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 The Queen of Heaven and the Son of Thunder header image

 By Andrea Phillips

 

When Our Blessed Lord ascended into heaven, He left His most holy Mother here on earth for several years to help the young Catholic Church.  All of the Apostles and disciples held her in great esteem and sought her counsel in all things. She, the holiest, wisest, and most blessed of women, always had a word of encouragement and precious advice to answer their requests.

At times, as the Apostles and disciples went on their journeys to far off places to preach the Faith, she would send one or several of her many guardian angels to strengthen or console them in some way.

 

Our Lady, writing out copies of the Apostles CreedFor example, after the Apostles’ Creed had been composed by the Twelve, she wrote several copies of this profession of our Faith with her own hand and, summoning several of her angels, bade them deliver these copies to the disciples who were in distant places so they might recite it and teach others to do the same.

She also prayed constantly for their work and begged God to deliver them from the assaults of the devil, who from the very beginning has unceasingly prowled around seeking to destroy God’s Church.

 

Our Lady and Saint James

The Apostle Saint James the Greater, brother of Saint John the Evangelist and a cousin to Our Lord Jesus, had a most special and tender devotion to Our Blessed Lady.

Possessed of a generous nature, he preached the word of God with such zeal and fearlessness that he aroused the fury of all who hated Our Lord and His Church.

The more the evil people persecuted him the more ardently and louder he preached. Some say that he had a powerful, booming voice, in keeping with his designation as a “Son of Thunder.” He knew how needful he was of Our Lady’s help and sought it constantly.

One day, about a year and a half after the death of Our Lord, Saint James traveled to Spain to carry the true Faith to the people there. In imitation of his Master, he took twelve disciples with him. One of the first cities he and his disciples visited was Granada in the south of Spain. In Granada were several Jews who hated the new Faith of Jesus and watched the newcomers closely. Saint James and the disciples fearlessly began to preach as if nothing were wrong. While several of these Jews became impressed and listened, others became even more hardened against these holy men and began a terrible persecution against them. Seizing one of them, they brought him to his martyrdom.

Yet another day they managed to seize Saint James and the remaining eleven and took them to a field outside the walls of Granada to put them to death. As had occurred so many times before, Saint James prayed to the Blessed Mother to assist them. If they were to die for her Son, then he wished that somehow he be allowed to see her before dying.

 

Our Lady interceeds

Back in Jerusalem, by a special gift granted to her by her Divine Son, the Holy Virgin, saw everything that was happening, and her mother’s heart went out to this devoted son who sought her help. She felt a great sorrow that she was so far away, but knowing that nothing is impossible to God, she besought her Son to allow her to aid Saint James and his friends.

A statue of Saint James the GreaterOur Lord, seeing His Mother’s holy desire from heaven, commanded the angels of her guard to carry her to Spain. Immediately, one thousand angels appeared before her and, placing her on a shining throne of clouds, carried her across the sea to Granada.

All the while, Saint James and his disciples remained in great danger. The Jews already had their swords bared and ready to strike when, looking up, the Apostle beheld his beloved Queen and Mother coming on this dazzling cloud surrounded by angels. She spoke beautiful words of encouragement to this faithful son and made him understand that he and his companions were not yet to shed their blood for her Son.

At her command, their fetters and chains fell to the ground. Simultaneously, the would-be executioners fell as if dead and remained stunned for many hours. The devils that had accompanied them and incited them to this terrible deed were hurled into the deepest abysses of Hell, leaving Saint James and his friends completely free.

Saint James was filled with joy at the sight of his Queen and what she had done. He thanked her from the depth of his heart and, bowing his face to the ground, thanked God Our Lord for such a favor. Although the other disciples had not seen her and the thousand angels, they understood that a great miracle had taken place, and Saint James later told them what he had seen to increase and confirm their Faith.

Before leaving, the Most Holy Mother wished to bless Spain even further by sending Saint James all over its territory to preach the new Faith of her Son. For this she assigned hundreds of her own angels to accompany him and his disciples wherever they went, showing them the way and protecting them from every danger. In this manner, the Son of Thunder and his worthy friends traveled throughout Spain and brought about many conversions.
Eventually they entered the old city of Saragossa. There, the Mother of God came to visit Saint James once more. This came about in the following manner.

 

Spain honored by a second visit from the Mother of God

One day, Our Lord Jesus decided in heaven to visit His mother in her home in Jerusalem to speak with her about Saint James. While she prayed, He entered her room seated on a shining throne and surrounded by thousands of angels. He told her that He wanted her to visit Saint James in Saragossa and have him build a house of prayer in her honor so that through her He might be specially honored there.

Once again the angels built a shining throne of clouds and, placing their Queen on it, carried her over the land and sea to far away Spain. This time, however, Our Lord had commanded them to travel slowly so that along the way they might sing beautiful songs to her. Their repertoire included the “Ave Maria,” “Salve Sancta Parens,” “Salve Regina,” and “Regina coeli laetare,” chanted by various choruses of angels in the most pleasing harmony.

During this joyous celestial singing, the most humble Lady returned all this praise to God Most High: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, have pity on the poor children of Eve. Thine is the glory, Thine the power and majesty. Thou alone art holy, the most High and the Lord of all the heavenly armies and of all creation.”

Meanwhile, Saint James was camped outside the walls of Saragossa with his disciples. He was praying by himself some distance from them when he suddenly perceived the most beautiful music he had ever heard.

The disciples, some while praying and others awakening from sleep, likewise heard this heavenly chorus, and their hearts filled with an ineffable joy. Looking up, they saw a most brilliant light forming a luminous globe. Evidently something marvelous was happening.

The angels singing and carrying the Blessed Mother to Saragossa on clouds, and presenting the statue and pillar to Saint James To his immense joy, the holy Son of Thunder once again beheld, within this brilliance, his holy Mother coming across the sky to visit him. All resplendent with the very light of God as she sat on her throne of clouds, the great Lady far outshone her angel escort.
The angels placed the throne with their Queen within sight of the Apostle who, beside himself with joy, bowed low to the earth. The loving Queen greeted him sweetly and then gave him a blessing in the name of her Son Jesus.

 

Our Lady of the Pillar of Saragossa

Saint James noticed that some of the angels held a small marble column and a small statue of their Queen holding the Infant God. Our Lady relayed to him the desire of her Divine Son that he build a temple on that very spot to be dedicated to her name so that, through her, Her Son might be glorified.

Our Lady of the Pillar  - a Statue of Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus In His name she promised great favors and blessings to those who sincerely requested her intercession in this church, as well as her protection and assistance, “for this is to be my house and temple, my inheritance and possession.” The column and the statue were presented as a pledge of this promise: “In the temple which thou shalt build for me, it shall remain and be preserved, together with the holy faith, until the end of the world.”

She told him that he should begin building this church immediately. When it was finished, he was to return to Jerusalem where he would be called to imitate his Lord Jesus, the first of the Apostles to surrender his life for Him. She assured him that she would be there to assist him.

As she finished speaking, she ordered the angels to place the column with her statue on the ground. As soon as this was done, both the angels and Saint James gave thanks to God and celebrated this spot as the first place on earth to be dedicated to the name of Mary Most Holy for the greater glory of Almighty God.

Such was the beginning of the famous shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar of Saragossa. The original chapel built by Saint James has grown into a great church that stands today on the very site of Our Lady’s visit nearly 2000 years ago.

Our Lady guaranteed this before leaving by appointing one of her angels to guard the statue and the place against every attack of devil or man. And attack it the devil has done, throughout all these years, but that mighty angel has foiled every attempt of the infernal fiend.

So, dear reader, if you wish to see this great marvel that is, still today, the great church of Our Lady of the Pillar, the very first place dedicated to Holy Mary even as she was still on this earth, you have only to go with a sincere heart and you will certainly receive her sweet favor.

  


Adapted from The Mystical City of God, by Venerable Maria of Agreda, “The Coronation,” Chapters 16 and 17.

Footnote: One of the miraculous aspects of the statue of Our Lady of the Pillar, in Saragossa, Spain, is that dust never settles on it.

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 18, 2019

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics, than many compli...

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November 18

 

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics,
than many compliant with the enemies of the Church
and conformed to the foes of our Faith.

St. Peter Canisius


DEFEND Our Lady's HONOR !

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

During the French Revolution, the Sisters of the Visitation...

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St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born on August 29, 1769 in the French city of Grenoble, Rose Philippine was baptized in the Church of St. Louis. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut and, against her father’s wishes, became a novice there when she was eighteen years old. However, the French Revolution caused much disruption for the nuns, and when the Sisters of the Visitation were expelled from their convents, Rose returned home.

She cared for the sick and the poor, helped fugitive priests, visited prisons, and taught children. Some time after the Revolution ended, she unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the Visitation community, and ultimately gave the convent to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and joined the Order. When the Bishop of New Orleans, William Du Bourg, requested nuns for his thriving diocese in Louisiana, Rose and four other nuns made the trip to America in 1818.

Rose and the nuns were sent to Missouri, pioneers of the New World. There, as well in neighboring states, they established multiple schools, built a convent, an orphanage, a mission school for Indian girls, a boarding academy and a novitiate for her Order. However, the strenuous and difficult regime of work for her apostolate took its toll on her body. She died in St. Charles, Missouri in 1852 after spending more than 30 years as a pioneer in the evangelization of the New World. She was canonized in 1988. Rose was truly devoted to God, and prayed in her every spare moment. Because of this, the Indians began to call her “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or "Woman-Who-Prays-Always."

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WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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