The celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe brings to mind the image of the woman of the Book of Revelation, pregnant with new life and a new world. The image of this woman is remarkably similar to that of Guadalupe: “A woman clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head”. Besides, this is a pregnant woman -like Guadalupe-whose fruit the dragon is waiting to devour. God saves the woman and takes her way before the dragon can do any harm to the child. This is a most powerful symbol of hope for the world, particularly on this very tragic year. It is the hope that Mary of Guadalupe came to bring not only to Mexico, but to the whole American continent.
Our Lady of Advent is Our Lady of Hope. The Guadalupe event is a proclamation of new life for the people. In this message the following elements are stressed:
For us, American Christians, this message also represents a challenge to make a commitment to build a new and better world, a world of peace, justice, equality, solidarity, affirmation or our identity, and liberation.
Antonio de Santana, one of the first conquerors of Nueva Granada -which would later become Colombia – built a chapel in his house and placed in it a painting of Our lady of the Hoy Rosary. In time, the painting suffered the attack of rain and wind and it was badly damaged. Santana then took it to Chiquinquirá, and placed it in a hut, which sometimes served as a hermitage. Maria Ramos, Santana’s sister in-law, prayed there often and she ardently desired to seen the image of Our Lady, which was totally blurred. One day in 1586, she was surprised to see the painting transformed: the faded colors were now brilliant and clear, the tears had disappeared, and the whole image was shining. An indigenous servant, Isabel, and her daughter were also present and saw the miracle.
The painting has stood the elements since then and has not deteriorated again.
Legend has it that Huillac, an Inca princess, fell in love with a Christian Portuguese soldier, and converted to Christianism. She was martyr of her faith, victim of the arrows of her own people. Years after her death, a Carmelite friar decided to erect a temple in honor of Our Lady or Mount Carmel on the place of Huillac’s death. Since then, the place became a center of pilgrimage for the natives, and the devotion spread throughout Chile.
Another miracle took place at the end of the 19th century when the population had grown and a whole neighborhood of workers did not have any attention in their spiritual needs. An image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel flew to the neighborhood. A cross was placed on the site and later on a temple was built. Today, that is downtown Santiago de Chile. In 1923, Our Lady of Mount Carmel was declared patroness of Chile.
In 1630 Antonio Farias de Saa was building a chapel in his hacienda of Sumampa, in Argentina. He wanted to have an image of Our Lady in the chapel and wrote to a friend who lived in Brazil to send him an image of the Immaculate Conception. His friend sent two: one of the Immaculate and another one of Mary, the Mother of God. A convoy of carts left Buenos Aires carrying, among other things, two crates with the images. One morning when, after camping for the night, the convoy restarted its journey, one of the carts wouldn’t move. The load was lightened and the men tried to spur the oxen on, all to no avail.
It was only when they put down the crate containing the image of the Immaculate Conception that the oxen could move. The men were amazed and they saw in it the hand of God, who had chosen that place as Mary’s dwelling.
The image was taken in procession to the house of the Rosendo family where a small oratory was prepared. Manuel, a black slave who was traveling with the convoy, asked to remain as the guardian of the Virgin Mary, and he was granted the honor of being the first guardian. He carried out this mission until the end of his life.
Years later, when the Rosendo family was no longer there, Dona Ana de Matos bought the image and moved it to her hacienda, located in the present city of Lujan, where the shrine to Our Lady stands today. Thousands of people from all over the world visit her every year.
The image represents a woman with dark skin, which the people of Argentina see as a symbol of Mary’s identification with the people of South America.
As so many other representations of Mary, Our Lady of Lujan manifests the defense and affirmation of the dignity of all human beings and of the equality in which Our Lady unites all the children of God, her children.
According to legend, a young girl had a dream in which she clearly saw the image of Our Lady of Altagracia, which she had never seen in reality. In the dream, she also saw that Our Lady desired to protect the people of the village of Higuey, in the Dominican Republic. The father of the young girls, who was a businessman, frequently traveled to the capital city, Santo Domingo. His daughter asked him to look for the image of Altragacia. The father promised to do so, but he had no luck in his search. Neither business people nor clergy could tell him about an image of Our Lady by that name. Disappointed at not being able to please his daughter, the man headed home.
Two days into his journey home, he spent the night at a friend’s house and there an old man told him that the girls was right and that he had an image of Altagracia, which the happy father could have. When the father arrived, the image was placed in the family’s prayer room. but word of the beauty and miraculous powers of the image soon spread through the village, and people flocked to the house. One day the image disappeared and reappeared on an orange tree. That happened several times and the pastor and the family understood that Our Lady wanted to be venerated there to protect the people.
Soon after, the young girl died, and she was buried by the orange tree. Years later a shrine was built on that site. The Dominican people venerate Our Lady as their patroness there.
The devotion to Our Lady under the title of Divine providence had its origin in Italy and was extended throughout Europe. From Spain it went to Puerto Rico.
In the 13th century there was a convent of the Servants of Mary in Arezzo. Following the example of Francis of Assissi, seven wealthy business people of the city gave up all their material possessions to join the order.
The fifth Superior General of the Order, Saint Philip Benicio visited the convent once and found great devotion, humility, and poverty. One day they didn’t even have anything to eat. Together with the vow of poverty, the friars made another one of not begging for anything, in order to show their absolute trust on Divine providence. Deeply moved, saint Philip asked Our Lady to provide his needy brothers. Two baskets full of bread and other foods simply appeared at the door of the monastery. No one saw where the aid was coming from, but they were all convinced that Our Lady had her hand in it and from that moment on, she was invoked and venerated as Mother of Diving Providence. The devotion spread to other Italian religious congregations, and then on to Spain.
A Catalonian bishop newly arrived in Puerto Rico found the San Juan Cathedral almost in a shambles. Built three centuries before, the church had suffered the attacks of hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires. The finances of the diocese were in an identical situation. All this became a stimulus for the bishop, who was very devoted to Our lady of Providence. Entrusting everything to her, the bishop started the task of rebuilding the cathedral, and he achieved it in four years. This is the beginning of the Puerto Rican devotion to Divine Providence.
The Dominican friars established themselves in Guatemala around 1529 and spread devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The devotion of the Rosary had started as a custom of lay people who wanted to join themselves to the prayers of friars and monks (who read the 150 Psalms every day), but could not read or had no access to the Bible. The 150 Hail Marys of the 15 mysteries of the Rosary helped them to ponder the mysteries of the life of Christ.
In 1550 the Dominicans began establishing in Guatemala houses of prayer and spirituality, called Houses of the Rosary. These houses would later disappear, and only the one in the capital, the Beaterio de Indias, remained. In 1559 the first Confraternity of the Rosary of Central America was established in Antigua.
The devotion spread from the capital city to the whole county. By 1770 there were 122 churches with a confraternity of the Rosary. In 1573 Pope Gregory XIII had declared the first Sunday of October as the feast of the Holy Rosary.
During colonial times in Costa Rica, as in many other places in America, there was racial segregation. All those who were not white were to live in a differente area, called “Puebla de los Pardos” the town of the brown, and a cross marked the point beyond which they could not go.
At a short distancia from that cross, there were woods shere the poor people picked up branches for their fires. There was a mestiza living there, Juana Pereira. On August 2, probably of 1635, the woman went to gather wood and on the way, on top of a stone, she found an image of the Virgin Mary. She took it home and placed it in a box. The following day, she saw the same image upon the same stone as the day before. She thought she had two, but when she went home, she realized that the first one was not there. The same thing happened the following day, and she ran to the parish priest to let him know. The priest did not pay much attention, but he kept the image in a box, which he placed inside the tabernacle.
When, on the fourth day, Juana found the image again and went back to the priest, they realized that the image in the Tabernacle had also disappeared. The priest went to the woods with some other peope, and there they found the image once again, They took it in procession to the church, but the following day the image had disappeared again. They found it in a woods for the fith time and then they realized that Our lady wanted to stay in the woods, with all Costa Rican People of all races and social situations.
Our Lady of the Angels is also the patroness of the city of Los Angeles California, originally named Puebla de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles (the town of Our lady, the Queen of Angels).
In the 17th Century, three peasants – a black slave and two indigenous people-had gone to the Bay of Nipe in cuba, in search of salt. There was a terrible storm and, after two days of anguish, there was a calm morning in the dawn. The three men saw an image floating on the water. Her clothes were dry and she carried the Infant Jesus in her arms. Under her feet was a piece of wood with the inscription: I am Our Lady of Charity.