Category: Mary

Was This Statue Of ‘Our Lady Of The Forsaken’, Carved By Angels?  

Was This Statue Of ‘Our Lady Of The Forsaken’, Carved By Angels?  

She is the patroness of the city of Valencia, Spain, and the statue dates back to a priest’s desire to help the bullied. 

Legend tells, on 24 February 1409, a Friday at the beginning of Lent, a  mercedarian priest called Father Joan Gilabert Jofréwas on his way from the convent on Mercy Square to St. Catherine’s (Santa Catalina) cathedral church in Valencia, Spain to say Mass. On the way, on Silverworks Street, (now Martin Mengod Street) he witnessed the lynching of a mentally ill man and intervened to save the man. 

Father Jofre hurried over to the small crowd and demanded they stop hurting one of God’s children. Father Jofre rescued the man, who suffered from mental illness, and brought him to the Mercedarian monastery where he was given shelter and had his wounds tended to. The following Sunday at Mass, he preached his first homily about the mentally ill.

In the homily, he included a plea for funds to start a place to care for and shelter people afflicted with mental illness. 

A manuscript of Manuel Calvo dated 22 December 1848, reads:

“En la present ciutat ha molta obra pia é de gran caritat é sustentació: emperò una n’hi manca, que’s de gran necessitat, so es un hospital o casa on los pobres innocents é furiosos fossen acollits car molts pobres, innocents e furiosos van per aquesta ciutat, los cual passen gran desayres de fam e de fret e injuries, per tal como sa innocènsia i furor no saben guanyar ni demanar lo que han menester en sustentació de llur vida, e perço dormen per les carreres e perijen de fam e de fret, e moltes malvades persones no havent Deu devant sa consciència; los fan moltes injuries e senyaladament allà aon les troben endormits, los nafren i maten y algunes fembres innocents; aconteix així mateix que los pobres furiosos fan dany a mòltes persones anant per la ciutat. Aquestes coses son noties a tota la ciutat de València, perquè serià sancta cosa é obra molt sancta que en la ciutat de València fos feta una habitació ó hospital en què semblants folls é innocents estiguessin en tal manera que no anassen per la ciutat ni poguessin fer dany ni els en fos fet”.

Translated, the passage reads:

“In this city, one finds many very important pious and charitable works; however, there is one great need, and that is a hospital or a house where the innocent, the poor and the mad can be cared for. There are many such people wandering this city, suffering from cold and hunger because they cannot earn a living or ask for help. They sleep on the streets, starving and cold. Many wicked people, who do not have God in their hearts insult them, point at them when they are asleep, injure and kill them and rape innocent women. It also happens that some of those who are mad attack citizens on the streets. Everyone in Valencia knows this. It would be a very good thing, a very Holy work if Valencia were to build a house or a hospital where the innocent poor and the mad could be housed so that they would not be on the streets being hurt nor making trouble.”

He was so forceful in his words that the merchants, craftsmen, and businessmen at the Mass gave generously. The money became available, and before long a home and hospital were opened and dedicated to the Blessed Mother under the title of “Our Lady of Innocents.”

On August 29, 1414, a Brotherhood was founded and dedicated to caring for the mentally ill. It was called the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Insane and the Forsaken Innocents.

A situation arose that resulted in the name soon being changed: A famine had struck the land, and many children had been orphaned. The Brotherhood quickly extended its care to not only the mentally ill but to the many orphaned children wandering the streets of Valencia. They refined the title, and the new dedication was to Our Lady of the Forsaken.

Father Jofre and his brother friars realized the hospital was lacking a prayer room. They built an oratory and when they were finished, knew it was missing something; that something was a statue of their patroness, Our Lady of the Forsaken. Since there was no such statue, they entered into prayer for help in acquiring one.

Legend has it that soon after, three handsome young men knocked on the door seeking refuge. They offered to carve the needed statue as payment for allowing them to stay. They only asked to be left alone to work for at least three days. The friars accepted the offer.

As the three days went by, the three young men remained locked inside the room. The Friars would listen by the door, but no sound was ever heard. At the end of the third day, they again knocked on the door, but there was no answer. Finally, they forced open the door only to find the three men gone. Who were these handsome men? Their identity was never discovered but most folks quickly came to believe they were angels sent by God. Thus began the legend called “Elferen els angels” — “Made by the Angels.”

What the Friars found in the center of the room was a magnificent statue that the men had created. Miracles began to happen, starting with the wife of a member of the Brotherhood. Paralyzed and blind, she was completely cured. 

The statue was considered “majestic and protective.” The people saw in the depiction of Our Lady a representation of goodness, mercy, and assistance.

In 1885 the statue was named the Virgen de los Desamparados or Our Lady of the Forsaken and declared the Patroness of Valencia.

Today, there is a Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken in Valencia, where the statue is on display. Every year on the second Sunday of May, a huge festival is held in honor of Our Lady of the Forsaken. As St. Bonaventure said:

When all human help fails, it is imperative that we not despair. For normally in this extreme situation, the divine help of Mary comes.

Virgen de Los DesamparadosOur Lady of the Forsaken, please pray for us.

Worried About Your Children? Say This Prayer To Their Guardian Angels

Worried About Your Children? Say This Prayer To Their Guardian Angels

The world is a dangerous place. When you leave the comforts of your home there is no telling what may happen to you or your children. This has been the case since Adam and Eve and will continue to be so until Jesus comes again.

The good news is that we are not alone.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by [angels and] their watchful care and intercession” (CCC 336). God appoints to each one of us a guardian angel whose mission is to guide, guard and protect. We don’t always see them or sense their presence, but the truth is that they are there, ready and willing to come to our aid.

We just have to ask.

For parents, it is easy to forget that our children have guardian angels and that we can pray to them (through the mediation of our own guardian angel) and invoke their powerful protection over our children. When we can’t physically be there with our children to protect them, it is most appropriate to pray to their guardian angel.

Here is a short prayer that is usually entitled, “A Mother’s Prayer to the Guardian Angels of Her Children,” and is one way that we can quiet our heart and be at peace knowing who is protecting our little ones.

SAY PRAYER

I humbly salute you, O you faithful, heavenly friends of my children! I give you heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness you show them. At some future day I shall, with thanks more worthy than I can now give, repay your care for them, and before the whole heavenly court acknowledge their indebtedness to your guidance and protection. Continue to watch over them. Provide for all their needs of body and soul. Pray, likewise, for me, for my husband, and my whole family, that we may all one day rejoice in your blessed company. Amen.

Our Lady Of The Snows  

Our Lady Of The Snows  

 
Our Lady of the Snows.

August 5:
Our Lady of the Snows.
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.”

Story Behind The Hymn, “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”

Story Behind The Hymn, “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Story

When teenager Isaac Watts complained to his father about the monotonous way Christians in England sang the Old Testament Psalms, his father, a leading deacon, snapped back ‘All right young man, you give us something better.’

To Isaac Watts, the singing of God’s praise was the form of worship nearest to Heaven and he went on to argue: ‘It’s performance among us is the worst on earth.’

Young Isaac accepted his father’s challenge and eventually wrote a total of more than 600 hymns, earning him the title ‘The father of English hymnody.’

Even as a child Isaac had shown a passion for poetry, rhyming and such mundane things as everyday conversation. His serious-minded father, after several warnings, decided to spank the rhyming nonsense out of his son. But the tearful Isaac helplessly replied,
‘Oh father do some pity take,
and I will no more verses make.’

However, choirs, congregations and individual Christians rejoice to this day that the young lad did not keep his impromptu promise.

If he had, none of us would have the thrill of singing such all-time favourites as “Oh God Our Help In Ages Past,” “Am I A Soldier Of The Cross” or “Joy To The World.”

As a child, Isaac Watts was sickly and unattractive, yet, even by today’s standards he was clever beyond his years. He began the study of Latin at the age of four, and added Greek when he was nine, French at eleven and Hebrew at thirteen.

At fifteen the young poet turned his talents to the service of the church and the great career in hymn-writing began.

In his hymns Isaac Watts takes the Word of God, of which he must have been a diligent student, and distils it so that all is wisdom, beauty and comfort are set before us with plainness and power. No wonder, then, that C.H. Spurgeon’s grandfather, himself a great preacher, and in the line of the Puritans, would have nothing else but the hymns of Isaac Watts sung in his services.

Isaac Watt’s greatest composition must surely be “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.”
It has been called ‘The very best hymn in the English language’ and in it Watts, using only 16 lines, paints a soul-stirring picture of the Saviour’s death on the cross coupled with the whole-hearted response of the believer to such amazing love.

As Tedd Smith says ‘It seems to me that Isaac Watts wrote this text as if he were standing at the foot of Christ’s cross.’

How blessed to reflect on the finished work of Christ Jesus, as summed up in those lines:

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

And how enriching to be able to voice our reconsecration to the Lord’s service in the words:

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Bible Verse

Galatians 6:14 “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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