Mary in the secular news from July 13 through July 29
Titled "Is Pope right on Ďsaint who aintí?" The
Australian on July 29 said the Pope is to proceed with canonization of a
century Aztec Indian in Mexico next week, despite growing doubts over whether
the man who is to be made a saint ever existed. The Pope is to canonize Juan
Diego Cuautlatoazin, credited with a vision of a dark-skinned Virgin Mary in
1531. The canonization of the Madonna of Guadalupe is seen by many in Latin
America as the highlight of the Popeís 12-day trip to Canada, Guatemala and
Mexico. Four leading Mexican churchmen and theologians wrote to the Vatican
before the Pope left Rome, pleading that the canonization be abandoned on the
grounds that the existence of Juan Diego "has never been confirmed."
The Vatican newspaper has said the apparition of the Virgin Mary and the death
of Juan Diego in 1548 were "well documented" and doubts about his
existence had already been examined by the Congregation for the Causes of
Saints. The same story appeared in the Calgary Herald July 28 with the Times of
London given as the source.
A heated debate has raged for decades over the
authenticity of Juan Diego, the 16th century indigenous Mexican peasant who is
said to have witnessed four apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the Austin American
Statesmen wrote on July 28. But whether historical figure or symbolic legend,
Juan Diego, whom Pope John Paul II will canonize on July 31, embodies something
very real to millions of Hispanic Catholics: la lucha, the struggle against
poverty and oppression. In Juan Diego they see a simple man not unlike
themselves, whose faith gave his struggle purpose. For that reason, many
Catholics of Mexican heritage believe that when the pope bestows sainthood on
Juan Diego, he will be vindicating the faith of an entire people. Dozens of
Catholics from the Austin Diocese are traveling by bus to Mexico City to
witness the canonization of Juan Diego. The event offers personal gratification
for many Mexicans who identify with the pious peasant, the trip coordinator
The Toronto Sun on July 18 ran a lengthy story on
"Karol Wojtyla: The Pride of Krakow Part 2" telling of the Popeís
influence which spread across Eastern Europe to Moscow and contributed to the
collapse of the Soviet Union; the attempt on the Popeís life on May 13
(1981), the same date that the Virgin Mary appeared to three children in
Portugal (1917), and the Popeís belief that he was saved by a miracle of the
Virgin Mary; the Popeís failing health; his 84 foreign pilgrimages, and his
creation of World Youth Day in 1986.
The Montreal Gazette on July 20 ran the London Daily Telegraph
story dated June 29 that told how Mexico City authorities made a tactical
alliance with street traders, licensing them to sell bottles of clean water
during the three days in July that the Pope is there, described the city and ended with
the story of the Virgin Maryís appearance to Juan Diego.
When he travels to Mexico this week, Pope John Paul II will
take a first step toward elevating to sainthood two native Mexicans
"martyred" in 1700 for denouncing neighbors who practiced their
traditional religion, Agence France Presse said on July 29. The Pope will
beatify the two Martyrs of Cajones on Thursday, after canonizing on Wednesday
another indigenous Mexican, Juan Diego, who is said to have had a vision of the
Virgin Mary in 1531.
Other related stories:
An item in the July 22 Modesto Bee said: Local
Mexican-Americans are excited about the upcoming canonization of Juan Diego as
the first Mexican Indian saint. Church teachings say the Virgin Mary appeared
to Diego in Mexico 500 years ago.
In Mexico City, what taxi drivers, grandmothers and even
priests will tell you about Juan Diego is that he was a humble Indian who saw
an image of the Virgin Mary about 470 years ago. They even can point to the
spot, a hill in the north of town, about five blocks from a subway stop. But
thatís about all that most people know about Juan Diago, even though he is to
be canonized as the first Indian saint at the end of the month by Pope John
Paul II, The San Antonio Express-News wrote on July 14.
The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, paying tribute to World
Youth Day and the papal visit, is currently exhibiting a plaster version of
Michelangeloís Pieta. That object has acquired a unique aura over five
centuries, and at St. Peterís in Rome it attracts an unending steam of pious
Christians and art lovers, along with an occasional lunatic, like the man who
took a hammer to it in 1972, damaging the nose and fingers of the Virgin Mary,
the National Post reported July 23.
Jubilant and singing, World Youth Day pilgrims flocked around
the Vaticanís second-most influential official as he made an unannounced
visit to Niagara Falls, the St. Catherines Standard said on July 25. They knelt
at the feet of Angelo Cardinal Sodano as he said a prayer for them only feet
from the brink of the Horseshore Falls and in the middle of a large crowd of
tourists. The Pope, visiting Canada for the third time as the head of the Roman
Catholic Church, was resting at a retreat owned by the Basilian Fathers on
Strawberry Island in Lake Simcoe.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury, who has already dismayed
evangelicals with his liberal views on homosexuality, has been accused
"idolatry" for encouraging devotion to the Virgin Mary in a new book,
the London Daily Telegraph said on July 25. Dr. Rowan Williams says the book
was inspired by his pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham,
Norfolk, which he describes as "Englandís Nazareth." In the book,
"Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin," he argues
that the images of the Mother and Child portrayed in medieval icons are holy
because they stand on the boundary between the spiritual and the everyday. The
Rev. George Curry, director of the Church Society, said he regarded Dr. Williamís
book as "a form of idolatry." Anglo-Catholics welcomed the book, one
saying it reflected the authorís "spirituality and seriousness."
The London Times on July 27 wrote that conservative
evangelicals have accused the next Archbishop of Canterbury of
"idolatry," making the claim after it emerged that Dr. Rowan Williamsí
next book will encourage Anglicans to pray using icons of the Blessed Virgin
Mary Jo Copeland prays to the Virgin Mary in St. Alphonsus
church in Brooklyn Center, MN for two and one half hours every day at 3:30
a.m., letting herself in with a key. The founder and director of Sharing and
Caring Hands, a charity she runs with her husband in downtown Minneapolis, is
trying to find a place for Gift of Mary Childrenís Home, a 200-bed facility
named in honor of the Virgin Mary. Donors have pledged funds but three
communities have turned down her request to build. The lengthy article in the
New York Times July 21 describes her ministry, her energy and her attempts to
find alternatives to foster care despite criticism from child care
Five internet sites that carried blasphemies against God and
the Virgin Mary have been shut down in Italy following a complaint by the
Vatican newspaper, líOsservatore Romano, the London Times (July 13) and The
Australian (July 16) reported. Police said they censored the images so that the
"precious freedom of expression" was not used to offend the
"dignity of people."
The two-week celebration honoring Our Lady of Mount Carmel
ended July 16 with a solemn procession through the streets of Williamsburg, the
New York Daily News said on July 17. Trailing a float bearing a statue of the
Virgin Mary, the faithful snaked through the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Church, beginning and ending at the church.
Civic worthies in Sicily have come under fire for bolting iron
"underwear" on to a municipal statue of a stallion to spare blushes
during a religious procession involving an effigy of the Virgin Mary, The
Melbourne Age said on July 18.
About 40,000 Brazilians have flocked to a house in a
working-class town near Sao Paulo over the last week to pray before what they
believe is a vision of the Virgin Mary, the Advertiser (Nationwide News Pty
Limited) wrote on July 22.
From Italy, and from Computer Weekly, comes the tale of the two
Italian church goers whose piety so impressed priests at a Milan church, The
London Times reported on July 26. Each day for a month they came in and knelt
to pray for an hour to a statue of the Virgin Mary. They were
"rumbled" after they were discovered to have been using an electric
socket behind the effigy to recharge their mobile phone.
When everything else is wilting on a hot summer day, this hard,
brilliant flower is in its glory. Its name refers to the Virgin Mary, as its
long-lasting blooms were often used to decorate church altars. Marigold (after
Maryís Gold) is the flower described in an article titled "Name these
useful blooms" in the Christian Science Monitor July 22.
A group of builders in Dublin swear they witnessed a miracle
last week when the statue of Jesus Christ they were carrying rose out of their
arms, Scotland on Sunday reported on July 21. Religious statues in Ireland have
been witnessed crying, waving and rising before, but there have been few
occurrences since 1985, when the residents of a tiny village in County Cork
reported seeing a concrete statue of the Virgin Mary rise and hover above its
plinth. Subsequent examinations of the broken statue of Christ found it emitted
a "rose-scented odour." The Catholic hierarchy has refused to comment
on the occurrences.
Catholic symbols abound as church attendance plummets in Quebec
City, the Toronto Star said on July 21. Itís a place where seafood
restaurants display statues of the Virgin Mary as part of the dťcor but unlike
in the rest of the country, which has been experiencing a resurgence in church
participation since 1990, church attendance has fallen from 88 percent in 1957
to 20 percent or less in 2000.
More than 5,000 pilgrims, from across Ireland, American and
Britain, gathered in tiny Achill Island in Co Mayo for a special day of prayer
July 25. They came to see a holy sign, but instead of an apparition they heard
the Virgin Maryís message of doom for a world filled with "evil"
and "sin," The Mirror said on July 26. The faithful gathered after
Christina Gallagher, founder of the islandís House of Prayer, predicted that
a message would come from Our Lady. Rumors had spread that the Blessed Virgin
would appear to worshippers. Instead, a statement from Mrs. Gallagher that
promised a "great sign" from the Virgin Mary was read over huge
loudspeakers by a female assistant.
Mixing art and faith is a natural combination for Cora and
Herbe Poilievre who live at Prudíhomme. They create works of art from
ordinary wire, and much of their work has a religious theme, The Saskatoon Star
Phoenix said on July 20. The wire work started in the 1960ís, when Cora
admired a replica of the Virgin Mary hanging on the wall in the home of a
priest. She was told the piece came from Europe and was one-of-a-kind. "I
can make you one," her husband told her. This was the beginning of a hobby
that Poilievre says could have been a full-time business, had he not been
occupied with full-time farming. "Itís very simple," he says.
"You just bend the wire and solder it together." His wife draws
full-sized designs on paper for the pattern and he takes lengths of wire and
bends them to conform to the pattern. While they were in Europe a few years ago
looking for their roots they discovered another line of the family that no one
knew about and learned they were blacksmiths. "When we walked into their
house, there on the wall was a piece of wire art. It was of the Virgin Mary,
and was almost identical to the one I made for Cora all those years ago,"
For the second time in six months, vandals have succeeded in
breaking the idol of the Virgin Mother Mary in the 150-year-old Catholic
cemetery in Bettiah, The Economic Times of India said on July 17. An FIR lodged
by the parish priest alleged that the desecration has been done to ignite
communal hatred and the entire Catholic community is aggrieved.
Floyd and Helen Tschiggfrie reported the theft of a handmade,
concrete grotto that included a statue of the Virgin Mary from outside their
home on July 12 or 13, the Dubuque, IA Telegraph Herald said on July 21.
Scores of the faithful and curious have been peering at trees
in a vacant lot near downtown West Chicago ever since several people reported
seeing images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus in the trunks, the Chicago Daily
Herald reported on July 19. One man pointed toward a knot in a tree with a scar
that looks like the silhouette of a person covered from head to toe in a robe
and said, "Itís the Mother of Guadalupe." Spiritual sightings are
not uncommon to the area, the story said, but Sister Judith Davies of the
Joliet Diocese said she had not heard of any apparitions in the West Chicago
The Monks of New Skete, in their book, "In the Spirit of
Happiness," suggest that we all have the monastic calling if we understand
is as a way to see the world. Vision is at the heart of faith. Vision leads to
faith. Thatís what the Blessed Virgin Mary knew. Thus writes Gabriel Jay
Rochelle in a special story to The Allentown Morning Call on July 13.
New books reviewed in the Greensboro, NC News & Record July
18 include "The Solace of Leaving Early" by Haven Kimmel, in which
the pastor and a friend of a young, murdered mother become
adversaries in their attempts to protect the dead womanís two small girls,
who claim to speak with the Virgin Mary
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July 26, 2002
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