Liturgical Season 9/26/03 World News
New Resources  Marian Events  Mary in the Secular Press
 News from the
Marian Library
 Prayer Corner News Archives

Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of September with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of September.

Rosary Markings

Rosary Markings is an answer to John Paul II's proclamation of "The Year of the Rosary" (2002-2003).  Rosary Markings will explore various facets of the rosary all through this anniversary year.  It will be updated frequently.  

See our recent addition from September 26.  Previous Reflections are listed on our Rosary Index.  Please note that many of these documents are available in Spanish as well as English.

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New Resources

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has been added to our Resources index.  The latest added was Mexico.  Expect more countries to follow.

A section on Marian Spiritualities has also been added to our Resources index.  The latest additions were papers on the spirituality of three famous converts.  Expect more articles to follow.

We have also posted our answer to a reader's question: Is there Marian imagery in Disney's Pinocchio? as well as a new section on Japan within our list of Marian Shrine Addresses.

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  News from the Marian Library

MSA Call for Papers

"The Immaculate Conception: Human Destiny and Vocation" is the theme of the next meeting of the Mariological Society (Houston, Texas - May, 2004).  Suggested areas for papers include recent bibliography on the Immaculate Conception; Scriptural foundations; anthropological, pastoral, symbolic, and ecumenical implications; original sin in Eastern and Western approaches; the Immaculate Conception in art.   Those wishing to make a presentation should send a precis to the MSA Secretariat (Marian Library) by October 1, 2003.  

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Memorial Fund

MMA Development has set up a memorial fund in the name of Robert Swank (the late husband of Annamaria Poma-Swank, former IMRI Professor). These funds will be redirected to The Cloisters Library.

Donation checks should be made payable to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and mailed to:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
 Development Office 
1000 Fifth Avenue 
New York, NY 10029

Attn: Corin Crucitti

Note: The memo portion of the check should say "in memory of Robert Swank," Or the donor can include a note with this same information. Please pass this information along to all interested parties.

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Vatican Exhibit on Display Now!

The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute invites you to visit The Mother of God: Art Celebrates Mary, thirty-eight paintings and sculptures from the permanent collection of The Vatican Museums, spanning seventeen centuries of Christian art and reflecting cultures worldwide.

September 4 - November 10, 2003

Roesch and Marian Library Galleries in Roesch Library on the University of Dayton Campus.
Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Free Admission -- Parking Available

For tours and information call: (937) 229-4254 or email: VaticanExhibit@notes.udayton.edu.
A virtual exhibit may be seen on our Gallery section under Current Exhibit.
Seminars related to the exhibit will be held in the LTC on Thursday nights through November 20.
For details on these lectures, click into http://www.udayton.edu/mary/gallery/vatseminars.html.
Exhibits of Rosaries of the World and of Creches will also be on display during this time.
See also the article by Pamela Gregg in the August 22 issue of U.D.'s Campus Report.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

The schedule of IMRI courses for Fall 2002 - Fall 2003 is now available for view.  
Courses for the Fall semester are scheduled to commence on Oct. 20, 2003.

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Personal thoughts and reflections about Mary 
from our readers 

We've added a section to our Research and Publications section showing selected personal comments from our readers about the Virgin Mary.  Click here to see comments received within the past month.  From this page, feel free to submit your own personal thoughts on Mary.  

We also encourage our readers to submit their opinions on various styles of Marian Art through an on-line art survey.

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Marian Events

Celebrating Mary in the Month of the Rosary (with Fr. Bert Buby, SM) 

October 1, 2003 : 9 a.m. - Noon

Location: Bergamo Center for Lifelong Learning (Dayton, Ohio)

Cost: $20 (includes lunch)

Reflect, Pray and Deepen Your Knowledge of:

Fr. Bert Buby, SM, is an Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Dayton.  He is a frequent lecturer throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the United States and Canada.  Fr. Bert is also the author of numerous articles, essays, academic papers and six books.

For more information, please contact Chris Bryte by phone at (937) 426-2363 or by email at chrisb@bergamocenter.org.  Registration deadline is September 24, 2003.

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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Prayer Corner Requests

You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look!  This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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News from Around the World



As is customary every year before leaving his summer residence at Castelgandolfo and returning to Rome, this morning the Pope thanked the town's mayor, councilmen and law enforcement officials for their service throughout his stay. He also bid farewell to priests and the different religious communities.

The Holy Father assured law enforcement officials that he would continue to pray for them and their work. "In addition," he said, "I ask you to pray for me and my daily service to the Church. Pray in particular for my upcoming pilgrimage to Pompeii so that it may mark the start of a new phase of spiritual renovation and more intense Marian devotion for the Church."

Yesterday afternoon, John Paul II greeted Saverio Petrillo, general director of the Pontifical Villas, and staff members as well as their family members. "Upon returning to the Vatican," he said, "I ask the Giver of every good to reward you with an abundance of grace."  The Pope will return by car to Vatican at 6:30 p.m.




On Tuesday, October 7 Pope John Paul will depart Vatican City at 9 a.m. by helicopter for a visit of several hours to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, near Naples, Italy. The one-hour flight will bring the Pope to a heliport set up near the archeological ruins of the ancient city, from where he will travel by car to Bartolo Longo Square in Pompeii.

Following his arrival at 10:30 at the basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, the Holy Father will recite the rosary for peace in the world with the faithful gathered outside the church, and will deliver a homily. He will then recite the supplication to Our Lady as is traditionally done every year on May 8 and in October when thousands of faithful gather at the shrine for the Feast of the Supplication to petition favors and to offer thanksgiving for favors received.

After greeting the civil and religious authorities present at the shrine, the Pope will return to the heliport and is scheduled to leave at 12:30 for Vatican City, arriving one hour later.




The program of events scheduled in the Vatican to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's election to the papacy was made public today. It includes a four-day meeting of the 164 members of the College of Cardinals, Mass on the day of the anniversary and a concert in the Pope's honor.

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 15, the College of Cardinals will gather in the New Synod Hall for a four-day meeting, during which six cardinals will reflect on themes of great importance to the Church. Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, former dean of the College, will speak on "The Petrine Ministry and Communion in the Episcopacy"; Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger on "Priests, the Consecrated Life and Vocations"; Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo on the family; Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir on ecumenism; Cardinal Ivan Dias on missions and Cardinal Angelo Sodano on "The 25 years of Pontificate in Service to Peace."

The cardinals, who were invited by the Holy Father to Rome for this anniversary, will be joined by the presidents of episcopal conferences, the heads of dicastery of the Roman Curia and by patriarchs.

Pope John Paul will not be present at the opening session but he will attend on the morning of October 16, the 25th anniversary of his election in 1978, during which he will sign the post-synodal apostolic exhortation for the 2001 synod held on the theme of the episcopal ministry. He will do so in the Clementine Hall. At 6 p.m. that same day there will be a Mass in St. Peter's Square to commemorate this jubilee.

On Friday, October 17, the College of Cardinals will meet again. At 6 p.m. in honor of John Paul II, there will be a concert in the Paul VI Hall offered by the choir and orchestra of Leipzig who will perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Bruckner's "Ecce Sacerdos Magnus."

The Pope will address the meeting of the cardinals during their final session on Saturday, October 18. His talk will follow the presentation of a Message to him from the entire College of Cardinals. At 1 p.m. The Holy Father has invited the cardinals, heads of dicastery, episcopal conference presidents and patriarchs to lunch. At 5:30 there will be a missionary vigil in the Paul VI Hall, though the Pope is not scheduled to be present.

At 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, October 19, World Mission Sunday, Pope John Paul will preside at Mass during which he will beatify Mother Teresa of Calcutta.


From Zenit

Rosary for Peace on Papal Agenda at Pompeii

During Visit to Marian Shrine

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 23, 2003 (Zenit.org)

John Paul II will pray the rosary for world peace during his Oct. 7 visit to a Marian shrine near Naples, Italy.

According to the program of the pastoral trip, issued today by the Vatican press office, the Pope will travel by helicopter from the Vatican to Pompeii. He will depart Vatican City at 9 a.m. for a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii. The one-hour flight will bring the Holy Father to a heliport set up near the archaeological ruins of the ancient city, from where he will travel by car to Bartolo Longo Square in Pompeii.

Following his arrival at 10:30 at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, the Pope will recite the rosary for peace with the faithful gathered outside the church, and will deliver a homily. He will then recite the supplication to Our Lady as is traditionally done every year on May 8 and in October, when thousands of faithful gather at the Shrine for the Feast of the Supplication to petition favors and to offer thanksgiving for favors received.

After greeting the civil and religious authorities present at the shrine, the Pope will return to the heliport. He is scheduled to leave at 12:30 p.m. for Vatican City, arriving one hour later. His visit to Pompeii is one of the highlights of the Year of the Rosary, which ends Oct. 19.


New Mysteries of Rosary Help Us See the Face of God, Says Pope

Reflects on the Luminous Events of Jesus' Life

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2003 (Zenit.org)

Contemplation of the luminous mysteries of Jesus' life reveals the face of God, says John Paul II. At today's meeting with pilgrims before the praying of the Angelus, the Pope continued his spiritual preparation for his pilgrimage to the Shrine of Pompeii, near Naples, on Oct. 7. The Holy Father proposed the luminous mysteries when he convoked the Year of the Rosary last October. That year ends this Oct. 19.

These mysteries of Christ's life, which complement the traditional joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, present key moments in Jesus' public life: his baptism, the wedding of Cana, the proclamation of the Kingdom, the transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and the institution of the Eucharist.

They "are instances of revelation; indeed, luminous mysteries, which reflect the splendor of the divine nature of God in Jesus Christ," the Pope told the pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence.

"It was the time when Jesus, with the power of the word and works, revealed fully the face of the heavenly Father, inaugurating his Kingdom of love, justice and peace," he said.

Noting that the rosary proposes the contemplation of the love of Christ with the eyes of the Blessed Virgin, the papal meditation focused on the second mystery, the wedding at Cana, where Mary's presence is more evident.

"It is she, in fact, who points out to her Son that there is no more wine; and when he replied that 'his hour' had not yet come, she insists with maternal urgency, saying to the servants: 'Do whatever he tells you,'" the Pope recalled.

"In this way she shows that she intuits more than anyone else the profound intentions of Jesus. She knows him 'heart to heart' as, from the beginning, she kept and pondered every gesture and word of his," he added.

The "Virgin is the first and principal teacher of Christian prayer," he said. "In her school one learns to contemplate the face of the Lord, to assimilate his sentiments and accept his values with generous consistency."

The papal meditation ended with an exhortation: "In these last weeks of the Year of the Rosary, let us feel ourselves more united than ever in reciting the holy rosary, in a particular way for families and for peace in the world."

Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before praying the midday Angelus with pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Continuing with my spiritual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Pompeii where, God willing, I hope to go Oct. 7, I would like to reflect today on the mysteries of the rosary, called the "mysteries of light." They complement the traditional periods of the infancy, passion and glory of Christ with others, equally important, of his "public life" [see apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae," 19].

It was the time when Jesus, with the power of the word and works, revealed fully the "face" of the heavenly Father, inaugurating his Kingdom of love, justice and peace. The baptism in the Jordan, the wedding of Cana, the proclamation of the Kingdom, the transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and the institution of the Eucharist are all instances of revelation; indeed, "luminous" mysteries, which reflect the splendor of the divine nature of God in Jesus Christ.

2. In general, the presence of Mary in these mysteries is in the background, except for one: the wedding at Cana, where the role of the "Mother of Jesus" is determinant. It is she, in fact, who points out to her Son that there is no more wine; and when he replied that "his hour" had not yet come, she insists with maternal urgency, saying to the servants: "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5). In this way she shows that she intuits more than anyone else the profound intentions of Jesus. She knows him "heart to heart" as, from the beginning, she kept and pondered every gesture and word of his (see Luke 2:19,51). Because of this, the Virgin is the first and principal teacher of Christian prayer: In her school one learns to contemplate the face of the Lord, to assimilate his sentiments and accept his values with generous consistency.

3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us follow Christ in the way of his mysteries of salvation with the ardent love of the Virgin Mary. In these last weeks of the Year of the Rosary, let us feel ourselves more united than ever in reciting the holy rosary, in a particular way for families and for peace in the world.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the meeting, the Pope greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors who have prayed the Angelus with us today. In a special way, on the occasion of the upcoming World Maritime Day, I wish to extend my cordial greetings to seafarers of all nations. May God bless you in your work, and may Our Lady, Star of the Sea, guide and protect you and your loved ones.


From L’Osservatore Romano

Not posted this week.

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Mary in the Secular Press

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.

Believe It, Or Not [Source: The New York Times, 8/15/2003]

Today marks the Roman Catholics' Feast of the Assumption, honoring the moment that they believe God brought the Virgin Mary into Heaven. So here's a fact appropriate for the day: Americans are three times as likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83 percent) as in evolution (28 percent).

So this day is an opportunity to look at perhaps the most fundamental divide between America and the rest of the industrialized world: faith. Religion remains central to American life, and is getting more so, in a way that is true of no other industrialized country, with the possible exception of South Korea.

Americans believe, 58 percent to 40 percent, that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral. In contrast, other developed countries overwhelmingly believe that it is not necessary. In France, only 13 percent agree with the U.S. view. (For details on the polls cited in this column, go to www..nytimes.com/kristofresponds.)

The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time. The percentage of Americans who believe in the Virgin Birth actually rose five points in the latest poll.

My grandfather was fairly typical of his generation: A devout and active Presbyterian elder, he nonetheless believed firmly in evolution and regarded the Virgin Birth as a pious legend. Those kinds of mainline Christians are vanishing, replaced by evangelicals. Since 1960, the number of Pentecostalists has increased fourfold, while the number of Episcopalians has dropped almost in half.

The result is a gulf not only between America and the rest of the industrialized world, but a growing split at home as well. One of the most poisonous divides is the one between intellectual and religious America.

Some liberals wear T-shirts declaring, "So Many Right-Wing Christians . . . So Few Lions." On the other side, there are attitudes like those on a Web site, dutyisours.com/gwbush .htm, explaining the 2000 election this way:

"God defeated armies of Philistines and others with confusion. Dimpled and hanging chads may also be because of God's intervention on those who were voting incorrectly. Why is GW Bush our president? It was God's choice."

The Virgin Mary is an interesting prism through which to examine America's emphasis on faith because most Biblical scholars regard the evidence for the Virgin Birth, and for Mary's assumption into Heaven (which was proclaimed as Catholic dogma only in 1950), as so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap of faith. As the Catholic theologian Hans Kung puts it in "On Being a Christian," the Virgin Birth is a "collection of largely uncertain, mutually contradictory, strongly legendary" narratives, an echo of virgin birth myths that were widespread in many parts of the ancient world.

Jaroslav Pelikan, the great Yale historian and theologian, says in his book "Mary Through the Centuries" that the earliest references to Mary (like Mark's gospel, the first to be written, or Paul's letter to the Galatians) don't mention anything unusual about the conception of Jesus. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke do say Mary was a virgin, but internal evidence suggests that that part of Luke, in particular, may have been added later by someone else (it is written, for example, in a different kind of Greek than the rest of that gospel).

Yet despite the lack of scientific or historical evidence, and despite the doubts of Biblical scholars, America is so pious that not only do 91 percent of Christians say they believe in the Virgin Birth, but so do an astonishing 47 percent of U.S. non-Christians.

I'm not denigrating anyone's beliefs. And I don't pretend to know why America is so much more infused with religious faith than the rest of the world. But I do think that we're in the middle of another religious Great Awakening, and that while this may bring spiritual comfort to many, it will also mean a growing polarization within our society.

But mostly, I'm troubled by the way the great intellectual traditions of Catholic and Protestant churches alike are withering, leaving the scholarly and religious worlds increasingly antagonistic. I worry partly because of the time I've spent with self-satisfied and unquestioning mullahs and imams, for the Islamic world is in crisis today in large part because of a similar drift away from a rich intellectual tradition and toward the mystical. The heart is a wonderful organ, but so is the brain.

Skeptics, believers flock to statues; Mary, Jesus figures' eyes leave some in awe; others just scoff [Source: Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 8/14/2003]

The show starts at dusk, promised Tony Valvas, his eyes fixed on the Blessed Virgin Mary statue affixed to the bell tower at St. Joseph the Provider Catholic Church.

Stand at the corner of the neatly trimmed hedge next to the church's school, he instructed. Then gaze up into the statue's eyes.

Into its glowing eyes.

"There's something happening here," said Valvas, 37, who lives two blocks from the church. "I don't know what it is, and I can't explain it. But there's something happening."

Is it a miracle or a mirage?

Nobody knows for sure, but plenty of people are making a pilgrimage to the church at 633 Porter Ave. in Campbell in search of an answer.

Thousands have flocked to the town south of Youngstown since the statues on the bell tower--the Virgin Mary to the west, Jesus Christ to the east--seemingly flickered to life 10 days ago. The flow of faithful only increases as word spreads.

Small groups wander across the now-trampled grass outside the church during the day, when the glow is somewhat visible. The watchers shield their eyes from the sun as they look skyward, trying to catch a glimpse.

The throngs come at night, their parked cars clogging the streets. Many come from more than an hour away, and they stay until all hours of the night. Last night, about 1,000 crowded a courtyard outside the church, singing hymns and taking pictures of the mysterious illumination.

There's a spiritual energy present among the crowd, and many go inside the church to pray. Candles--many more than normal--provide a heavenly light inside the chapel.

"Sometimes, God uses ordinary things to speak to us," said the Rev. Mike Swierz, who oversees the 500-family church. "Maybe that's what this is all about."

Apparition reports of the Virgin Mary date to the third century, according to a Web site by the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton.

Sightings have spiked in recent years, according to the institute.

In June, a report that the Virgin Mary's image graced a window at Milton Hospital south of Boston attracted more than 20,000 people on a single weekend.

"People are straining to find anything to give meaning to their lives," said the Rev. Thomas Thompson, director of the Marian Library at the University of Dayton. "That's why they reach out to these things. It's a tribute to their belief."

"But few sightings qualify as miracles, and most can be explained," Thompson said. "The image on the hospital window, for instance, is believed to be water marks caused by a broken window seal."

Skeptics outside St. Joseph say the glow there may be related to gold leaf put on statues in the 1970s. No investigation is planned, church officials said.

"Don't close your mind to the possibilities," Thompson said. "But don't be gullible and naive, either."

Naysayers and believers gathered at St. Joseph yesterday. Many toted binoculars to better view the glowing eyes and hearts on the statues. Others used videocameras to capture the image.

A group gasped as they watched a closeup of one tape that showed what appeared to be pupils in the eyes of both statues.

"Nobody paints eyeballs that way," said Leticia Gonzalez, 46.

Others noted what appeared to be stains underneath the statue of Jesus, speculating that it may be blood. Valvas, for one, said the stains appeared only recently.

Even a flock of birds circling overhead attracted interest as a possible secular sign.

George Mottle listened to it all shaking his head.

"If there was something here, the pope would be here right now. On his knees," said Mottle, 59, of Boardman.

"It's just the light, an illusion," echoed his father-in-law, Harry Dilisio, 82, who grew up in Campbell.

The woman next to them quickly chimed in.

"It's not an optical illusion," said Kathy Garchar, 46, of Struthers, who attends St. Joseph. "It's never done this before."

Garchar is convinced she's seeing a miracle, if only in the surge of people making the pilgrimage to her church to feed their faith.

Joanna Sims, for one, said she saw the light yesterday. The 50-year-old Youngstown woman said the piercing statue eyes touched her soul.

Sims then quickly excused herself and headed to her car. There was no time to talk, she said.

"I'm going home," Sims said. "I've got a Bible to read tonight."

Milk Thistle [Source: The Age (Melbourne), 8/11/2003]

Milk thistle is touted as the alcoholic's antidote. Exploited as a liver tonic for centuries, much has been made of its ability to protect the liver against alcoholic overindulgence and diseases such as hepatitis.

Also known as St Mary's thistle or Silybum marianum, legend has it that the Virgin Mary spilled a drop of breast milk onto a milk thistle leaf, creating its characteristic long, white streaks.

Historically, the root was eaten like a parsnip, the leaves like an artichoke and the seeds were roasted to create herbal "coffee".

Today, the seeds can still be ground and infused in hot water but the herb is normally taken in supplement form. The standard dose is 200-400 milligrams daily.

Milk thistle has been used as a remedy for liver disorders for at least 2000 years. The Greek herbalist, Dioscorides, said milk thistle tea was the perfect antidote for a poisonous snakebite.

In Roman times, Pliny the Elder mixed the plant juice with honey to cleanse the body of bile - thought to induce a state of melancholy.

The English 18th-century herbalist Culpepper also reported milk thistle to be an excellent liver tonic. He even recommended its use for breaking up liver stones and curing jaundice.

Modern medicine, however, remains to be entirely convinced of its therapeutic properties. A number of studies undertaken to prove its effectiveness in tackling liver disease have been contradictory.

In 1989 a group of patients suffering from cirrhosis of the liver--some due to long-term alcohol abuse--reported significant improvement after taking milk thistle tablets.

But another study carried out in 1998 showed the opposite. Milk thistle appeared to have no effect whatsoever on the patients' "pickled" livers.

Other research has in turn proved and disproved its ability to tackle long-standing liver disease and improve liver function.

Herbalists insist, however, that research does show milk thistle does have a role to play in protecting the liver against chemical damage, and may help the body to fend off the effects of viruses such as Hepatitis C.

Research carried out in Germany--the world's biggest producer of milk thistle remedies and among the herb's most loyal consumers--indicates that it helps the liver to cleanse itself of toxic waste and coats liver cells with a protective agent.

But, like any herb, milk thistle does carry a cautionary footnote. Its ability to increase the flow of bile from the liver means it can cause nausea and diarrhoea.

But in small, supervised doses it is considered safe. Even breastfeeding mothers are sometimes advised to take the herb, advised that--as its name suggests--it promotes secretion of milk from the breast.

Cloth relic from Mexico draws hundreds to pray at Basilica; Catholics believe cloak from 1531 was imprinted with Virgin Mary's image [Source: The Baltimore Sun, 8/11/2003]

Miranda Pakulski wept as she left the small relic hanging from a chain around a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Basilica of the Assumption yesterday.

"I can't even begin to explain," said Pakulski, 26, of Highlandtown, who believes the Virgin Mary helped her recover from a chronic case of hives two years ago. "It's just so moving. It's a matter of faith."

Pakulski and about 400 others came to the Basilica yesterday to attend Mass and see the relic, a half-inch piece of cloth from a tilma, or cloak, that Roman Catholics believe was imprinted with Mary's image more than four centuries ago in Mexico.

The relic, which is on a seven-month Tilma of Tepeyac Tour of the United States, meant different things to the dozens of Catholics who waited in line after Mass to kneel before it. Some took photographs and were awed by the relic's history; many prayed for forgiveness or for relatives in poor health.

Charlotte and Michael Janssen brought two foster children to see and pray over the relic. They hoped it might help 13-year-old Gan as he battles scoliosis, mental disabilities and other severe ailments.

"It gave me a glow, maybe we can do something for this child yet," said Michael Janssen as he pushed Gan in a wheelchair.

The Janssens, who drove to Florida several years ago to see what some said was an image of the Virgin Mary in a bank window, also prayed that they might keep 8-month-old Christopher, also a foster child.

The relic dates to December 1531, when an Aztec peasant named Juan Diego passed Tepeyac Hill, in what is now a northern neighborhood of Mexico City, on his way to Mass.

According to Roman Catholic tradition, Diego suddenly heard birds singing and saw the Virgin Mary, who asked Diego to tell the local bishop to erect a church on the hill in her honor. The bishop told Diego that he doubted the claim and asked for a sign. Mary appeared to Diego again and told him to gather roses blooming on the hill and wrap them in his tilma.
When Diego opened his cloak for the bishop and others, they were not just surprised by the roses, which were growing in the middle of winter. The bishop and several witnesses dropped to their knees when they realized the cloak bore an image of the Virgin Mary.

The cloak with her image is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Juan Diego was canonized last year.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese received the half-inch piece of cloak in 1941 after the city's archbishop led a pilgrimage to the shrine. The tour is being organized by the Apostolate for Holy Relics and is being co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council in New Haven, Conn.

Andrew Walther, vice president of the Apostolate for Holy Relics, said the small piece of cloth has drawn hundreds of pilgrims throughout its tour. Noting that the cloak survived a bombing attempt in the 1920s and that its poor-quality fibers should have disintegrated years ago, Walther said, "It's sort of miraculous from beginning to end."

Yesterday, many said they visited the Basilica to soak in that history and feeling. "We may never get a chance to go to Mexico City," said Marie La Valle, 75, who traveled from Annapolis with a friend to see the relic. "This is a chance of a lifetime to see a relic and honor her."

A farewell Mass, where the relic will be on display, has been scheduled for 12:10 p.m. today at the Basilica.

Catholics hail icon of Mary ; Hondurans thank church for charity [Source: The Houston Chronicle, 8/9/2003]

"Viva la Virgen de Suyapa!" rang out through Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Bellaire Friday night as hundreds of Hondurans joyously received a miraculous statuette image of the Virgin Mary, considered the patroness of Honduras.

The visit of the image is the first outside of Honduras since it began to be venerated in 1747. Accompanying the image was Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Madriage of Honduras.

"This is the first time the mother of Honduras visits the children of another country," said Cardinal Rodriguez, a revered Latin American church leader often mentioned as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II.

Rodriguez also said the visit was in gratitude to the Catholic Church of Texas, which helped the Central American country after Hurricane Mitch in 1988. More then 15,000 Hondurans were killed and the country was devastated, said Oscar Castaneda, an officer of the Honduran Consulate in Houston.

The visit of the image is also in gratitude for the U.S. government's allowing Hondurans to immigrate to the country to help alleviate the Central American nation's problems.

The visit drew hundreds of Hondurans as well as Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic groups.

The virgin's image will be on display from 2 to 4 p.m. today at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church and at 1 p.m. Sunday during a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Rodriguez (SEE CLARIFICATION)

Rodriguez, who speaks seven languages, is a former president of the Latin American bishops conference and a relentless crusader for human rights, said Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston.

He is the first Honduran cardinal, which allows him to vote for the next pope

"He is highly influential in Latin America and one of the most influential men in Europe," Fiorenza said.

But the feature attraction was the small half-foot image of the virgin, which was brought into the church in a large glass enclosure.
"We feel far from our country," said Dilcia Pineda who came to see the image. "This restores our faith. This is a great favor from the Catholic Church."

When she learned the image was coming, Pineda said, she was emotionally overcome, feeling joyous and hopeful.

CORRECTION-DATE: August 10, 2003

CLARIFICATION: The final appearance of the image of the Virgin of Suyapa will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 625 Nottingham Oaks Trail with a Mass to be celebrated by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga. This story failed to mention the St. John Vianney site.

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