Celebrating Mary: Our Lady of ... who is that?

By Catholic New World
Sunday, April 22, 2012

Celebrating Mary: Our Lady of ... who is that?

Catholics throughout the world set aside the month of May to pay special honor to Mary, the mother of God. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries.
Image of Our Lady of Providence seen at St. Sylvester Parish.
This image of Our Lady is at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Melrose Park.
A statue of Our Lady of Manaoag seen in the basement of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii. (Brian J. Morowczynski / Catholic New World)
Image of Our Lady of San Juan de Los Logos makes a regular visit to Pilsen or Little Village parishes.
Image of Our Lady of Czestochowa at St. Hyacinth Basilica.
This image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is on Pulaski near 26th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

Catholics throughout the world set aside the month of May to pay special honor to Mary, the mother of God. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries.

In his 1956 encyclical “Month of May,” Pope Paul VI wrote: “For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.”

Taking part in that tradition, we gathered some unique or popular images of Mary that are venerated by the faithful in the Archdiocese of Chicago. This is not an all-inclusive list.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Feast day: July 16

Devotion of: Carmelites, popular in Italian community

Mount Carmel is near Nazareth, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. An order of hermits lived in the area with a great devotion to Mary. When they were forced to leave in the 13th century, they dispersed to Europe. In 1251, as St. Simon Stock prayed to Our Lady for guidance for the order, she appeared to him holding a brown scapular, saying that those who wore the scapular and maintained the devotion required of them would never suffer eternal fire. After that, the order prospered. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is associated with other apparitions as well.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast day: Dec. 12

Devotion of: Mostly Mexicans and Central Americans, but has spread in recent decades throughout North and South America

Our Lady appeared to native Mexican St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in what is now Mexico City in December 1531. The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared in the form of a young native woman who was with child. She told Diego to go to the bishop and tell him to build a house for her on the site where she appeared; he tried, but on his first two attempts, the bishop did not listen.

She then told him to fill his tilma, or cloak, with the roses that were miraculously blooming in December and take them to the bishop. When he opened his cloak to display the roses to the bishop, it bore an image of the lady who appeared to him.

The cloak is still on display in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City.

Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag

Feast day: Third Wednesday after Easter

Devotion of: Filipinos

The image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag is a small, 17th-century marble icon of Mary that is enshrined in Manaoag, in the northern part of the Philippines. Tradition has it that the town itself was born from the Virgin’s call, thus the word “taoag,” meaning “to call,” became the name of the town.

It is said that one day, a young man walking home heard a mysterious voice. He looked around and with great awe saw the radiant lady with a rosary on her right hand and a child on her left, standing on a cloud veiling a treetop. The man fell on his knees. He told the people of the apparition. And soon right on the spot where the Lady appeared a church was built. A town quickly flourished around it and was called “Manaoag.”

Several miracles are attributed to the image. When mountain tribes used to burn Christian villages, Manaoag was not spared. It was set on fire, but the church with its thatched roof was the last refuge of the people and it did not catch fire.

Our Lady of Czestochowa

Feast day: Aug. 26

Devotion of: Mostly Polish people

Legend has it that St. Luke painted the Blessed Mother’s image on a cedar table in the house where she lived after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The image was hidden in the hills by holy women until St. Helen came to the Holy Land in 326, looking for relics of Our Lord. She brought the painting to Constantinople, where it stayed for 500 years.

It then made its way to Poland — perhaps being transferred as part of royal dowries — where it was in the possession of St. Ladislaus in the 15th century. St. Ladislaus brought it to the Monastery of Jasna Gora, where it remains to this day. The slashes on the image’s face are believed to have been caused by vandals. Her dark skin tone is attributed to the soot of many candles burning in front of her image for centuries.

Many miracles are attributed to the image. One such occurred in 1655 when a small group of Polish defenders was able to drive off a much larger army of Swedish invaders from the sanctuary at Jasna Gora, and the following year, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland by King Casimir.

Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos

Feast Day: Dec. 15, the octave of the Immaculate Conception

Devotion of: mostly Mexicans, especially those from Jalisco, where the shrine is located.

San Juan de los Lagos — originally called San Juan Bautista Mesquititlan — is one of the best-known Marian shrines in Mexico. The center of Marian devotion is an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception that came to prominence after a miracle.

According to the University of Dayton’s “Mary Page,” a family of trapeze artists were passing through the village when a 6-year-old daughter — an aerial acrobat herself — fell upon the swords and daggers fixed in the ground, pointed upward to add to the thrill of the trapeze act. The girl was expected to die, and her parents brought her to the chapel of Our Lady of San Juan for burial. The caretaker’s wife put the statue on the corpse. The body started to move, the girl sat up, alive and unharmed. From this time on, the miracles and favors obtained through the “Virgencita” were numerous.

The image of Our Lady is very small; it measures about a foot in height. It is made out of “pasta de Michoacan” (glue and cornstalks) but in spite of its fragility the image has remained whole for more than 800 years.

Our Lady of Divine Providence

Feast Day: Nov. 19

Devotion of: Puerto Ricans

Devotion to Our Lady of the Divine Providence originated in Europe in the 13th century. Bishop Gil Esteve Tomas, a Catalan, was named bishop of Puerto Rico in 1848, and brought his devotion to Our Lady of the Divine Providence with him. He placed the diocese in her hands when in less than five years the dilapidated cathedral church had been restored along with diocesan finances.

The original image was an oil painting in which the Virgin is shown with the Divine Child sleeping peacefully in her arms. It was later made into a wood-carved statue, which people are most familiar with today.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI declared Our Lady Mother of Divine Providence principal patroness of the island of Puerto Rico. It was also decreed that the Virgin’s solemnity be transferred from Jan. 2 to Nov. 19, the day that the island was discovered. The intention was to join together the two great loves of the Puerto Ricans: their island and the Mother of God.