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Header-Our Lady of Las Lajas: A Continuous Miracle

 

The merciful predilection of the Mother of God for Latin America is the reward she has given for the heroic faith formed from the Iberian Peninsula during the 800 years’ struggle against the invading Moors and found in the Latin American peoples’ souls in which Divine Providence willed to deposit it.

From Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, no nation has failed to receive special favors from Our Lady. However, her interventions did not occur in just any manner. She presented herself with unheard of magnificence and splendor, making it clear that she came to preside over Latin America from on high.

 

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Our Lady of Las Lajas

 

The History of a Predilection

As an example of this magnificence, consider how the Most Holy Virgin has stamped her image on the imposing cliffs of the Guaitara Canyon, Colombia, thereby becoming Queen of the souls in that region and in all surrounding lands.

In the year 1754, Maria Mueses de Quiñones, an Indian woman from Colombia, was going from her hometown of Potosi to the village of Ipiales when she was caught in a great storm. At a place called Las Lajas (the Rock Slabs), she sought refuge in a grotto. However, she was anxious since there was a popular legend that said the devil lived in the grotto. With trepidation, she entered the darkness of the grotto, invoking the Virgin of the Rosary. Suddenly, she felt someone tapping at her back, as though calling her. Frightened, she fled back into the storm.

A few days later, returning by the same route, she once again reached the cliffs of Las Lajas, carrying on her back her little daughter Rosa, who was a deaf-mute since birth. Being tired and wanting to rest, Maria Mueses de Quiñones sat down to rest timidly on a stone near the grotto. Then the first miracle occurred. Her deaf-mute child suddenly spoke, “Mommy, look at the mestiza who has detached herself from the rock with a little boy in her arms and two little mestizos at her side!” With this exclamation, Rosa slid off her mother’s back to climb up the grotto’s stones. Struck with terror, Maria took her daughter and fled from the mysterious place.Grotto of Our Lady of Las Lajas

There was general bewilderment among Maria’s friends and acquaintances in Potosi when she told them what had happened.
Thirsting for the supernatural, the Indians listened to her, asked her many questions, and commented among themselves about the singular event, but took no further action.

In the meantime, Rosa disappeared, causing her mother great concern. Maria searched to no avail, until she remembered the episode at the grotto, and returned there to look for Rosa. She found her daughter kneeling before a splendid woman and playing affectionately with a child who had come down from his mother’s arms. Knowing she beheld the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus, Maria fell to her knees before this beautiful spectacle, and she was no longer afraid.

*     *     *
 

Shortly thereafter, Our Lady performed a spectacular miracle that prompted the news of the marvelous presence to spread throughout lands near the rocky banks of the Guaitara River.

Church of Our Lady of Las LajasUnexpectedly, Rosa sickened and died. Her grieving mother carried her body in her arms to the grotto in order to beg the Virgin for help. Reminding the Virgin of Rosa’s solicitude in bringing her candles and flowers, she begged Our Lady to bring her back to life. In answer to her prayers, the Queen of Heaven and Earth performed the miracle of the child’s resurrection. Maria told her employers in Ipiales about the extraordinary event.

Moved by the news, they went with priests, distinguished persons and many local people to the apparition’s site. It was then that all saw stamped on the rock face a magnificent image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, holding her Infant Son, with Saints Dominic and Francis kneeling at their feet. The Virgin extended a Rosary to Saint Dominic and the Infant a Franciscan cord to Saint Francis.

Today, an enormous quantity of mementos and tokens of thanksgiving attest to the devotion and gratitude of the Colombian people since the time of the apparition.

 

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Historical and Scientific  Aspects of the Image of Las Lajas

An interesting aspect of the image is the presence of Saint Dominic de Guzmán and Saint Francis of Assisi, the founders of the two orders that first evangelized Colombia and to whom Colombians have always had a special devotion.

The image of Our Lady of Las Lajas, as that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, has spanned the centuries without losing its brilliance. In the case of Las Lajas, the Divine Painter used a fade-proof method. After German geologists bored core samples from several spots in the image, they determined there was no paint, no dye, or any other pigment on the surface of the rock; the colors are the colors of the rock itself, and they penetrate into the rock evenly for several feet!

In 1952, Pius XII granted a canonical crowning of Our Lady of Las Lajas, and in 1954, the gothic church erected to house the image was dedicated as a minor basilica, with the presence of the entire Colombian Episcopate.

 

In the Eyes of the Queen, Ariel view of the Shrine and Grotto of Our Lady of Las Lajas
the True and Authentic Latin America

In the course of the two thousand years in which the Church has spread throughout the world, artists have frequently shaped Our Lady’s physical aspect according to the type of women of their time and region. This has happened in paintings, sculpture, stained-glass windows, and other media. The most ancient statues of her attest to this fact. In the remote days of the Church, statues of Mary Most Holy depicted her with a Mediterranean physical aspect. As the Faith spread among the Nordic people, blond and blue-eyed representations of Our Lady appeared.

The modeling of images according to the regional feminine physical aspect is agreeable to Our Lady. This is proved by the fact when she impresses her image on some object in order to perpetuate the memory of an apparition or when she appears to a seer who then later describes her to an artist who will interpret the seer’s description into a painting or sculpture. In Mexico, for example, Our Lady of Guadalupe stamped her image with Mexican physiognomies on Juan Diego’s serape, where she can be seen standing on the moon and obscuring the sun that is behind her. The Aztecs worshiped the sun and the moon as gods, and the sight of this powerful lady overcoming their gods was the catalyst in the Mexican Indians’ conversion. In Colombia, God performed the prodigy of printing Our Lady of Las Lajas on a rock. In view of these two very short examples, who can deny the deeply religious atmosphere characteristic of images painted by the Angels?

As limited as one’s sense of observation may be, one cannot fail to exclaim upon seeing her, “Look how Latin American she is!” Something very essential, a reflection of the qualities and virtues of the Latin American people, is expressed in Our Lady of Las Lajas.

But what does her physical aspect tell us? We find a great personality, the profound and intelligent gaze of a meditating and recollected person. She has an extraordinary stability and solidity, a continuity of will and temperament. Nothing shakes or agitates her. There is no arrogance or ostentation, but rather the dominion of one who is accustomed to having her will obeyed. She could not have a better veil than her long, abundant, beautiful hair. The color and richness of her dress are those of a Queen. She is extremely kind and motherly. How good and safe the Child Jesus feels in her arms! What throne could be more worthy of Him? He is almost at play, with the liberty of a child.

It is curious to note the relationship between Mother and Son. Frequently their images present them gazing at each other, but not in Las Lajas. They are so accustomed to being together that they have no need to look at each other in order to sustain their mutual attention. She directs her eyes toward the Latin American people, heeding their supplications, orienting and commanding them. Meanwhile, the Child Jesus enters the intimacy of those who arrive at the Queen’s feet—a Queen who displays in her gaze a kindness so exalted that she moves us to trust her entirely.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 16, 2020

Today God invites you to do good; do it therefore today. Tom...

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July 16

 

Today God invites you to do good;
do it therefore today.
Tomorrow you may not have time, or
God may no longer call you to do it.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in t...

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel can be traced back to the hermits living on Mount Carmel in Israel during the Old Testament. This ancient community prayed for the advent of the Virgin-Mother through whom salvation was promised to mankind. In Hebrew, “Carmel” means “garden”. In ancient times this mountain was celebrated for its lush, verdant, and flowery beauty.

It was also on Mount Carmel that the Prophet Elijah prayed to God for rain during a terrible drought afflicting Israel for its sins and idolatry of Baal. The first sign that his prayer was answered was a tiny cloud that appeared in the sky out over the Mediterranean, the precursor of a great rainfall.

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (7:14). The hermits took after his example and prayed likewise for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. Praying thus became their spiritual mission.

Theologians see in that little cloud a figure of Mary, bringing salvation in the seventh age of the world. As the clouds arise out of the sea without the weight and the salinity of the waters, so has Mary arisen out of the human race without its stains.

In the twelfth century, St. Berthold, a Frenchman, pilgrim or crusader, came to Mount Carmel seeking to visit Elijah’s cave, and ended by founding a community imbued with the Marian spirit of the holy prophet and the hermits of old.

St. Brocard, successor of St. Berthold, set their way of life to a Rule, which was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. From the time of St. Brocard, these monks were known as the “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel cannot be mentioned without also mentioning her brown scapular. On July 16, 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite monk, and then General of the Carmelite Order. On one arm she held the Child Jesus and on the other a brown garment called a scapular, to be draped over the front and back of a person. As she showed him this garment she said, “This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.”

This privilege is extended to lay persons who, wishing to participate in this promise, choose to be enrolled in a small version of the scapular by an officiating priest or deacon.

This practice must not be understood superstitiously or “magically”, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are required for salvation.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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