Marian Shrine Blessing
Our Lady of Guadalupe/La Virgen de Guadalupe
The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The feast day of December 12, in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, goes back to the 16th century. Chronicles of that period tell us the story. A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower, and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady. Juan was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared, and within it stood an Indi an maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared. Eventually the bishop told Juan to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan’s uncle became seriously ill. This led poor Juan to try to avoid the lady. Nevertheless the lady found Juan, assured him that his uncle would recover, and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his cape or tilma. On December 12, when Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop’s pres ence, the roses fell to the ground, and the bishop sank to his knees. On the tilma, where the roses had been, appeared an image of Mary exactly as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac.
Mary’s appearance to Juan Diego as one of his people is a powerful remind er that Mary—and the God who sent her—accept all peoples. In the con text of the sometimes rude and cruel treatment of the Indians by the Span iards, the apparition was a rebuke to the Spaniards and an event of vast sig nificance for the indigenous population. While a number of them had con verted before this incident, they now came in droves. According to a con temporary chronicler, nine million Indians became Catholic in a very short time. In these days when we hear so much about God’s preferential option for the poor, Our Lady of Guadalupe cries out to us that God’s love for and identification with the poor is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself.
Blessed Mother Mary’s message to St. Juan Diego
“ Juanito, my dearest son, where are you going?
Know and understand well, you my most humble son, that I am the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows.”
Our Lady of Lourdes/Nuestra Senora de Lourdes
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary conceived without sin.”
During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was “something white in the shape of a girl.” She used the word aquero, a dialect term meaning “this thing.” It was “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address (tu), but the polite form (vous). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity. Through that humble girl, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. In 1862 Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes for the diocese. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11, became worldwide in 1907.
Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and healing, but even more of faith. Church authorities have recognized over 60 miraculous cures, alt hough there have probably been many more. To people of faith this is not surprising. It is a continuation of Jesus’ healing miracles—now performed at the intercession of his mother. Some would say that the greater miracles are hidden. Many who visit Lourdes return home with renewed faith and a readiness to serve God in their needy brothers and sisters. There still may be people who doubt the apparitions of Lourdes. Perhaps the best that can be said to them are the words that introduce the film The Song of Bernadette: “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.” https://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-lourdes
Our Lady of Fatima/Nuestra Senora de Fatima
The Story of Our Lady of Fatima
Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children– Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin Lucia dos Santos–received apparitions of Our Lady at Covada Iria near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. Mary asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners, and for the conversion of Russia. Mary gave the children three secrets. Following the deaths of Francisco and Jacinta in 1919 and 1920 respectively, Lucia revealed the first secret in 1927. It concerned devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The sec ond secret was a vision of hell. When Lucia grew up she became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97. Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See’s Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in 2000; it spoke of a “bishop in white” who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this vision to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. The pope believed it was the hand of Mary that prevented the bullet from fatally wounding him. “One hand shot and another hand guided the bullet”, he had said. The feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, was approved by the local bish op in 1930; it was added to the Church’s worldwide calendar in 2002.
The message of Fatima is simple: Pray. Unfortunately, some people—not Sister Lucia—have distorted these revelations, making them into an apoca lyptic event for which they are now the only reliable interpreters. They have, for example, claimed that Mary’s request that the world be conse crated to her has been ignored. Sister Lucia agreed that Pope John Paul II’s public consecration in St. Peter’s Square on March 25, 1984, fulfilled Mary’s request. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prepared a June 26, 2000, document explaining the “third secret.”
Mary is perfectly honored when people generously imitate her response “Let it be done to me as you say” (Luke 1:38). Mary can never be seen as a rival to Jesus or to the Church’s teaching authority, as exercised by the col lege of bishops united with the bishop of Rome.