Our Lady of the Snow

Improbable as it is for snow to fall during August, history tells of a snowfall that seemed more impossible, namely in Rome, Italy. August 5, 352, snow fell during the night in Rome.

There lived in the Eternal City a nobleman, John and his childless wife, who had been blessed with much of this world’s goods. They chose the Mother of God as the heir to their fortune, and at the suggestion of Pope Liberius, prayed that she might make known to them how to do this by a particular sign.

In answer, the Virgin Mother during the night of August 5, appeared to John and his wife and also to the Holy Father, Pope Liberius, directing them to build a church in her honor on the crown of the Esquiline Hill. And what would be the sign that John and his wife had requested?

“Snow will cover the crest of the hill.”

Snow rarely falls in Rome, but the flakes fell silently during that night, blanketing the peak of the historic hill. In the morning the news quickly spread and crowds gathered to throng up the hill and behold the white splendor. The snow had fallen in a particular pattern, showing the outline of the future church. When it became known that the snow was a sign from Mary, the people spontaneously added another to her long list of titles, Our Lady of the Snows.

The church built there is now known as Saint Mary Major. It is the focal point of devotion for many of Mary’s millions of children, one of the most popular churches in the world. There Mary has been pleased to secure various and many blessings as numerous and varied, as the flakes of snow that fell that August night.

The church built by John and his wife in honor of Our Lady of the Snows, restored and enlarged at various times was known by different names: the Basilica of Liberius, Saint Mary of the Crib because it enshrines relics of Christ’s Crib; lastly, Saint Mary Major, to distinguish it from the many other Roman churches dedicated to the Mother of God; Major, means Greater. There is an image revered as Our Lady of the Snows, which is believed to have been produced by St. Luke the Apostle.

Saint Mary Major is one of the four basilicas in which the pilgrims to Rome must pray in order to gain the indulgences of the Holy Year. Most fitting do we call Mary Our Lady of the Snows. The white blanket of that August night symbolizes Mary, pure as the driven snow; her blessings and graces, numerous and varied as the falling snowflakes.

Science tells us that every snowflake is different in form and make-up: size, outline, structure, ornamentation, are all without limit, infinite in wondrous beauty, startling complexity, perfect symmetry as they fleet, dancing down from the sky. What a wonderful figure of the blessings Mary obtains for us! Snow changes the face of the earth, painting even a field of mud with a white coat. The grace of God won through prayer to Mary, also changes the face of the earth. Snow preserves the heat of the earth, protects vegetation, supplies moisture with slow effectiveness.

Grace serves similar purposes: it preserves the warmth of God’s love in our hearts; it protects the soul from the chill of temptation and sin; it nourishes the soul with new life. We see a further symbolism in this feast. There are millions living in lands of ice and snow who have not come to the knowledge of Mary and her Divine Son. We might ask that with the actual snowflakes, she shower down upon them the graces of the True Faith.

In particular may that land where snow falls long and heavily, Russia, come to share in a fall of graces through prayer to her whom we honor on August fifth as “Our Lady of the Snows.”

Our Lady of Montallegro

Rapallo, Italy 1557

THE magnificent Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro is nestled on a wooded hill, called the “Hill of Joy,” overlooking the city of Rapallo. It was here that the Blessed Mother deigned to leave a precious icon depicting her dormition as she passed from this world to the Heavenly Kingdom. Our Mother is pictured lying on a bier with the Holy Trinity represented by the figures in the central part of the icon. Surrounding her in mournful attitude are several saints and two angels.

THE FIRST VISION

The discovery of the icon on the hill was made by a farmer, Giovanni Chichizola, on July 2, while he was walking nearby on a donkey trail. Suddenly he had an apparition of Our Lady who reassured him: Do not fear, Giovanni, I am the Mother of God. I have chosen you to be a messenger of my motherly will. Visit the ecclesiastics of Rapallo and let them know that the Mother of God has chosen this place as her perpetual dwelling place and would like a church to be erected here. I leave here a pledge of my love. When the Virgin disappeared, the farmer discovered an icon on a rock and attempted to remove it, but could not. He notified the villagers of Rapallo who journeyed to the hill, lifted it and brought it to the church in Rapallo.

The next morning the icon had disappeared, only to be found where John had originally discovered it. Much to their surprise, a spring had started to flow at the very place above which the Blessed Mother stood during the apparition. The villagers, once again, brought the icon to the church where it was displayed all day to the veneration of many who were impressed with the details of Giovanni’s experience. In the evening, the icon was locked away for safekeeping.

They were surprised the next morning when they discovered that it had disappeared once again., The icon was subsequently found on the rock up the hill. All agreed that the mysterious travels of the icon indicated the Blessed Mother’s wish that it remain in that particular place, to be protected by the church she had requested.

CHURCH IS BUILT IN 1558

The very next year, 1558, the Archbishop of Turin authorized the building of a church on the Hill of Joy, which began immediately. The following year it was opened and dedicated to the Blessed Mother. For seventeen quiet years the precious icon was loved and venerated on the Hill of Joy until a group of Greek sailors, sailing from Ragusa, experienced a storm while crossing the Gulf of Tigullio. The ship’s captain, Nicholas de Allegretis, together with the crew, promised Our Lady that if they were saved, they would make a pilgrimage to the nearest sanctuary dedicated to her. Upon safely reaching land, they climbed to the sanctuary to fulfill their vow of thanksgiving. It was then that they noticed the precious icon and declared that it was formerly venerated in Ragusa, and that it had mysteriously disappeared from there in 1557. They claimed ownership, which resulted in court proceedings before the magistrate of Genoa.

Eventually, the icon was given over to them for safe delivery to its former location. The icon was taken to the port, boarded on the ship, and placed in a secure location. The ship was well out to sea when they found that it had disappeared. Eventually the captain and his crew learned that the icon had been discovered in the church where all agreed it was meant to stay.

APPARITION DAY

Every year on the anniversary of “Apparition Day,” the people of Rapallo travel to the hill in a grand procession, carrying an ancient wooden crucifix and a silver shrine with the Mother’s statue. Upon reaching the sanctuary, the first-time pilgrim is amazed by the huge collection of votive offerings and ex-votos, some of them in silver, which decorate the walls, giving proof of prayers answered and miracles worked through the Virgin’s intercession. In the chapel of St. Joseph can be found the spring that began flowing from the time of the apparition. It is said to originate from the rock where the icon was originally found. The pilgrim has two unique ways to reach the sanctuary on the Hill of Joy: by walking along an ancient mule track or by cable car from Rapallo, which was specifically constructed for the convenience of the pilgrims. The pilgrims are well rewarded when reaching the sanctuary. They are intrigued with its beauty and can pray before the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Montallegro. Joining in the celebration for the 450th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Montallegro, in 2007, was Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the Secretary of State of the Vatican. The feast day of Our Lady is celebrated with great joy on the first three days of July.

~Source:”See How She Loves Us”~

Our Lady of Ocotlan

Tlaxcala, Mexico 1541

JUST ten years after the spectacular apparition of the Blessed Mother to Juan Diego in Mexico City, during which he received the Heaven-sent picture known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, another Juan Diego was thrust into history. His last name was Bernardino and he lived during a time when Tlaxcala, once the most populous and largest city in the country, was suffering an epidemic of smallpox. Estimates claim that nine out of ten Indians died as a result of the infection.

VIRGIN APPEARS TO JUAN BERNARDINO

To help Juan’s relatives who had been stricken with the disease in the village of Xiloxostla, Juan walked to the River Zahuapan to collect water thought to have medicinal properties. After filling his jug with water, he made his way to the village through a thick grove of ocote trees. He abruptly halted at the sight of a beautiful woman of regal bearing standing among the trees. The reassuring smile of the Lady gave him the courage to draw closer to her. With a heavenly voice she greeted him: “May God preserve you, my son. Where are you going?”

Overcome by the woman’s beauty and surprised at seeing her among the trees, Juan hesitated before he was able to reply, “I am taking water from the river to my sick ones who are dying.” “Come with me,” the Lady said, “and I will give you water to cure the disease. It will cure not only your family, but all who drink of it. My heart is ever ready to help those who are ill, for I cannot bear to see their misfortune.” Anxious to obtain miraculous water that would cure his relatives, Juan followed the lady with happy anticipation. When they came to a depression in the ground, the lady indicated a spring of fresh water. In her soft, almost musical voice, she told Juan, “Take as much of this water as you wish and know that those who are touched by even the smallest drop will obtain, not merely relief from their illness, but perfect health.” Juan emptied his jug of the river water and filled it with the clear water of the spring.

Wanting to express his gratitude, he turned to the Lady who then entrusted him with a message for the Franciscans at the Monastery of San Lorenzo where Juan was employed. Tell the religious for me that in this place they will find my image. It will not only manifest my perfections, but through it I shall generously bestow favors and kindness. When they find the image they are to place it in the chapel of San Lorenzo. When the Lady disappeared among the trees, Juan hurried to the village with his precious water. Upon reaching the bedside of his afflicted relatives, he told them about the Lady and the miraculous spring, as well as her promise of health through use of the water. Juan watched in amazement as the Lady’s word was realized when each was restored to health after drinking the miraculous water.

The next day Juan returned to the monastery and told the friars of his experience. After questioning him during the day, they decided that his story had merit and planned on visiting the place with Juan at night so as to avoid the curious. Before reaching the place, they noticed a glow in the distance and when they arrived, the grove of ocote trees was afire. The largest tree in the grove, and this one alone, was burning along its entire length. Since nothing could be done, they left, but planned on returning returning after Holy Mass the next morning. With some of the parishioners, they set out and found a puzzling situation. The fire had destroyed only the lower branches of the surrounding trees—the tallest one, which had burned its entire length, was indeed blackened. Why the dry summer heat had not destroyed the other trees in a similar manner remained a mystery. One of the friars had fortunately brought an ax with him and was instructed by the abbot to chop down the trunk of the large tree. A Mexican writer of the time left this report: A new marvel met their eyes: Within the trunk of the fallen tree was visible the image of the Holy Mother of God, representing the mystery of her Immaculate Conception—which can be seen today in the temple lovingly erected later by her children … In this manner, the tale of Juan Diego Bernardino was fully verified in the presence of many witnesses.

They agreed that the apparition of the Virgin Mary to her servant Juan Diego was a happy reality on the day she showed him the medicinal water and sent him to advise the religious where they would find her sacred image. In a grand procession, and with the singing of hymns, the statue was brought to the chapel. There the abbot removed the statue of San Lorenzo and positioned in its place the miraculous image of the Mother of God. We are told that the Indian sacristan resented the removal of the statue of San Lorenzo and placed the Lady’s statue in another location during the night. The next morning the statue was found on the altar where it had been placed by the abbot. On at least two other occasions, the same marvel was repeated so that the sacristan became convinced of Our Lady’s wish to remain where she had requested to be during the apparition.

The 58-inch statue is now found in a magnificent niche or Camarin above and behind the altar of the Basilica of the Virgin of Ocotlán. From the earliest days the statue was called Nuestra Senora de Ocotlatia which means Our Lady of the Burning Ocote. It is now simply called Our Lady of Ocotlán, Ocotlán being the Nahuatl word for “place of the pine tree.” The beautiful statue of Our Lady is always dressed in costly vestments and wears a splendid golden crown which is surrounded by a halo of stars. The crown represents Our Lady’s pontifical coronation in the year 1906.

Among the persons of distinction who visited the miraculous statue was the Archbishop of Puebla, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, who visited it in 1644, and Archbishop Diego de Osoria de Escobar, who honored the Lady in 1670. Additionally, the shrine of Our Lady was recognized by Pope Clement XII who authorized a feast day for Our Lady of Ocotlán and Benedict XIV who raised the shrine to the status of a basilica and granted indulgences and Apostolic indults to the faithful who venerate the image. Other popes also recognized the apparition, including Pius VI, Pius X and Pius XII. One of the most beautiful churches in Mexico enshrines the statue of Our Lady of Ocotlán. Of interest to pilgrims, in addition to a visit to Our Lady, is the place of the miraculous spring and the small chapel that stands in the ancient ocote grove where Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego Bernardino.

~Source:”See How She Loves Us”~

Our Lady of Mt Carmel

This picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel above commemorates a famous event in Church history. She is shown here as she appeared in a vision to St. Simon Stock, General of the Carmelite Order (at right) on July 16, 1251 at Aylesford, England.

After giving St. Simon a scapular, she promised him and all the Carmelites that whoever died wearing that religious garment would be saved and would not suffer eternal fire. The prayer to our Lady of Mount Carmel below calls the scapular “thy venerable livery.”

O all-blessed, immaculate Virgin, ornament and glory of Mount Carmel, thou who dost look with most gracious countenance on those who have been clothed with thy venerable livery, look kindly also on me and take me under the mantle of thy maternal protection. Strengthen my weakness with thy might; enlighten the darkness of my heart with thy wisdom; increase in me faith, hope and charity. So adorn my souls with graces and virtues that it may always be dear to thy divine Son and thee. Assist me during life, comfort me in death with thy most sweet presence, and present me as thy child and faithful servant to the most Holy Trinity, that I may be enabled to praise and extol thee in heaven forever. Amen.
(This prayer is followed by the Hail Mary (3 times) and the Glory Be.)

The Carmelite order began in Mount Carmel in Palestine in the 12th century. It moved to Europe in response to persecution from Muslims in that region. Although the Carmelites soon flourished in England and Europe, in part under St. Simon’s leadership, the order still faced internal dissension as well as opposition from the secular clergy.

St. Simon prayerfully appealed to our Lady of Mount Carmel for help. In response she gave him the scapular promise mentioned above and instructed him to seek papal assistance for the order. Pope Innocent IV issued a letter of protection for the Carmelites from the Holy See in January 1252.

In 1322, Pope John XXII issued a document known as a Papal bull in which he included a promise from Our Lady of Mount Carmel he received in an apparition to release worthy souls from purgatory on the Saturday after their death.

The church has since summed up what we now call the Sabbatine Privilege, based on this revelation. Those who follow these three conditions will be released from Purgatory by Our Lady’s intercession soon after their death, especially on a Saturday. You need to:

1) Wear the brown scapular devoutly, once you’ve been enrolled in the Scapular Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel.

2) Observe chastity according to your state in life.

3) Recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As this is a very long although quite beautiful prayer, with permission of a priest you can substitute either a) five decades of the rosary, b) abstinence from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays or c) some other good work.

This all is not as formidable as it sounds! You’re enrolled or “invested” as they say once your scapular has been blessed and certain prayers have been said by a priest. (All priests have the authority to do this.) You do not need to have any further scapulars you may later wear blessed.

It is also important to note here that once enrolled, you share in the daily prayers and other spiritual benefits of the Carmelite Order. Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s scapular promise of salvation to St. Simon and the Carmelites can now apply to you as well!

Scapulars have been traditionally worn, as in St. Simon’s time, as a sleeveless outer garment covering the shoulders and one’s front and back as well. The scapular we use for this devotion, however, is much smaller, as in the example shown below.

It consists of two small pieces of cloth, traditionally wool, a couple of inches in length and width. These are connected by two strings so that the scapular can be worn over your head and under your clothes, with one square hanging on your chest and the other on your back.

We call the scapular a sacramental, that is to say a sacred sign (such as a blessing) or object (like the rosary or holy water) given us by the Church. Sacramentals “prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1670). It is important to note, however, that we play an important part in their effectiveness in our lives.

Many popes and other religious figures over the centuries have extolled the virtues of the brown scapular devotion. Still, they caution that, although our Lady of Mount Carmel promised that the scapular would protect us from eternal fire, wearing it in itself doesn’t guarantee our salvation.

The Most Rev. Kilian Lynch, a former prior general of the Carmelite Order, warned that the scapular was not “endowed with some kind of supernatural power which will save us no matter what we do or how much we sin.” As he put it, “Fidelity to the commandments is required by those seeking ‘the special love and protection of Our Lady'”.

The scapular is not to be worn as a substitute for leading a devout life of love and obedience to our Lord. This piece of cloth is not to be used as a kind of divine rabbit’s foot that will guarantee you Eternal Life no matter what you’ve done. If we abuse Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s scapular promise, we can’t count on her protection.

The good news, however, is that she, like her Son will help us with the graces we need for our salvation if we ask for her assistance with a sincere and contrite heart.

In 1917 during the apparitions at Fatima, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to Sister Lucia holding the brown scapular. According to the famous visionary, who herself became a Carmelite nun, Our Lady wished everyone to wear it “because it is our sign of consecration to her Immaculate Heart.”

Along these lines, Pope Pius XII wrote in 1950 that the scapular should be “your sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which we are particularly urging in these perilous times.”

Thus, in wearing the brown scapular devoutly, in living in love and obedience to God, we join our hearts to Mary’s and thus, to her divine Son’s Sacred Heart as well!

Our Lady of Mount Berico

Our Lady appeared to Vicenza Passini in 1426 and 1428, in Vicenza, Italy, which, at the time was suffering from the plague. She requested that a church be built in her honor on Mount Berico. Once the church was finished, the plague disappeared from that area.

The Sanctuary of Mount Berico is located high above the city of Vicenza and provides a sweeping view of distant valleys, cities, farmlands, and the majestic Alps. Because of its location, the sanctuary serves as a veritable lighthouse for the region. It was here that Our Lady deigned to visit on two occasions to console and provide help during the stressful times of the plague.

According to manuscripts of the time, from the year 1404 until after the year 1428, the territory was shaken and tormented by pestilence and sickness, so much so that the population declined drastically both from the many deaths due to sickness and those who were fleeing it.

In those trying years, a seventy-year-old woman of Vicenza, Vincenza Passini,went up the hill each morning to bring food to her husband who worked in his small vineyard. Documents reveal that Vincenza led a simple and honest life and was devoted to her faith, and especially nurtured a heartfelt devotion to the Mother of God. She attended church services regularly and was mindful of the poor.

At nine on the morning of March 7, 1426, Vincenza was climbing to the top of the hill as was her custom, when she saw in front of her a woman who, according to documents, was “in the likeness of a most beautiful queen, with garments more resplendent than the sun, wreathed in a fragrance of a thousand scents.” Vincenza was so overcome by the beauty of the vision that she swooned and fell to the ground. When she recovered, the Blessed Virgin identified herself, I am the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ who died on the Cross for the salvation of men. I beg you to go and say in my name to the people of Vicenza that they must build in this place a church in my honor if they want to recover their health, otherwise the plague will not cease.

Weeping with joy and kneeling in front of the Madonna, Vincenza questioned, “But people will not believe me. And where, O glorious Mother, will we find the money to do these things?”

The Madonna replied, You will insist so that my people do my will, otherwise they will never be rid of the plague and until they obey, they will see my Son angry with them. As proof of what I say, let them dig here and from the rock living water will spring and, as soon as the building begins, money will not lack.

After saying this, the Madonna, with a graceful movement took a twig, traced the Sign of the Cross on the ground and even drew the shape of the church to be built. She then planted the twig in the ground where the high altar of the shrine now stands.

The Lady then added, All those who visit this church with devotion on my feast days and on every first Sunday of the month, will be given an abundance of grace and the mercy of God and the blessing of my motherly hands.

Vincenza immediately obeyed the vision and began telling everyone she met, but she soon realized no one believed her. The plague had forced people to think about other matters. She then went to Bishop Pietro Emiliani, who also gave little value to her report. In the meantime, the plague raged on. Vincenza resumed her work and her deeds of charity and on feast days she climbed the hill to pray on the spot where the Madonna had stood.

According to other documents, the Virgin once again appeared to Vincenza, this time on August 1, 1428. The Lady repeated her previous warning and her recommendation for the health of the people. Because of the horrific plague conditions, the people then believed her and had a change of heart. The severity of the plague had induced the people to seek help from the Madonna. The council and the Hall of Government decided to build the church on Mount Berico and began work only twenty-four days after the last apparition. As soon as the church was completed, the plague disappeared and from that day, the region no longer suffered from it.

The Lady had spoken of water that would spring from a rock at the place where the shrine was to be built. While the earth was being dug for the shrine, “a wonderful and incredible quantity of water welled out like a spring … overflowing like an abundant river that ran down the hill with great noise.” A beautiful statue of the Maddona of Mount Berico is enthroned in the shrine, now a grand basilica, to receive the prayers and veneration of her people. Documents in the archives describe the statue as being, “An imperious image in marble, painted with skill in various and precious colors.” It depicts the Madonna with an open smile. Her head is framed by curls, and she wears a gold-decorated veil, a gold-colored dress with a greenish, gold-edged mantle. Figures of children, women and men are huddled beneath the mantle that drapes over the Virgin’s extended arms. The Blessed Mother also wears necklaces and a golden crown that was placed there by Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto, the Patriarch of Venice, who was the future Pope Pius X.

During the First World War, the city of Vicenza was behind the lines of conflict. Thoroughly frightened, the people made a solemn vow to the Madonna Madonna of Mount Berico promising that if they and their lands remained safe, they would observe the birthday of the Madonna every year in a special way. The Madonna answered the prayer of the people so that every year, on September 8, great crowds of people visit the sanctuary to offer their gratitude. Because of the many people who visit on that day, plus those who observe the Madonna’s wishes that they visit her on the first Sunday of every month, it became necessary in 1972, to construct next to the basilica two large chapels with both upper and lower levels. Also constructed were thirty additional confessionals inside the basilica. The Servants of Mary took possession of the shrine in the year 1435, and have been ministering to the pilgrims ever since—almost six hundred years.

In addition to Pope Pius X who crowned the Madonna, the basilica has been honored by the visit of Pope Paul VI, who announced on January 11, 1978, We decree that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary be honored with the name of Madonna of Mount Berico and that from now on truly be the principal patron next to God of the city and diocese of Vicenza.

In observance of the centenary of the crowning of the image, Pope John Paul II sent a message to the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Marco Ce, from Castel Gandolfo on August 22, 2000, in which he recounted his visit to the Madonna stating, I too had the joy of making a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Mount Berico on 7–8 September 1991 to ask the Blessed Virgin to bless the people of the area and to show herself to be the tender and provident Mother of those who suffer and those who long for justice and peace.

~Source:”See How She Loves Us”~

Our Lady of Victory

Wigratzbad, Germany

1919 and 1938

THE FIRST APPARITION

IN THE year 1919, when Antonie Radler was twenty years old, she contracted the Spanish influenza and was desperately ill. The fervent prayers of her mother persuaded the Blessed Virgin to appear at the patient’s bedside. When the apparition laid her hands on the young victim, Antonie was instantly healed.

Fully recovered, Antonie was working one day in her father’s butcher shop when the Gestapo arrived and ordered her to replace the painting of the Virgin on the wall with that of the Führer. She was ordered to salute him in the Nazi fashion, saying, “Heil Hitler” instead of the usual Bavarian greeting of “Grüss Gott.” Antonie refused and barely escaped several attempts on her life. She always maintained that her Guardian Angel, in the form of a mysterious cyclist, protected her.

The parents were so delighted and grateful with her escape from harm that they erected a small Lourdes grotto in their garden. This was blessed by Father Basch, pastor of their parish, on October 11, 1936, the feast day of the Maternity of Mary. The following month, while at prayer before the statue, Antonie saw Mary smile sweetly and heard the words, “O Beloved Lady of Victory, conceived without sin, pray for us.”

Then, while praying at the Lourdes grotto on December 15, 1936, during the octave of the Immaculate Conception, and while reciting the third sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, Antonie heard an “angelic chorus” singing, “O Mary! Immaculate, conceived without sin. Beloved Lady of Victory, pray for us.”

THE SECOND APPARITION

The history of this appearance of the Blessed Mother at Wigratzbad now shifts to a young girl named Cecilia Geyer who, on February 22, 1938, about half past six in the morning, after hearing a murmur, saw the Blessed Virgin appear in a bright cloud. Cecilia said that suddenly, I found myself in the little grotto of Antonie and heard this message, ‘Build a chapel here for me. I shall trample underfoot the serpent’s head. People will come here in large numbers and I will pour upon them a flood of graces. St. Joseph, St. Anthony and the souls in Purgatory will help you.’”

The Lady then directed, “Go now and worship my Son in the Blessed Sacrament.” Realizing that all the churches were closed at that hour, Cecilia asked the vision where should she go? Then, “before my astonished eyes there appeared a chapel in the place designated by the Lady. Inside, on the altar, surrounded surrounded by beautiful rays of light was Jesus in a monstrance.”

THE BLESSED VIRGIN APPEARS TO ANTONIE IN PRISON

The history of the chapel now reverts to Antonie Radler. Work on the building of a chapel requested by Our Lady was begun on July 2, 1938, on land donated by her parents. All went well until the night of November 21, when Antonie was arrested by the Nazis and incarcerated in the local prison. She underwent numerous interrogations, but on the night of December 7 to 8 she beheld a large cloud arising in her cell. Suddenly the Virgin appeared to her and announced her impending release. She would spend Christmas with the family. Antonie was eventually released on December 18, the Feast of the Expectation of Our Lady.

Today, the chapel built at the sight of the apparitions is host to an estimated five hundred thousand pilgrims each year. Among the visitors in 1991, was Bishop Stimpfle, Archbishop of Augsburg, who assisted at the funeral of Antonie and delivered the funeral oration. No official statement was made by the bishop regarding the apparitions, but he was known to say, “I know that Wigratzbad is authentic!”

~Source:”See How She Loves Us”~

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is an icon, painted on wood, and seems to have originated around the thirteenth century.  Traditionally, the image is also known as “Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.”  The icon (about 54 x 41.5 centimeters) depicts our Blessed Mother Mary, under the title “Mother of God,” holding the Child Jesus.  The Archangels Michael and Gabriel, hovering in the upper corners, hold the instruments of the Passion– St. Michael (in the left corner) holds the spear, the wine-soaked sponge, and the crown of thorns, and St. Gabriel (in the right corner) holds the cross and the nails.  The intent of the artist was to portray the Child Jesus contemplating the vision of His future Passion.  The anguish He feels is shown by the loss of one of His sandals.  Nevertheless, the icon also conveys the triumph of Christ over sin and death, symbolized by the golden background (a sign of the glory of the resurrection) and the manner in which the angels hold the instruments, i.e. like trophies gathered up from Calvary on Easter morning.

In a very beautiful way, the Child Jesus grasps the hand of the Blessed Mother.  He seeks comfort from His mother, as He sees the instruments of His passion.  The position of Mary’s hands– both holding the Child Jesus (who seems like a small adult) and presenting Him to us– convey the reality of our Lord’s incarnation, that He is true God who became also true man.  In iconography, Mary here is represented as the Hodighitria, the one who guides us to the Redeemer.  She also is our Help, who intercedes on our behalf with her Son.  The star painted on Mary’s veil, centered on her forehead, highlights her role in the plan of salvation as both the Mother of God and our Mother.

According to popular tradition, a merchant acquired the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help from the island of Crete and had it shipped to Rome towards the end of the fifteenth century.  During the voyage, a terrible storm arose, threatening the lives of all on ship.  The passengers and crew prayed to our Blessed Mother, and were saved.

Once in Rome, the merchant, dying, ordered that the image should be displayed for public veneration.  His friend, who retained the image, received further instructions: in a dream to his little daughter, the Blessed Mother appeared and expressed the desire for the image to be venerated in a Church between the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran in Rome.  The image, consequently, was housed at the Church of St. Matthew, and became known as “The Madonna of Saint Matthew.”  Pilgrims flocked to the church for the next three hundred years, and great graces were bestowed upon the faithful.

After Napoleon’s troops destroyed the Church of St. Matthew in 1812, the image was transferred to the Church of St. Mary in Posterula, and remained there for nearly forty years.  There, the image was neglected and forgotten.

By divine providence, the forgotten image was rediscovered.  In 1866, Blessed Pope Pius IX entrusted the image to the Redemptorists, who had just built the Church of St. Alphonsus, down the street from St. Mary Major.  As a boy, the Holy Father had prayed before the image in the Church of St. Matthew.  He ordered the public display and veneration of the image, and fixed the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help as the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.  In 1867, when the image was being carried in a solemn procession through the streets, a young child was cured, the first of many recorded miracles attributed to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

To this day, the Church of St. Alphonsus displays the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and welcome pilgrims for prayer.  May each of us never hesitate to invoke the prayers and intercession of Our Blessed Mother in time of need.