Sunday, September 05, 2010

All about Mary.: Fatima Fatima Fatima

All about Mary.: Fatima Fatima Fatima: "Virgins of Fatima aplenty. Some glow in the dark, others predict the weather. Others simply smile, though some are known to cry. Source"

Monday, August 23, 2010

New blog: all about mary.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Salve, mater misericórdiae

Salve, mater misericórdiae,
Mater Dei et mater véniae,
Mater spei et mater grátiae,
Mater plena sanctae laetitiae,
O Maria! (Refrain)

Hail, Mother of Mercy
Mother of God and Mother of pardon
Mother of hope and Mother of grace
Mother full of holy joy
O Mary!

Salve, Virgo dignior céteris,
Quae virgines omnes transgréderis,
Et áltius sedes in súperis, O Maria!

Hail, Virgin worthier than the rest
Who hath surpassed all virgins
And sits higher in the heavens above, O Mary!

Te creávit Deus mirábilem,
Te respéxit ancillam húmilem,
Te quaesivit sponsam amábilem,
Tibi numquam fecit consimilem, O Maria!

God created thee a marvel
He looks upon thee a humble handmaid
He sought thee as a lovable spouse
He hath never made another like to thee, O Mary!

Te beátam laudáre cúpiunt
Omnes justi, sed non sufficiunt:
Multas laudes de te concipiunt,
Se in illis prorsus deficiunt, O Maria!

All the just desire to praise thee as blessed
but they are not sufficient
They conceive many praises of thee
But in them they entirely fail, O Mary!

Esto, Mater, nostrum solátium,
Nostrum esto, tu Virgo gáudium:
Et nos tandem, post hoc exsilium,
Laetos junge choris caeléstium, O Maria!

Be, Mother, our solace
Be our joy, thou Virgin
And join us at last, after this exile
as joyful ones to the heavenly choirs, O Mary!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Assumpta est Maria in caélum!

Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Miraculous images: Mariazell

The Austrian shrine Mariazell is the most famous place of pilgrimage of Central Europe.

The story of Mariazell begins in 1157, when the Benedictine monk Magnus was sent to the area by his abbot to work as a spiritual caretaker. Magnus took a statue of the Virgin and Child with him. On the evening of December 21, he had to stop at a certain point because the forest was to thick. The legend holds that he prayed to the Virgin for help and soon after that the bush and the rocks opened up to make way for him. A little further down he stopped and set up his abode, in a beautiful green valley. He placed his statue on a white branch of a tree. Sometime later, when Magnus had become the priest of many hunters and shepherds from the area, he built a little chapel around the linden tree with the statue of the Virgin Mary. Soon miracles occurred at the site and pilgrims flocked to it in great numbers. The small wooden chapel became known as the 'Cella Mariae' and gave its name to the place: Mariazell.

The late Romanesque figure of the Virgin that is venerated in Mariazell is 48 centimetres high and carved out of linden wood. The Virgin is seated with the Child Jesus on her right knee. With her left hand, in which she holds an apple, she points to her Son, who also holds an apple. The gaze of Mary is directed upon the onlooker. Written records of pilgrimages dating back to the fifteenth century mention that at certain times people saw the statue's face, eyes and lips moving as if it were alive.

The first church of Mariazell was Romanesque and built in about 1200 by Duke Henry of Mahren, after he and his wife were miraculously healed at the site. In 1340 it was replaced by a large Gothic church, built by King Louis I of Hungary. The building underwent a third transformation between 1644 and 1704, when a magnificent Baroque church was constructed. It was designed by the architect Domenico Sciassia. The new church had no less than fourteen side chapels. It is now regarded as one of Austria's most outstanding religious buildings. The church's characteristic façade is dominated by three towers: the middle one is a remainder of the Gothic church, whereas the two outer ones are Baroque. The church also has an oval shaped dome. In 1907 the church became a Basilica Minor. Since then it is known as the Basilica and Church of Grace of Mary's Nativity.

The Baroque interior of the church is very richly decorated. Much of the decoration was done the famous Johan Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. He also designed the main altar, which is dedicated to the Holy Cross. The miraculous statue of Our Lady of Mariazell stands on a silver altar in the Chapel of Grace, in the centre of the church. The statue is usually dressed in a wide expanded mantle. The chapel marks the spot were the hermit Magnus built the first shrine of Mariazell. In front of the chapel stand two large silver angels from 1794.

The history of Mariazell as a national shrine is very much connected to Austria's history as a nation. At the end of the thirteenth century, when Vienna became the capital of the Habsburg Empire, Mariazell became the favourite shrine of the dynasty and nobility.

Many gifts and votive offerings have been presented to the miraculous Virgin of Mariazell. In 1364, King Louis of Hungary offered a valuable image of the Virgin and Child to the shrine. Miraculous powers were also attributed to this picture, which is still kept in the treasury. It is especially venerated by Hungarian pilgrims. During the reign of emperor Leopold I (1640-1705) Mariazell became the national shrine of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. Since that time, Our Lady of Mariazell is known as 'Magna Mater Austriae' (Great Mother of Austria) and 'Magna Domina Hongarorum' (Great Lady of Hungary).

Mariazell has remained Central Europe's major place of pilgrimage till today. Annually, the town is visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from Austria, Hungary, Croatia and other countries in the region. For many centuries now, the small town's economy flourishes owing to the constant stream of pilgrims. There are many hostels, guest-houses, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops.

We leave Mariazell with a song that pilgrims would sing before their departure from the shrine:

'O Mary, you are my life,
My heart breaks inside me
For I must leave you now
And separate myself from your presence'.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mary in every day life

Many people who call on the Virgin for her care and protection carry an image of her everywhere they go. This is a photo of a small illuminated statue, placed on a car dashboard. Since early Christian times, Mary is believed to be the protector of travelers and pilgrims.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mary in secular art: 'Sotileza' by Francis Picabia

This painting was recently on display in London's Whitechapel Gallery. It was part of the 'Inner Worlds' exhibition. It is one of Francis Picabia's so-called Transparency images and was painted in about 1928.

The layers of the image show some distinctly Spanish subjects that seem to blend into each other: the Virgin, a matador in full costume and a Spanish lady wearing a lace mantilla. It is like a dream landscape of predominant images from Spanish culture. The bust of the Virgin Mary is based on a Romanesque statue of the 'Sedes Sapientiae' (Seat of Wisdom) type. Many of such statues can still be found in Spain today and are often considered miraculous. On the picture by Picabia the serene image is beautifully contrasted with the worldly looking Spanish lady.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Miraculous images: the Mother of Good Counsel

About 50 kilometers south of Rome lies Genazzano. The small Italian town is renowned throughout the world for its miraculous image of the Virgin Mary, known as the Mother of Good Counsel. It is kept in the town's Augustinian church and attracts many pilgrims.

The story of the shrine begins in 1467. According to a legend in that year a widow called Petruzzia di Janeo decided to rebuild Genazzano's old Augustinian church. The building had since long been decrepit. The people of Genazzano laughed at the widow's plans, knowing that she lacked the means for such an undertaking. Although they did for a while help to rebuild the church, they refused their aid when Petruzzia ran out of money. Then on April 25 1467, Saint Mark's Day, a miracle happened. While the population of Genazzano participated in a festive carnival, a cloud descended from a sparkling clear sky before the uncompleted church. When the cloud disappeared, a small picture of the Virgin and Child could be witnessed on one of the church's inside walls. At the same moment, all the town's church bells began to ring. The story of the miraculous picture soon spread and many people came to view it. Between the end of April and mid-August of 1467, 171 miracles were recorded at the site.

Because of its miraculous origin, the image became known as the 'Madonna of Paradise'. But where did the people of Genazzano believe it came from? The second part of the legend provides an answer to this question: A short while after the image appeared, two Albanians arrived in Genazzano. They had fled from the Ottoman Turks, who occupied Albania at the time. The men told the people of Genazzano the image came from a church in their hometown Scutari, the current city of Shkodra. There it had been an object of fervent veneration. However, shortly before the Turkish occupation of the city, it miraculously left Scutari. The men testified they had seen the image being carried by a cloud in the direction of Italy, to where they followed it.

The half figure of the Mother of Good Counsel is a so-called 'Eleousa', a depiction of the Virgin Mary as 'Mother of Tenderness'. Mother and Child appear before a curtain with a rainbow behind.The fresco is executed on a thin layer of plaster. It is probably an Umbrian work dating from the 14th century. Stylistically, the image is strongly influenced by the work of the famous Italian artist Giotto (1267-1337).

Over the centuries, millions of pilgrims have come to view the image in Genazzano's Augustinian church. It is kept in one of the church's side chapels. After a papal coronation in November 1682, a canon of Saint Peter's chapter in Rome reported that the image is for the most part suspended in the air, only attached to the wall at the top. This was considered a miracle. It was also believed that at certain times the facial expressions of the image changed.

Most striking about the devotion to the Mother of Good Counsel is that it is found all over the world. In many countries there are shrines and churches dedicated to this particular image of the Virgin. The widespread popularity is largely due to the promotion of the cult by the Augustinian order, who choose the Virgin of Good Counsel as their patron. Everywhere the Augustinians went, they took copies of the image with them. In central Europe alone, about 70.000 copies could be found in the 18th century. In 1748 the first Italian devotional book was published, which was soon translated into other languages. The Jesuits have also spread the devotion, like they did with many other local Marian cults.

On April 26, the Mother of Good Counsel in commemorated in a special Mass. The feast has been celebrated in Genazzano since 1727 and was officially approved in 1789. The invocation 'Mother of Good Counsel, pray for us' was added to the Litany of Loreto in the 19th century.

The image of the Mother of Good Counsel remains one of the world's most venerated images of the Virgin Mary. Its popularity is probably due to two factors: the striking tenderness of Mother and Child and its appealing title. The title is probably a popular expression of the ancient theological idea of Mary as a manifestation of Divine Wisdom. That is why one can often read the following text from Ecclesiastes (6:24) on old devotional prints of the Mother of Good Counsel: 'Listen my son, and accept a wise advice and do not reject my counsel'.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Shrines & Altars: the black Virgin of Loreto

This Baroque statue of the black Madonna of Loreto is venerated in a chapel in Rimov, a town in the Czech Repulic. The Italian shrine of Loreto is one of the world's most famous places of pilgrimage. According to an ancient legend, the Virgin's house was brought to the town from Nazareth by angels. All over the world replicas were built of the Loreto shrine.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mary in art: a pieta

This pieta is placed in the side wall of the Candle Chapel, a church in the German place of pilgrimage Kevelaer. I took this picture when I was at the shrine in August last year. The Candle Chapel dates from the 17th century and borrows its name from the thousands of votive candles that are burned there each day. The statue however is modern.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Miraculous images: Maria Roggendorf

This image of the Virgin Mary is venerated in the Austrian village Maria Roggendorf, which has been a place of pilgrimage since the 15th century.

The first sanctuary of Roggendorf was a small chapel, built in 1291. In 1653 the chapel was replaced by a church dedicated to the Virgin's Nativity. When this church was destroyed by a fire in 1695, the Italian Baroque architect Carlo Antonio Carlone was commissioned to build the current sanctuary.

In the 18th century Roggendorf became very famous as a place of pilgrimage. On average, 5000 pilgrims would visit the site on the Virgin's feast days. However, in 1795 the Austrian emperor Joseph II forbid the pilgrimage as part of his secularist policies. The first public pilgrimage after that took place in 1924. Nowadays, the church of Maria Roggendorf is still an important regional shrine. The church has been a Basilica since 1988.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mary in art: a procession

This picture (detail) by the Dutch artist Nico Jungmann (1872-1935) depicts the people of Volendam entering their parish church in procession. They have just returned home from a pilgrimage to the famous German shrine Kevelaer, where the Virgin Mary is venerated as 'Consoler of the Afflicted'.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

May, the month of Mary (III)

'May Magnificat'

May is Mary’s month and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season –

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?…

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is spring? –
Growth in every thing –

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld altogether;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees sympathising
With that world of good
Nature’s motherhood…

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Friday, May 05, 2006

May, the month of Mary (II)

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) on why the month of May is dedicated to the Virgin Mary:

"WHY is May chosen as the month in which we exercise a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin? The first reason is because it is the time when the earth bursts forth into its fresh foliage and its green grass after the stern frost and snow of winter, and the raw atmosphere and the wild wind and rain of the early spring. It is because the blossoms are upon the trees and the flowers are in the gardens. It is because the days have got long, and the sun rises early and sets late. For such gladness and joyousness of external Nature is a fit attendant on our devotion to her who is the Mystical Rose and the House of Gold."

From Newman's 'Meditations on the Litany of Loreto, for the month of May'

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May, the month of Mary (I)

The month of May has arrived, a time when the Virgin Mary is specially honoured by Catholics all over the world. From the Philippines to Italy, from Belgium to Mexico; everywhere her images are adorned with flowers and candles and carried around in processions. It is also a time for going on pilgrimage to one of her shrines or praying the rosary. These special May devotions celebrate the Virgin as giver of new life, as the Mother of the Saviour and a bringer of graces. It is very significant indeed that this month, in which Spring reaches its full bloom (at least in the northern hemisphere), was chosen as a time dedicated to Mary.

Naples was the first place in the world to specially honour the Virgin Mary in May. This was in the 18th century. From southern Italy the custom gradually spread through the rest of the Catholic world. It was greatly promoted by the Jesuits. The order saw it as a good alternative for the traditional May celebrations, which were often full of pre-Christian references. The crowning of May queens for instance, an ancient fertility celebration, was still a common practice throughout Europe in the 18th century. (The month itself actually takes its name from Maya, the Roman goddess of fertility.) In many Catholic countries this tradition was replaced by crowning images of the Blessed Virgin, thus Christianising the May custom. However, this does not mean that Catholic May devotions honouring the Virgin Mary are not a celebration of fertility and motherhood. After all, she gave birth to the Saviour and is the Mother of us All.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Miraculous images: Montserrat

The Black Madonna of Montserrat is one of Spain's most venerated images of the Virgin Mary. Tradition holds that already before the year 888, a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary was placed among the rocks of Montserrat. Even in pre-Christian times the mountain was an important religious site, when there stood a temple to Venus.

The statue of the Black Virgin of Montserrat is known as 'La Moreneta', the Little Dark One. It has oriental features and was probably carved by a Byzantine sculptor in the twelfth century. Our Lady of Montserrat has a very majestic appearance and bears a close resemblance to the dark Virgins of the French Auvergne region, found along the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Like the statue of Our Lady of Montserrat, most of these images depict the Mother of God as 'Sedes Sapientiae' (Seat of Wisdom). This way of depicting Mary, seated on a throne with the Child Jesus on her lap, is very typical for the Romanesque period.

Perhaps the religious significance of Montserrat and its Black Virgin is most beautifully expressed in the 'Llibre Vermell de Montserrat', a manuscript of pilgrimage songs from the Middle Ages. The song 'O virgo splendens' goes as follows:

"O Virgin resplendent here on the lofty mountain,
jagged with its shining miracles about,
which all the faithful climb.
Ah, with an eye of mercy
see those bound by the bonds of sin,
let them not be weighed down by the blows of Hell
but be called by your prayers to be with the blessed."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Look to the star, call upon Mary

"If the storms of temptation arise, if you crash against the rocks of tribulations, look to the star, call upon Mary. If you are tossed about on the waves of pride, of ambition, of slander, of hostility, look to the star, call upon Mary … if you begin to be swallowed up by the abyss of depression and despair, think of Mary! In dangers, in anxiety, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary … When you are terrified by judgement or in despair, think of Mary. If she holds you, you will not fall, if she protects you, you need not fear."

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Monday, April 24, 2006


Welcome to my blogspot. This site will be completely dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I will use its space to post thoughts, reflections, images and short articles on the glorious Queen of Heaven.

The title of this blog, 'Respice stellam, voca Mariam', comes from a sermon delivered by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (see next post). In English it means: 'Look to the star, call on Mary'. It refers to the ancient idea of Mary as Star of the Sea, so beautifully worded in the hymn 'Ave Maris Stella'. This blog wishes to celebrate Mary as our guide and safe haven in life!