Our Lady of Guadalupe ~ Feast Day December 12
The opening of the New World brought with it both fortune-seekers and religious preachers desiring to convert the native populations to the Christian faith. One of the converts was a poor Aztec Indian named Juan Diego. On one of his trips to the chapel, Juan was walking through the Tepayac hill country in central Mexico. Near Tepayac Hill he encountered a beautiful woman surrounded by a ball of light as bright as the sun. Speaking in his native tongue, the beautiful lady identified herself:
“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother’s Heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace. So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Bishop all that you have seen and heard.”
Juan, age 57, and who had never been to Tenochtitlan, nonetheless immediately responded to Mary’s request. He went to the palace of the Bishop-elect Fray Juan de Zumarraga and requested to meet immediately with the bishop. The bishop’s servants, who were suspicious of the rural peasant, kept him waiting for hours. The bishop-elect told Juan that he would consider the request of the Lady and told him he could visit him again if he so desired. Juan was disappointed by the bishop’s response and felt himself unworthy to persuade someone as important as a bishop. He returned to the hill where he had first met Mary and found her there waiting for him. Imploring her to send someone else, she responded:
Our Lady of Guadalupe Image”My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen.” She then told him to return the next day to the bishop and repeat the request. On Sunday, after again waiting for hours, Juan met with the bishop who, on re-hearing his story, asked him to ask the Lady to provide a sign as a proof of who she was. Juan dutifully returned to the hill and told Mary, who was again waiting for him there, of the bishop’s request. Mary responded:
“My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear. The Bishop shall have his sign. Come back to this place tomorrow. Only peace, my little son.” Unfortunately, Juan was not able to return to the hill the next day. His uncle had become mortally ill and Juan stayed with him to care for him. After two days, with his uncle near death, Juan left his side to find a priest. Juan had to pass Tepayac Hill to get to the priest. As he was passing, he found Mary waiting for him. She spoke:
“Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Your uncle will not die at this time. There is no reason for you to engage a priest, for his health is restored at this moment. He is quite well. Go to the top of the hill and cut the flowers that are growing there. Bring them then to me.” While it was freezing on the hillside, Juan obeyed Mary’s instructions and went to the top of the hill where he found a full bloom of Castilian roses. Removing his tilma, a poncho-like cape made of cactus fiber, he cut the roses and carried them back to Mary. She rearranged the roses and told him:
“My little son, this is the sign I am sending to the Bishop. Tell him that with this sign I request his greatest efforts to complete the church I desire in this place. Show these flowers to no one else but the Bishop. You are my trusted ambassador. This time the Bishop will believe all you tell him.” At the palace, Juan once again came before the bishop and several of his advisors. He told the bishop his story and opened the tilma letting the flowers fall out. But it wasn’t the beautiful roses that caused the bishop and his advisors to fall to their knees; for there, on the tilma, was a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary precisely as Juan had described her. The next day, after showing the Tilma at the Cathedral, Juan took the bishop to the spot where he first met Mary. He then returned to his village where he met his uncle who was completely cured. His uncle told him he had met a young woman, surrounded by a soft light, who told him that she had just sent his nephew to Tenochtitlan with a picture of herself. She told his uncle:
“Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe”.
It’s believed that the word Guadalupe was actually a Spanish mis-translation of the local Aztec dialect. The word that Mary probably used was Coatlallope which means “one who treads on snakes”! Within six years of this apparition, six million Aztecs had converted to Catholicism. The tilma shows Mary as the God-bearer – she is pregnant with her Divine Son. Since the time the tilma was first impressed with a picture of the Mother of God, it has been subject to a variety of environmental hazards including smoke from fires and candles, water from floods and torrential downpours and, in 1921, a bomb which was planted by anti-clerical forces on an altar under it. There was also a cast-iron cross next to the tilma and when the bomb exploded, the cross was twisted out of shape, the marble altar rail was heavily damaged and the tilma was…untouched! Indeed, no one was injured in the Church despite the damage that occurred to a large part of the altar structure.
In 1977, the tilma was examined using infrared photography and digital enhancement techniques. Unlike any painting, the tilma shows no sketching or any sign of outline drawn to permit an artist to produce a painting. Further, the very method used to create the image is still unknown. The image is inexplicable in its longevity and method of production. It can be seen today in a large cathedral built to house up to ten thousand worshipers. It is, by far, the most popular religious pilgrimage site in the Western Hemisphere.
The title “Our Lady of Loreto” is associated with the Holy House of Loreto in Italy, the house of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, miraculously transported by the angels from Palestine to Europe.
The house of the Holy Family in Nazareth has always been the object of Christian veneration. Shortly after 313, St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, built a basilica over this holy abode. The Saracens invaded the Holy Land in 1090, plundering and destroying Christian shrines, including Constantine’s basilica. Under the ruble, the Holy House was found intact.
During the twelfth century, another basilica was built to protect the holy dwelling. In 1219 or 1220 St. Francis of Assisi visited the Holy House in Nazareth. So did King St. Louis IX of France, when he was leading a crusade to liberate the Holy Land.
In 1263, when the Muslims overpowered the crusaders, the basilica was again destroyed but, once more, the Holy House was found intact.
When the crusaders where completely driven out of the Holy Land in 1291, the Holy House disappeared.
On May 10, 1291 a parish priest, Fr. Alexander Georgevich in the town of Tersatto, Dalmatia, (present-day Croatia) noticed the sudden appearance of a small building resting on a plot of land. Puzzled, he prayed about it, and in a dream saw the Blessed Virgin Mary, who explained that the structure was the house of the Holy Family, brought there by the power of God.
In 1294, with the Moslem invasion of Albania, the house disappeared again. According to the testimony of shepherds, it was seen on December 10 of that year born aloft by angels over the Adriatic Sea. This time the Holy House came to rest in a wooded area four miles from Recanati, Italy. As the news spread fast, thousands flocked there, and many miracles took place at the site.
Due to contrary circumstances, twice again the house was moved, finally coming to rest in the town of Loreto, Italy, its present location.
As miracles continued to occur in connection with pilgrimages to the house, deputations were sent to Nazareth to determine its origins in 1292, in 1296, and in 1524. All three declared that the measurements of the house corresponded to the visible foundations of the house of Nazareth.
In 1871 at the suggestion of Cardinal Bartolini, Professor Ratti of the University of Rome was given mortar and stones from the house at Loreto, and similar materials from houses in Nazareth. Ignorant of which was which, Prof. Ratti ascertained that the composition of the material from the house of Loreto while not original to Italy was identical to that of the material from Nazareth.
Other striking facts about the house in Loreto are that it has no foundations. The walls rest on a plot that was part field and part road, a sure indication that it was not built there but placed there. The style of the house of Loreto is not Italian but Eastern. And the original door was on the long side of the house, indicating that it was a dwelling and not a church.
Today a great basilica houses the dwelling of the holiest of families. From 1330, practically all the Popes have considered Loreto the greatest shrine of Christendom. Bulls in favor of the shrine were issued by Pope Sixtus IV in 1491 and by Julius II in 1507. While the miracle of the translation of the house is not a matter of faith, Innocent XII, in the seventeenth century, appointed a special Mass for the Feast of the Translation of the Holy House. Numerous saints have visited the house-relic.
As pilgrims enter the small precinct, they read on the threshold, “Hic Verbum caro factum est” – “Here the Word became flesh”. Above the altar inside the holy house is an ancient statue of Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus, known as Our Lady of Loreto.
~Souce:America Needs Fatima
Orbey, France 1491
THE FIRST VISION
A blacksmith by the name of Thierry Schoeré who lived in the village of Orbey, was on his way to market on May 3, 1491 when he stopped by an oak tree. A man had died there of a fatal accident and in his memory his family had placed a crucifix on the tree near where he fell. Thierry got off his horse and knelt down to say a prayer for the repose of the victim’s soul. Suddenly Thierry was dazzled by a bright light and in it he distinguished the Blessed Mother dressed in a long white veil. She was holding three ears of corn in her right hand while the other hand held a clump of ice. Without identifying herself she began to speak, Arise, brave man. See these ears? These are the symbols of fine harvests that will reward virtuous and generous people and bring peace and contentment in the homes of faithful Christians. As to the ice, it means hail, frost, flood, famine and all its attendant misery and desolation that will punish disbelievers with the gravity of their sins which tire the Divine Mercy. Go down to the village and announce to all the people the meaning of these prophecies. When the vision disappeared, the blacksmith became terribly frightened, and on reaching the village, he said nothing, in disobedience of the Lady’s wishes. He went inside the market, purchased a sack of wheat and started to adjust it on the back of his mount. But the sack of wheat became uncommonly heavy and could not be lifted. Even with the help of others, the sack could not be moved. It was then that he remembered the words of the Virgin, and realizing that the weight of the sack was a signal to him, he loudly shared the message that had been entrusted to him. Many people heard the message spoken with sincerity and took it to heart, resolving to do better in the future. When he had finished telling of his experience and the message given to him, he easily lifted the sack of wheat, secured it on his mount, and left for home.
CHAPEL IS BUILT ON THE APPARITION SITE
During the summer of the same year, a wooden chapel was built on the site of the apparition. Pilgrims made their way there and miracles were reported. Eventually, this little church was enlarged with the addition of other buildings. For many years, various religious Orders conducted services for the many pilgrims who came from all parts of the country, especially on May 3, the anniversary of the apparition. For the 519th anniversary in 2010, special services were held. During this observance, many ears of corn were blessed by several priests. These priests, the Redemptorists, have cared for the shrine since 1911. Four years following the apparition, in 1495, after careful investigations were conducted, the suffragan of Basel authorized worship † at the shrine, and all demonstrations of faith. The relationship expressed between a bishop and his archbishop. As suffragan, a bishop yields precedence of honor, even his own diocese, to his archbishop. But in the government of his diocese a bishop is independent of archiepiscopal jurisdiction. Along with other suffragans, a bishop has equal votes in provincial councils, held under the presidency of the archbishop. “Worship” as applied to Our Lady does not mean “adoration.” It means “honor” in this context.
~Excerpts from “See How She Loves Us”~
Our Lady of Beauraing, also known as the Virgin of the Golden Heart, appeared to Fernande Voisin (15), Andree Degeimbre (14), Gilberte Voisin (13) Albert Voisin (11) and Gilberte Degeimbre (9) between November 29, 1932 and January 3, 1933. The children were from two different families—three from a railway clerk and his wife, and two girls from a farmer’s widow.
On the evening of 29 November 1932, four of the children walked to a convent school run by the Sisters of Christian Doctrine to meet up with one of the girls and walk home with her. When they reached the school, Albert pointed to a lady dressed in a long white robe, near a railroad viaduct just past the school. She looked to be around 18-20 years old with deep blue eyes, and a rosary hung from her arm.
When Albert asked, “Are you the Immaculate Virgin?” The Lady smiled and nodded her head. “What do you want?” he asked.
“Always be good,” our Blessed Mother answered.
The other children saw her as well. Over the next several weeks, they saw the Lady thirty-two more times, generally in the garden of the convent school. The final apparition was on January 3, 1933.
Initially, the children’s parents and the mother superior, Mother Theophile, did not believe their story and told them to stop talking about it. Their families were devout, but much of the town had grown lukewarm and even hostile to the Catholic faith. The Socialists, who were opposed to the Church, won in most of the local elections.
Mother Theophile ordered the gates of the garden locked at dusk, and she put two fierce dogs inside.
On Saturday, in obedience to the Superior, the children stayed away from the garden. They were sad because they would not see their Lady that day. At dusk, when Mother Theophile went out to lock the garden gate, she found a crowd of 150 standing in the street.
“You are wasting your time here,” Mother Theophile said. “There is nothing to see.”
“What a Socialist we have in this woman,” said a member of the crowd. “She has less belief in this business than we have.”
The next day, Mother Theophile relented. She said that because the children had obeyed her they could again come to the garden.
The apparitions continued. For the first few apparitions in the garden, the Lady was already visible when the children got there. Later, she became visible after the children had begun to recite the rosary. They had formed the habit of saying the rosary as soon as they arrived in the garden. Each time Our Lady appeared, the children felt themselves drawn to a kneeling position, almost as if they were thrown to their knees.
The Blessed Mother urged that people pray much, that a chapel be built, and that people come there in pilgrimage. During the last apparition on January 3, 1933, Our Lady stated: “I will convert sinners. I am the Mother of God, the Queen of heaven.” She revealed her Golden Heart and asked one of the children to sacrifice for her. Twenty thousand persons were present that day.
Three times the Blessed Mother urged the children to pray. In her final apparition she spoke to Fernande Voisin: Do you love my Son? Do you love me? Then sacrifice yourself for me.
During one of the visions, separate physicians examined all 5 of the children while they were in ecstasy. A lighted match was even held under Gilberte’s hand, to which she did not respond. Afterwards, there was no burn mark on her hand and she had no knowledge of what had been done to her.
The apparitions were approved on July 2, 1949 by the Bishop of Namur. Also approved were “the miraculous nature of two cures obtained through the intercession of Our Lady of Beauraing, occurring in the months which followed the events at Beauraing, among many other cases of spiritual and temporal favors.”
Prayer to Our Lady of Beauraing
Our Lady of Beauraing, Immaculate Virgin, carry to Jesus, your Son, all the intentions which we confide to you this day. (Here mention your intentions)
Mother with the Golden Heart, mirror of the tenderness of the Father, look with love upon the men and women of our time and fill them with the joy of your presence.
You who promised to convert sinners, help us discover the infinite mercy of our God. Awaken in us the grace of conversion so that all our life becomes the reflection of this mercy.
Holy Mother of God, look down upon our miseries, console us in our sorrows, give strength to all those who are suffering.
Queen of Heaven, crowned with light, help us grow in faith, hope and love, and we shall be able to give thanks without end.
You brought Jesus into the world, may we by prayer, by sharing His Word and by the testimony of our life filled with love and joy make Him be born in all hearts.
May every instant of our life be a YES to the question, which you are asking us today: Do you love my son? Do you love me? Then the reign of Jesus will come into the world. Amen.
(IMPRIMATUR: Namur, 16 juillet 1996 + J.M. Huet vic. épisc.)
Just four days before his death, Padre Pio expressed his devotion to Mary in one of his final gestures of love.
A man brought Padre Pio a beautiful bouquet of red roses for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his stigmata. Padre Pio took one of the roses out of the bouquet and asked one of his spiritual sons who was going to Pompeii if he would take it to the shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The man promised that he would take it there the very next day.
When the man arrived in Pompeii, he told a nun who served at the shrine that the rose had been sent by Padre Pio, who asked that it be placed before the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. Very pleased to receive the rose,the nun put it in a vase with other roses and placed it before the image of the Virgin Mary. On September 23, the day that Padre Pio passed away, the nun noticed that all the other roses in the vase had withered but the one that Padre Pio had sent was still fresh and beautiful. The news of Padre Pio’s unfading rose reached the local bishop who decided to put it on display in a special glass container. Padre Alberto D’Apolito heard about the rose and wanted to see it. He took a number of Third Order Franciscans from San Giovanni Rotondo on pilgrimage to the shrine in Pompeii. They saw the rose that Padre Pio had sent to Our Lady of Pompeii and although the stem was slightly yellow in color, the rose was still fresh and intact. Their visit to see the rose occurred one year after Padre Pio’s death.
Cleonice Morcaldi, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, spoke to Padre Pio just a few days before his death. “Father, please give me at least one word,” Cleonice said to him. He answered, “Love the Madonna and make her loved. Always recite her Rosary. That is the armor against the evils of the world today.” “Is the Madonna close to you?” Cleonice asked. “A Mother,” Padre Pio replied. “All of Paradise is near her.” Padre Pio’s love for Our Lady and for her Rosary supported and sustained him throughout his earthly pilgrimage. Father Domenico Mondrone spoke of Padre Pio’s love for Mary and said: The Rosary was the most beautiful and longest sermon in honor of her, because it lasted the whole of his life. He spoke with the Rosary which he was seen to clutch always in his fingers, the Rosary he clutched in those last instants, almost as though it were the supreme link between the earth he was about to leave and the heavens which opened before him. Padre Pio passed into eternal life very peacefully, very well prepared. He died with his Rosary in his hand. His last words were -Jesus, Mary.
May Jesus always be the pilot of the little boat of your spirit. May Mary be the star which lights the path for you and shows you the surest way to reach the Heavenly Father. –St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Padre Pio left this life in September of 1968; but the mysterious fruitfulness of his long life as a priest and religious, son of St. Francis of Assisi, still continues to act, we may say, with visible crescendo, and in particular in two works that are typically his because they were born of his great heart, open to the love of God and to the brethren -the Prayer Groups and the Home for the Relief of Suffering. –St.Pope John Paul II
~Excerpt from “Pray Hope and Don’t Worry” by Diane Allen~
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal~Feast Day November 27
Early this century, Pope Saint Pius X declared that “true devotion to Christ demands true devotion to Mary.” More recently, Pope John Paul II urged an increase in devotion to the Mother of God while visiting the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. He called her “a sign of contradiction to the world and, at the same time, the sign of hope whom all generations shall call blessed.” The Blessed Virgin herself assured us at Fatima (1917) that peace will come to the world “when there is practiced sufficient devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”
The reason for devotion to Mary and her Immaculate Heart should be clear to every Catholic. Since “it has pleased God to grant us all graces through the intercession of Mary” (Pope Benedict XV), it is only logical and right that we seek such graces through the proper channel. Saint Bernardine (d. 1444) has written: “All graces are dispensed by Mary’s hands to whomever she wishes, whenever she wishes, and in whatever way she wishes.” That assertion was forcefully borne out by the Blessed Virgin nearly four centuries later, when she appeared in Paris to a humble Sister of Charity, Catherine Labouré.
It was in November of 1830. It was a period when God and His Church were being attacked by His enemies, and ignored by the faithful. Our Lady told Sister Catherine about the evils of the world, which were to become more intense in the years that lay ahead. She then portrayed an image signifying her Immaculate Conception. She instructed Sister Catherine to have a medal made to that likeness, which should be worn by all as a safeguard against the snares of the devil. As Sister Catherine tells it:
“The Blessed Virgin was standing on a globe, and her face was beautiful beyond words. Her fingers were covered with precious jewels whose light dazzled me. And I heard: ‘Behold the symbol of the graces I shed upon those who ask for them!’ Then an oval frame formed around the Blessed Virgin and I read in letters of gold: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.’ The vision reversed and I beheld the letter ‘M’ surmounted by a cross, at the foot of the cross, a bar, and below all, the Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns, and the Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. A voice said to me, ‘Have a medal struck after this model. Persons who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.’”
After two years of deliberation by Church authorities, the medal was finally struck according to Our Lady’s prescription, and in a short time it was being worn by millions. Countless wonders came to those who wore it: health was restored; bad habits were overcome; dangers were averted; men survived war and pestilence; and thousands were converted to the True Faith. People began to call it the “Miraculous Medal” — the official title it now bears in the liturgical feast that was established to honor the Queen Mother who gave it to us.
The little French nun whom the Blessed Virgin used as an agent remained unknown to the world during her lifetime. Not even her colleagues in her Order were aware of her role of intermediary in God’s work until after her death in 1876. She was canonized Saint Catherine Labouré in 1947, and today her mortal remains lie, still incorrupt for all to see, in the chapel where the Blessed Virgin first appeared to her.
A Remarkable Conversion
Of all the countless conversions effected by the wearing of the Miraculous Medal, perhaps the most famous, because it was the object of an official canonical investigation, was that of Alphonse Ratisbonne in 1842. The heir of a wealthy Jewish banking family, Alphonse was a cynic with no faith whatsoever, and an abiding hatred for the Catholic Religion. Due to a unique circumstance, Alphonse found himself wearing around his neck one of the medals and reciting daily the Memorare of Saint Bernard — for the explicit purpose of proving to a Catholic acquaintance that it would not bring about his conversion.
The event of Ratisbonne’s conversion, nearly as sudden and dramatic as that of Saint Paul, is worth retelling here. We shall quote from the account of Baron de Bussieres, the acquaintance who induced Alphonse to wear the medal. De Bussieres, having business with some monks, had left a disdainful Alphonse in the chapel of a church in Rome. After about ten minutes’ absence, the baron returned to the chapel:
“When I came back into the church I saw nothing of Ratisbonne for a moment; then I caught sight of him on his knees, in front of the chapel of S. Michel. I went up to him, and touched him three or four times before he became aware of my presence. At length he turned towards me, his face bathed in tears; joined his hands, and said, with an expression no words will render: ‘Oh, how this gentleman has prayed for me!’
“I was quite petrified with astonishment; I felt what people feel in the presence of a miracle. 1 raised Ratisbonne, I led him, or rather almost carried him, out of the church; I asked him what was the matter, and where he wished to go. ‘Lead me where you please,’ cried he; ‘after what I have seen, I obey.’ I urged him to explain his meaning, but he could not; his emotion was too mighty and profound. He drew forth from his bosom the miraculous medal, and covered it with kisses and tears. I could get from him nothing but exclamations, broken by deep sobs: ‘Oh, what bliss is mine! how good is the Lord! what a grace of fulness and happiness! how pitiable the lot of those who know not!’ Then he burst into tears at the thought of heretics and misbelievers. . . .
“This wild emotion became gradually more calm. He begged me to take him to a confessor; wanted to know when he might receive holy baptism, for now he could not live without it; yearned for the blessedness of the martyrs…. He told me that he could give me no explanation of his state until he had received permission from a priest to do so; ‘For what I have to say,’ he added, ‘is something I can say only on my knees.’
“I took him immediately to the Gesu to see Father de Villefort, who begged him to explain himself. Then Ratisbonne drew forth his medal, kissed it, showed it to us, and exclaimed: ‘I have seen her! I have seen her!’ and his emotion again choked his utterance. But soon he regained his calmness, and made his statement.
“‘I had been but a few moments in the church when I was suddenly seized with an unutterable agitation of mind. I raised my eyes; the building had disappeared from before me; one single chapel had, so to speak, gathered and concentrated all the light; and in the midst of this radiance I saw standing on the altar, lofty, clothed with splendour, full of majesty and sweetness, the Virgin Mary, just as she is represented on my medal. An irresistible force drew me towards her; the Virgin made a sign with her hand that I should kneel down; and then she seemed to say, That will do! She spoke not a word, but I understood all!’”
She had spoken not a word, yet this hardened unbeliever of just moments before now understood all! He understood far more than those who take the faith for granted — even to a “profound understanding of the mystery of the Crucifixion.” De Bussieres wrote:
“The Catholic Faith exhaled from his heart like a precious perfume from a casket, which contains it indeed, but cannot confine it. He spoke of the Real Presence like a man who believed it with all the energy of his whole being; but the expression is far too weak, he spoke like one to whom it was the object of direct perception.”
Alphonse continued to grow in sanctity and zeal. He was ordained a priest in 1847, and devoted the rest of his life to converting others of his race to the Catholic Faith. His conversion, although a spectacular and widely publicized event, was but a sample of the many thousands of lesser known wonders wrought by the wearing of Our Lady’s great sacramental. Nor was its use meant to be limited to another place and former time.
An Apostle of Our Time
Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, who died in 1941 and was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1973, performed great spiritual works through the use of the medal. He has written:
“At various times and in various trials the most Blessed Virgin Mary has come to the aid of her children, giving them different ways of attaining salvation more easily, and freeing others from the yoke of Satan. Now in this epoch of the Immaculate Conception the most Blessed Virgin has given mankind the ‘Miraculous Medal.’ Its heavenly origin has been proved by countless miracles of healing and particularly conversion….
“On this medal there is inscribed the ejaculation: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.’
This is a prayer which the Immaculata herself places upon our lips, revealing it to us and recommending its recitation…. This is truly our heavenly weapon. . . .
A motto of Blessed Maximilian’s Order was: “And above all, the Miraculous Medal.”
A Promise, A Threat
Our Lady’s promise that peace will be obtained through sufficient devotion to her Immaculate Heart was also a threat of dire consequences, should we ignore her message. So far, mankind has given her a deaf ear, and the consequences are becoming ever more apparent. The world must, while there is still time, pay attention to Mary’s warning and appeal of Paris, of La Salette, of Fatima. Pope Pius XII has urged us to frequently ask for Mary’s intercession: “Therefore let all approach with greater confidence now than ever before to the throne of mercy and grace of our Queen and Mother to beg help in difficulty, light in darkness and solace in trouble and sorrow.” (Encyclical, On The Queenship of Mary, 1954). So in this age of increasing world unrest let us all wear Our Lady’s Medal as a badge of allegiance, as she has requested. And let us recite from the liturgy of the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal: “O Lord, Who givest us all things through the Immaculate Mother of Thy Son: grant us by the aid of this mighty Mother to
escape the dangers of this time, and come to life everlasting.”
A noble youth, named Eschylus, being
sent by the prince, his father, to Hildesheim, a city of Saxony, to study, abandoned himself to
a dissolute life. He fell ill, and was near dying, and while in that state he had a vision. He saw himself shut up in a furnace of fire, and believed himself to be already in hell; and then he escap- ed from it through a hole and took refuge in a great place, where he found the most holy Mary in the hall, and she said to him: “Rash man, do you dare to appear before me? Depart
from here and go to the flames which you
merit.” The young man besought the Virgin
to have mercy on him, and then turned to some persons who were near, and implored them to recommend him to Mary. They did so, and
the heavenly mother answered: “You do not know the sinful life he has led, and that he had not even yought of saying a Hail Mary in my
honor.” But his advocates answered: “Oh
Lady, he will change his life;” and the youth added: “Yes, I promise really to amend, and
I will be your servant.” Then the Virgin’s anger was appeased, and she said to him: “Well, I ac- cept your promise, be faithful to me, and mean- while with my blessing, be delivered from hell and death.” When she had said this, the Virgin disappeared. Eschylus came to himself, and blessing Mary, related to others the grace he
had received. He led ever after a holy life,
always preserving a great affection towards the blessed Virgin, and was made Archbishop of
the Church of Lude, in Denmark, where he con- verted many to the faith. Towards the close
of his life, being old, he resigned the bishopric and became a monk of Clairvaux where he lived four years, and died a holy death. Hence he has been numbered by some writers among the saints of the Cistercian order.
Source:”The Glories of Mary”by St.Alphonsus Liguori
Ceranesi,Mount Figogna (Genoa) Italy 1490
Located in the municipality of Ceranesi,Mount Figogna lies in the northwestern part of Italy,a little north of Genoa.Known as the boyhood home of Christopher Columbus,Genoa is also renowned as the home of St.Catherine of Genoa whose incorrupt body lies in the church dedicated to her memory.The area is also celebrated in the place where the miraculous image known as Our Lady of the Guard is reverentially enshrined.
The First Vision
Atop the tall mountain known as Monte Figogna are numerous church buildings whose history involves a peasant named Benedict Pareto.He was grazing his flock on the mountain when his attention was drawn to a brilliant movement.Within this heavenly glow was a woman holding a child on her arm.As the lady approached him,Benedict Pareto felt compelled to knee.Standing before him,the beautiful Lady assured him,”Do not be afraid.I am the Queen of Heaven and have come to you with my Divine Son for this reason.You are to arrange for a church to be built on this spot,to be dedicated in my name.When the poor man protested that he had no money with which to build a church the Lady calmed his confusion with the words,”Truse me Benedict.The money will not be lacking,only your own good will is needed.With my aid all will be easy.”After the Lady departed,and after Benedict recovered from the sweetness and beauty of the apparition,he felt a great urgency to report the events to his parish priest and ran excitedly down the mountain path.The priest and Benedict’s neighbors,on hearing about the event were skeptical.The Second VisionSometime later,when Benedict climbed a fig tree looking for fruit,he fell and broke a number of bones.We are told that he was carried to his home where he received the Last Sacraments.Because he was unable to move,he deeply regretted that he could not share Our Lady’s request with those in a position to provide what she wanted.While he grieved,the Blessed Mother once more appeared to him and again requested a shrine at the place of her first appearance.When the Lady left,Benedict Pareto was instantly cured.His neighbors who knew the severity of his injuries and his immediate cure,replaced their skepticism with wholehearted belief.They again listened to Benedict’s story of the apparition and,with the authorization of the parish priest,they contributed to a fund for the building of a small oratory on Mount Figogna.That oratory was later constructed and later replaced in 1530,by a large chapel that was maintained by a group of laypeople and members of Benedict’s family,including two of his sons.Following the Council of Trent,the Bishop of Navarra visited the sanctuary in 1582 to enforce regulations formulated by the Council.After learning about the history of the shrine,he formally rendered his approval and looked favorably upon an artistic relief located on the high altar which depicts the scene of the first apparition.On May 27,1604,the history of the shrine was again approved,this time by the Archbishop of Genoa.The papers drawn as a result of an inquiry were duly notarized and can still be found in the Genoa State Archives.As a result of this study,permission for the publication of miracles was given and devotion to Our Lady of the Guard was authorized.
Miracles of Our Lady of the Guard
Of all the miracles attributed to Our Lady of the Guard,the most famous is that which took place in 1625,when Charles Emmanuel,Duke of Savoy,marched in Genoa with an army of fourteen thousand men.Knowing they were outnumbered,a saintly Capuchin lay brother,Fra Tomaso de Trebbiano,exhorted people to pray to Our Lady of the Guard for protection.The next day,when the Duke attacked,he was roundly defeated by a small band of peasants who had been sent into battle with the blessing of their parish priest.The victory was everywhere accepted as a miracle of Our Lady of the Guard.During the second half of the nineteenth century,a new shrine was built to accommodate the huge increase in the number of pilgrims.A hospice was erected,as well as a guesthouse.There are three statues named for Our Lady of the Guard.After the victory at Genoa,a marble statue was placed in a chapel on the mountain which marks the actual site of the first apparition.The second statue is found in the wayside chapel of St.Pantaleon on the mountainside.The third statue is found above the high altar in the church on Monte Figogna.This statue was given a formal coronation in 1894,as commanded by Pope Leo XIII.This wooden statue depicting Our Lady was credited with numerous miracles which are confirmed by costly tokens of appreciation given to the shrine and by thousands of ex votos which decorate the walls of the church.The shrine has been recognized by many popes who granted special indulgences to the devotees,including Pope Clement XVI,Pius VI,and Pius XII.One native son of Genoa,who had a particular devotion to Our Lady of the Guard,was elevated to the chair of Peter as Pope Benedict XV.It was This Pope who assigned to the church the title of Basilica on March 11,1915.Two additional popes who honored the shrine was St.John Paul II on September 22,1985 and Pope Benedict XVI who prayed there on May 18,2008.Source:”See How She Loves Us”