The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research
Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature.
Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing
the secular press.
Mary in the secular news from September 14 through September 22
Istanpitta, a four-member medieval music ensemble, will use such distinctive
instruments as the oud (an Arab lute), medieval bagpipes and the chittara
moresca (Moorish guitar) when it performs the 13th-century Cantigas
de Santa Maria (Songs of Mary) September 28 at St. Paul’s United Methodist
Church, the Houston Chronicle said on September 22. Istanpitta’s program,
Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Mary, comes from approximately 420 songs in
praise of the Virgin Mary that were collected for the Spanish king Alfonso X (aka
Alfonso the Wise).
A letter from Diane Watts, national president of Women for Life, Faith and
Family, published in the Ottawa Citizen September 22 states that "Joanna
Manning and her admirers who wrote the Citizen letters suffer from an
exaggerated form of clericalism when they covet the Catholic priesthood as the
only source of leadership in the Church....The Catholic Church has never been
an institution that ‘excludes the 50 per cent of the human race that is women’
as Ms. Manning claims. The Blessed Virgin Mary was not a priest and she has at
least one church named after her in every diocese of the world."
Forty-five priests from Australia and England who viewed the apparition
depicting the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus at the Shrine to Our Lady of
Christ Church in the south coast town of Yankalilla were convinced
"something is there" creating a "holy atmosphere" at the
tiny church, the Sunday Mail (SA) wrote on September 22. The apparition was
made public by Yankalilla’s Anglican priest Father Andrew Notere in 1996 and
150,000 people from around the world have visited the site. The pilgrimage was
made by members of England’s ancient Society of the Holy Cross. On September
16 The Advertiser said that more than 50 priests were expected to gather at the
Shrine, which drew world interest when what many believed to be a vision of the
Virgin Mary appeared on an inside wall.
The classical CD roundup column September 21 in the London Daily Telegraph
tells of a new disc by the four female singers of the ensemble Anonymous 4,
which takes its name from a 13th century treatise that has given
valuable insight into the musical practices prevalent in medieval times at the
cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Entitled La Belle Marie, the disc brings
together 17 pieces from the same period, all written in praise of the Virgin
New Mexico is a state rife with elaborate beliefs, the London Independent
wrote on September 21, in a story about the mystery of the so-called Miracle
Staircase in a Santa Fe chapel dedicated to a Catholic order of nuns known as
the Sisters of Loretto. The Sisters of Loretto, who came to New Mexico in the
pioneering days of the Wild West, also had their own tradition of fantastical
stories; the founding legend of their order is that the Virgin Mary’s house
was magically transported from the Holy Land to Loreto near the Adriatic coast
After a stone statue of the Virgin Mary was spray-painted orange and the
brick walls of the Good Shepherd Church in Marine Park were defaced by vandals,
state Sen. Carl Kruger established a 24-hour hotline out of his district office
so that neighborhood tipsters could help nab those responsible, the New York
Daily News said on September 19. The incident was reported also by Newsday on
Emanuele Crialese embellishes his boisterous but serious Italian comedy,
Respiro, with a wealth of surprising and original surreal imagery, which
includes using a hen to help get someone out of a coma, and placing a statue of
the Virgin Mary on the sea-bed to help trace someone feared drowned, the Irish
Times wrote on September 18. Respiro was one of the films shown at the 27th
Toronto International Film Festival, which closed September 14.
The most recent effigy to jump on the bandwagon of "miraculous"
incidents that include tears of myrrh from an icon of the Virgin Mary in Texas
is a two and a half foot high fibreglass statue of the Madonna in a seaside
town some 30 miles from Perth, Australia, Scotsman Publications Ltd. wrote on
September 18. To the delight of her Catholic owner, the statue has been oozing
oily, rose-scented tears since Easter this year. X-rays, chemical analysis and
microscopic examination have all been unable to shed any scientific light on
the matter. Reported also by the Melbourne Herald Sun (September 16), the
Sunday Mail (QLD) (September 15) and the Advertiser (September 14).
Viewpoint from a Buffalo News reader published on September 16: "In
regard to the proposed pro-life arch: In my opinion the millions being sought
to build a sterile arch to the Virgin Mary would be more practical and
indicative of her compassion by using them to build homes for those without
homes, provide food for those without food and create jobs for those without
The annual Claremorris Open Exhibition, a community-inspired art event with
global ambitions, includes "Knock Knock", a startling piece by Mick O’Shea,
which has blow-up figures of Christ and the Virgin Mary being prodded at
precise intervals by a mechanical contraption. Not long ago, such an exhibit
would have created reactions on a national basis, causing devout citizens to
take turns to recite decades of the Rosary outside Mr. Fix It’s shop on Mount
Street. Nowadays nobody bats an eyelid, John Waters wrote in the Irish Times on
September 16, in a discussion of political correctness, "small-town
gobshitery" and the infantilism of journalists.
When President Bush met with Pope John Paul II last spring, he gave the
pontiff a silver medallion with a hand-painted image of the Virgin Mary, The
Houston Chronicle wrote on September 15, in an article that described gifts
received by the President, many of them with a western theme, and said the
president and his family also give their share of gifts to foreign officials
and their families.
Anjelica Huston was among those performing at the Celebration of Dedication
that capped a week of opening ceremonies for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the
Angels, the Los Angeles Times said on September 15. When Huston addressed the
audience, she described the cathedral’s contemporary bronze statue of the
Virgin Mary (which was cast by her husband, sculptor Robert Graham) as "a
daughter of Los Angeles, a woman of the 21st century...with the
hands of a working woman, capable hands, strong hands - ready to help, ready to
lift us up." Actress Rita Moreno, also participating in the celebration,
added: "She is Caucasian, Asian, African, Latin, Native American."
From letters to the Los Angeles Times September 15 about depictions of Mary:
"I was horrified by the photo on the Sept. 1 cover of Calendar -
supposedly depicting the Blessed Mother of God ("In Our Own Image,"
by Reed Johnson, Sept. 10). I could only think of a glorified Hitler youth. The
statue doesn’t even resemble a woman, much less the Virgin Mary, Mother of
"Peter Cowell writes of Robert Graham’s statue, ‘History tells us
that our holy Mother Mary could never have looked or dressed like that’
"Letters, Sept. 8)....Cowell would not refer to Mary as Holy Mother if he
was interested only in her natural properties, beyond which religious art is
meant to explore. Iconography that fails to do so is merely idolatry."
Recent visitors to a public house in Glasgow may have encountered a
middle-aged Catholic missionary nun carrying a 3 ft-high plaster statuette of
the Virgin Mary, The London Sunday Times said on September 15. She is Sister
Ruth, "a curious woman who trots the fleshpots of the globe attempting to
save souls and is currently enduring a sojourn in the Second City." Sister
Ruth visited the newspaper’s Glasgow offices, where she started talking about
the Satanists: "Twice they have tried to poison me, and once they pushed
me down a flight of stairs in Dublin," she said before being ushered out.
For those seeking enrichment of the soul, divine guidance or perhaps a
miracle, a pilgrimage is suggested by the Courier Mail travel writer on
September 14. The Visitations of Mary tour, run by Harvest Pilgrimages, offers
a round-up of all the sites visited by apparitions of the Virgin Mary, going to
Fatima, where three peasant children saw visions of the Virgin on a hillside in
1917; Lourdes, where the peasant girl who became St. Bernadette saw apparitions
of Mary in 1858, and Medjugorje, were she most recently appeared to six
Peter Mullan, whose struggle to chart the grim lives of unmarried mothers in
Ireland’s Magdalene asylums has won him a prestigious film award, was
profoundly affected by the documentary, the Glasgow Herald said on September
14. No longer a practicing Catholic and a self-described agnostic, Mullan had
to leave the scene while filming a shot in Orphans where a statue of the Virgin
Mary was smashed. Shown at the Toronto Film Festival, the film will premiere in
People are flocking to the northern Saskatchewan community of Ile-a-La-Crosse
after townspeople said they saw the white image of the Virgin Mary on the side
of a backyard greenhouse, the Ottawa Citizen said on September 14. The image
first appeared the night of September 9. The greenhouse owner tried to scrub it
away the following day, but it reappeared. Now people say there’s a strong
smell of roses inside the shed.
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September 23, 2002
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