He Gave Her to Us
For thirty-three years, Our Lady lived on this earth with her Son. During those years, she cared for Him, taught Him, laughed with Him and cried for Him. She experienced great joys but her joys were overshadowed by her sorrows. Only she can tell of the depth of her sufferings as she took on the sufferings of her Son.
At the Wedding at Cana, it was Mary whose direction began His ministry. And at the foot of His cross, He directed her when He gave her to us as our mother.
Both Jesus and Mary knew that her becoming our mother would not be an easy assignment. In fact, it would go far beyond what we know as motherhood, for it would involve her teaching and guiding us. It would involve picking us up when we fall, comforting us when we are hurting, wiping our tears and listening to our never ending requests for her intercession. But most importantly, being our heavenly mother would involve leading us to her Son and this is a wearying mission.
There are many ways Our Lady touches our lives; her love for us exemplifies His love for us. Mary has one major concern; one absolute goal. Over 2,000 years ago, she told us what we were to do when she said, “Do whatever He tells you.” But we are not always in tune to what He tells us. In fact, much of the time, we are not even listening. So Mary, Our marvelous Mary, had one choice, that choice being to come to us and she has been doing this since before her Assumption.
Tirelessly, through the years, in an effort to remind us of the price we will pay if we do not do what He tells us, Mary has been appearing to her children. There is no rest for Mary and she will not rest until we get the message.
Visions of Tenderness
Approximately 2500 apparitions have been reported since the first in 40 AD.
Our Lady of the Pillar
The first Marian apparition is said to have occurred on January 2, 40 AD, when the apostle, James the Greater, was proclaiming the Gospel in what we now known as Zaragoza, Spain, a town by the river Ebro on the Iberian Peninsula. Legend tells that James’ mission was not going well. James considered this a failure and, in that, a disappointment to Jesus. Somewhat despondent, Saint James was in deep prayer when he saw Our Lady standing on a six foot tall jasper pillar which was carried by angels. Amazingly, at this time, Mary had not yet been assumed into heaven. This tells us that she bi-located.
Our Lady advised Saint James to return to Jerusalem. She said, “This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build… and the people of this land will honor greatly my Son Jesus”
The chapel was originally built by Saint James but later destroyed as were other chapels built on the same site. The statue and pillar, whose jasper cannot be matched anywhere in the world, were preserved for nearly 2,000 years. They are still seen on special occasions. The image of Our Lady of the Pillar is a golden wooded statue which thirty-three workmen completed in forty-four days. 2,836 diamonds triangularly cut, 2725 roses, 145 pearls, 74 emeralds, 62 rubies, and 46 sapphires decorate this statue which stands about fifteen inches tall.
Through the years, those who have visited the Virgin there, and sought her intercession, have attributed many miracles to her. News of these healings and miracles quickly spread. This, of course, lead to Church investigations.
In 1730, Pope Innocent XIII authorized veneration to Our Lady of the Pillar throughout the entire Spanish Empire, and it is under this title that the Blessed Virgin is invoked as the Patroness of Aragon. Saint Pope Pius X conferred upon the image a canonical coronation in the year 1905.
Other Early Apparitions
There are three additional very early apparitions when Mary appeared to one or all of the apostles.
In 48 AD, Our Lady appeared to the Apostles in Ephesus, Asia Minor (Turkey). Legend tells that she appeared to the apostles three days after her Assumption. Arrayed in light more brilliant than the sun, she looked to them as they pleaded for help and protection from heaven. “I’ll stay with you in eternity,” she promised.
It is my personal belief that although the apostles were the visionaries when Our Lady made this promise, she was pledging assurance not only to the apostles but to all her children and this promise continues on to this day.
Another legend tells that shortly after the apparition in Ephesus, Mary appeared to Saint Thomas in India.
Of the apparitions to the apostles, my favorite is the apparition titled, “The Woman Clothed in the Sun.” This occurred in 81 AD when Mary appeared to Saint John the Evangelist shortly before he wrote the Book of Revelation. Mary had lived with John until her Assumption into heaven but John lived on this earth until the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). John had come to know and love Mary as his mother and even though he was joyful that she was now in heaven with her Son, he missed her very much and was saddened by her absence. Mary knew this and, it is believed that she often visited him to console him.
Belief is that, through this magnificent image of Our Lady, the Holy Spirit was revealing an important image of her heavenly glory.
Saint Lawrence (AD 225-258), in a homily, spoke, “Saint John seems to me to have wished to mark with an eternal monument a certain single apparition of the Virgin when he said, “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). Other Fathers of the Church agreed and never doubted that Mary always appeared to Saint John surrounded by her majestic brilliance. Saint Lawrence also said, “Through this heavenly apparition the Lord wished to show to Saint John the nature and greatness of the treasure whom he entrusted to his care on earth. He wished to show the whole Catholic Church, to all those who have faith in Christ, what kind and how great is the stature and glory of the most Holy Virgin in Paradise in the presence of the Angels and the Saints of God.”
Our next recorded apparition took place in the year 105 in Kuravilangad (India) when Our Lady is believed to have appeared to shepherd children as they were attending their flock. She asked the children to build a church at the place where a perpetual spring existed. When the children told this to the Church elders, a church was built. The spring still exists.
Apparitions continued and included Mary appearing to a Jewish child in Constantinople in 552, an appearance in Gualdo Tadino (Italy), and Our Lady of the Vineyards in Genoa (Italy) in 560. Sometime in the 600’s Mary appeared to a swineherd in Evesham, Worcestershire, England.
From unapproved to Vatican approved, apparitions continue to this day. A few of the most well-known Vatican approved apparitions include Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in 1830, Our Lady of La Salette in 1846, Lourdes in 1858 and Fatima, 1917, but there are more. You can see a complete list of Vatican approved apparitions here:
All she wants; all Our Lady really wants is for us to turn away from the sin of the world and follow her Son. We live in a world filled with hatred, greed, and corruption but we can choose to turn away from the darkness and follow His light. We can turn the greed into charity and the hatred into love. We can believe Saint Francis when he said, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
Mary tells us to consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart. She doesn’t want this for herself. She wants it because it is through her Immaculate Heart that we are lead to her son. She wants to reserve our seat in heaven.
Ultimately, it is our free choice that will get us there……..or not.
Marilyn Nash www.Gardenias4Lina.com
Feature image ~ The Wedding at Cana Giotto di Bondone 1305