Tag Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Our Lady of Monte Vergine

OL of Monte VergineOn these U.S. shores a devotion to the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Monte Vergine is unknown by most people. There are, however, those of us who know Italy and the presence of the Benedictine abbey on Monte Vergine that inspires us to use this title to Mary. From the image herewith it is difficult to grasp that the icon is quite large, with a height of over 12 feet and width of over 6 feet; it shows the Mary seated on a throne with the Infant Jesus seated on her lap. Historians call icon of the Mother and Child, “of Constantinople” (because it is said to have been brought to Italy by King Baldwin of Jerusalem) given to the Benedictine monks in 1310. King Baldwin. The image is dark, so the icon is often referred to as one of the “Black Madonnas”; a title given to several images of the Holy Virgin Mother.

The famous Benedictine sanctuary located in the village of Montevergine (of Campanian region of Italy); the “Monte Vergine” comes from the religious history going back to the pre-Christian era when there was a temple of Cybele existed. A chapel of the Blessed Virgin was built in the seventh century. In 1119, Saint William of Vercelli founded the monastery that still exists. Saint William was a hermit who came back to his native Italy after making a pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).

Saint William had the reputation for sanctity inspiring many to live in cells on the mountain. Monasticism still is present there. The first true church was constructed in 1126, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.

Today, it is reported that over one-and-one-half million pilgrims yearly pay homage to Our Lady of Montevergine. The most popular day is Pentecost. There have been numerous miracles attributed to this portrait of the Mother of God and her Divine Son.

Mary’s transitus to heaven

AssumptionThe perfect union of the Blessed Virgin Mary with God
Mid-August finds a good many of the Eastern and Western churches commemorating the move of Mary to heaven. In the East the feast is called the Dormition (koímesis); in the West it is called the Assumption (assumptio). This is a favorite feast for me.

St. Germanus of Constantinople preached: “You, O Mother, are close to all and protect all, and though our eyes cannot see you, we know, O Most Holy One, that you dwell among us and make yourself present in the most varied ways… Your virginal body is entirely holy, entirely chaste, entirely God’s dwelling place so for this reason it is absolutely incorruptible. It is unchangeable since what was human in it has been taken up in incorruptibility, remaining alive and absolutely glorious, undamaged, and sharing in perfect life. Indeed, it was impossible that the one who had become the vase of God and the living temple of the most holy divinity of the Only Begotten One be enclosed in a tomb of the dead. Rather, we certainly believe you continue to walk with us.”

The observance of the feast dates back to the first millennium and defined in the 20th century. Mary is a figure of the heavenly Jerusalem!

We know from liturgical historical scholarship that Several Armenian lectionaries found in Jerusalem witness to a celebration of Mary as Theotókos on August 15; the documents tell us this feast arose in the fifth century, probably after the Council of Ephesus in 431. The Eastern feast was imposed on the entire Byzantine Empire by the Emperor Mauritius at the end of the sixth century. It spread to the West and since the eighth century it has been known as the “assumption” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In comparison, the Coptic Church liturgically commemorates the Virgin’s death and assumption on two different days. You will recall that the Catholic official teaching –definitely defined– happened not in the early centuries of Church history, but on November 1, 1950. Pope Pius XII taught that according to the tradition Mary was raised body and soul to the glory of heaven was proclaimed a dogma.

The 4 canonical Gospels do not speak of Mary’s later years. But it’s the apocryphal Gospels which speak  of Mary dying with the apostles gathered around her, and of her later appearing to them as they celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice. What do we have about Mary’s ultimate existence on earth? The Church uses the apocryphal Gospels together with the fact that no certain relic of Mary’s body exists thus giving the Church room to contemplate the last moments of Mary’s life on earth in the light of Christ’s victory over death. Hence, we bless flowers and herbs on this feast (indicating no mortal remains was left in the tomb carved for Mary) and we teach that what was gifted to Mary is gifted by the Savior to us who believe in Him.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

OLMCO most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in this necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Sweet Mother I place this cause in your hands. Amen.

Intimately connected with Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the Brown Scapular. Why not read a brief article on the scapular, a rather influential sacramental.

Our hope comes through Mary

The Lord has placed in Mary the fullness of all good. So that if there is anything of hope in us, if anything of grace, if anything of salvation, we may rest assured it has overflowed into us from her. With every fiber of our being, every feeling of our hearts, with all affections of our minds, and with all the ardor of our souls let us honor Mary because this is the will of God, who would have us obtain everything through her hands.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 6: For the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The plan of God

“The plan of God is absolutely beyond us, always; it cannot be narrowed or imprisoned within the limits of our imagination. But one who is always willing to change everything according to what God wants–and mark these words, what God wants through the circumstances, because, for Our Lady, three minutes, a minute before, it wasn’t even imaginable that the Annunciation could happen–circumstances, especially those that vex us the most, that are inevitable circumstances, these are precisely the ones that mark the road of God; the person who is open to this is not attached to anything of his own, and he’s free. So the first consequence is that he is attentive, extremely attentive to the needs of others. In fact, as soon as the Angel left, Our Lady decided right away, a girl of fourteen or fifteen years, to travel that very long journey–one that when you go to Palestine you usually do by bus or by car–of over 60 miles in the midst of that stony land, to go visit her cousin Elizabeth, because the Angel had told her that she was six months along with the child in her womb. The first thing she did was to share the need and the toil of her cousin Elizabeth, at very great sacrifice. When are you free? You’re free when you’re willing to do what God wants. Before the Infinite, only before the Infinite is man free, detached from himself. When you’re like this, you’re immediately ready to feel and meet the needs of others. What a lesson for us! These are the first characteristics of a man who lives life as a pilgrimage.”

Luigi Giussani, from “Mary: Faith and Faithfulness”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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