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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 May 18, 2021

Our Lord loves you and loves you tenderly; and if He does no...

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May 18

 

Our Lord loves you
and loves you tenderly; and
if He does not let you feel the sweetness of His love,
it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Eric IX of Sweden

The king’s zeal for the faith was far from pleasing to his...

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St. Eric IX of Sweden

Eric the Holy or Erik the Saint was acknowledged king in most provinces of Sweden in 1150, and his family line subsisted for a hundred years. He did much to establish Christianity in Upper Sweden and built or completed at Old Uppsala the first large church to be erected in the country. It is said that all the ancient laws and constitutions of the kingdom were, by his orders, collected into one volume, which came to be known as King Eric’s Law or The Code of Uppland.

The king soon had to take up arms against the heathen Finns. He vanquished them in battle, and at his desire, St. Henry, Bishop of Uppsala, who had accompanied him on the expedition, remained in Finland to evangelize the people.

The king’s zeal for the Catholic Faith was far from pleasing to his nobles, and we are told that they entered into a conspiracy against him with Magnus, the son of the king of Denmark. King Eric was hearing Mass on the day after the feast of the Ascension when news was brought that a Danish army, swollen with Swedish rebels, was marching against him and was close at hand. With unwavering calm he answered, “Let us at least finish the sacrifice; the rest of the feast I shall keep elsewhere”. After Mass was over, he recommended his soul to God, and marched forth in advance of his guards. The conspirators rushed upon him, beat him down from his horse, and beheaded him. His death occurred on May 18 in 1161.

The relics of St. Eric IX of Sweden are preserved in the Cathedral of Uppsala, and the saintly king's effigy appears on the coat of arms of the city of Stockholm.

Pope St. John I

The king had the pontiff arrested at Ravenna and thrown into...

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Pope St. John I

St. John I was a native of Siena in Tuscany and was one of the seven deacons of Rome when he was elected to the papacy at the death of Pope Hormisdas in the year 523.

At the time, Theodoric the Great ruled over the Ostrogoths in Italy and Justin I was the Byzantine Emperor of Constantinople. King Theodoric supported the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

Justin I, the first Catholic on the throne of Constantinople in fifty years, published a severe edict against the Arians, requiring them to return to orthodox Catholics the churches they had taken from them. The said edict caused a commotion among eastern Arians, and spurred Theodoric to threaten war.

Ultimately, he opted for a diplomatic solution and named Pope John, much against his wishes, to head a delegation of five bishops and four senators to Justin.

Pope John, refused to comply with Theodoric’s wishes to influence Justin to reverse his policies. The only thing he did obtain from Justin was for him to mitigate his treatment of Arians, thus avoiding reprisals against Catholics in Italy.

After the delegation returned, Theodoric, disappointed with the result of the mission, and growing daily more suspicious at reports of the friendly relations between the Pope and Justin I, had the pontiff arrested at Ravenna.

Pope John I died in prison a short time later as a result of ill treatment.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

As the century began anew, so did Catherine’s life. Cathe...

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The Rosary & True Beauty

As the century began anew, so did Catherine’s life.

Catherine was a young woman possessing great beauty. So much so, that she was known to those in Rome where she made her home as “Catherine the Beautiful.” Sadly, Catherine’s beauty went only skin deep, and she led a very sinful life.

One afternoon, strolling the streets of Rome, Catherine heard the voice of St. Dominic. This was the early 13th century and it was not unusual to cross paths with this great man of God.

On this particular day, he was preaching on the devotion to the Mother of God and the importance of praying her most holy Rosary. Caught up in the moment, Catherine had her name inscribed in the book of the confraternity and began to recite the Rosary. Though praying the Rosary gave her a sense of calmness she had not known before, Catherine did not abandon her sinful ways.

One evening, a youth, apparently a nobleman, came to her house. Catherine invited the handsome young man to stay to dine with her. When they were at supper, she saw drops of blood falling from his hands while he was breaking a piece of bread. Moments later, she observed, much to her discomfort, that all the food he took was tinged with blood.

Gathering up some courage to appease her curiosity, she asked him what that blood meant. With a firm but gentle look in his eyes, the youth replied that a Christian should take no food that was not tinged with the blood of Jesus Christ and sweetly seasoned with the memory of His passion.

Amazed at this reply, Catherine asked him who he was. "Soon," he answered, "I will show you." The rest of their meal passed uneventfully, yet always the drops of red catching Catherine’s eye, causing her to wonder about this man she supped with.

After dinner, when they had withdrawn into another room, the appearance of the youth changed. To Catherine’s stunned gaze, he showed himself crowned with thorns, his flesh torn and bleeding.

With the same firm but gentle gaze he said to her: “Do you wish to know who I am? Do you not know me? I am your Redeemer. Catherine, when will you cease to offend me? See how much I have suffered for you. You have grieved me enough, change your life."

Catherine began to weep bitterly, and Jesus, encouraging her, said: "Now begin to love me as much as you have offended me; and know that you have received this grace from me, on account of the Rosary you have been accustomed to recite in honor of my mother." And then he disappeared.

Catherine went in the morning to make her confession to St. Dominic, whose preaching on the Rosary had brought so marvelous a grace into her life. Giving to the poor all she possessed, from that day forward Catherine led so holy and joyful a life that she attained to great perfection.

It could now be said of her among the inhabitants of Rome that Catherine was indeed beautiful, but her beauty was no longer skin deep; her loveliness radiated from the depths of her soul.

The Most Holy Virgin often appeared to her; and Jesus himself revealed to St. Dominic, that this penitent had become very dear to him.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

As the century began anew, so did Catherine’s life. Catherine was a young woman possessing great beauty.

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