Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Look For June

Summer makes me long for the sea. My very favourite part of the English coast is Cornwall, so I've put a picture of St. Michael's Mount near Penzance in the header. The photo comes from Flickr user hartlandmartin and is used under a Creative Commons licence.

Thanks to Alicia at Moms Who Blog I have managed to add a menu bar. The tabs (should!) take you to compilations of my Our Lady Around the World posts, the literary tour of England I posted a couple of years ago, and various book reviews.

May 31st: Ode to Mary

To wrap up my Around the World With Our Lady series, and to celebrate today's Feast of the Visitation, here is an Ode to Mary, by Peter Heintz:

Ode to Mary

O Blessed Mary
Immaculate Virgin
Most holy and pure
free of all sin

Mother of God
and all mankind
Loving and gentle
sweet and kind

Full of grace
and merciful
Perpetual help
and prayerful

Our Lady of Sorrows
so sorrowful
Soul eternally spotless
so beautiful

Messenger of God
our intercessor
Perfect human
our protector

To save mankind
reveal Your faces
at Knock, Tre-Fontane
and other places

At La Salette
and at Pontmain
At Rue du Bac
and at Beauraing

Lady of Carmel
and Guadalupe
Lady of Fatima
and Medjugorje

Lady of the Rosary
and of Lourdes' Shrine
Lily of the Valley
Torch of Love sublime

Cape of Juan Diego
Song of Bernadette
Miracle at Fatima
the world dare not forget

Queen of Peace
and of Heaven above
Queen of Earth
And Queen of Love

You gave us the grace
of First Saturday
And specially taught us
the rosary to pray

Please help us convert
and help us to pray
To open our hearts
to do penance each day

To love one another
and do every good deed
To respond from our hearts
Your teachings to heed

Draw us ever closer
to Your Divine Son
That we may become holy
and our hearts become one

For you are the Handmaid
of the Lord
You live eternally
according to His Word.

Peter Heintz
A Guide to Apparitions. Part I.
Sacramento: Gabriel Press, 1995.

Source: Poems Dealing with Marian Apparitions, The Mary Page

Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 30th: Wales - Our Lady of Cardigan

Our Lady of Cardigan can trace its origin to the middle ages. A beautiful legend tells us that by the side of the river TeIfi a statue was found of Mary, "and her sonne upon her lappe, and the... taper bernynge in her hande" It was brought to the church but would not remain there, returning three or four times to "the place where now is buyIded the church of our Lady". That church is called St. Mary's, and the visitor can still see at its east end a chantry built to hold the statue, where pilgrims came to make their devotions. A priest sang Mass there daily in honour of Our Lady.

St. Mary's dates from 1158. If it was built to accommodate the shrine then Our Lady of the Taper has an ancient history indeed. The statue was probably brought from Arras, where the devotion already existed, by Flemish wool merchants trading out of the port of Cardigan. ...

... In 1904 Breton monks, living in exile near Cardigan, revived the devotion. They named their abbey church Our Lady of Cardigan, and gave the same title to a little church they opened in the town in 1912. But they left some years later, and a generation passed before the name was heard again.

Martin Gillett, who later founded the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, alerted Bishop Petit to the fact that Cardigan had once been a famous place of pilgrimage. Once Bishop Petit had the bit between his teeth swift action followed. On 27th May 1956, a great concourse of people from all parts of Britain came to re establish the devotion in Cardigan. On 20th July 1970, Bishop Petit came with Bishop Fox to consecrate a new shrine church. Three days later a pilgrimage saw the statue carried from its former location to rest in the new church.
The National Shrine of Wales website is the main source of information on Our Lady of Cardigan, and there is a page about her at the site of the Diocese of Menevia. She is also known as Our Lady of the Taper and in Welsh as Mair o Aberteifi. The name Mair was reserved to Our Lady, and girls named after her were called Mari.

In 1988 the plaque below was placed in the courtyard of the Basilica of the Annunciation at Nazareth, among others from national shrines around the world. This page at the National Shrine website explains the symbolism relating to the Catholic history of Wales.

Practice your Welsh with the Our Father and Hail Mary. Here is a Welsh pronunciation guide.
Pilgrim's Prayer

My soul glorifies the Lord.
Henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name.

V Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R Be it done to me according to your word.

Let us pray,

Father, your Son Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the Light of the world.

May the same Spirit lead us to imitate Mary's faith, love and humility that, guided by her example, we may follow the light of her Son on our journey through life, and come at last to see you as you are, and praise you in the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
you offer your Son for our adoration,
May we too treasure his word in our hearts
and help bring his light to the world.

Our Lady of Cardigan, pray for Wales.
Our Lady of Cardigan, pray for us.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cellular Reproduction

How can it be possible that we have somehow acquired a total of eight mobile (cell) phones for a family of five, one of whom is only a toddler. Admittedly only six actually work, and the toddler is delighted to be the proud owner of one of the non-functioning ones, but still!

Can anyone explain to me the biological process by which cell phones reproduce?

May 29th: Vietnam - Our Lady of La Vang

Our Lady of La Vang is the central and national shrine of Vietnam, approximately 60 kilometers from the former capitol Huê. The name is derived from a type of fern which used to grow in great quantities in the region. During the great persecution (1798-1801) many Christians took refuge in the jungle situated in proximity of Quang Tri, a village in central Vietnam, where they experienced hunger and sickness, and prepared themselves for martyrdom. One day, as the community was assembled in prayer, the figure of a lady surrounded by many lights, appeared to them. She presented herself as the Mother of God, encouraged and consoled them, and gave them a special sign of her loving care. She advised the people to use the leaves of the fern to treat their ailments, and promised them to receive their prayers with maternal generosity. All who would congregate on this site to pray would be heard and their petitions granted. Mary appeared on several occasions at the same site. After the persecution in 1802, the Christians left their jungle hiding place and returned to their villages. However, the story of the apparition and its message was passed on. In 1820 a chapel was built at the apparition site. From 1820-1885 still another wave of persecution decimated the Christian population. More than 100,000 Vietnamese Christians died as martyrs. In 1885 the chapel in honor of Our Lady of La Vang was destroyed by a fanatic. A new chapel was built between 1886 and 1901 (consecration). Soon it was no longer able to hold the many pilgrims to La Vang, and in 1923 a new and bigger church was erected. It was consecrated in 1928 (August 22) in the presence of 20,000 pilgrims. Every three years a national pilgrimage was organized for the whole country which was to have a special meaning even after the separation of South and North. In 1959 La Vang was officially declared a national shrine, marking the 300 years of the Church's presence in Vietnam. The Church of La Vang was made a basilica minor in 1961. (The Mary Page)
Ann Ball at Holy Spirit International and this American Vietnamese website give more detail.

This article gives the history of Catholicism in Vietnam since it was first introduced there in the sixteenth century. Many thousands of Catholics were martyred during the long persecution of the Church in Vietnam, including St. Andrew Dung Lac and his companions. Through Catholic Greetings you can send an eCard with a picture of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, your own message, and this quote: "Each martyr has offered the same simple—and profound—lessons: Be not afraid. You are not alone. Your faith is your greatest treasure. Embrace it, celebrate it, live it openly. Trust in God."

The Church in Vietnam is growing, and the government now takes a fairly benign approach. Today there are 8 million Catholics in the country out of a population of 86 million. Read more here.
Blessed Lady of Lavang be my mother and comfort me, especially in times of trial and unhappiness. Enter my heart and stay with me wherever I may go. Grant that one day, through you, I may find rest and peace in my Father's house. (Holy Spirit International)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 28th: United States - Our Lady of La Leche

Feast Day: October 11th (Feast of the Motherhood of Mary)

Picture: Our Lady of La Leche Shrine
Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, dedicated to Nuestra Senora de la Leche, whose full title is "Our Lady, the Nursing Mother of Happy Delivery." It dates from 1565, when St. Augustine was founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who was accompanied by four diocesan priests. The shrine is part of America's oldest mission, Nombre de Dios, where the first Mass was celebrated. Central to the shrine is an image of the Madonna about to nurse her Child. The original image, from Madrid, and first chapel have been destroyed. But the new statue, in the present chapel built in 1915, is an exact replica of the original one. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
The full title of Our Lady of La Leche is Nuestra Senora de la Leche y buen parto (Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery).

The Our Lady of La Leche shrine allows you to pay a virtual visit.

A statue of Our Lady of Leche recently inspired the formation of the Our Lady of La Leche Movement in the Philippines, which runs an outreach ministry taking a pilgrim statue to maternity hospitals, homes of unwed mothers and private homes. There is a little more about the movement here. The La Leche League, formed to promote and support breastfeeding mothers takes its name from Our Lady of La Leche.
Prayer for Motherhood

Lovely Lady of La Leche, most loving mother of the Child Jesus, and my mother, listen to my humble prayer. Your motherly heart knows my every wish, my every need. To you only, His spotless Virgin Mother, has your Divine Son given to understand the sentiments which fill my soul. Yours was the sacred privilege of being the Mother of the Savior. Intercede with him now, my loving Mother, that, in accordance with His will, I may become the mother of other children of our heavenly Father. This I ask, O Lady of La Leche, in the Name of your Divine Son, My Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mama Panya's Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya Mama Panya's Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya by Mary Chamberlin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ordered this from the library because Little Cherub loves pancakes. When it arrived it looked too wordy and "old" for a nearly two year old, and she showed no interest. After sitting in her book basket for a couple of months she suddenly latched on to it and has wanted it re-read regularly. I don't know how much she gets of the story, but it is a lovely book for illustrating generosity. A Kenyan boy goes shopping with his mother and ends up inviting all their friends for pancakes. His mother worries that all their food will be used up, but the friends all bring a little something with them. At the end there are notes on Kenyan village life, animals and plants to look for in the illustrations, and Swahili words and phrases. A book we will come back to again later, I'm sure.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

May 27th: Sri Lanka - Our Lady of Madhu

Best known shrine of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). When the Dutch conquered Ceylon and began to stamp out Catholicism, a small band of native Catholics converted by the Portuguese took to the jungle, carrying a statue of the Madonna with them. Eventually a church was built to house it. As no one can live in the jungle during the wet season, Mary is alone for months, but when the rains pass, Moslems and Hindus as well as Catholics journey to Madhu. The pilgrimage is planned to take a month. They sing hymns, chant the Rosary as they trudge through the deep tangled growth. The statue is of Our Lady of the Rosary. There is a custom that the sick must remain outside the church and chant their entreaties loud enough for Mary to hear them. The dust outside the little church is a proven cure for poisonous snakebites. During World War II daily prayers were effectively offered at Madhu that Ceylon would be saved from a Japanese invasion. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
Our Lady of Madhu has recently been in the news as the area has been at the centre of fighting between the Sri Lankan military and insurgents. As recently as last month (April 2008) the statue of Our Lady has had to be moved from the shrine for safe keeping, and a local priest was killed in an ambush. The shrine is now back in government hands, but there is controversy over the failure of the local bishop to return the statue. In 2001 the statue was taken on a peace tour of the country. Although fighting lessened for a time, the civil war between the Sinhalese majority government and the Tamil Tigers resumed and has now lasted for 25 years. BBC News gives a Sri Lankan Timeline that includes a history of the conflict.

The shrine website does not seem to have caught up with current events, and shows the shrine still looking pristine. In fact it has been severely damaged in recent fighting.

Don't miss the rules to be observed by visitors to the shrine, which are rather different to those of the typical Marian shrine in the west. They include: "In the interests of hygiene, avoid rearing ducks, dogs and cattle. You are requested to keep your poultry in cages and the cattle tied in the allotted places."

Little Beaver and the Echo Little Beaver and the Echo by Amy MacDonald

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely story about a lonely little beaver who finds some new friends, with beautiful watercolour illustrations.

View all my reviews.

The Winter King and the Summer Queen The Winter King and the Summer Queen by Mary Lister

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars

The winter king and the summer queen compete to impose their weather on the world, until they find peace at the end of the rainbow. Although the story was initially written for a literacy workshop, this works well as a picture book. The overall effect is kind of Waldorfy.

View all my reviews.

May 26th: Spain - Our Lady of the Pillar

Feast Day: October 12th

Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Pillar, near Saragossa in northeastern Spain, where Mary is said to have appeared in early Christian times, asking that a church be built there in her honor. After the vision, the jasper pillar on which she stood remained and it became a most coveted relic. A church was built as requested and the pillar was enshrined within it. It is a six-foot-high stone column almost completely unadorned, now nearly encased in silver. On top of it is an ancient black wooden statue of Mary about fifteen inches tall, covered with gold leaf. So varied is her wardrobe that she wears different attire every day. The devotion to Our Lady of the Pillar, initiated at Saragossa, was brought to the New World by the Spanish explorers, and their missions boast of many miracles worked through Mary's favor. Some of the most incredible ones at the mother shrine have been authenticated by sworn testimony. The Virgin of the Pillar is recurrent as a theme in prayer, songs, and patriotic expressions. She was often invoked in battle emergencies. The heart of Don John of Austria, the Christian victor at Lepanto, rests near the sacred pillar in this sanctuary. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
Read more about Our Lady of the Pillar - the first ever Marian apparition - at Catholic Culture.

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, the founder of the Marianists, is believed to have received a private revelation at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. The Sodality of Our Lady of the Pillar, "a community of Catholic men and women under the patronage of Our Lady of the Pillar and committed to the service of the Church in the world" takes its inspiration from Chaminade's sodalities and is under the direction of the Marianists.
" A true Christian cannot live any life but the life of Our Savior Jesus. When we try to imitate Him the divine plan is carried out in our lives. The Blessed Virgin is our Model. She is a very exact copy of her Son Jesus. When we are devoted to Mary we will imitate Jesus." (Bl. William Chaminade)
This Wikipedia article gives the history of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar at Zaragoza, which you can see in detail in this YouTube movie.

At the Mary Page there is an article about the association of columns with Our Lady.


O Virgin Mother of El Pilar, deigning to appear to Thy beloved disciple, St. James, promising him the victory over paganism, and blessing so abundantly his labors for the spread of the True Catholic Faith, secure for us also, who are the children of that same Faith, the victory over our many foes and the paganism that is laying waste the harvest of souls in our day.

Through the intercession of Thine Apostle, St. James, the "Son of Thunder", may we as clouds flying through the air at the least breath of the Holy Ghost, establish everywhere the true devotion to Thy Immaculate Heart that Jesus wills for the conversion of all sinners. Amen.

Dios Te Salve Maria...

This prayer is said on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays throughout the month of October, and as a triduum before the Feast of Our Lady of El Pilar. (Salve Maria Regina)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Domestic Trivia

My neighbour phoned at 10pm last night to say that Angel had conked out on J-next-door's bed, and would she like me to leave her there? So much for Miss Energetic!

Little Cherub is now getting stuck into full sentences. Unfortunately, the majority of them begin with "I want ...", as in "I want go out now!". Little Miss Bossy is taking over.

Tevye, Mr Non-Technical himself, has plumbed a new low in his attempts to confront life's technological challenges ... defeated by a deodorant aerosol. Turned out it had an on-off switch that he failed to notice until he had done a demolition job on the button. Just imagine the effect he has on computers.

Diaper Dilemna

(We call them nappies, but that didn't have the same alliterative ring!)

The dilemna - what to do with a miniature sized toddler? We chugged along quite happily with Size 4 nappies for several months after she finally grew into them. Now she is about to turn two and has acquired the leaner shape of an active toddler ... leaving an unfortunate gap where the elastic no longer grips around her legs. I'll leave the effects of that to your imagination.

I tried switching her back to Size 3. They fit beautifully with no elastic gaps, but ... um ... don't have the capacity to cope with a toddler with an excellent appetite.

Leaving me stuck.

Too large with a leak-prone gap? Overloaded? Ugh!

And yes, I have tried several different brands. Same problem. I suspect cloth nappies would be a solution, but don't want to invest either the money or the effort to master them at this stage.

Roll on potty training! (Did I really say that?)

May 25th: Russia - Our Lady of Vladimir

Feast Day: May 21st

A sacred icon of Mary and her Son which has a long and venerable tradition in Russian history. It was probably painted at the beginning of the twelfth century and brought to Kiev in the Ukraine from Constantinople. Then it was taken as a gift to the ruling prince of the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow, where it remained until the time of the invasion of Tamerlane, who was approaching Moscow. The icon was then transferred from Vladimir to Moscow. Tamerlane halted his armies and Moscow was saved (1395). The icon remained in Moscow. On three other occasions, in 1451, 1459, and 1480, the Tatars menaced Moscow, but the city was saved through the intercession of Our Lady of Vladimir. As a sign of gratitude three feasts came to be celebrated in her honor annually, on May 21, June 23, and August 26. At the time of the Russian Revolution, the Communists took the icon from the Cathedral of the Assumption and placed it in the Tretiakov Art Gallery, where it is now on display. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
Catholic Culture includes this article on Our Lady of Vladimir from Shrines to Our Lady by Zsolt Aradi, and this Mary Page entry includes a meditation on the picture. The icon is an eleousa, meaning "Mother of Tenderness". This site is a good starting point to learn more about iconography techniques.

You can learn about the town of Vladimir here. It was the medieval capital of Russia, and is now a World Heritage site. A Russian website gives a detailed history and description of the Cathedral of the Assumption where the icon was originally kept.

At there is an article on the current state of the Catholic Church in Russia, based on a 1998 conference talk. The Armenian Catholic Church in Russia has a informative website; articles include the history of the Armenian Church and the story of the 20th century martyr Bishop Ignatius Maloyan.
Prayer to Our Lady of Vladimir

Mary, Queen of Heaven, we honour Your icon before which the Russian people pray. We beg You to look with favour and motherly care on that great country and to lead it to faith and friendship with us all. We are blessed to have Your Russian image in a place of honour, to pray to You and to work with You for the conversion of Russia and the peace of the world. (Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston)

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Penny Dropped

... and I realised I had a handle on the differences between Montessori, Charlotte Mason and Waldorf style education, as illustrated by nature study:

Montessori: Learn to identify wildflowers using three part cards and matching cards. Learn the parts of a flower with botany puzzles. Draw and label the parts of a flower.

Charlotte Mason
: Learn to identify wildflowers through spending lots of time outdoors or on nature walks. Draw them freehand in a nature notebook.

Waldorf: Learn to identify wildflowers through spending time in nature. Listen to stories about fairies and gnomes living in the flowers. Paint pictures of flowers using wet-on-wet techniques.

May 24th: Portugal - Our Lady of Fatima

Feast Day: May 13th

Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the mountain region of central Portugal near Cova da Iria. It was the scene of six apparitions of Our Lady, from May 13 to October 13, 1917, to three peasant children, Lucia Santos, Jacinta Marto, and her brother Francisco. During the apparitions Mary told the children to have processions in honor of her Immaculate Conception and to tell the faithful to do penance and pray the Rosary because otherwise the world would be chastised for its sins. During the October apparition seventy thousand people witnessed a spectacular solar phenomenon. In 1930 the bishops of Portugal declared the apparitions to be authentic, and in 1942 Pope Pius XII, in response to Mary's request, consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1967 Pope Paul VI personally visited and worshiped at the shrine on the fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
At Holy Spirit Interactive, read the story of Fatima and an explanation of the Pilgrim Virgin statues. The website of Theotokos Books includes an extensive Fatima section with many links, including a timetable of events, and all the words spoken by Our Lady.

There are plenty of books on Fatima for children, including Our Lady Came to Fatima by Ruth Fox Hume (Vision Books series), The Children of Fatima by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, and a colouring book, Our Lady of Fatima, also by Mary Fabyan Windeatt. A free stained-glass window style coloring page is available here (from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Front Royal, VA).

At Lewiston, NY, there is a Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, and the Upper Church of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Washington has a bronze statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

A couple of bloggers have recently posted craft ideas: at Sweetness and Light, Meredith's daughter made this pretty tea box shrine for Our Lady of Fatima; Alice of Cottage Blessings made Marian lanterns with her homeschool group.

If food is your thing, learn how to make Portugese carne vinho de alhos (meat in white wine and garlic sauce) at Catholic Cuisine.
Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima

O Most Holy Virgin Mary,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima
and reveal a glorious message.
We implore you,
inspire in our hearts a fervent love
for the recitation of the Rosary.
By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption
that are recalled therein
may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask,
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Redeemer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Charlotte Mason, Montessori, and Early Schooling

This thread at the 4Real Forums on Montessori and Waldorf sent me on a Charlotte Mason rabbit trail ... I knew that Charlotte Mason once sent a letter to The Times expressing her views on Montessori education, but had never seen it. The link to the original text is broken, but at Bona Vita Rusticanda Est the blog author has posted an extensive paraphrase.

Ideas about early education, particularly Waldorf and Montessori, have been flitting around in my head again lately. Aspects of both attract me - sometimes in quite contradictory ways - and reading Charlotte Mason's thoughts has helped me to get mine in order. I'll write more about this later, but for now I just wanted to post some quotes.

These two made me want to send bold-print, shouted emails to the scarily named Department for Children, Schools and Families, which is heavily pushing early schooling and an early literacy agenda. (Incidentally I don't agree that early literacy is the main appeal of Montessori education - though that may have been the case at the time CM was writing.)

"Her children can read and write by age four or five, while our own children don't master those skills until age eight. That's what appeals to us about her method. But we forget that education is more than the mechanics of reading and writing. Such skills don't educate any more than mastering shorthand, or Morse Code. But we get excited thinking that, by teaching these mechanics earlier, we'll gain two or three years of school life."

No child under the age of six should go to a school that doesn't allow him the full freedom to run, or squat, or lay face down on the floor if the mood strikes him."
(paraphrase of CM's letter to the Times)
The next quotes are taken from Home Education (vol.1 of the CM Series) and come from the Ambleside Online Year 0 page:
"Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things, and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of before the child can develop indepndent ideas out of actual experiences." (p.196)

'A child will have taught himself to paint, paste, cut paper, knit, weave, hammer and saw, make lovely things in clay and sand, build castles with his bricks; possibly too, will have taught himself to read, write, and do sums, besides acquiring no end of knowledge and notions about the world he lives in, by the time he is six or seven. What I contend for is that he shall do these things because he chooses (provided that the standard of perfection in his small works be set before him)." (p.194)

May 23rd: Poland - Our Lady of Czestochowa

Feast Day: August 26th

Shrine of the Black Madonna, also called Our Lady of Jasna Gora, chief Marian sanctuary of Poland. There is a legend that the picture of Our Lady and her Son at the shrine was painted by St. Luke on a tabletop made by Jesus himself when he was an apprentice carpenter to St. Joseph. Hidden during the early persecutions, it was brought by St. Helena (255-330) to Constantinople. In the troubled eighth century it was stealthily taken from that city to a forest in Eastern Poland. From there it was removed to Częstochowa. In 1430 a great Gothic cathedral was built around the precious relic, but in the war with the Hussites they stole the picture. When their horses refused to move their cargo beyond the village boundaries, they threw the picture by the roadside, where it lay broken. All attempts to repair the damage have failed. In the next three hundred years the Polish people believed that their welfare was identified with this miraculous picture. When the Turks were at the gates of Vienna, Sobieski (1624-96), the Polish king, dedicated his crusade to Mary, and the West was saved. Under Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) the people came secretly on their pilgrimages to Częstochowa, and in 1945, at the end of World War II, they came 500,000 strong to thank Mary for their liberation. In 1947 over 1,500,000 came there to beg Mary to save them from Communism. Public pilgrimages to Częstochowa are forbidden, but the shrine is still unharmed. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
Today the shrine of Our Lady at Czestochowa is a busy place of pilgrimage. You can see pictures of the shrine at the Sacred Destinations Travel Guide.

This Mary Page article about Our Lady of Czestochowa is part of a series on Black Madonnas.

One of my favourite English Catholic authors, Hilaire Belloc, wrote a Ballade to Our Lady of Czestochowa. Here is the first verse:
Lady and Queen of Mystery manifold
And very Regent of the untroubled sky,
Whom in a dream St. Hilda did behold
And heard a woodland music passing by:
You shall receive me when the clouds are high
With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold.
And this is that in which I mean to die.
In America there is a National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa at Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and a chapel dedicated to her at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington. From the shrine website comes this prayer:

Prayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa

HOLY MOTHER of Czestochowa,
Thou art full of grace, goodness and mercy.
I consecrate to Thee all my thoughts, words and actions
---- my soul and body.
I beseech Thy blessings
and especially prayers for my salvation.

Today, I consecrate myself to Thee, Good Mother, totally
---- with body and soul, amid joy and sufferings,
to obtain for myself and others Thy blessings
on this earth and eternal life in Heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May 22nd: Philippines - La Naval de Manila

Feast Day: Second Sunday of October

Picture: Francis Jason Diaz Perez III (from La Naval de Manila Online)
Of the twenty-three canonically crowned images of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines, the image of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary – La Naval de Manila hold primacy in history and beauty. One hundred years ago, on October 5, 1907, such image with its distinct Oriental features, became the first canonically crowned Marian image of the country and in Asia.

Crowning a Marian image is the Church’s recognition of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as Queen of Heaven and Earth. The Pope thru a Papal bull, expresses and joins the faithful of a certain place in affirming the devotion to Mary. Pope Pius XII explains: Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest; through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice (of the Father). And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion. (May 13, 1946 from the Vatican Radio Message to Fatima, where he sent a Cardinal legate for the crowning of the image).

Mary’s Queenship is in the spirit of sharing in the royalty of her Son, chosen by God. It is for such reason that the church realizes the divine motherhood of Mary. Just as we worship Jesus as King, so we venerate Mary, His Mother. Through the Canonical Coronation Rites, a Marian image exemplifies the faith and hope of a locality entrusted to Mary’s maternal love and protection.

The image of Our Lady of the Rosary – La Naval de Manila assumed its historical significance in the triumphant battles of La Naval in the Philippine seas in 1646. The combined Filipino-Spanish forces against the Dutch marauders led the victory of the five naval battles known in history as the "Battles of La Naval". The Church council of 1662 declared it as miraculous and ordered it to be preached and celebrated in solemn festivities which endures for over three centuries. Eventually, the historically old and acclaimed image that serves as a beacon of faith among the people was canonically crowned on October 5, 1907 by the order of Pope Pius X through Msgr. Ambrose Agius, OSB.

In 1941, her shrine in Intramuros was bombed. She was safely hidden for a time in the old church's vault, and later transferred to the UST (University of Santo Tomas) chapel. In 1954, La Naval was led in solemn procession to Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City which was declared as the National Shrine of the Queen of the Holy Rosary. In 1973, La Naval was acknowledged as the Patroness of Quezon City. In 1986, a replica of the image of La Naval was present when Jaime Cardinal Sin called for "people power".

Through the years, Filipinos pay homage to Our Lady in the annual La Naval festivities manifesting our fervent spirituality and tradition. In the Philippines where there exists no royal lineage and amassed in poverty, the queenly stature of Mary may be found paradoxical. However, it is in God’s great promise of a glorious resurrection that we find fitting praise for our Blessed Mother, which one day we hope to share with her. (Radio Maria Philippines)

I have not been able to find many links for La Naval de Manila. There is an article in the There's Something About Mary series by Ann Ball at Holy Spirit International, and lots of information at the La Naval de Manila Online blog;

There are a number of movies on YouTube showing La Naval de Manila, including this short clip of the feast day procession and this photo montage.

October 2007 saw the centennial celebrations of the veneration of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary - La Naval de Manila.

In the picture above the statue of Our Lady is wearing the "Number 2" vestments. These are in need of restoration and not currently in use.
La Naval de Manila, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines, Mirror of Justice, help us to pray for the greatest victory, the victory of Your Son's Peace in the Philippines and the entire world. We ask you to help us remember that one of your most blessed titles is Queen of Peace. (from Holy Spirit International)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May 21st: New Zealand - Pukekaraka

On a hill in the small New Zealand town of Otaki sits the Shrine of Mary, known as Pukekaraka "the hill where the Karaka trees grow;" the Karaka tree is sacred to the Maori. Otaki, established in 1844, is one of the first mission stations of the Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Mary (Marists). The missionaries came to New Zealand in 1838, from France, and they brought the Catholic faith to the Polynesian people, called the Maori. The first church was dedicated to Mary, Our Lady of Victories. A grotto was built in 1904. It was then enlarged and moved to a different hill in 1905. The Grotto, named "The Grotto of Lourdes" is a reflection of the French Marists devotion to Mary.

The Wall of Reconciliation and Peace was built in 1910, and stands in front of the Grotto It was built to signify reconciliation between the local Maori, and the end of the war between the Mua-Upoko and Raukawa tribes. Because this was a sacred place, no weapons were to be taken inside in the Grotto. In 1999, a cairn of stones was placed in front of the Wall of Reconciliation and Peace to signify the desire for the unity of all Christians. Representatives from other churches and congregations brought stones from their localities and placed them in this stack. This was done to unite the Maori people not only to their immediate neighbors but to their European neighbors as well.

The Catholic Community of Pukekaraka is one of the oldest places of Catholic worship in New Zealand, with the Mary shrine being the most important in the country. The Hui Aranga, (Annual Easter Gatherings of Catholic Maori) had its origin at Otaki. Miracles have been reported; aman named Ngakuru Pene Hare of Pangaru of North Auckland, was suffering from a terminal disease, and was cured. He went to Otaki, and prayed the Rosary with flower petals because he did not have a Rosary. He is still alive and in good health forty years later; he met with Father James Durning and told him his story. (Mary Page)
This is a very short entry as the only information I could find on the internet was this one page. Our Lady of Pukekaraka fitted so well with my round-the-world theme that I felt she deserved to be included despite this.

In the local Maori language Our Lady is called "Hine Nui O Te Ao Katoa", meaning "Mary, Great Mother of the Whole World". The cloak worn by the statue is the cloak of honour of a Maori Chieftainess.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Getting through all the laundry seems to be a battle I never quite win. It doesn't help that I have a faulty washing machine that can take hours to get through a "short"(!) cycle and no tumble drier (combined with English weather).

It also doesn't help if I take my eye off Little Cherub while hanging out washing. Especially when I have forgotten to check the seat of her tricycle for puddles (English weather, remember). Yes, she sat in it. And yes, there was a puddle. A large one. That meant that by the time I had finished hanging out one load, I had half-filled the machine with wet toddler clothes, not to mention a soggy Beanie Baby I found sitting in her Little Tikes car.

May 20th: Mexico - Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast Day: December 12th

A shrine of the Blessed Virgin in central Mexico, suburb of Mexico City. One of the principal shrines of Christendom. Scene of the apparition of Our Lady, in December 1531, to a native Aztec peasant, fifty-one-year-old Juan Diego. He and his wife had been recent converts to Christianity. Mary appeared on a hillside near the Aztec shrine of Tepeyac and told Juan that she wanted a church built there. When Bishop Zumarraga demanded a sign, Juan was directed by Mary to pick some roses (not in bloom then), which he took to the bishop and found that his cloak had miraculously painted on it a portrait of the Mother of God. Although the material is a coarse fabric made of cactus fiber and totally unsuitable for such painting, the portrait has remained as brilliant as ever and is the principal object of veneration at Guadalupe. The shrine church, originally dedicated in 1709, is annually visited by several million, and numerous miracles are reported to have been worked there. A new basilica was consecrated at the shrine in 1976. The central message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, expressed in the first of her five apparitions, is preserved in an ancient document. Speaking to Juan Diego, Mary says, "You must know, and be very certain in your heart, my son, that I am truly the eternal Virgin, holy Mother of the True God, through whose favor we live, the Creator, Lord of heaven and the Lord of the earth." Pope John Paul II on January 27, 1979, opened at Guadalupe the Third General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate. St. Pius X in 1910 designated Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of Latin America, and Pope Pius XII in 1945 declared her patroness of the Americas. Her feast is on December 12, and a holy day of obligation in Mexico. (Fr. John A. Hardon)

Ann Ball has written an article about Our Lady of Guadalupe for the There's Something About Mary series at Holy Spirit International. You can also read the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Our Lady of Guadalupe and find a number of links at the Patron Saint Index.

Mary M has already done all the work for me in this post on Our Lady of Guadalupe for the collaborative Advent and Christmas blog, O Night Divine. I am simply going to direct you there rather than try to reinvent the wheel. One small craft to add is this one posted by Alice at Cottage Blessings - a wreath for Our Lady of Guadalupe made by her daughter.
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical rose, intercede for the Church, protect the Holy Father, help all who invoke you in their necessities. Since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most holy Son the Grace of a firm faith and sure hope amid the bitterness of life, as well as an ardent love and the precious gift of final perseverance. Amen.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feeling Groovy!

What type of Mother Hen Are You?
by Educational Resource

HT: Willa

May 19th: Lithuania - Our Lady of Siluva

Feast Day: September 8th

(Picture: Holy Card Lover)
Lithuanian shrine to the Weeping Virgin, to which over a hundred thousand formerly came annually to pray to Mary for help, some to be cured. In the early sixteenth century, when much of the country was Protestant and Lithuania was fighting both Russia and Sweden, a few shepherd children saw the vision of a beautiful young woman holding a sleeping child in her arms. Dressed in white, she was crying, her tears falling on her little one. The children ran home to return with their parents and neighbors, among them a Lutheran minister serving locally. The lady told them that all the cause of her sorrow was the absence of the old church that had honored her Son and had once been on the spot where she was. An old man whose blindness was later cured at the shrine verified the lady's story. He directed the digging there and an old chest filled with altar vessels and a picture of the Virgin was brought to light. Buried records told of a church there in 1457, long since destroyed. A new church was built on the old grounds and the picture of Mary enthroned within. Pilgrims came from great distances to the hallowed spot. Since 1940, when Lithuania was incorporated into the U.S.S.R., the state of the shrine is uncertain. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
During Soviet times attempts were made to suppress the shrine at Siluva (pronounced Shil-va), but these were resisted by Lithuanian Catholics:
"The Soviets dramatically discouraged visits to the shrine or even mention of it in the press. When special devotions were held at the site, cars were not allowed within four miles of the shrine, and the border was patrolled by the militia. Cars parked on the perimeter of this disallowed area were towed away or heavily fined. But one way or another, the faithful still managed to attend, risking much.

The government made it difficult for pilgrims to participate in the devotions: policemen used to stop and fine drivers without any real reason and block even the smallest roads. A soviet monument replaced the statue of Mary in the Town Square. Processions at that time were strictly prohibited and their organizers and participators punished and fired from their jobs, nevertheless pilgrims still went to Siluva. Friends of the Eucharist (the members of an underground Catholic association) were especially active in organizing the processions even though KGB cars followed people on the road." (Knights of Lithuania)

An excellent website by the Knights of Lithuania includes sections on the history of Siluva, information about the painting itself, two hymns to Our Lady of Siluva, and a timeline. The Knights themselves are American Catholics of Lithuanian ancestry.

The website of the Catholic Church in Lithuania gives a history of Lithuanian Catholicism (click on the links for more information), details of other Lithuanian pilgrimage sites, and information about the two existing Lithuanian saints (St. Casimir and Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis) and modern witnesses of the faith who are now undergoing the canonisation process.

Our Lady of Siluva is celebrated in a chapel at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington.

Finally, yet more from the Knights of Lithuania - an article on Lithuanian Christmas customs, and some Lithuanian recipes.
Prayer to Our Lady of Siluva

O Most Holy Virgin Mary, Thou who didst appear to the shepherds in the fields at Siluva, Thou whose tears did bathe the rock where once an altar stood, Thou who didst with plaintive voice say: “You plow and seed here where formerly my Son was honored,” grant that we, moved by Thy tears, may, once as our Forefathers did, revive the spirit of adoration of Thy Son in our fallow hearts, strengthen the tottering structure of the shrine which is the family, and seek forgiveness for our negligence and sins.

O Mother of God, we desire to raise up the glory of Your revelation from forgotten ruins, that we may all the more honor Thee, the Patroness of Lithuania, and with Thy help obtain for us the spirit of a living Faith. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I have reached the humbling stage of realising that I need to learn a lesson from my eldest daughter.

Angel has a ridiculously busy life. When she started attending school we decided to let her continue her various extra curricular activities and then scale down if necessary. Not only did it turn out not to be necessary, but she added in various school related activities and homework. Not to mention a full week at school, which takes up considerably more hours than we spent homeschooling. And somehow she fits it all in, apparently effortlessly.

A few days ago I was chatting with her best friend, J-next-door ... "How does she do it? The rest of us have to say no to things as we have homework to do - but she's already done it! How does she fit in all that dance and other stuff and still get everything done?"

That got me thinking. Angel's current extracurricular activity list is: six dance classes; after-school athletics club; town athletics club; school talent show rehearsal; rehearsal for end-of-term musical; two band practices. Not to mention Mass on Sunday and time hanging out with her friends. How does she do it?

Then I realised the answer. She does not procrastinate. If something need doing, she gets on and does it. If she has a spare twenty minutes and some outstanding homework, she whizzes through as much as she can in the time. No fuss, no bother; just efficient use of time.

Me? I am a mistress of procrastination. If I don't want to do something I put it off. I allow myself to be distracted. And then I berate myself for not getting it done.

Can I learn the lesson?

May 18th: Lebanon - Our Lady of Lebanon

The Harissa Hill is situated at a distance of 25 kilometers from Beirut, and at a 600m altitude in the heart of Kesrwan. On the hillside, there is Bkerké the Patriarchal Maronite see in Lebanon; at the top, the convent of the Paulist Greek Melkite Catholic Fathers; and at a distance of some meters the summer see of the Apostolic Nuntio in Lebanon, and just near there a convent for the Franciscan Fathers; far from there, the convent of Charfeh, the see of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate and on the hill of Bzoummar the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate. It is not surprising then, that the attention was drawn towards the hill, which over looks one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, to set up there a sanctuary vowed to the Virgin, the Queen of Lebanon.

In fact, When the Patriarach Elias Hoyek and Mgr Carlos Duval, the Apostolic Delegate in Lebanon, decided to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Immaculate Conception dogma declared on the 8th of December 1854, they both formed the project of setting up a statue of the Virgin on the hill of Harissa. The statue was made in Lyon; it is of bronze covered with white paint and of 8 meters and a half long. The statue arrived to Beirut in 1906 on board of a big ship. The construction of the sanctuary was finished on the third of May 1908, with the tower-piedestal of 20meters high.

On that day, the virgin was proclamed Sovereign of the mountains and seas, and Queen of Lebanon. It is the most visited sanctuary in Lebanon, and many come walking from far away. The processions to Harissa increase during the month of May, the month of Mary. (Opus Libani)
The website of Our Lady of Lebanon has more information. Don't miss this panoramic view taken from the base of the statue. The large building is a modern Basilica built with a wall of windows overlooking the shrine.

Lebanon has many different Christian communities - Maronite, Melkite, Armenian, Chaldean, Syriac and more. You can read about them here. The Maronites, led by the Patriarch of Antioch, are the largest community and are in union with Rome. Their liturgy is in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. This site has some rather random, but interesting, snippets about Lebanon and Christianity there. Around 40% of the population of Lebanon is thought to be Christian.
Our Lady of Lebanon, please pray for peace, peace in our hearts, peace in our family, peace in our land, and peace throughout the world.

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 17th: Kuwait - Our Lady of Arabia

The oldest "Our Lady of Arabia" was a picture brought from Mount Carmel. It was framed at the beginning of May 1948, to be used in the Chapel, a room in C.Q. 2B (Fr. Stella's living quarters in Ahmadi) for May devotions.

On 8th December 1948 - the day of the blessing of the mini "Chapel" on the Ridge, this picture was kept near the altar. According to Church records, devotion to Our Lady of Arabia started on that day … the day, on which the Chapel in her honour was dedicated. To the officiating clergy, as well as to the faithful attending, the title of 'Our Lady of Arabia' seemed quite "new". Yet the Right Rev. Apostolic Administrator of Arabia had approved it. It was meant to fulfill the prophecy of the Blessed Virgin contained in the 'Magnificat', "Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed!" (Luke 1:48)

The picture remained in the Chapel till May 1949. Later, it was replaced by a small Statue of the Legion of Mary. However, to represent Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Arabia, Fr. Stella wanted to have a special Statue made in her honour. He decided to use a replica of the Statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, venerated in her basilica on Mount Carmel - the birthplace of the entire Carmelite Order. An Italian firm in Rome, "Rosa and Zanzio Ditta" was requisitioned to make the replica, carved out of a solid block of cedar from Lebanon.

It was not long before the supreme sanction was granted. The Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, himself gave a grand lead to this devotion to Our Lady of Arabia, and on 17th December 1949, on the eve of the Great Jubilee Year, in the Vatican Palace, he personally blessed the new Statue of Our Lady of Arabia, and consented to be photographed in prayer before it. ...

(Read the rest of this article at Holy Spirit Interactive)
The website of the Vicariate Apostolic of Kuwait includes details of the parish of Our Lady of Arabia at Ahmadi where every Saturday these perpetual novena prayers are said.

I found this verse from "The Queen of Seven Swords" by G.K.Chesterton on the novena pages.
Our Lady went into a strange country
And they crowned her for a queen,
For she needed never to be stayed or questioned
But Only Seen;
And they were broken down under unbeareable beauty
As we have been.
(G.K.Chesterton - The Queen of Seven Swords)
Prayer to Our Lady of Arabia
O Mary ,dear Mother, we call thee 'Our Lady of Arabia' to ask for thy blessing upon this country, and for thy loving protection on us. Keep ever thy child near Jesus in the happiness of sanctifying grace. Amen.
(from the Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of Arabia)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May 16th: Japan - Our Lady of Akita

The Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan

The extraordinary events began on June 12, 1973, when Sr. Agnes saw brilliant mysterious rays emanate suddenly from the tabernacle. The same thing happened on each of the two days that followed.

On June 28, 1973, a cross-shaped wound appeared on the inside left hand of Sr. Agnes. It bled profusely and caused her much pain. On July 6, Sr. Agnes heard a voice coming from the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the chapel where she was praying. The statue was carved from a single block of wood from a Katsura tree and is three feet tall. On the same day, a few of the sisters noticed drops of blood flowing from the statue's right hand. On four occasions, this act of blood flow repeated itself. The wound in the statue's hand remained until September 29, when it disappeared. On September 29, the day the wound on the statue disappeared, the sisters noticed the statue had now begun to "sweat", especially on the forehead and neck. On August 3, Sr. Agnes received a second message. On October 13, she received a final third message.

Two years later on January 4, 1975, the statue of the Blessed Virgin began to weep. It continued to weep at intervals for the next 6 years and eight months. It wept on 101 occasions. (EWTN)

My guess is that I am not the only person who had no idea that Mary had appeared to a Japanese nun as recently as the 1970s, and that the Church had approved these apparitions:
June, 1988—Vatican City—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gives definitive judgement on the Akita events and messages as reliable and worthy of belief.
You can read the messages given to Sr. Agnes at the EWTN website. More detail about the apparitions is given here. A number of booklets, DVDs and prayercards are available from Marianland.

You can find out about the modern Catholic Church in Japan from the Catholic Bishop's Conference of Japan. This site also includes a timeline of the history of the Japanese Church. Read more about Japanese Catholic history here at the website of the Daughters of Saint Paul in Japan.
Akita Prayer

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father pleading for the coming of His Kingdom.

Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and salvation of souls.

Most Holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your special child. Amen.

(Source: St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I have just finished reading Counterknowledge by Damian Thompson, a leading British Catholic journalist and author of the Holy Smoke blog at the Daily Telegraph. The muddling of fact with fiction and the sloppy confusion of science and philosophy bug me, so I enjoyed the book. He examines why and how ideas that would once have been the province of cultists and fringe eccentrics have become mainstream, and debunks various aspects of pseudohistory (the "marriage" of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, China's "discovery" of America, the origins of western civilisation in "black Egypt", conspiracy theories), and pseudoscience ("creation science", alternative medicine, nutritionism). His debunking of individual topics is sketchy as it is a short book and his aim is an overview of the whole "counterknowledge" phenomenon, but I have seen enough of pseudohistory up close to need very little convincing. As a medieval historian I have no doubt whatsoever that the "Holy Blood and Holy Grail" genre is utter tosh, and any "science" that fails to back its claims with solid evidence raises instant red flags for me.

Thompson ends by making the point that while we generally do ourselves little or no damage by believing counterknowledge, there are areas in it can be very dangerous - for example Islamic "creationism" is making scientific discovery and progress virtually impossible in the Muslim world, and "nutritionism" has encouraged AIDS denial and the refusal of the South African government to use antiretroviral drugs, for example.

If you want a thorough debunking of The Da Vinci Code, or a reasoned discussion of the arguments for theistic evolution (to give just two examples), this is not the place to look, but as an overview of the rise of subjective opinion at the expense of objective fact it is an interesting read.


... to Tevye and other bemused non-Catholic readers of my blog. I am half way through my series of posts on Mary Around the World, and normal service will be resumed in June. In the meantime, my inner researcher will out. This turned out to be a rather larger project than I realised when I started it!

May 15th: Ireland - Our Lady of Loreto

Feast Day: December 10th

Marian shrine at Loreto, in east central Italy near the Adriatic Sea. It is known that in 1253 St. Louis, King of France, heard Mass in Nazareth in the house where Mary, it is believed, received the Annunciation. Tradition has it that thirty-eight years later Dalmatian shepherds saw a strange house in their fields one night. The governor of Dalmatia sent to Nazareth to check the accuracy of the story and found that the holy house had disappeared. Upon examination the house in Dalmatia was found to be built of limestone, mortar, and cedar, all materials native to Nazareth and foreign to Dalmatia. Intermittently reported in various places, the house at last came to rest near the large village of Recanati at the hamlet of Loreto. Pope Boniface VIII declared that the traditions concerning the holy house were worthy of belief. December 10 was appointed the feast day of the Translation of the House. Since 1294 pilgrims from all over the world have come to Loreto, including many popes who have knelt there in prayer. The French during the Revolution removed the image of Our Lady from the holy house and took it to Paris, but Napoleon returned it and Pope Pius VII restored it to Loreto in 1802 after keeping it for a short stay at the Papal Palace on the Quirinal. The original statue was accidentally destroyed in 1921 and a new one carved from cedar grown in the Vatican gardens. Pope Pius XI enthroned the statue of Our Lady of Loreto in 1924 in the Sistine Chapel, solemnly crowned her, and with great solemnity exposed her for a day at Santa Maria Maggiore and then returned her to Loreto. The House of Loreto rests on the ground, without any foundation, yet has never evidenced any deterioration. Other remarkable aspects attend its preservation. The village of Loreto was heavily bombed in World War II, but the great church housing the House of Nazareth, with its single door, window, and fireplace, stood unshattered. Pope John XXIII made a pilgrimage to Loreto on October 4, 1962. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
You can find a longer article on the Holy House of Loreto at the website of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The Litany of Loreto is a well-known litany of titles of Our Lady. Click on the links to find explanations of the individual titles. Margaret in Minnesota gives an Act of Consecration to Our Lady of Loreto, and Pope Benedict XVI prayed this prayer at the Holy House. Our Lady of Loreto is considered the patroness of avaiation. I shall remember that the next time I travel by plane.

You can pay a virtual visit to the Holy House and Basilica through the website of the Sanctuary of Loreto. The Many Faces of Mary DVD series includes The Holy House of Loreto.

I am a foodie, so this Candy Cottage for Our Lady at Cottage Blessings looks very good to me!

Final prayer from Litany of Loreto
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, unto us Thy servants, that we may rejoice in continual health of mind and body; and, by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness, and enter into the joy of Thine eternal gladness. Through Chrsit our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May 14th: Ireland - Our Lady of Knock

Feast Day: August 21st

Ireland's revered Marian shrine in County Mayo, dating from 1879. On August 21 of that year, during a pouring rain, the figures of Mary, Joseph, and John the Apostle appeared over the gable of the village church, enveloped in a bright light. Beside them was an altar, with a Cross surmounting it and a Lamb at its feet. No words came from any of the figures. The parish priest was not informed until the next day, as the onlookers were too stunned to leave the scene. Twice in 1880 the apparition was repeated, but the light was too intense to clearly recognize anyone but Mary. Authenticated miracles brought hundreds to the town. The Archbishop of Tuam started an inquiry. Some fifteen testified that what they saw was no painting or illusion. The Church authorities confirmed the testimony, declaring that the apparitions were "trustworthy and satisfactory." The site is now an object of national pilgrimage. Pope John Paul II visited the shrine on September 30, 1979, to mark the centenary of Mary's apparitions and rededicate the Irish people to the Mother of God. (Fr. John A. Hardon)
At Catholic Culture you can read Lessons From Our Lady of Knock by Fr. Paul E. Duggan. This is well worth reading not just to learn more about Knock, but to understand more of the purpose of Our Lady:
"Peace resides in the heart of the Virgin's Son. Those who seek peace seek God. Those who seek Him find Him. At times, He sends His mother to earth, clothed with her divine maternity and power, but still a sister and mother to all humankind.

The Irish people have always understood that there is nothing divine about Our Lady; she is not God. Mary is a human being, a sister to humankind, as well as mother. However, she is the mother of Jesus the Christ, who is divine as well as human. Therefore, she is the mother of God. She has no power of her own, but she is, and always will be, the mother of the most powerful person who ever walked the earth.

She has been assumed into heaven now to be with her Son. Sometimes she comes to earth as a heavenly messenger, sent by her Son, and she then appears to people. When she speaks, she brings no new messages, nothing that is not contained in the biblical teachings of Jesus. She represents Him to us, and she calls upon us to have sorrow for sin, to repent and turn to God."

... "Our Lady does not exist in isolation. She is the type, the figure, of the Church. Mary is what we are destined to be. When we speak of Mary, we speak of ourselves; we state the Christian ideal of Mary and womankind.

As has been proclaimed before, in her life and person Our Lady expresses to perfection what it means to believe, to love and to be loved, to be graced and to be saved. She is indeed redemption's finest hour.

To accept, freely and without reservation, God's salvation in His Son, Jesus the Christ; to accept and to fulfill one's function in redemption; to bring our grace-life of service to the salvation of others — this is to be Christian."
The website of the Shrine of Knock includes the testimony of Mary Byrne, one of the witnesses to the apparition. She gave another testimony to the second commission of enquiry in 1936 just before her death at age eighty six, which she concluded by saying:
'I am clear about everything I have said and I make this statement knowing I am going before my God'

Here you can find a song in honour of Our Lady of Knock by Dana. This is the refrain:
Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland,
all my cares and troubles cease
as we kneel with love before you,
Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace

Prayer to Our Lady of Knock
Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to our people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise: "Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you shall find". Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick or lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the holy Mass. Pray for me now, and at the hour of my death. Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 13th: India - Our Lady of Vailankanni

Our Lady of Vailankanni is also known as Our Lady of Good Health

Feast Day:
September 8th

Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health of Vailankanni can be traced to the mid-16th century and is attributed to three miracles: the apparition of Mary and the Christ Child to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm. Although all three apparitions resulted in the erection of a shrine to our Lady, it was the promise of the Portuguese sailors that caused a permanent edifice to be built at Vailankanni. The chapel was dedicated on the feast of the Nativity of Mary (Sept. 8), the day of their safe landing. More than 500 years later, the nine-day festival and celebration is still observed and draws nearly 2 million pilgrims. The Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni, also known as the "Lourdes of the East," is the most frequented holy site in India. (National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington)
You can read more about the story of Vailankanni in this sample chapter from The Other Faces of Mary by Ann Ball: Vailankanni Arokia Matha. This Marianland page includes another retelling of the story, a map of the Basilica of Vailankanni, and a DVD available for purchase (Vailankanni: the Lourdes of the East).

I found two websites dedicated to Vailankanni: Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni and Annai Vailankanni. Both have photo galleries of the shrine, and you the first site includes a novena prayer.

This Asia News report describes a pilgrimage to Vailankanni. Here is an extract:

Selvam Victor, 43, led a group of 12 from Chennai, the Tamil Nadu capital, 2,100 kilometres south of New Delhi. "We take this journey of faith to express our love and devotion to the Blessed Mother. This journey is difficult and tiring, but the number of pilgrims walking every year has only increased”.

As preparation for the pilgrimage, Victor, an electrician, turned vegetarian and did not shave or cut his hair. He wore saffron, the colour denoting renunciation, and attended daily Mass.

After walking for three hours, Victor's group reached Tamara, on Chennai's outskirts, where they rested in a temporary shelter put up by local Catholics. After resting and filling up water bottles, the group resumed the walk, praying the rosary in Tamil. The group would stop at many more places during their 11-day walk.

The prayer to Our Lady of Vailankanni below is taken from the website of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where there is a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Vailankanni.

O Most Holy Virgin!
You were chosen
by the most adorable Trinity
from all eternity
to be the most pure Mother of Jesus.
O Tender Mother of the afflicted,
grant me under my present necessities
a special protection.
Relying upon the infinite mercies
of your Divine Son,
and penetrated with confidence
in your powerful prayers,
I humbly entreat you to intercede for me.
I beg you to obtain for me
the favors which I petition.

O Mother of God,
accept my salutations
in union with the respect
with which the angel Gabriel
first hailed you "full of grace."

I beseech you,
O comfortress of the afflicted,
to obtain for me the favors and graces,
which I have now implored
through your powerful intercession.
For this end I offer you
the good works I do and sufferings I endure.
I humbly entreat you
for the love of the amiable heart of Jesus
with which yours
was ever so inflamed
to hear our prayers
and obtain our requests.