Aug 02

FIRST SUNDAY OF AUGUST – FEAST OF GOD THE FATHER OF ALL MANKIND

God the Father of all Mankind, The Father desires to have one Sunday every year dedicated to honouring Gods paternal nature under the title of “Father of all Mankind “. God the Father has chosen the 1st Sunday in August . We celebrate this in Cardiff on Sunday 2rd August 2015 at 3.00pm .  Nazareth House ,Cathays Cardiff . CF 10 3UN

Pope John Paul II wrote: “The whole of the Christian life is like a great pilgrimage to the house of the Father, whose unconditional love for every human creature, and in particular for the ‘prodigal son, we discover anew each day.’ In the Old Testament the Jewish people realised that God loved them like a father, and Jesus taught his followers to call the Father ‘abba’, a word which means ‘daddy’.

Every day we say the Our Father prayer, and every day we offer the sacrifice of Jesus to the Father (at Mass). Nonetheless it is surprising that the Church has not instituted a special feast day for the Father. This is currently being requested of Rome, particularly by the Father of All Mankind Apostolate. The prayers that follow are taken from a publication produced by that organisation, and it has the Imprimatur.

Why promote a feast day for God the Father at this time? Because the Father has made it clear that he wants us to draw closer to him. Extraordinary as it sounds, in 1932 an Italian nun called Mother Eugenia Ravasio had visions of God the Father: ‘Her most important legacy to us is the Message of the Father, the only private revelation made personally by God the Father and recognised as authentic by the Church, after ten years of the most rigorous examination.” The Bishop of Grenoble conducted the Enquiry and he wrote: “The object of the mission which would appear to have been entrusted to Mother Eugenia is precise and, from the doctrinal point of view, I see it as legitimate and timely. Its precise object is to make God the Father known and honoured, mainly by the institution of a special feast which has been of the Church. The Enquiry established that a liturgical feast in honour of the Father would be quite in keeping with catholic practice as a whole.”

The above quotations come from the book The Father Speaks to His Children (Imprimatur 1989). It is worth repeating that this is the first time in the history of the Church that private revelation from the Father has been authenticated. Therefore we should feel very blessed that it is for our times.

In the Bible God made his presence known in various ways, and in order to speak with Mother Eugenia the Father took the form of a young man. He said: “I cannot give my beloved Son another time to prove my love for men! I am now coming among them in order to love them and make them know this love, assuming their image and their poverty…” God the Father wanted us to have a picture, which would represent him and remind us of his presence. The above icon resembles the description given by Mother Eugenia.
(Why didn’t we hear about this wonderful event before? The heresy of ‘modernism’ has tainted the Church for over 150 years, and one of its influences is an indifference to private revelation. Even Fatima and the Divine Mercy messages are not appreciated.)

When teaching the Jews at the time of Moses, God instructed them on how he wanted to be honoured. He asked for an 8-day feast with the final day called the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23 v.33-43). This formula was later repeated, with another 8-days and the final day called the Feast of Dedication of the Temple. Octave is the Latin word which signifies the number 8, and the Church continued the tradition of associating 8 days with a major feast. In our times, God instituted Divine Mercy Sunday as the 8′ day of Easter – a fulfilment of the Easter promises. Now, in giving honour to the Father we again use an octave of prayer. The 8th day falls on the first Sunday in August – the Father’s chosen day for the feast. This means that the octave starts on the last Sunday in July.

However the prayers can also be said at any time. The main purpose of the eight days of prayer, is that they will focus our minds on the Father in various ways. Then we will be ready to consecrate ourselves to the Father. This preparation and consecration is important: God wants us to re-dedicate ourselves to him. In the Bible, after the Temple had been defiled by invaders, the Jews had an 8-day feast of re-Dedication. Similarly, our souls are defiled by sin and apathy, and the consecration will be a renewal and blessing for us.

Permanent link to this article: http://luisapiccarreta.com/feast-of-god-the-father-of-all-mankind/

Aug 02

August 2 The Portiuncula Indulgence

From Franciscan friars website: tHE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

THE PORTIUNCULA INDULGENCE

First Sunday in August

[Image] 

The Sunday

Sermon 

 

The Sunday Sermon Archive

1. The Portiuncula indulgence, which we can gain every year on the first Sunday of August, we owe to the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. In the year 513 four hermits who had visited the holy places in Palestine, came to Italy and settled down in Spoleto, in the vicinity of Assisium. There they built a little chapel, which afterwards came into the possession of the Benedictines and had various names, of which the most common was The Portiuncula church. The Benedictines held possession of it up to the thirteenth century. About that time there lived in Assisi a very pious and holy man, named Francis. In the year 1210 he founded a new Order, the Order of the Friars Minor, at present known throughout the whole world under the name of the Franciscan Order. As this saint esteemed poverty and lowliness above all, he greatly loved the poor little Portiuncula church and besought the Benedictine Abbot to let him and the brothers of his Order have the little church for their use, which request the Abbot cheerfully granted. From that date the little Portiuncula church, which in course of time was enlarged and beautified, has remained in the possession of the Franciscans.

It was in this little church that St. Francis implored of God the Portiuncula indulgence. One day (it was in October, 1221) while he was bitterly weeping in his cell over poor, unfortunate sinners, an angel suddenly appeared and told him that the Son of God in company with his Virgin Mother and a host of angels had visibly descended into the Portiuncula church and would permit him to appear before His throne of grace. Without delay the saint repaired to the little church and found there all as the angel had told him. Full of holy awe he threw himself upon his face and adored Jesus most profoundly. Jesus looked graciously upon him and permitted him to ask any favor, with the assurance of obtaining the object of his request. The saint took courage and begged that all sinners visiting the church and confessing their sins with a contrite heart might receive full pardon. Jesus replied to him: “Francis, you ask much, but I will favor you with greater things still; your prayer is granted, but go to my vicar, the Pope, and in my name ask for the indulgence which I have granted to you.” The wonderful apparition disappeared; no one was more rejoiced than Francis. The next day in company with one of his brothers he hastened to Pope Honorius III. and, prostrate before him, besought him to proclaim that every one visiting the church and there confessing his sins with a contrite heart would be as pure from all sin and punishments as he was immediately after baptism. Honorius was astonished at this strange petition, and hesitated to grant it. But Francis said: “What I ask, I do not ask of myself; our Lord Jesus Christ sends me to you and commands me to make this request.” The Pope having been convinced of the truth of his speech, granted his petition and ordered that the little church should be solemnly consecrated and the indulgence proclaimed for the second day of August. From that time pilgrims from all parts of the world flocked to the Portiuncula church in order to gain the indulgence, and numberless were the conversions which occurred at that shrine of grace. In order to make this indulgence more accessible to the faithful, the Popes subsequently extended it to all the churches of the Franciscans. Afterwards it was extended to all parish churches, and the first Sunday of August was appointed as the day for gaining it.

2. The Portiuncula indulgence has a miraculous origin. History says that Jesus, Mary and many angels appeared to St. Francis, that Jesus granted his petition for the indulgence and ordered him to ask the Pope to sanction it. Is this credible? Certainly; and so credible that every reasonable doubt is excluded. The Sacred Scriptures mention many similar apparitions. They frequently speak of apparitions of the angels in the Old and the New Testament. We also read of Christ, that after his Resurrection he appeared to the Apostles and to many other persons, and, long after his Ascension, to St. Paul on his way to Damascus. In the lives of the saints apparitions are very common. Our age especially is rich in apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, which cannot be denied, because they have occurred in different places, and are still occurring, and are certified to by a multitude of perfectly credible persons and confirmed by manifest miracles. Who would reject the history of the Portiuncula indulgence because in it there is mention made of a miraculous apparition?

Moreover, let us consider that it is St. Francis that appeals to this apparition as a fact, and upon the strength of it asks of the Pope the confirmation of the indulgence. Who could believe that this saint would have made himself guilty of such a base misrepresentation, that he would allege an apparition with which he had not been favored? How could this be reconciled with the character of a man who was so sincere and humble and who scarcely knew dissimulation by name? Or how could God have favored this saint, if he had been an impostor, with so many miracles and even with the sacred marks of his wounds?

Finally, the disciples and contemporaries of St. Francis confirm these apparitions. The learned and pious Pope Benedict XIV. says: “This history (of the Portiuncula indulgence) is fully proved by the testimony of Peter Galvani, who heard St. Francis preach and announce the said indulgence, as also by the testimony of two members of the Order., who related that in the year 1277 they heard the whole history from Father Matthew, the companion of St. Francis. Besides, the Church herself vouches for the reality of these apparitions and of everything connected with them, since she has sanctioned the indulgence and even to this day exhorts the faithful to gain it. The Portiuncula indulgence is of course a plenary indulgence. He who gains it obtains the remission of all the temporal punishments that he would be obliged to atone for either here or in Purgatory, and can, if he sins no more, go immediately to heaven after his death. Certainly this is a great grace, which the Portiuncula indulgence has in common with all other plenary indulgences. But this indulgence has some prerogatives which other plenary indulgences have not, and we will now consider them.

1. The Portiuncula indulgence is the first plenary indulgence that was ever granted in the Church. There were indeed indulgences at all times, but they were only partial, and only a partial remission of the temporal punishments could be obtained by them. But, as already remarked, he who gains the Portiuncula indulgence is freed from all temporal punishments and becomes as pure as after holy baptism. This was also the reason why Pope Honorius was astonished when St. Francis petitioned for the confirmation of this indulgence, for such an indulgence, up to that time, bad been entirely unknown. It was only after he had come to the conviction that Jesus Christ himself wished it, that he granted the petition of the saint and confirmed the indulgence.

2. This indulgence comes immediately from Christ and was granted by Him in person. It is true, all indulgences have their origin from Christ; for it is to his merits we owe not only the remission of sin and of eternal punishment but also the remission of temporal punishment, therefore indulgences have their origin in Him. Again, it is He who gave to St. Peter and his successors the plenary power of binding and loosing, therefore also the power of granting indulgences, in these words: “Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” Mall. 16: 19. Every indulgence, therefore, that the Pope grants, comes from Christ, not immediately, however, as is the case with the Portiuncula indulgence, which St. Francis obtained from Christ himself, the Pope only confirming it. On account of its origin the Portiuncula indulgence is more venerable than other indulgences.

3. This indulgence is granted for all time to come, i. e., until the consummation of the world. In the primitive ages of Christianity it was not customary to grant indulgences for ever, they could be gained only during a certain period. It was with them as it is with our jubilee indulgences, which are limited to a certain time, and which, after the lapse of that space of time, cannot be gained. When St. Francis preached in the Portiuncula church in the presence of several bishops, and solemnly announced to the assembled people the indulgence granted by Christ and confirmed by his vicar on earth, the Pope, and added that this indulgence could be gained on the second day of August for all time to come, the bishops were shocked at this addition and would have it only for ten years. They therefore raised their voice and were going to say, only for ten years, but miraculously guided by God, they unanimously cried out, for all time to come! The Portiuncula, indulgence, which has already continued for more than six hundred years, will continue till the end of the world, and even shortly before the coming of Christ to judgment this indulgence could still be gained.

4. The Portiuncula indulgence is comparatively easy to be gained. In all other indulgences several conditions are to be complied with, if we wish to gain them. He who wishes to gain a Jubilee indulgence must visit either several churches, or one church several times, fast a certain number of days, and give alms. He who wishes to gain a confraternity indulgence must belong to the confraternity and diligently keep its rules. Thus, for instance, the members of the Rosary confraternity must say the whole Rosary of fifteen decades, in order to gain the indulgences of the confraternity. All these more or less difficult conditions are not necessary for the Portiuncula indulgence; all that is required to gain it is worthily to receive the Sacraments of Penance and of the Blessed Eucharist and to say in a church of the Franciscans or in the parish church the customary prayers for an indulgence. What could be easier than the gaining of this indulgence? How would it be possible for our divine Savior to require less of us in order to remit to us not only sin and eternal punishment, but even all temporal punishments?

5. Finally, what distinguishes the Portiuncula, indulgence especially from all others is, that on the day on which it is granted, it can be gained not only once, but oftener. You can gain other indulgences only once on the same day, but the Portiuncula indulgence you can gain on the first Sunday of August, and that, too, as often as on that day you visit a church of the Franciscans, or the parish church, and there pray for some time according to the intention of the Holy Father. The Congregation of the Council has twice so decided, on the 17th of July, 1700, and again on the 4th of December, 1723. In fact, when doubts were submitted to the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences as to whether the faithful who visit a church of the Franciscans on the second Sunday of August can obtain the indulgence as often as the visit is repeated, the answer was in the affirmative, February 22nd, 1847, and it was declared at the same time that it is not necessary to receive Communion in any of the churches of the Franciscans. Pope Pius IX. confirmed these decisions by a decree of the same Congregation, dated July 12th, 1849. It is indeed true that on one day we can gain a plenary indulgence for ourselves only once, but this does not interfere with the doctrine that the Portiuncula indulgence can be gained more that once on the same day, for we may apply it to the souls in purgatory, if we gain it the second and the third time, etc.

PERORATION.

The Portiuncula indulgence then is a great grace of which we should avail ourselves every year. Try to gain it. See above all, that you make a humble, contrite and sincere confession, for a good confession is the first and most necessary requisite for the forgiveness of sins and the gaining of the indulgence. Receive Holy Communion with the most profound humility and adoration. Say the prayers for an indulgence with devotion and sentiments of repentance, according to the intention of the Holy Father, and relying on the merits of Jesus Christ, on the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis, and the other saints, beseech God with confidence to impart to you the indulgence and to deliver you from all temporal punishments. Promise to be thankful to him for this grace all the days of your life by carefully keeping your conscience free from even small faults. Visit the church several times and after repeating the prayers for an indulgence apply it to the poor souls that they may partake of the grace thereof. Thus the Portiuncula indulgence will be to you a key with which you will open heaven, both for yourselves and for many poor souls. Amen.

Permanent link to this article: http://luisapiccarreta.com/august-2-the-portiuncula-indulgence/

Jul 26

Th Holy Octave of Consecration to God Our Father and The Portiuncula Indulgence

The Holy Octave of Consecration to God Our Father

And

The Portiuncula Indulgence

 

 –        The Holy Octave of Consecration to God Our Father

To God Our Father we pray that through The Holy Octave of Consecration and it’s solemn eighth day, The Feast of the Father of All Mankind, He may be known, loved, served and honored by all His children.

Dearest God Our Father, we love You; we adore You; we worship You!

The Holy Octave of Consecration to God Our Father to start on Saturday, July 25. The full text to find on: http://www.sdbv.org/FOAM_WORD_FINAL.pdf

 

–        The Portiuncula Indulgence

 

  1. FRANCIS OF ASSISI AND GREAT PARDON KNOWN AS THE PORTIUNCULA INDULGENCE

 by Susan Tassone 

The Portiuncula (small portion) refers to the land in Assisi, Italy, that belonged to the Benedictines. 

On this land  was an old church dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God but abandoned. 

The great St. Francis had great devotion to the queen of the world and when he saw that the church was deserted, he began to live there constantly and repair it.  He heard that the angels often visited it, so that it was called St. Mary of the Angels. 

The Benedictines wanted to give Francis the church but in order to remain faithful to Lady Poverty, Francis rented it from them with the annual compensation of a basket of fish from the Tescio river. 

Here is where Francis began his service to Christ and His Church. Here Francis founded his Order, received Clare as his spiritual daughter, and where he died commending this spot above all others to the friars. 

 St. Francis had great love and compassion for everyone.

On a night of July, 1216, Francis was praying in the little church of the Portiuncula devoured by love for God and a thirst to save souls. He prayed for the forgiveness of sins of mankind.

Suddenly a brilliant light shone all around. In great splendor Jesus and Mary appeared in the midst of a dazzling cloud surrounded by a multitude of radiant angels. 

Out of fear and reverence, St. Francis adored Our Lord prostrate upon the ground.

Then Jesus said to him: “Francis you are very zealous for the good of souls. Ask me what you want for their salvation.” St. Francis was rapt in ecstasy before Jesus.

When he regained his courage he said: 

“Lord, I a miserable sinner beg You to concede an indulgence to all those who enter this church, who are truly contrite and have confessed their sins. And I beg Blessed Mary, your Mother, intercessor of man, that she intercede on behalf of this grace.”

Our Lady at once began to beseech her son on behalf of Francis. Jesus answered:

“It is a very great thing that which you ask Me; but you are worthy of even greater things, Friar Francis, and greater things you will have. So I accept your request, but I want you to go to my Vicar, to whom I have given the power to bind and loose in Heaven and on earth, to ask him on my behalf for this indulgence.”

With one of his companions, Francis hastened to Pope Honorius III and prostrate implored him to proclaim that every one visiting the church and confessing their sins with a contrite heart would be as pure from all sin and punishments as he was immediately after baptism. The Pope granted this petition. This indulgence has been extended to all parish churches throughout the world.

The date was set from vespers of the first of August until sundown on the second of August, the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels. It is said that St. Francis was given this day by Our Lord because the Feast of the Chains of St. Peter celebrated on August first is the day Peter was released from prison and his chains removed. This is an extraordinary demonstration of God’s mercy in removing the chains of sin from those who devoutly and faithfully seek to gain the indulgence by completing its requirements.  

The conditions to obtain the Plenary Indulgence of the Forgiveness of Assisi is (for oneself or for a departed soul) as follows: 

—    Sacramental Confession to be in God’s grace (during eight days before or after.)

—    Participation in the Holy Mass and Eucharist

—    Recitation of The Apostles Creed, Our Father and a prayer for the Pope’s Intention.

 The Portiuncula Indulgence is a grace not to miss not only for yourself but for the many suffering souls in Purgatory. 

Mark your calendar for the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels beginning on the First of August to August 2.

Tell everyone of the magnitude of this gift. Once again, we see the unfathomable Divine Mercy of God.

 In the words of St. Francis: O my Brothers and Sisters, I want you all to go to Heaven!

Permanent link to this article: http://luisapiccarreta.com/th-holy-octave-of-consecration-to-god-our-father-and-the-portiuncula-indulgence/

Jul 24

Feast of St. Sharbel

The Saint of today is Sharbel Makhlouf. This great monastic saint is a wonderful patron for the Church of the Middle East. He is one of the wonder workers of the 20th century! Here is the story from CNA:

Yussef Antoun Makhloof –later and forever after known as Sharbel– was of humble birth.

Yet Sharbel belongs to more than his village, monastery, church or country. He belongs to the Universal Church and all Christians. When he was beatified on December 5, 1965, His Holiness Pope Paul VI announced that Saint Sharbel is “a new, eminent member of monastic sanctity [who] through his example and his intercession is enriching the entire Christian people.” (Saint Sharbel: The Hermit of Lebanon 1977: 27)

Yussef, who later took the name Sharbel, was the youngest of five children born to Antoun Zaarour Makhlouf and Brigitta Elias al-Shediyaq. His father died when he was three years old. Like many of the Christians from the Lebanese Mountain, his father had been taken away from his family [by the Turks] and forced into hard labor.

Yussef studied at the parish school and tended the family cow. He spent a great deal of time outdoors in the fields and pastures near his village and he meditated amid the inspiring views of boundless valleys and proud mountains.

From early childhood, Yussef showed that he loved prayer and solitude. In 1851, without informing anyone, he left home. Tanious, his uncle and guardian, wanted Yussef to continue working with him. His mother wanted him to marry the young woman who loved him. (Daher 1952: 18-19; Sfeir 1995: 72-75)

When Yussef became Brother Sharbel, he was filled with determination and walked all the way to his new home, “the monastery,” his new family, “the Lebanese Maronite Order,” and his new bride, “the Church.” He followed in the footsteps of his maternal uncles, who were already hermits at the hermitage of Mar Boula (Saint Paul) in the Holy Valley of Qadisha, across from the Monastery of Our Lady of Qannobine. (Daher 1993:48-49)

The Lebanese Maronite Order of monks is the embodiment of the ancient eastern monasticism, which since early Christian times existed and thrived within widely dispersed, independent monasteries.

At Mass on November 1, 1853, Sharbel took the monastic vows. Neither the monk’s family nor the public were allowed to attend this solemn occasion.

After his ordination, Father Sharbel returned to the Monastery of St. Maron. During his 19 years there, Sharbel performed his priestly ministry and monastic duties in an edifying way. He dedicated himself totally to Christ to live, work and pray in silence.

As he worked the land and performed manual labor at the monastery, he continued a life of purity, obedience and humility that has yet to be surpassed. In 1875, because he showed “supernatural power,” he was granted permission to live as a hermit at the Hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, which is near the monastery.

It was in this secluded sanctuary that the monk Sharbel spent the remaining twenty-three years of his life practicing severe mortification.

Father Sharbel suffered a stroke on December 16, 1898 while he was reciting the prayer of the Holy Liturgy:

His tomb has been a site for pilgrimages ever since the day he died. Hundreds of miracles were performed through the intercession of Saint Sharbel in ‘Annaya, Lebanon, and throughout the world.

At the closing of the Second Vatican Council, on December 5, 1965, Sharbel was beatified by Pope Paul VI who said: “Great is the gladness in heaven and earth today for the beatification of Sharbel Makhlouf, monk and hermit of the Lebanese Maronite Order. Great is the joy of the East and West for this son of Lebanon, admirable flower of sanctity blooming on the stem of the ancient monastic traditions of the East, and venerated today by the Church of Rome.

Permanent link to this article: http://luisapiccarreta.com/feast-of-st-sharbel/

Jul 19

Feast of Santa Maria Greca

Blessed Mother

Santa Maria Greca

A history of the miraculous image in Corato, Italy

Oh, prodigy! Oh, astonishment! Oh, truly maternal mercy of Mary! A harmonious sound of a little bell was heard… “Here is Mary, here is Mary!”

Saint Mary the Greek Church holds great significance in the life and death of Luisa Piccarreta. Her last confessor up to the time of her death was Father Benedetto Calvi, Parish Priest of Saint Mary the Greek Church. It was in this Church that Luisa, when she was nine years old, received First Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation on the “in Albis” Sunday of 1874. Luisa used to remain in Saint Mary the Greek Church for hours at a time, kneeling motionless, engrossed in profound contemplation. At the age of 18, Luisa became a tertiary Dominican with the name of Sister Magdalena. At that time, the Parish Priest of Saint Mary the Greek, was promoting the Third Order, and Luisa was one of the first. Archbishop Mons. Addazi obtained permission from the Holy Office (5-11-1962) to transfer the mortal remains of Luisa to inside Saint Mary the Greek Church with the internment occuring on July 3, 1962.

Saint Mary the Greek Protector of Corato

Historical Information in the 3rd Centenary of Her Apparition (1656-1956) Gathered, Edited and Published by Fr. Benedetto Calvi Parish Priest of the Church with same Name, and last Confessor of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta

Nihil obstat quominus imprimatur Revisor Eccl. Can. Theol. Ciraselli Petrus Trani, February 10, 1956 

So that Our GREEK MADONNA may be more known, loved and invoked. So that Our GREEK MADONNA with Her maternal graces and blessings may give us peace and salvation.

THE APPARITION

It was April of the year 1656 when a tremendous pestilence infested the city of Naples, with so much force that in the following May the city remained almost completely uninhabited, to the extent that grass began to grow on some of the streets. This mortal infection spread from the city of Naples to all the kingdom with equal fury and force, and with equal slaughter. Even the region of Puglie remained desolated, and great was the terror which dominated the souls of the populations.

Between the end of June and the beginning of July of the same year, the devastating epidemic came to strike also our city of Corato, infesting it in such a way that in a few days several hundreds of victims were counted. As soon as a blackish area, called bubbone, appeared on any part of the body, a fever immediately came, so burning that in a few hours the poor patient was reduced to a horrid cadaver. In vain the science of medicine tried to prescribe cures; in fact, doctors themselves were among the first victims. So, since there was no possibility of any human aid in such sorrowful anguish, the people, terrified, recurred to the intercession of their Protector Saints, and mainly to that of Most Holy Mary. In the meantime many people, and most especially the elderly, knew that according to tradition there was a prodigious image of the Most Holy Virgin in the vault of one of the twenty-five towers which crowned the walls of Corato, and, specifically, the tower which looked to South-west.

Many thought that if that image were exposed to public veneration and homage of the faithful during such great calamity, the town would have been freed from the terrible chastisement.

As the news spread out, a crowd of people thronged around the mentioned tower. An opening was made. The humid and dark vault or cave could hardly be seen, which was not connected with either the ground level or the near street.

The anxiety to see and venerate the sacred liberating Image, and the fear, among few, to precipitate into the vault, held some people back, attracted others, or pushed others away, according to their different feelings. But all were debating on what to do in order to find the Image, so greatly longed for, and therefore expose it to the veneration of the community.

At that moment the pious and erudite Priest, Don Francesco Lojodice, called Saccone, passed by. He was one of the people who had been elected to provide for the needs of the town during the period of the deadly scourge. In seeing so much people being gathered, he exhorted them to leave, both because the crowding of people in those calamities is always a new and greater reason for contagion, and because he feared the arising of superstition and error, which usually spread among common people in these painful circumstances, finally, because he feared that some accidents might occur. Therefore, he tried to lead the great number of people away from the entrance of the cave.

However, he spoke and explained his reasons in vain, because nobody moved from there. On the contrary, holding lamps at the entrance of the cave, all pleaded the Virgin for pity and mercy with loud cries.

In order to eliminate the danger of falling into the cave, Don Francesco had the entrance widened. Then, he himself went down on a ladder and with a torch. However, as much as he tried to be diligently attentive, he could see no Image, but only a little window with some traces of an ancient painting, from which no figure appeared. The little window is clearly the one that can be seen still now on the original altar.

But who can ever penetrate into the admirable and inscrutable ways which the Divine Goodness uses when It wants to manifest Itself to the creatures, either by offering Its gifts, or by relieving the afflicted and troubled mankind?

So, prey to many thoughts and different feelings, the pious Priest Lojodice came out of the vault feeling a change and a restlessness within himself which he did not know how to explain. In order to be freed from so much uncertainty and perplexity, through prayer he recurred to God, the Provider of holy advice.

At the dawn of July 17, 1656, while Don Francesco was humbly recollected in prayer, he had a special vision. The Most Holy Virgin appeared to him shining with light, and with the same features which can be seen today in the Picture representing the Greek Madonna. With majesty and love, She said to him: “Courage, my beloved one, console these afflicted people. They will be soon freed from the tremendous chastisement of the anger of God, if the cave which you know will be dedicated to my honor and to my veneration.” Immediately after, the vision disappeared, leaving the good Priest in great peace and consolation. Don Francesco, the fortunate one chosen by Mary, hurriedly went to Trani in order to relate the event to his Archbishop, Monsignor Tommaso Sarria, a Spanish Dominican.

He did this in order to be more reassured on the truthfulness of the apparition, submitting it to the judgment of his legitimate Superior, since it is possible that, in these extraordinary things, there might be diabolical deceit and suggestion; and also to obtain permission to transform that cave into a public Oratory, and open it for public veneration.

Having been completely reassured by the illustrious Prelate on the fact that everything was a work of God, and having received wide authority to implement what he had asked, Don Francesco could think about nothing but to fulfill the desire and command of the Most Holy Virgin.

On the following day, July 18, the third Saturday of the month, early in the morning, Father Lojodoce was already in the vault together with several workers. Some were intent in widening and securing the entrance of the vault, some in cleaning it from rubble and soil; some were carefully leveling the ground; some were painting the walls; some began to raise an altar. In very little time, all contributed to transform that dark and gloomy cave into a decent Oratory.

In the meantime, having given the necessary dispositions to everyone, Don Francesco intended to implement his dominant thought: to have the Image of the Madonna painted on a walnut board. He called a painter and orderd the painting to him, explaining the him the details of the figure which had to be reproduced, just as the one which had appeared to himself. But for as many different drawings and sketches as the artist presented to him, not even one corresponded to the one which he had requested, or better, to the one which he had seen in the vision.

At about midday, various people, among them the painter, returned to their homes, while Don Francesco and many other people, animated by unlimited confidence that the Great Virgin would have accomplished the work, had recourse to Her with vivid faith, begging Her in fervent and unanimous prayer.

As the fervent prayer was rising up to Heaven, the abundance of the divine mercy descended from the Throne of God.

Oh, prodigy! Oh, astonishment! Oh, truly maternal mercy of Mary! A harmonious sound of a little bell was heard, not only in the vault, but also outside, in the whole neighborhood. It was so sweet as to astonish all those who heard it.

In the midst of so much surprise, a new surprise was added: a cry of joy, which strongly shook all those who were present, was emitted by a devoted woman, Beatrice dell’Oglio, who, pointing out at the board, exclaimed: “Here is Mary, here is Mary!”

This lady used to be blind, and all knew her as such; but as soon as the Image of Mary, which we venerate under the title of Saint Mary the Greek, miraculously appeared, painted on the walnut board which had been prepared by the painter, she gained back her sight, being the first to point out at the prodigious Image.

As the pious Priest was shaken from his recollection by that cry, he saw the Image, miraculously painted, and he recognized it as perfectly identical to the one which he had admired in the vision. Moved and exultant with joy, he too cried out: “She is the One, She is the One! The Image that appeared to me in the vision.” And with tears in his eyes, he kept repeating more and more loudly: “She is the One, She is the One!”

A great crowd immediately rushed up, and all fell on their knees before the Sacred Image, with tears in their eyes. Trembling with emotion, they began to joyously praise and thank the Virgin. Some of them, with irrepressible affection, began to place loving and respectful kisses on that venerable board; others, considering themselves unworthy, humbly and respectfully kissed the ground. Some said, like the old Saint Simeon, that they were content to die after having seen such great prodigy with their eyes. Some others recognized the mercy of the Lord which had spared them from the slaughter of the plague, giving them the chance to admire such a marvelous prodigy. Moved as they were, all promised persevering veneration and filial devotion to this tender and loving Mother and Queen.

And She really proved Herself to be a Mother of our fathers, because, from that day on, not only did the terrible infection cease completely, which had claimed many victims, but many patients who had been attacked by the disease, soon improved and were healed. The deaths ceased to the extent that (according to the tradition of our fathers) in the following August our city was completely freed, thanks to the special favor of our Mother Mary, while other neighboring towns were still frighteningly terrified and desolated. In fact, among them, Andria, which is seven miles away from Corato, was reduced to a third of its population, since about fourteen thousand people died. It was freed only in January of the following year, 1657, after making a vow to Saint Sebastian, the martyr.

THE IMAGE

The Image of the Greek Madonna is portrayed on a walnut board, 106 cm high (41.7 inches), 74.5 cm wide (29.3 inches).

The observer can see a great August Lady, majestically seated on clouds, Who seems to demand respect and reverence with Her posture, inspiring devotion and love at the same time.

She is the Queen of Heaven, and also a Mother for us, miserable children of Adam. In Her right hand, She holds a long Pastoral cross of Greek style, while She hugs with Her left arm Little Baby Jesus, sustaining Him on Her left knee. Eight Angels reverently crown Her and court Her. A royal crown in the oriental style surrounds Her head. With Her eyes directed toward the observer, and with an air of majesty and love, She seems to say: “Have recourse to Me with confidence. Do not doubt. I am the Queen, but I am also your Mother.”

Her garment, cherry red in color, and with wide folds, is tightened on Her waist with a belt, dropping down to Her feet, which wear sandals. The blue mantle, gathered on Her breast, is tied on Her right shoulder and descends like a Royal Mantle.

Baby Jesus, seated on Her left maternal knee, is in the act of blessing with His right hand, while His left hand holds the world with a Cross. He wears a white little tunic and a blue mantle, with the same fashion as the one of the Virgin Mother, similar to Greek costumes.

On the right side, upon the clouds, at the feet of the Madonna, there is a little bell, while on the left side a vertical large crack is on the board.

In the antique memories, two opinions explain why this Image received the name of Greek Madonna.

The first one says that the name of the tower in whose vault the apparition occurred was called Greek Tower, since it had been built by the Greeks during the time in which they dominated Puglie. The second one says that the name comes from the Greek style of the garment of the Madonna.

Father Cosma Lojodice added a third explanation to the others: that the name derives from the Greek Pastoral Cross which the Virgin holds with Her right hand.

In any case, we can affirm with certainty that the Most Blessed Virgin likes this title, because not only in Corato, but also in other cities of the kingdom She let Herself be called by this title. In fact, in Putignano, a city of this Province of Bari, there is a great Church dedicated to Saint Mary the Greek, because of an ancient Byzantine image portrayed on canvas, which is placed on the major altar. This ancient image of the Madonna was brought to Putignano by the Knights of Malta in 1395, together with the relic of Saint Stephen. Moreover, in the city of Ravenna, Lombardia, a miraculous Image of Saint Mary the Greek has been venerated since the year 1100 in the Church of Canonici Portoghesi; and from that veneration the Congregation of Canonici Portuensi started.

Speaking about the image, I believe it is necessary to draw the attention of the reader to the fact that that wood board on which it is portrayed, except for some particular circumstances, has never been removed from that vault, which drips with thick and constant humidity, still noticeable nowadays, which consumes and destroys everything. However, although more than three centuries have passed since the Madonna was pleased to appear, the board has received no damage, from woodworms or humidity, as if it had been placed there only recently, while the works of golden wood with which Rev. Don Francesco La Monica had decorated the chapel, including the new altar with which he had substituted the previous one, had to be removed in 1764, because of woodworms and humidity, and substituted with more recent works in stucco and travertine.

Since the year of the Apparition, it was established to solemnly celebrate in the Church the feast of the Virgin, the Sunday which follows July 18.

A few years later, Rev. Capitolo, in order to publicly testify his love and devotion to such a great Protector, established that every year, on the Feast day of the Madonna, the faithful should make a procession toward to vault, and sing a solemn Mass in it. This praiseworthy tradition, so much appreciated by all the people of Corato, lasted for a few more years.

SOME OF THE MIRACLES

I have already spoken about the Miraculous Apparition of the Image of the Madonna; the sound of the little bell which was heard for the first time in the vault of the tower; the blind lady, Beatrice Dell’Oglio, who regained her sight; the recovery of the city from the pestilence; the present conditions of the Picture, preserved as intact in the very humid vault. These can be justly called miracles.

– Can. Don Domenico La Monica and Dr. Don Vito Giacomo D’Ambrosio testified that in the year 1663, when they were just twelve years old, they were in the vault of the Blessed Virgin, while the chosen one of Mary, Father D. Francesco Lojodice was exorcising a possessed person, called Dionisio, who had been brought from Barletta in order to plead the Greek Madonna for the liberation from the evil spirit. As sign of respect and great subjection to the prodigious Image, while doing the exorcism, Don Francesco commanded the demon to set that unhappy person free, and to light in one instant all the candles that were placed before the Madonna, which Father had carefully extinguished before.

As soon as they started to recite the Laurentane Litanies, at the invocation “Sancta Maria, ora pro eo” [Saint Mary, pray for him], the poor possessed one fell to the ground like a dead body, and at that very moment all the candles were lit – and they were not few. Dionisio was raised up from the ground, safe and sound, and was given back to his parents, who happily and joyously manifested and praised the wonders performed by the Greek Madonna.

– Don Sebastiano Merra also passed on to posterity that, in the year 1670, a certain Giovanni from Altamura was brought by his parents to visit our Healing Image. He too had been possessed by an evil spirit for many years, with great torments, contortions and sufferings. As Don Francesco Antonio Mosca was exorcising the unhappy young man from Altamura, the demon promised to come out; but then, with vain and futile pretexts and excuses, and with inconceivable pretenses, he deluded the promise. Among the rest, he threatened to ruin the bell tower of the Matrice Church, as soon as he had left. This was prohibited to him by Rev. Mosca, who also imposed him, in the Most Holy names of Jesus and Mary, to cause no harm of any kind to human beings, animals or buildings. The demon said that, because he was forced by his implacable enemy (the Most Holy Virgin) to abandon that residence, which he had freely possessed for so many years, he wanted to give a sign, which had not to be opposed. Questioned on what the sign would be, he said: ‘I want straw to rain upon all Corato.’ Perhaps he was forced by the Madonna to give that sign, to show how the souls of impenitent sinners fall into hell. The permission was granted. In the meantime they started the Litanies to the Virgin; and as the prodigious Image was uncovered, the possessed Giovanni collapsed to the floor, while tiny and thick straw began to rain upon Corato like snow, causing amazement and great surprise in those who ignored what was happening before the portentous Image. As the Litanies were completed, free from the demon and with no harm, Giovanni was raised up from the floor, and recovering immediately from the diabolical trouble, he gave thanks to the Madonna, and went back home, safe and sound.

– On July 15, 1710, Fr. Domenico Candido was caught by a deadly fever. The Saturday before the Feast of the Apparition of the Greek Madonna, he offered his life to God, since the doctors despaired of his recovery, among the crying of his family and of all the good people who had admired him as an exemplary Priest. They were already preparing the funerals, when the mother of the dying implored Heaven to grant what men could neither promise nor concede. Making an heroic resolution, which only her maternal and Christian love could inspire in her, went crying to the feet of the Image of the Greek Madonna together with her other three children. How much faith and trust does a Christian mother not have in these similar circumstances?

After singing the Litanies, she also offered a Mass at the Altar of the Madonna. Maria, Who is Mother, and Mother of sorrows, and Who had given Herself to our fathers in a similar circumstance of mourning and sorrow, could not remain indifferent in front of such mourning and pain of a mother, who had left her son dying in his bed to have recourse to Her.

At the moment of the elevation of the Most Holy Host, the illness immediately lost its vehemence, and stopped. The agonizing Fr. Domenico felt much better, and recovering completely in a few days, went to thank his great Benefactor for having saved his life. He celebrated Mass at Her Altar and offered precious sacramentals as sign of gratitude. Fr. Domenico celebrated with great magnificence the Festivity of the Virgin for many years; and as long as he lived, he greatly promoted devotion and veneration to Her. He also left in his testament the order to his heirs to light a candle before the Altar of the Madonna every Saturday.

Before closing this chapter, for greater honor and glory to our Greek Madonna, and as a confirmation of all that is written above, I feel the duty to publish what follows.

– Only one year after my nomination as Parish Priest of Santa Maria Greca, on February 11, 1938, I was suddenly caught by an intense fit of angina pectoris, which reduced me to extreme conditions; so I asked for the administration of the last Sacraments.

Moved by great confidence in the mercy and power of our Holy Virgin, some souls immediately went to the feet of the miraculous Image. With prayers, tears and sighs, they asked Her to preserve me for the care of the new flock which the Lord had entrusted to me. Around midnight, the people around me started to notice a slight improvement; and at about four in the morning, all of a sudden, I felt completely recovered, announcing to all, among tears of consolation, that the Madonna had granted me the grace of instantly freeing me from any pain and illness.

So I conclude here, for the honor and the glory of our Virgin, these Historical Memories about our Greek Madonna, in this year, 1956, in which we are about to celebrate the Third Centenary of Her Apparition.

A SAD OBSERVATION… A PIOUS DESIRE

For many, many years, one has no longer heard the devoted and harmonious chanting of the large and numerous groups of pilgrims who came from afar in order to visit, to thank, to offer gifts and vows to our Image, as it happens still now in Gargano, at Incoronata, at Saint Nicholas, and in many other Shrines. Those pilgrims used to silently cross our city, where their fathers came in order to venerate the Image of the Greek Madonna.

The near and neighboring cities have forgotten our portentous Protector. That multitude of devoted people who thronged in our little Sanctuary, in which their sick invoked the Greek Madonna for relief and remedy to their troubles, no longer comes from them. Even many Coratini [people from Corato] seem to have forgotten their Protector, Her vault, Her venerated Image, therefore becoming more responsible than others for this deplorable oblivion.

Oh, if Lojodice, Candido, La Monica, and many other zealous Priests of the devotion our Protector, could raise their heads from the dust of their sepulchers – how surprised they would remain at the sight of so much ingratitude toward that venerable Image which freed our fathers from the pestilence, which cured many sick, healed many crippled, freed many possessed souls, and made everyone feel the benefits of Her protection!!…..

Oh, how much just and holy indignation would not ignite their apostolic zeal, toward such degenerate citizens!

May such sorrowful indifference, and such ungrateful oblivion cease once and for all, at the rising of a new and multiplied spirit of faith and love toward such a great Mama; and may this Third Centenary of the Apparition of the Madonna restore in all the devoted, near and far, the sincere fervor which animated our ancient Fathers.

CONCLUSION

In writing these few historical memories, I had no other purpose than a greater honor and a greater glory to the Most Holy Virgin. I ask Her nothing else but to continue to pour upon me and upon all the Coratini that maternal protection which never failed us, though unworthy, and that one day She may grant me eternal life, remembering what is written in the Ecclesiasticus XXIV-31: “Qui elucidant Me, vitam aeternam habebunt.”

Father Benedetto Calvi Parish Priest

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://luisapiccarreta.com/feast-of-santa-maria-greca-2/

Older posts «