Poles; the Queen of the Crown of Poland. The history of Our Lady of Czestochowa is the history of Poland. Tradition holds that this picture of Mary was done by St. Luke the Evangelist on a piece of wood cut from the table of the Last Supper. It was the Christians of Jerusalem who presented this picture to St. Helen, the mother of Constantine. She in turn gave it to her son and so it was put in his palace at Constantinople. The salvation of this city while besieged by the Saracens, was ascribed to Our Lady’s intercession. The Byzantine Emperors showed great devotion for this picture and were able to hide it during the Iconoclast (breaking of images) persecution, thus saving it from destruction at the hands of the heretics who tried to destroy all statues and images. In 989, upon the marriage of Princess Anna, the sister of the Emperor, to Prince Vladimir of Kiev, the picture was a wedding gift taken to her, to the Ukraine. In the fourteenth century the picture was again in danger due to the Tartar raids. In a dream the wish of Our Lady was made known to Prince Ladislaus of Opol and in fulfillment of it, the holy image was taken to Jasna Gora. At that time the monks of St. Paul the Hermit were invited to come from Hungary and be the custodians of the shrine. During the Hussite persecution, heretics plundered the monastery and the church. They hurled the precious image to the ground and it was broken into three pieces. But when they tried to carry it off, the wagon bearing the image could not be moved. In rage one of them drew a sword and struck our Lady’s cheek twice. As he raised his arm a third time he fell dead on the spot. Seeing this, his comrades fled in terror. Under King Ladislaus II of Poland a commission of artists restored the painting but no effort on their part could remove the sword strokes which remain to this day. These artists at the time placed a silver background over the upper part of the picture on which five scenes were engraved. These are: the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Christchild, the Scourging at the Pillar, Christ mocked by the soldiers, and St. Barbara, to whom Poles had a great devotion. The Kings of Poland were especially devoted to Our Lady of the Bright Hill; at her shrine they, with their people sought intercession in all needs of the nation. In danger from the Turks, during invasion by Sweded, under siege by Prussians, Austrians and Russians, after the partition of Poland in 1795, During the German invasion of 1939, and today under Communism, the hearts of Poles have ever turned to our Queen. Her shrine at Jasna Gora is for them a symbol of their faith and hope. On May 7, 1957, Polish Catholics entered the first year of the “GREAT NOVENA” as their nine-year program of prayer is called. It was in 1956 that a million Polish pilgrims visited the shrine and out of that pilgrimage grew the Jasna Gora Vow, to prepare for the 1000 anniversary of Poland’s conversion, known as the Sacred Millenium, by nine years of prayer and work for a Christian life. Thus today, even though the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa is framed in somber black, the Polish Catholics turn once again to Mary and hold themselves loyal subjects of the Queen of the Crown of Poland, Our Lady of Jasna Gora or Czestochowa.
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May 4: OUR LADY OF QUICK HELP
To the Quaint town of Darjeeling, nestled in the arms of the giant Himalayan Mountains came a Russian artist to feast his eyes on God’s wonder work of massive snowy grandeur stretching far off to the north. He overstayed his time so that his pockets were empty. To help cover his bill at the ritzy hotel, he gave the proprietress, a fine Irish lady, some of his possessions; among them, a mosaic, a Russian icon of Our Lady and the child Jesus. After the lady’s death the icon was given to her nephew, the parish priest of Darjeeling. Not treasuring it too much, the priest gave it to a dentist friend who placed it in his office, where it stayed unnoticed for a number of years. In 1943, a Jesuit scientist came to examine the icon. “Do you know, Father,” he said to Father Grant, the Irish lady’s nephew, “that icon is at least 300 years old? It is made of gold and platinum, and must be highly valued.” This was an eye-opener for the parish priest. A servant of a nearby convent was commissioned to buy it, because the nuns wanted to present it to Father Grant. He refused to accept it, but asked for the free use of the icon. He took the icon with him on his tours of conversions and it met with almost immediate popularity. Father asked one of the nuns to make a facsimile of the icon, which she did with painstaking care and great love. Now every procession is headed by the beautiful banner in gold, white and blue. On the original icon there is the inscription in Russian: “Our Lady of Quick Help, pray for us”. The right hand of Baby Jesus points to His Mother indicating, “You want help quickly? Ask My Mother. She is the Help of the Afflicted, the Help of Christians. Devotion to Our Lady of Quick Help has spread among the hillmen. Although no miracles are claimed, several remarkable favors have been granted through Mary’s intercession. As faith and simple devotion increase, one cannot help being reminded of other cases where Our Lady has chosen a medium of devotion to her, a painting; a whole pageant of Lady pictures come to mind: Via della Strade, Guadalupe, Our Lady of Good Counsel, to name but a few. When Blessed Rudolph Aquaviva, S.J., was sent to convert Akbar, the Great Mogul, he erected in the palace a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. It was through her intercession he hoped he would win the souls of Akbar and his people. Surely, our Lady can help us make converts, too, if we pray to her. Our Lady of Quick Help can also make a “swift” job of converting Russia, if we pray hard enough to her for it.
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May 5: QUEEN OF APOSTLES
Mary merited the title Queen of Apostles by years of exile in foreign countries among pagans. She saw mission life in all its phases. In Egypt, with St. Joseph, Mary was obliged to hide the “secret of the King”. Like a missioner in times of persecution, she could not risk endangering her Divine Son by public profession of faith. At times, she too, found herself the only believer in a town of pagans. She was in daily contact with worshippers of heathen gods, and if pagan vice and idolatry are heavy loads on every missioner’s heart, Mary must have suffered a grief beyond the ken of fallen man. But great must have been her zeal and joy when she could preach Christ crucified, living in herself, as she abode, during the years in pagan Ephesus with the Beloved Disciple. Her Son was no longer a hidden God, but One on High; risen from the dead. Mary perhaps converted many by her spotless life, where the virtues of a Christian shone the more gloriously because set in a pagan land. It will strengthen all who are interested in spreading the Faith, to reflect that Mary spent so many of her days on earth among the heathen. A feast of Mary under the title Queen of Apostles is observed in Pallottine Redemptorist churches and other churches. It has a proper Mass; the collect refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Our Lady and the Apostles, and asks Almighty God that, under Mary’s protection, “we may be enabled faithfully to serve Thy majesty, and by word and example to spread abroad the glory of Thy Name”.
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May 6: OUR LADY OF CHARITY or QUEEN OF CHARITY
The title, Mary Queen of Charity is not contained in the Litany of Loreto, but it might well be incorporated therein. For outside of Our Lord Himself, no one in all history has demonstrated such sublime love for God and for us as did Our Blessed Lady; and Love is Charity. Mary’s first and most perfect act of love was the Annunciation. “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord.” Once she was sure of the Divine Will, Mary was ready to carry out that will at once and forever: when the Nativity placed the Savior into her maternal arms; when she grew up to know and more deeply appreciate who her Son was and why He had been sent; when she understood more clearly with each day, that it would mean in sorrow and suffering, to be the Mother of the Redeemer; when she held the form of her Divine Son once more in her arms – never once did she fail to act and live and breathe that first complete surrender: “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord”. From the very beginning Mary could have refused to cooperate with Divine Grace; she could have rebelled against the Will of God. But she joyously embraced the glorious opportunity to become the Mother of Divinity Incarnate and the Co-redemptrix of the human race. She shared in our salvation; she brought to us our Redeemer. What greater CHARITY could any creature, any human being, any angel, perform for us than this? If the Litany does not call her Queen of Charity, it implies the right to such a title in many of its phrases: “Mother of Good Counsel”, “Mother of our Savior”, “Virgin most Powerful”, “Cause of our Joy”, “Gate of Heaven”, “Health of the Sick”, “Refuge of Sinners”, “Help of Christians”, “Queen of Peace” – what are all these but supplications to Our Lady under various forms and aspects of her abounding love of God and of us? Our Lady’s Charity did not end with her career upon earth; throughout the centuries she has been the dispenser of heavenly graces and the source of material favors. Her shrines dot the globe; pilgrimages to which millions have travelled in supplication to the Queen of Charity: Loreto, Einsiedein, Guadalupe, Lourdes, Czestochowa! One of the most beloved themes of art throughout the centuries has been the Mother and her Child – a tender, universal symbol of charity. No charity can be greater than that noble and selfless love with which the human Mother nourishes and protects her Child; and when the Child is not merely Man, but the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the charity symbolized rises to the gate of heaven and is the theme of Angels’ melodies. Mary is the most generous Virgin; she gave Christ to the world, and to man on earth, she gives the Kingdom of Heaven.
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May 7: SEVEN JOYS OF OUR LADY
As early as the eleventh century devotion to the seven joys of Mary appears. They are enumerated as:
- The Visit of the Wise Men
- The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
- The Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead
- The Assumption of Our Lady
Although devotion nowadays seems more given to the Sorrows of Our Lady, it was not always so, as mentioned above. The biggest factor in the popularization of Mary’s joys was the enthusiasm of the Franciscans, especially the efforts of St. Bernardine of Siena in Italy; of St. John Capistrano in Germany, and or Blessed Gabriel Mary in France, though this devotion was widespread before their time. It was long before the number seven was settled upon – five, twelve, fifteen were often found – and there was a similar variety in the subjects. An old English carol enumerates them as: Mary suckling her Son, Jesus curing the lame, giving sight to the blind, reading the Bible, raising the dead, His own Resurrection, and His going up into Heaven. These differ considerably from what is now the accepted enumeration – the choice of the common people who made a poem at Canterbury into a song; while the seven enumerated first, are the choice of theologians. The Franciscans celebrate the feast of the Seven Joys on August 27 with a proper office and sequence; another feast of the Joys of Mary, having her happiness at the Resurrection of Christ particularly in view, is kept on the second Monday after Easter in Portugal and elsewhere. Devotion to the Seven Joys of Mary is notably strong in the diocese of Trois-Rivieres, Canada. There is a rosary of the Seven Joys, also known as the Franciscan Crown or Seraphic Rosary.
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May 8: OUR LADY OF POMPEII
Unlike so many of Our Lady’s titles, which go back centuries for their origin, this one is quite recent. The events which gave rise to this title took place less than one hundred years ago. By the last half of the nineteenth century the Valley of Pompeii, near Naples, was practically deserted. Of the comparatively few people who still lived there, most had lost their ancient Catholic faith; ignorance and superstition prevailed. Only a handful of people bothered to attend the services in the little parish chapel. In October 1872, a man named Bartolo Longo came to the valley. He was the husband of the Countess of Fusco, who had some property there; and Bartolo came to see what condition it was in. He had been reared a Catholic and was probably still one in name, although it seems he was not very devout. On October 9th, a few days after his arrival, he was walking along a rather desolate road when suddenly a voice seemed to speak to him. It told him that if he wished to be saved, he should spread devotion to the Rosary and that the Blessed Virgin had promised, that was the way to find salvation. Bartolo fell on his knees and replied that if the Virgin had truly so promised then he would be saved; he would not leave the valley until he had popularized the Rosary. His early efforts to interest the people in the Rosary devotion do not seem to have been very successful, but he persisted, and in two or three years he had gathered quite a group around him for daily recitation of the prayers in the little chapel. The bishop visited the valley in 1875, and complimented Bartolo on the good work he had done. He suggested that a church be built there and then, turning prophet, the Bishop pointed to a field near the chapel and declared that someday a basilica would stand on that spot. As the number of people taking part in the daily recitation of the Rosary grew, it was decided to obtain a picture of the Blessed Virgin, to help the faithful meditate as they prayed. On October 13, 1875, Bartolo went to Naples to see if he could find a suitable picture, but after searching for several days, to his great disappointment, he found that any really good picture would cost around four hundred francs, and he had nowhere near that amount to spend. He didn’t want to return empty handed, however, and disappoint the good people of Pompeii, so he somewhat reluctantly accepted a secondhand painting from a junk store for five lire. A trucker, not knowing what the package contained, pitched it on top of a load of garbage and so the picture arrived at the chapel. The people were pleased with the dilapidated picture and enshrined it. Almost immediately several miracles took place through Mary’s intercession. A church was built, 1876-1891 and a new basilica, 1934-1939, ordered by Pope Pius XI.
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May 9: OUR LADY OF THE CENACLE
This feast commemorates the time between our Lord’s return to His Father in Heaven and the day of Pentecost, during which the Apostles “continued steadfastly in prayer with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.” The title has been popularized by the nuns of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle founded by Blessed Teresa Couderc in 1826. The word “cenacle” is the French form of Latin “coenaculum,” literally meaning dining room; the traditional English rendering is “upper room”. There is a very popular pilgrimage to the shrine in St. Similien’s Church at Nantes in Brittany, between Ascension and Pentecost; the object is to keep watch with Mary and the Apostles in the upper room in preparation for the promised gifts of the Paraclete. The institution of this observance is ascribed to an exiled Irish Bishop about 1650; probably Patrick Comerford of Waterford, who was active in the work of redeeming captives in the name of Our Lady of Ransom or of Mercy.
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May 10: OUR LADY OF SAUSSAIE
Near the city of Paris is a shrine dedicated to Mary under the above title. It is located in a church of a Benedictine Priory, and was dedicated to the Virgin of Saussaie by Pope Clement V in the year 1305. Mary, our Queen-Mother is mistress of the elements as her King-Son was and is. It is related that she used a devastating storm to convince the Parisians of her God-given power over the world, and that she, too, could, with the grace of God do the apparent impossible. Driven to the last extremity, the people took refuge at the shrine, and implored Mary to protect them and spare their homes and their city. Instantly and miraculously the raging storm subsided and the people’s clamorous prayers for help turned into jubilant acclamations of thanksgiving. From thenceforward the image of Our Lady of Saussaie was recognized as miraculous and pilgrimages began and continued.
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May 11: OUR LADY OF APARECIDA
One morning in 1717, three fishermen in Brazil poled their boat into the Parahyba River which flowed along the outskirts of their village. Their luck was bad – for hours they cast their nets but caught no fish. They decided to quit; then for some reason, they wanted to make one more try. Alves threw out his net and slowly pulled it in. There was something in it – not a fish, but something that looked like a chunk of wood. When he lifted it from the net, it turned out to be a headless statue of the Blessed Virgin. He cast his net again. This time it held a roundish piece of wood – the head of the statue. He picked up both pieces and found that they fitted perfectly together. Obeying an impulse, Alves lowered his net once more. He could hardly lift it, because it was bulging with fish. His companions threw out their nets and they had the same luck. A few more casts and their boat was filled with fish. The next day they fastened the head to the body of the statue, cleaned it, and one of them set it up in his humble dwelling. The story spread and every evening people came to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin. They gave it the name Aparecida, “She who appeared.” Soon a little chapel was erected – the crowds were too big for the humble cottage; then a larger chapel was built. Our Lady well repaid those who honored her, for numerous cures and even extraordinary miracles took place at her shrine. In 1846, work began on the construction of a new church, completed in 1888, and the statue was transferred to it. In 1904, by order of the Holy Father, the image was solemnly crowned. In 1909 the church was raised to a minor basilica; in 1930 Pope Pius XI promoted it to a Basilica and officially declared Our Lady of Aparecida the Patroness of Brazil.
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May 12: OUR LADY OF HUMILITY
To prepare Mary as a proper dwelling for His Son, God preserved her from all stain of either hereditary or voluntary sin. To her did the Word of God submit Himself in loving obedience; and hers was the grace of standing with Him on Calvary, His companion in the Redemption of the world. Through her Assumption into Heaven and her Coronation, there as Queen of Angels and Saints was the saga of the maid of Nazareth brought to its solemn and joyous consummation, unique in the history of man. We are dazed at the thought of the graces God gave Mary; we do not understand them; we catch a shadow of their splendor, Mary saw them clearer and understood them more fully – how much her nothingness owed to God’s greatness. That is why she cried out, “My soul magnifies the Lord…and from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed…for He that is mighty hath done great things to me.” When we pray the Magnificat, we express not only the greatness of God but also the humility of Mary: -- without Me you can do nothing. Anything good, holy, or sanctified which a creature does, is done through God. A creature’s work is to adapt to God’s wishes; to remove obstacles of grace in its soul. In this basic law of the divine economy we see clearly Mary’s greatness of life, and we comprehend the grandeur of her humility. Whenever, there is evidence of the grace of God lifting up, transforming, magnifying a creature, there is also evidence of the humility of that creature. As no one else has known or admitted its relationship to God in complete dependence on Him, like Mary, so no one else has enjoyed the grace of God; because she offered no opposition, but transformed herself to the grace working in her. Her Fiat to the Angel Gabriel was the momentary expression of her life-long hymn to God. Apart from Christ, we have no better model of humility than Mary, in her total submission to God at the Annunciation, her loving service to her cousin at the Visitation, her ready submission to the Jewish Laws in the Purification; but perhaps more striking, her part in the marriage feast at Cana – a simple story as St. John tells in his Gospel, but Mary was a significant part in it. Christ had shortly left home – this was their first meeting in public life; surely her Mother heart was bursting with questions to ask Him: about John the Baptist, His motley group of followers, about the immediate establishment of His Messianic Kingdom – but who was she to question HIM? The Gospel paints her rather in the role of a servant; she noticed that the wine was exhausted, told her Son and occasioned His first miracle. There are not many acts of Mary recorded in Scripture; but from this one we gain a tremendous insight into her humility; this is as St. Thomas says, subjecting oneself to what is God in our neighbor. Mary knew her own prerogatives – that of all men, God had favored her. She surely wanted only to engross herself in watching, listening to, contemplating her Divine Son, yet she curbed this desire to do good to neighbors. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren you do to Me.” This is Mary in her role of Handmaid of the Lord. In mothering Gods son, Mary fulfilled God’s plan for her. Each of us has received a special call from God. We are called by a unique vocation to express some facet of God’s sanctity, we alone can express. Of ourselves we are helpless to achieve that expression and are unable to place even one act of ours toward that end. But we can cooperate with God – let Him lift us up, magnify us, transform us so that we will be perfect even as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Just as through her humility Mary fulfilled God’s divine plans for her, so we too, must learn humility, if we are to let God’s grace work to its fulfillment in us.
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May 13: OUR LADY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
While distributing Holy Communion, Father Heinrichs gave the Blessed Sacrament to a so-called member of a gang of priest-haters. As soon as Father placed Our Lord on the tongue of the man, he spat out the Sacred Host, whipped out a revolver and fired a bullet through the heart of the priest. Mortally wounded, Father Leo Heinrich tried to reach the altar of the Blessed Mother. He managed to place the ciborium on Mary’s altar step. Then he tried to pick up a few Hosts which had fallen—his last act. Two fellow priests were called. One took care of the Sacred Hosts, while the other gave the martyr-priest the Last Sacraments. With the names of Jesus and Mary on his lips, between the altar of the Son of God and the altar of His Blessed Mother, the priest entered eternity. The murderer was hanged. A week before his death, Father told the Young Lady’s Sodality: “If I had my choice of a place to die, I would choose to die at the feet of the Blessed Virgin.” His wish was literally fulfilled. Mary is indeed Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. Through Mary all God’s gifts come to us, especially that greatest gift, The Holy Eucharist. The Body of Our Lord, which becomes present on the altar during Holy Mass; which is given to us in Holy Communion; which remains in the tabernacle day and night, is the same Body that was born of the Virgin Mary. We cannot separate the Mother from the Child. We cannot separate Our Lady from Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. We honor Mary along with her Son; we stand by our Eucharistic King and the Lady who stands first in His court.
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May 14: OUR LADY OF BAVARIA
The shrine in Bavaria lies amid the mountains about three miles south of Oberammergau in upper Bavaria. A Benedictine monastery was founded there in 1330 by the Emperor Ludwig IV, who established a community of twelve knights with their families to guard the place. The emperor gave a small stone statue of the Mother of God, carved in Italy; and Ettal, as the place is called, was soon famous both for its shrine of Mary and the learning of the monks. In 1744 the medieval church was burnt down, its successor being built and decorated in the German baroque manner. The other buildings had been remodeled mostly as they appear today. A century later the abbey was suppressed, with other Bavarian religious houses; but it was restored in 1904, and our Lady is still a resort of pilgrims. This great sanctuary has a truly magnificent mountain setting.
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May 15: OUR LADY OF FRANCE
In LePuy, France, there is a massive rock, probably of volcanic origin, called Rocher Corneille (Cornelius Rock). It towers almost 2500 feet above sea level. On the very top of this huge pedestal, there is an enormous metal statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child, erected in 1860. The figure of the virgin, approximately fifty-five feet high, stands upon a globe; above her head is a starry crown, her feet crush a serpent. The Infant sits on her right arm, His right hand raised in blessing of the entire countryside. The statue was cast from metal obtained by melting down two hundred or more cannons donated by Napoleon III – cannons the French had captured from the Russians at Sebastopol during the Crimean War. Here atop the majestic rock, the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title, “Our Lady of France.”
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May 16: OUR LADY OF ETHIOPIA
A celebrated missionary, Father Gonzales Siveira, brought with him to Ethiopia in Africa, a beautiful picture of the Blessed Virgin. One of the officers of the court saw it, and not knowing how to distinguish the picture from reality, told his prince that the strange priest had brought with him a lady of singular beauty. The king conceived a great desire to see her, and sent accordingly to Father Gonzales, who immediately brought with him the painting, and told him this is the lady the officer had seen. The king was so charmed with it, that he placed it under a rich canopy in his own chamber. On the following night, while he slept tranquilly, he seemed to behold the Virgin surrounded with light, in the same dress and similarly ornamented as in the picture. She addressed him in a language he did not understand. This happened on three successive nights. He was so annoyed at not understanding what the unknown lady said to him, that he questioned the missionary on the subject. The latter replied that the language of the Queen of Heaven was a heavenly language, and could only be understood by a Christian. “Well, then,” said the king, “I will be a Christian, since it is so agreeable to the Queen of Heaven”. He was accordingly instructed in the principles of our faith, and was solemnly baptized together with his mother, and many of the nobles of his court. He then learned that the incomprehensible language of the Queen of heaven was the means she had made use of to induce him to become a Christian; and he esteemed this a duty to be thankful to her by whose means he had obtained the grace of Faith.
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May 17: OUR LADY OF TEARS
In March, 1953, Antonia and Angelo Giusto received a small terra cotta plaque of the Madonna as a wedding present. Our Lady is depicted with a flaming heart and a sad look. By summer Antonia was pregnant and was feeling faint and dizzy most of the time. She was forced to lie idle for days. She lay on the bed and talked with the little statue which was on a wall shelf. On August 29, she was amazed to see tears coming from the eyes of the statue. Three women, friends of the family, were called, and they, too, saw the tears. Except for short intervals the tears continued to flow for four days. They stopped at 11:30 on September 1. Word of the phenomenon spread through Sicily and Italy. Huge throngs came to the house. The statue was placed in the public square not far from the Giusto home. Hundreds of physical cures have been claimed. The tears were analyzed and found to be the same composition of human tears. On December 12, 1953, the hierarchy of Sicily issued a statement in which they “unanimously judged that the weeping cannot be held in doubt.” They asked for a “sanctuary which will perpetuate the miracle”. Osservatore Romano, a Vatican City Daily, printed the statement without comment. On the day the statement was issued, the Madonna was seen to weep twice.
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May 18: OUR LADY OF THE TOWER
Woods Hole is a little seaside town set like a dimple right in the elbow of Cape Cod. To the casual visitor, Woods Hole is like a toy town; it is so quaint. It is so quiet, people seem to walk on tiptoe; children patter softly on bare feet. As I walked around the inlet, suddenly out of the silence two bells began to ring: one high and brittle, the other deep as slow thunder. Looking up I saw a stone tower at the water’s edge; somehow I had not noticed it before, but now it dominated the whole scene; and suddenly I saw that the church was right behind it. The two bells continued their rebuttal, and then I recognized it to be the Angelus Bell; six o’clock and time for supper. Over the supper table, the pastor told me that a lady from Chicago, spending her summer at Woods Hole, had built the tower and donated it to the parish. In 1933 the bishop from Fall River came down on a Sunday afternoon, blessed the bells and dedicated the tower. The bells were christened Pasteur and Mendel after the two Catholic scientists. The lady’s motive was to remind the scientists that there is another and more valid aspect of life; across the inlet is the Marine Biological Laboratory. The garden surrounding the tower is small, but like a dream world. A stone statue of Our Lady stood among the flowers, and two small birds with carillions in their gullets, hopped on the crown of the Madonna’s head and sang. The garden teemed with roses, marigolds, campion, fuchsia and blue forget-me-nots; it was intended to be a Marygarden; perhaps the first of its kind in the New World; it was to cater only to such Flowers which bore the name of Mary or suggested some trait or mystery in Our Lady’s life. Foxglove and honeysuckle are Our Lady’s fingers; white campion, Our Lady’s Candles; forget-me-nots, Eyes of Mary; Morning glory, Our Lady’s Mantle; spiderwort, Our Lady’s Tears. Between Shakespeare’s England and today a shameful thing has happened, the flowers have disowned the Mother of God to barter their Baptism for a new name. Here was a war-cry, for a new crusade; to win back for Our Lady the flowers of the field. Would you believe it, there is a list of over 500 flowers named after the Mother of God. The donor of the tower had the list posted, and she looked forward to the day when a gardener would turn up and make it the passion of his life to spread Our Lady’s glories in flowers: Lady’s Lace, Mary’s Pan, Lady’s Cushion, Lady Smock, Lady Comb, Madonna Lily, Lady’s Eardrops, Lady Pins, Lady’s Looking glass. It was like the Litany of Loreto, naming Mary’s flowers. I walked to the end of the garden and entered the tower, a small room, like a hermit’s, with a kneeling bench, miniature stations on the wall, a rack of books, and a table inviting one to sit and read. A sign said you could take home a book, but return it at the end of summer. Here were the choicest of the classics: St. Augustine, Pascal, Abbot Marmion, Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, Hillaire Belloc, Chaucer, Gilbert Chesterton, Dante, Maritain, John of the Cross, Paul Claudel, Teresa of Avila. What surprises for those picking up the books; what sparkling glimpses of Christian truth! I was thumbing through the poems of Francis Ledwidge, the Irish peasant poet, when a strange racket sounded in the stone vault. The bells Mendel and Pasteur, were beginning their musical arguments: twelve o’clock noon. The two bells were ringing the Angelus again: the tidings of the Angel to Our Lady; …and reminding the quiet town of Woods Hole and the Marine Biological Laboratories that God had become a man to save us all. After the Angelus, I hurried out of Mary’s tower, through the Lady-Garden, and back across the street to the church and the rectory, thanking God and Our Lady that such spiritual loveliness and such deep love and devotion to Our Blessed Mother could be found in our United States.
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May 19: OUR LADY OF FLINES
Margaret de Dampiere, relative of the Count Guy de Dampier presented in the year 1234 to Bernard of Citeaux an abbey near Douay. St. Bernard had recently established an order of nuns according to the rule of his order. Five years previous to this, Peter, Archbishop of Rheims had dedicated the shrine to OUR LADY OF FLINES. This became a place of pilgrimage as a result of the miraculous cure of a child protégé of Margaret’s. The little one, unseen by Margaret’s coachman had been injured while playing about the stable-yard. The doctors pronounced her hopelessly lame for life. Margaret, however, confident in Our Lady’s intercession took the child to the neighboring shrine every Saturday and begged the Mother of God to be merciful to the child as well as to the grieving parents. After the fifteenth visit, the little girl said with a happy cry, “I can walk straight, see!” She jumped from the arms of her mother and proved that Our Lady had indeed helped. The shrine became famous; many pilgrimages resulted, and, Mary proved the words of her loyal son Bernard, “Never was it known” to be true.
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May 20: OUR LADY OF THE CLERGY
The association between Mary and the priesthood dates back to its very instituon. Christ became Himself our Priest in His Mother’s womb, at the moment when she was dedicating herself to be the Mother of the Redeemer. When Christ, the High Priest was sacrificing Himself on the Cross, His dying words announced Mary’s maternal office in the Church, and were addressed to the newly ordained St. John – who “took her for his own”. When the Holy Ghost came upon the infant church at Pentecost, we know that Mary was there, and had by her prayers and example already begun her motherly charge of the Mystical Body of Christ. No priest need ever fear that in paying attention to Mary, he is neglecting her Son; Mary never retains anything for herself; everything we give her is given immediately to her Son. She is a perfect mediatrix. She only intervenes to unite more closely; she only receives to give more perfectly. The real devotion to Mary is an attitude of heart and mind. The best expression of this is a total consecration of one’s self to Mary. Everything Christ received from this world, He received through Mary. His Body and Blood were derived from her; His humanity was created in her womb. After birth His infant body was nourished at her breast, and even the additions of His stature were due to the food prepared by her hands. His garments were of her making. The priest’s chief duty is to watch over and guard the priceless treasure God left on earth for the solace and comfort of His erring children. He must see to it that the Sacrament of the Altar is protected from impious hands that seek to defile it; from scornful souls that would ridicule it and destroy and blot out of existence the frail form of the future King. It is the priest, like Mary, who solemnly lifts the Monstrance above the head of the people in the sign of the Cross. Today, as of yesterday, no one is denied this Benediction. Only one thing is required – that the faithful come to Christ and kneel with uplifted hearts to bask in the infinite blessings God the Son imparts through His priests.
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May 21: OUR LADY OF VLADIMIR
One of the most famous and most beautiful of all icons of the Mother of God is that of Vladimir. She is depicted cheek to cheek with the Child, whose arms caress her, yet the image is strong and noble in workmanship, completely free from “sweetness” and sentimentality. It is the great example of the type of icon that the Russians call tenderness; the Greeks express the same. It was probably painted in Constantinople in the twelfth century, but is first heard of in Kiev, whence it was taken in 1155 to the city of Vladimir. It became famous for wonders and was reverenced as Russia’s most sacred image, so that it was in 1395 enshrined in the cathedral of the Assumption in the Kremlin at Moscow. Several times the Tartars were beaten back under its inspiration and it was carried to critical places in time of distress; the last time it was taken to the battlefront during World War I. All the tsars were crowned and patriarchs installed in the presence of this image, up to the revolution. It has been reproduced many times in copies and in book illustrations. The Russian calendar commemorates the feast of Our Lady of Vladimir on May 21.
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May 22: OUR LADY OF THE VIRGIN’S MOUNT
A very famous Benedictine sanctuary in the Campanian region of Italy is known as “Monte Vergine”; its religious history goes back to pre-Christian times, when there was a temple of Cybele there. A chapel of the Blessed Virgin was built in the seventh century, and in 1119 St. William of Vercelli, founded the monastery that still exists, high up on the mountains. In the church is a large icon of the Mother and Child, “of Constantinople” (said to have been brought to Italy by King Baldwin of Jerusalem) which came into the possession of the monastery in 1310. The dark figures stand out strikingly from the gold background; the present lower part of the picture is a later addition. There are some 200,000 pilgrims yearly who come to Monte Vergine, notably at Whitsuntide. There is a church at Seattle, Washington dedicated in honor of Monte Vergine, Our Lady of the Mount, and another at New Brunswick, New Jersey.
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May 23: OUR LADY OF MIRACLES OF BRESCIA
This north Italian shrine originated with a painting of the Blessed Virgin on the outside of a house. During an epidemic in 1478 it became the occasion of miracles of healing. There are several other shrines of this name in Italy and elsewhere (Aubervilliers and Mauriac in France), sometimes called “of Portents”, which name particularly commemorates a series of miracles recorded in several parts of Italy in 1796-97. The observance of a feast of Our Lady of Miracles is a very widespread custom, on a great variety of dates.
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May 24: OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS
In the second half of the sixteenth century, the power of the Turks had become so great that the peace of all Europe was threatened. St. Pius V, reigning Pontiff at the time, was famous for his Christian fortitude as well as his holy life. He caused the combined forces of Christendom to turn against the enemy. The Christians were inferior in numbers to the army of the Turks, but the former placed its trust in the help of the Blessed Virgin. The enemy was routed, while the Holy Father knelt before a picture of our Blessed Lady; suddenly Mary appeared and told him in that very hour the enemy had been defeated. St. Pius ordained that the invocation “Help of Christians” be added to the Litany of Loreto. Some years later Napoleon I, for five years confined Pope Pius VII in prison, to the great sorrow of the entire Church. Our Lady once more came to the aid of her faithful children; the Emperor was forced to abdicate and the Holy Father returned to Rome. Pius VII in thanksgiving for his deliverance, crowned with his own hands the picture of Our Lady venerated at Savona, where he was first imprisoned; and ordained that the twenty-fourth of May should be kept as a special feast in Mary’s honor, under the title of “Help of Christians.”
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May 25: OUR LADY OF THE NEW JERUSALEM
The sacred places associated with the final acts of man’s redemption by the God-Man: the Upper Room; Calvary; the tomb of the Resurrection, are all associated with Mary, too; and in addition, there are shrines specifically connected with her, notably her supposed birthplace and the place of the Assumption. Our Lady’s meeting with her Son on His way to death is marked by a Church, of Armenian rite, Our Lady of the Swoon. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, there are commemorative altars of her receiving her Son’s dead Body and, in the Franciscan choir, of His appearing to her when he had risen again. The Church of the Dormition is at the place of her death, according to the Jerusalem tradition. Other spots connected with her name commemorate events that belong to the domain of pious supposition, or even of folklore, rather than religious tradition. The Spring of the Lady Mary between Gethsemane and the pool of Siloe in the Cedron Valley, is so called because of its proximity to the Church of the Assumption; it is the Ain Rogel of II Kings 17:17 and III Kings 1:9.
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May 26: OUR LADY OF CARAVAGGIO
An Italian shrine to our Lady near Milan is said to have its origin in 1432, when the Mother of God is reported to have appeared in a vision to a sick peasant woman and pointed out to her a healing stream, where the woman was cured and many other miracles and cures were effected. The present church is due to the initiative of St. Charles Borromeo; it is approached through an arch on which stands statues of Mary and the woman she helped at the origin of the shrine. There are three main pilgrimages to the present shrine each year. The story of this title of Our Lady begins in the first half of the 15th century. Giovannetta, pious daughter of Pierro Vacchi, intended to become a nun, but her father had different ideas; to please him, she married a farmer named Francesco Varoli. The marriage was unhappy—Francesco was not a nice fellow and made life miserable for his wife. On May 26, 1432, although Giovannetta was not feeling well, Francesco sent her out to the fields to cut grass for his cattle. After gathering a large bundle of fodder, she sat down to rest; perhaps she dozed a bit, for when she lifted her head, the Blessed Virgin stood before her and told the woman to be of good heart, her troubles would soon be over. Jesus was displeased by the sins of the people, but Giovannetta could obtain mercy for them if they repented and changed their ways—otherwise Christ would punish them all. Mary also said she wished a church built in that spot in her honor—she charged Giovannetta to make known her wishes to all the people and promised if they obeyed, she would bless them with many favors and miracles; then Mary vanished. But as a memento of her appearance Mary left behind the imprint of her feet in a stone upon which she had stood, and from beneath the stone a spring of pure water gushed. Giovannetta hurried to Caravaggio and told everyone of the apparition and the things the Virgin had confided to her; few believed her; in fact, they greeted her story with scorn and derision. A little later, some of the people chanced to bathe in the stream flowing from beneath the rock and were amazed to find their aches and pains had mysteriously vanished. Others followed and the same thing happened to them. Then, they remembered Giovannetta’s story of the apparition and began to believe her. The incident spread far and wide, and the people, assisted by Filberto Marie Visconti, Duke of Milan, build a shrine on the place of the vision. As great crowds came to the shrine to offer homage to Our Lady, the shrine was too small to accommodate them; so, in 1575, Carlo Borromeo (later St. Charles) employed the celebrated architect, Pellegrino Pellegrini to enlarge it. Later additions and changes were further made, resulting in the present sanctuary. A statue of the Virgin was placed in the enlarged sanctuary—this statue depicts Our Lady blessing Giovannetta; it supposedly occupies the very spot on which the Virgin stood during the apparition; and from beneath Mar’s feet, the little stream of water still flows.
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May 27: OUR LADY OF NAPLES
In Naples, Italy, Mary is venerated in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine under the title Santa Maria della Bruna—the “Brown One”, because of the brownish color of the image’s face. The picture was brought to Naples about the middle of the twelfth century by some eastern monks migrating from Mt. Carmel in Palestine, and who settled outside the walls of Naples. After 1268, Empress Elizabeth rebuilt the church on a magnificent scale to commemorate her son, Conradin, lawful heir of the throne. He was beheaded by Charles of Anjou, when assuming the throne of the two Sicilies. The “della Bruna” picture proved too small for the vast edifice and was put into a side chapel, where after two hundred years it fell into neglect in both the veneration and the affection of the people of Naples. In the year 1500 a jubilee year, a number of pious Napolitans decided to go on a Pilgrimage to Rome. Placing the trip under the patronage of the Mother of God, the people thought it fitting to carry at the head of the procession a picture of the Virgin; they persuaded the Carmelite Fathers to lend them their picture of the Madonna della Bruna, and started for Rome April 5, 1500. A mile from Rome, a cripple, Thomas Saccone, lying by the roadside, was filled with desire to go along, which he knew was impossible, since he could not even stand. He asked the Mother of God to do the “impossible”. As the picture was passing he cried out for help, vowing, if he were cured, he would join the pilgrimage. He was instantly cured, standing up, he found he could walk; rejoicing, he joined the procession. Naturally, the story of his cure raced ahead of the procession, and as it progressed from village to village, it was found that the townspeople had carried forth their sick and infirm and had placed them alongside the highway, so all might ask Our Lady to help them when her image passed by. Many were healed. So it went until the ninth day, when the pilgrimage arrived at Rome. The picture was placed in St. Peter’s; the Holy Father hearing of the many cures, came with Cardinals and clergy to where the people received it with great delight and manifested their sincere devotion. When it came time to return to Naples, all the way back the procession encountered the same outpouring of people, all anxious to see the image and to pray to Our Lady. The Carmelite Fathers with a great multitude met the pilgrims at Aversa, a town ten miles outside of Naples; with great rejoicing they welcomed their now famous Madonna. It was restored to the original place over the high altar of their new church and great crowds came to ask the Virgin to help them in their trials and troubles. Soon after this, an amazing thing happened. Frederick II, King of Naples, decreed that all sick, deaf, blind, and lame be brought to Naples from all over his kingdom. He prepared a hospital alongside the church of the Carmelites, and quartered the unfortunate ones therein. When all had been collected, they were taken to the church on the appointed day. A High mass was celebrated and at the “Gloria in Excelsis”, the image was unveiled. At the same instant a ray of light appeared to descend from Heaven and shone brightly upon the face of the Madonna. Then it seemed to reflect and scatter its brilliance over the assembled multitude and as it rested on them, they were forthwith cured. From that day Santa Maria della Bruna, has been a great favorite of the people of Naples; numerous have been the favors and graces she bestowed upon her people. The picture is painted on a tablet—it is now contained in a marble tabernacle, a precious work of the sixteenth century to Our Lady of Naples.
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May 28: OUR LADY OF RELICS
Nothing is known of the early history of those things said to be relics of the Blessed Virgin; many of them are first heard of at the time of the Crusades when there was a great transference of them from the Near East to Western Europe. The authentication given them by ecclesiastical authorities is not a guarantee of genuineness but of possibility. Several churches in the East and the West have claimed relics of Mary’s clothing. The Constantinople girdle was kept in a reliquary which seems to have been identified with Our Lady’s coffin; it is said that this “coffin” was sent with the shroud, to the Emperor Marcian and his wife, St. Pulcheria, by Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem in 452. The relics disappeared at the time of the fall of the city to the Turks in 1453. What is said to be Mary’s wedding ring is in the cathedral at Perugia in Italy. Some of her hair was brought to Piazza in Sicily in crusading times. It need hardly be pointed out that in view of the belief in silken material two yards by eighteen inches is preserved. Aachen in Germany is said to have Our Lady’s cloak. In Salisbury in England a piece of bluish material thought to be the garment of Mary is venerated. Other places, too, claim to have similar relics of Mary.
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May 29: OUR LADY OF ARDENTS
In the year 1095, it is held that Our Lady brought to the cathedral at Arras on the feast of Our Lady of Ardents, a wax candle. It is still kept there to the present day, miraculously preserved. The story goes thus. The old man peered up at the statue of the Madonna of Arras. The niche seemed to be empty or was his vision just blurred? Then he thought back to the days at Ardents. He loved that Madonna too. After he had lit a candle to her, she had helped him come here where living for him was more comfortable. He looked up again. Why, there was the Virgin holding one of the Ardents candles and smiling at him.
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May 30: OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART
When Hitler entered Paris during the latter part of 1939, a young woman, Maria Hendizabal, fled from France to Mexico. Arriving at Vera Cruz, she went to the capital. Among her possessions she had a large picture of the Sacred Heart which she wished to give to some church for safekeeping, since she would be obliged to live in a small town and a small room, as she thought. Padre Juan Gomez of the Church of San Jose allowed her to place the image on the wall of the vestibule February 2, 1940. That very evening a boy nine years old, afflicted with infantile paralysis, was immediately cured after praying before the lovely image. He left his crutches on the floor of the vestibule and hurried home to tell his mother. The news of his cure spread rapidly and the next day hundreds visited the church, where before, there was never an attendance of more than a hundred at Sunday mass. This cure was followed by others, and day by day the crowds grew greater. After a week the pastor had to take the picture down from the wall of the vestibule and place it in the front of the church. Since Mexico abounds in silver, the usual way of acknowledging favors is to make a gift of silver. At present the entire left wall of the church is covered with silver remembrances donated by the recipients of favors received from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Even though the shrine of Our Lady has existed for only 27 years (1966) there have been thousands of cures performed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. These cures have been verified by affidavits signed by reliable physicians in the presence of notaries; the documents may be seen at the shrine. One father in gratitude for the cure of his daughter had a silversmith make a new frame for the picture. The picture frame is indescribably beautiful. In Mary, Jesus found the Lady after His own Heart. In the picture of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Jesus points to His Heart as “the abyss of all virtues”, and from His Heart He points to Our Lady as the perfect mirror of His Holiness and virtues. While the picture of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart shows Jesus pointing to Mary, He looks straight at us as if to urge us to go to Mary in order to become like Him. In no way can we better learn to honor and love the Sacred Heart than by asking the Blessed Virgin to lead us to Jesus. In Mary we see Jesus.
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May 31: QUEENSHIP OF OUR LADY
Mary is queen by grace, divine relationship, right of conquest, and singular election. Coming as a crowning event in the beautiful month of May, we welcome this feast with spiritual affection and experience a sense of deep interior peace as we gather in her presence to rededicate ourselves to our loving Mother and Queen. The Introit of the Mass for the day tells us; “Let us all rejoice in the Lord as we celebrate the feast in honor of our Queen, the Blessed Virgin Mary, upon whom the Angels rejoice and praise the God the Son”. The Queenship of Mary is not an empty title or an honorary distinction showing forth her excellence of virtue, of grandeur, sanctity or glory; Mary is truly a Queen as can be seen in the Gospel of the Mass; the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary with the most startling words ever addressed to a child of Adam: “Hail thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.” Then he continues, “Do not be afraid; for thou hast found favor in the sight of God. And thou shalt bear a son and call Him Jesus. He shall be great and men will know Him for the Son of the Most High; the Lord will give Him the throne of his father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally; His kingdom shall never end.” Here is the foundation for our belief in the Queenship of Mary—her Divine Motherhood; she conceived The King. Mary is “Queen by grace” because she was conceived immaculate, preserved from the slightest taint of sin while her soul was literally inundated with divine grace. “Hail, thou art full of grace”. She is “Queen by divine relationship” for she is related in the first degree of consanguinity in the direct line to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – God who became man. An earthly Queen Mother is one whose son later becomes king. Mary’s child, however at the moment of His conception, was already King – King of the entire universe. Our Lady is Queen also “by right of conquest”; our Lord by His Passion and Death recaptured the human race from the slavery of sin and Satan, conquering all as King. Calvary was the scene of this conquest. Mary at the foot of the Cross shared intimately with Him in His Sacrifice and the fruits of the Redemption. At first it may be somewhat difficult to picture Mary as a Queen, since we think in terms of royalty of the world; yet when we think of the souls who preceded us in the household of the Faith, and glance at Christian art, as it sings of her Queenship, it is not a problem at all. Majestically, Christ said to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world”, so, too, Our Lady acknowledges herself in humility as Queen whom all generations call blessed; but she, too, would add, “my queendom is not of this world”. In the Litany of Our Lady, we address her as Queen of Angels, Patriarchs, Prophets, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins; of Peace, of the Most Holy Rosary; conceived without original sin; and, Queen assumed into Heaven. Christian art represents her crowned with a diadem holding a scepter, seated on a throne. The purpose of this feast of Mary’s Queenship is to stir up renewed love and devotion to her; to gather before her throne in heaven, and humbly offer her our homage, unreserved, totally, prayerfully and with the simplicity of abandonment that characterizes a devoted child—“Reign over hearts and minds of men that they seek what is true; over their wills, to follow solely the good; over their hearts to love nothing but what you love…that man may seek and know the truth and follow what is good, O QUEEN!”
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