Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."
But we begin in Spain, where the first devotion to Our Lady of Good Success was officially recognized in 1606. At that time, two Spanish friars to meet with the Pope Paul V to receive approval for their order, the Order of Saint Francis of Paola. During their travels, they were overtaken by a storm of such magnitude it threatened their lives. Praying in earnest for the Lord’s guidance and assistance, they immediately saw a glowing light emanating from a cave in the cliffs above them. Climbing up, they entered the cave and discovered a beautiful statue of the Blessed Virgin cradling the infant Jesus in her arms. They were surrounded by otherworldly shimmering lights and sweet fragrances. They carried the statue with them to their visit with the pope, hoping the Blessed Mother would facilitate their meeting.
Upon presentation to Pope Paul V, he knelt before the statue and placed his cross around the neck. As he embraced and kissed the statue, he said to the brothers:
“Look Brothers! She is smiling! Why does she smile so? What good success you have had on this journey! There is no doubt that Our Lady has deigned to protect and support you in your work. Therefore it will not be me that will go against Her. May all of your efforts obtain good success!”
Pope Paul V blessed the radiant statue and christened her Our Lady of Good Success. The image was dedicated and displayed in the Royal Hospital of Madrid where it became known for miracles, "for the numerous favors granted by Heaven through her.” . Presently, the statue resides in the Church of Buen Suceso in Madrid.
Around that same time, five religious sisters of the Order of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception traveled from Spain to Quito, Ecuador to start the first convent. A young girl, no more than 13, Mariana de Jésus Torres, joined them on the journey as she was planning on joining the Order. Even at a young age, Mariana was recognized as devout, pure, and filled with the grace of God.
The Blessed Mother appeared to Mariana a number of times, over the next decade. The most notable of these apparations occurred on February 2 (which I will blog about on February 2, the feast day of Our Lady of Good Success) and January 16.
On January 16, Our Lady of Good Success appeared to Mariana as she was praying in the choir loft of the convent church. Our lady commanded that a statue be made in her likeness stating:
“…now I ask and command you to have a statue to be made for the consolation and preservation of my convent and for those faithful souls of that epoch during which there will be a great devotion to me, for I am the Queen of Heaven under many invocations…With the making of this statue I will favor not only my convent, but also the people of Quito—and all the people throughout the centuries.”
Our Lady of Good Success further told Mother Mariana that the statue she commanded be built would serve the following two purposes:
“First so that men in the future might realize how powerful I am in placating Divine Justice and obtaining mercy and pardon for every sinner who comes to me with a contrite heart. For I am the Mother of Mercy and in me there is only goodness and love… and second, when tribulations of spirit and sufferings of the body oppress them and they seem to be drowning in this bottomless sea let them gaze at my holy image and I will always be there ready to listen to their cries and soothe their pain. Tell them that they should always run to their Mother with confidence and love...”
After years of suffering, and eventual approval from her bishop, Mariana had a stutue commissioned by sculpter Francisco del Castillo, a talented artist and known devotee of the Blessed Mother. The miracle associated with the completion fo this statue will be discussed later.
Throughout the rest of her life, Mariana continued to receive apparitions from Our Lady, many of which contained prophecies of future centuriess, recorded then, and having some true since. The message that consistently was delivered by Our Lady of Great Success to Mariana involved staying true to Christ, dangers of laxity in the church, upholding of virtue, and penance and prayer. She implores us to remain faithful to the church, and pray for church leaders, and not to lose hope when all seemed lost. In her last will and testament, Mariana wrote: “Have recourse to her in all your spiritual and temporal needs. When your souls suffer temptations and are immersed in grief, and if the star of your vocation is hidden by Divine permission from the sight of your soul, turn to her with confidence and say:
‘Star of the stormy sea of my mortal life, may your light shine upon me so that I do not stray from the path that leads me to heaven.’
Thus, Our Lady of Great Success is also known as” Star of the Stormy Sea.”
Mariana predicted her own death, based upon her visitations with the Blessed Virgin. She died peacefully on January 16, 1635, on the anniversary of a visitation. In 1906 during the remodeling of the Convent, the sarcophagus in which she had been buried in 1635 was opened and her body was discovered, whole and incorrupt, and exuding the strong fragrance of lilies. Mother Mariana is today known as the “Lily of Quito” and her body preserved in the lower level of the cloistered Convent.
“Good Success” might be misleading to us, leading us to believe that Our Lady was a means to material or worldly possessions or wealth. This, however, is not the connotation of the name given at the time. The invocation of “good success” refers to the perfect gestational development of Christ in the womb of Mary, from conception to birth. It is likely that this term was originally understood by the faithful as a plea for safe child development and delivery, but was easily extended to the invocation of the Blessed Mother’s mediation and intercession in times of need and at death. As the “Star of the Stormy Sea,” an invocation to the Blessed Mother for safe travels became especially common by sailors. Lastly “good success” speaks of broad protection Mary offers the Church, and of the new era that will come. It is an invocation that relates to the future.
Today, we look to Mother Mariana and her willingness to suffer and offer penance for others. We pray in a special way for the intercessions of Our Lady of Good Success, that we may be willing to suffer, offer penance, and keep the faith of Christ in times that are challenging. We pray, too, for the Church, and for it’s leaders.
I also continue the Novena to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, asking for special intercession from Our Lady of Good Success.
Day 16 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Suffering, Penance, Faith, the Church; Those suffering in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake
Prayer Requests: For a loved one’s recovery from breast cancer (P); Peace in the life of a son (J); For an increased willingness to help others (P);
Special Intentions: Those trying to conceive or adopt; Those who are pregnant or expecting children; New parents; Those who have experienced miscarriage or pregnancy complications