Liturgical Season 12/18/03 World News
New Resources  Marian Events  Mary in the Secular Press
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Marian Library
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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 Christmas Season 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 December.

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 November 4.  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 Guyana.  Expect more countries to follow.

A section on Marian Spiritualities has also been added to our Resources index.  The latest addition was a paper on the Rosary spirituality of Faustino Perez Manglano.  Expect more articles to follow.

We have revised our Advent Calendar, as well as our answer to a reader's question, What are the fifteen symbols of the Immaculata represented on the famous tapestry of Our Lady in Reims, France?  We have also expanded our page on The Hail Mary in Various Languages and also our collection of Advent Poetry. Also, we have added a streaming video on our Creche Collection and our answer to a reader's question, Is there Marian imagery in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?

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  News from the Marian Library

Current Exhibits

Creche Displays

St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, 8th and Plum Sts, Downtown Cincinnati

November30 - January 4
Sundays: 12:30 - 5:00 pm
Saturdays: 12:30 - 4:00 pm
Weekdays: 12:00 - 2:00 pm

Special Arrangements can be made for groups
For more information, call Barbara Neff: 433-6592 or Kathy Kavanaugh: 434-6841

The Marian Library, located on the 7th floor of the Roesch Library on the UD campus

December 1 - January 9, Monday-Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Bergamo/St. John Gallery at 4400 Shakertown Road

December 3 - January 7, noon to 4 pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays

See the virtual exhibit on the Mary Page Gallery  under Current Exhibit.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Fall 2003 semester concluded on Nov. 14.  The schedule of future IMRI courses will be posted on the Mary Page when available.

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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

Cable Special

Tune in Christmas day to The History Channel special, "Banned from the Bible." Father Bert Buby, S.M., will talk about facets of Mary not included in the Bible. For more information click into: http://alumni.udayton.edu/campusreport/morenews.asp?storyID=1346

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

Billboard equates vegetarianism with Immaculate Conception

The Catholic Telegraph, DEC 12, 2003

A billboard promoting vegetarianism by using an image of the Blessed Mother with a dead chicken was removed Dec. 5 from a site in East Providence [Rhode Island] following several days of negative reaction from community and religious leaders.  The advertisement, placed Nov. 26, was bought by the national animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, after Vegan Outreach, a program within the national group, initiated the campaign.  It showed the Blessed Mother holding a dead chicken beside the words: "Go Vegetarian.  It's an Immaculate Conception." ...

From Zenit

Guadalupe Feast Prompts Papal Plea for Evangelization

MEXICO CITY, DEC. 15, 2003 (Zenit.org)

In a message on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, John Paul II urged those gathered for a Mass at the Marian basilica here to continue their work in the new evangelization.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, concelebrated a Mass on Friday at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe with numerous bishops of the Americas and Europe.

Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, apostolic nuncio in Mexico, read the papal message addressed to Cardinal Lozano Barragán. In it, the Pope said he was spiritually united to the pilgrims, "presenting to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary the joys and hopes, bliss and sorrows of all the American faithful."

Cardinal Lozano Barragán and Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop primate of Mexico, greeted the pilgrims who came on foot, bicycles, motorcycles, trucks, cars and other means of transportation, to offer flowers in thanksgiving to the Patroness of the Americas, and to ask for her favors.

The papal message also encouraged those present "to continue with renewed enthusiasm, faithfully united to their pastors, in the tasks of the new evangelization, announcing Christ, proclaiming the message of salvation, and coming close to the sources of grace through the sacramental and charitable life of the Church."

On the Unmistakable Characteristic of Christian Joy

It Can Coexist With Suffering, Says John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 14, 2003 (Zenit.org)

Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before praying the midday Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

1. "Rejoice in the Lord always. ...The Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4:4-5).

With these words of the Apostle Paul, the liturgy invites us to joy. It is the Third Sunday of Advent, called precisely because of this "Gaudete" Sunday. They are the words with which the Servant of God, Pope Paul VI, wished to entitle in 1975 his memorable apostolic exhortation on Christian joy, "Gaudete in Domino!"

2. Advent is a time of joy, because it makes us relive the expectation of the happiest event in history: the birth of the Son of God of the Virgin Mary.

To know that God is not far but close, not indifferent but compassionate, not a stranger but a merciful Father who follows us lovingly while respecting our freedom -- all this is reason for profound joy that different daily events cannot affect.

3. An unmistakable characteristic of Christian joy is that it can coexist with suffering, because it is totally based on love. In fact, the Lord who "is at hand," to the point of becoming man, comes to infuse in us his joy, the joy of loving. Only in this way can one understand the serene joy of the martyrs even in the midst of trials, or the smile of charity of the saints before those who are suffering: a smile that does not offend but consoles.

"Rejoice, O full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28). The Angel's annunciation to Mary is an invitation to joy. Let us ask the Holy Virgin for the gift of Christian joy.

[After praying the Angelus, John Paul II greeted the pilgrims as follows:]

I greet with affection the children of Rome, who have come for the traditional blessing of the images of Baby Jesus; I thank the Center of Roman Oratories, which organizes this beautiful initiative. Dear children and boys and girls, when you put the figurine of Baby Jesus in the crib, say a prayer for me and for the many people who turn to the Pope in their difficulties.

[After a brief greeting in Spanish and Polish, the Holy Father concluded in Italian:] Merry Christmas to all!

Mel Gibson's Ultimate Hero Movie

An Art Historian's View of "The Passion"

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, DEC. 10, 2003 (Zenit.org)

For a fortunate few of us Rome dwellers, the most exciting event of this week was the advance screening of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."

In a small basement cinema of Rome's Prati district, producer Steve McEveety tersely introduced the film, explaining that we would be seeing a mere rough cut of the newest Gibson opus.

From the stream of articles and testimonies this movie has spawned, it seems that most people who have previewed the film didn't know what to expect. I did. I am a diehard Mel Gibson fan, and I expected the best. He didn't let me down.

What did surprise me was that the person I always associated with the entertainment side of my life crossed over into my professional world. As a Renaissance art historian, I analyze art on chapel walls, above altars or in museums. Though film is arguably the world's greatest art medium, I generally turn off these faculties on entering the movie theater, as they are rarely called upon for today's films.

In the case of "The Passion," every scene, every frame, is richly crafted to draw the viewer deeper and deeper into the story. A masterpiece of religious art--of the most powerful sort--"The Passion" involves the viewer to the point that he or she becomes part of the story.

Gibson's filming stands in the High Renaissance tradition. The figures fill the screen, they loom over us, threatening to enter our space. When Christ falls for the last time on the road to Calvary, he turns towards us, the viewers, and slowly tumbles, arms outstretched, right over us.

The flashback to Christ and Peter produces a similar effect. The camera is placed to capture the face of Christ in profile, while Peter faces us full on. We are seated to the right of Christ, witnessing Peter's solemn promises to follow Jesus even to death. Then the camera pans around so that Christ looks straight at us as he tells Peter that before the night is over he will have denied him three times. From bystander to protagonist in the blink of an eye.

The most compelling interplay between viewer and film occurs, however, during Gibson's representation of Michelangelo's Pietà.

Mary holds her Son in the exact same manner, one hand cradling his body and the other hand open toward the viewer. The variation comes in that while Michelangelo's Mary gazes solemnly down at her Son, Gibson's Mary looks straight out at us. The movie draws to a close provoking a full and conscious acknowledgment of whom this suffering has been for.

Now it is one thing to fashion a work of art, and another thing altogether to get people to look at it. Every semester I host a crop of visiting college students, here to get a dusting in art history, eager to view the beauties of Rome. Yet on entering the Sistine Chapel they typically look up for just a moment or two and then turn to me for an explanation.

Contemporary society is not used to having to look at something long enough to let it sink in. Mel Gibson gets around this in part through the use of Aramaic and Latin in the film. He offers some subtitles, but not many, and the viewer finds himself searching the faces on the screen for responses, for personal interaction to try to understand visually what he cannot grasp otherwise.

The Caravaggesque play of light and dark across Pilate's tortured face as he struggles to understand "what is Truth," reveals more than the dialogue itself. In some cases, translation proves unnecessary. The scoffing and jeering of the brutal soldiers becomes feral barking, underscoring the meaninglessness of the violence it accompanies.

During my formative teen years, Mel Gibson accompanied me with his portrayals of reluctant heroes and good-hearted rebels. His best characters, such as Mad Max or Guy Hamilton in "The Year of Living Dangerously," always walked a fine line between what was right and what was comfortable or convenient. When the character finally had to wrench himself toward selfless good, the effort was always visible, almost painful. Concealed in unlikely shells, the hero emerges at the time of necessity.

In "The Passion of the Christ," Gibson has made the ultimate hero movie. In the opening scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus suffering with the foreknowledge of his imminent passion, pleading to be spared this task. The eerie figure of Satan, who would be distressingly at home in an MTV video, softly tempts and dissuades. "No man can bear this burden," he whispers while Jesus lies prostrate, seemingly helpless on the ground. But Jesus lifts himself up, and with a decisive crack that makes the audience jump, he crushes the head of the serpent Satan has sent to tempt him.

Another classically heroic Gibson moment finds Christ on his knees, crippled under the weight of the cross. His mother runs to comfort him, whereupon he smiles bravely and promises, "See Mother, I make all things new." The camera follows him up as he again shoulders the cross and struggles forward with renewed vigor.

Spurious charges of anti-Semitism have upstaged more important debate regarding the religious and artistic value of this film. The intensity with which Gibson forces us to think about Christ's passion highlights the power of cinema as an art medium, as well as a tool for evangelization.

Personally, perhaps the sweetest note on seeing this movie was that my adolescent hero has become a hero in my adult life, showing courage and vision in professing his belief in Christ's salvific sacrifice against formidable odds. Hats off to Mel.

* * *

Elizabeth Lev teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquesne University's Rome campus. She can be reached at lizlev@libero.it.

Videos Capture the Places Where Jesus Walked

Steve Ray's Films Show Sacred Sites of Salvation History

MILAN, Michigan, DEC. 10, 2003 (Zenit.org)

Steve Ray isn't just a tourist when he travels to the Holy Land and elsewhere in the Mideast.

He considers himself a pilgrim--a sojourner seeking the historical truth of the Catholic Church in the places and events of its sacred past.

On his pilgrimages, Ray brings his wife, Janet, and a camera crew that films him sharing the good news of salvation history and literally retracing the paths of Peter, Mary, Moses and Jesus--the four videos released to date in his 10-part series, "The Footprints of God: The Story of Salvation from Abraham to Augustine" (Ignatius).

Ray shared with ZENIT why he travels to these sometimes-dangerous places and how he hopes to fortify the faith of Catholics, young and old, by sharing the story of salvation.

Q: What inspired you to start filming your video series, "The Footprints of God"?

Ray: Shortly after converting from evangelical Protestantism to the Catholic Church, our family took a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome. We followed the footprints of Our Lord and the apostles.

When we returned home I noticed a big change in my children. I asked, "Why do you suddenly have such a passion for Jesus and the Church?" Without hesitating they replied, "While visiting those holy sites we realized in a profound way that Christianity is real historical truth. Jesus really lived; he really died and rose again -- and we saw where it happened."

I wanted to bring that same profound reality to other Catholic families; I wanted to see Catholics get excited about their faith.

The actual moment we decided it should be an adventure video series was at 2 a.m. about three years ago. From a sound sleep I sat bolt upright in bed. I shook my wife awake and scared her half to death. "Janet," I said, "we have to make a 10-part video series on the history of salvation from a Catholic perspective!" She responded, "You're crazy! Go back to sleep!"

But I couldn't sleep. So I jumped out of bed, sat at my computer and typed out the outline for the whole series.

Q: What have you learned about your subjects by physically walking in their footsteps?

Ray: Living in 21st-century America makes it difficult in many ways to relate to the real people and history in the Bible.

We are 2,000 years removed from the land, languages and customs that underlie our Christian faith--all on the other side of the world. By walking in sandals along their very footsteps I have learned many practical and spiritual things about the heroes of the faith.

When walking through the Sinai desert in the blistering sun with sand in my teeth I understood why the Israelites grumbled in the wilderness. A night out in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee gave me a great appreciation for the apostles and for many of the stories of the New Testament. Once you've been there you never read the Bible or hear the readings at Mass the same again.

Walking miles along dusty roads or riding a donkey across rocky fields with flies buzzing around your head caused me to constantly reflect on the fact that the Second Person of the Trinity gave up the glory of heaven to struggle and suffer, to stub his toes on rocks in Nazareth like I was doing, to experience sunburn and thirst in the Jordan Valley like I was doing. I've gained a profound appreciation for the Incarnation.

Mary was not the sweet-smelling icon that we often see in art. Mary was not a wealthy girl, and visiting Israel quickly made me realize that life was very tough for a young Jewish girl in the first century.

Wearing rustic sandals, Mary trudged along dusty paths with donkeys and camels. She worked hard with her calloused hands. Mary did not have daily showers and modern conveniences, and riding a donkey all day is hard work. Having studied her life on location from Jerusalem to Ephesus has given me a great love for Mary the Jewish girl as much as for Mary the Queen of Heaven.

Q: What are some of the adventures you've encountered while filming this series?

Ray: I've always loved adventure peppered with a little danger. When I was kid I always had broken bones and stitches. The excitement never ends on this project.

While creating a burning a bush in the Sinai desert for "Moses: Signs, Sacraments and Salvation," I was arrested by Egyptian police. While trying to get the right aerial footage we unhappily knocked a window out of an Egyptian Air Force helicopter over the Red Sea. Our Israeli helicopter pilot crashed with a filming crew shortly after flying with us--it could have been us.

The Arabian stallion I was riding for the opener of one documentary got in a fight with another stallion and with slashing hooves he finally fell over backwards right on top of me. I've handled cobras, stood among Palestinian militants with hoods and machine guns, waded in the Nile and awoke one morning with 50 mosquito bites.

But very profound things have happened as well. I'll never forget spending two nights locked in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem with our filming crew. The midnight solitude and beauty of that church is indescribable. We had the blessing of working and praying at the very place where Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again--and for two nights we had it all to ourselves.

Q: How has your faith grown as you have visited these religious sites?

Ray: In the Holy Land I can never consider myself simply a tourist. There is a much deeper dimension. I prefer to use the word "pilgrim." In Israel I am, in a real sense, walking on sacred ground. Even in Egypt, when God confronted Moses at the burning bush, he told Moses to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground.

Even though we are often working -- filming, narrating, directing--my wife, Janet, and I never lose the sense of being in God's presence in a unique and real way. I can recall many times when we've wept tears of joy, overwhelmed at the profound realization of where we were standing. In these marvelous sites God was involved in human history in a very unique way.

Q: Why is it important for Catholics to see the sites of Church history?

Ray: Many people are afraid to visit the lands of the Bible because of the current unrest, so we decided to bring the Holy Land back to them. Every Christian should experience Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and the Jordan River.

Our faith is not a thing of fiction. It is not just an interesting religion made up of fairy tales. It is truth rooted in history--in space and time. God exists and in the biblical lands he revealed himself in a special way.

I don't know of anyone who has not come back from a pilgrimage to the land of Our Lord who was not profoundly moved. My kids were no exception.

I want Catholic kids to stay Catholic, to love their faith, to know it is true and to live it out with vigor. I want adults to understand and defend their faith. To be immersed in our history is to be firmly rooted in the Church.

It also gives us a much deeper appreciation for the Mass, for the Scriptures and for the authority of the Church. All of these things have their roots in the Holy Land.

Q: What audience are you trying to reach?

Ray: Our goal is to reach everyone. The videos are intelligent and theological but they are also fun and adventurous. They plumb the deep truths of the Christian faith but they do it in an entertaining and quick-paced format.

One night I invited a large group to preview our first video, "Peter, Keeper of the Keys." Among the group were two theology professors and a whole lot of kids. Everyone watched the video with equal attention. Even the kids laughed and asked questions. I was overjoyed because I realized that our goal of reaching young and old alike had been achieved.

The videos are being used to great advantage--and fun--by seminaries, elementary schools, CCD and RCIA classes, families and even religious orders. A month ago, Father Benedict Groeschel thanked me for making the series. He said he always wanted to do something like this and now we have done it for him. I took this as a great compliment.

Q: You have already done videos on Peter, Mary, Moses and Jesus. Who will be your subjects for the six subsequent videos, and why?

Ray: Our goal is to cover the whole story of salvation. In the end, our series will include four documentaries on the Old Testament, four on the New Testament and two on the early Church.

Our next video/DVD, scheduled for an April 2004 release, will be "Paul, Contending for the Faith." We have just returned from four weeks of filming in six countries to get the story of St. Paul ready. We have great adventures to share from Antioch and Tarsus in central Turkey, to Athens, Corinth, Jerusalem and Rome.

We are currently writing the script for "David and Solomon: Building the Kingdom." Following will be: "Elijah and Elisha: Conscience of the Kingdom," "Abraham: Father of Faith and Works," "The Church Fathers: Handing on the Faith," and "The Doctors of the Church: Defining the Faith."

We have a few years to go and we are excited to bring all the riches of our faith and history back home for Catholic families, parishes and schools.


Caracas Bishops Condemn Profanation of Images of Virgin Mary

Chávez Sympathizers Blamed for Attack

CARACAS, Venezuela, DEC. 10, 2003 (Zenit.org)

The Caracas Archdiocese expressed sorrow over the public "mutilation" of images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the hands of supporters of President Hugo Chávez.

The attack took place Saturday when a march by sympathizers of "Chavismo" passed by the Plaza Francia of Altamira on the way to Bolivar Avenue.

Incidents like these "not only do not reflect the feelings of the majority of the people of Venezuela, who identify with the principles of the Catholic faith," but "are rejected, both for the offense itself of venerated images as well as the fact that they manifest the breakdown and loss of values of those who acted in this way," the archdiocese said in a statement Monday.

In response to the attacks, the text invites Catholic faithful "to work tirelessly so that the values of truth, justice, love, and peace will be present in the life of all of us who live in Venezuela."

The text was signed by Caracas' auxiliary bishops: Nicolás Bermúdez Villamizar, apostolic administrator; Roberto Dávila Uzcátegui; and Saúl Figueroa Albornoz.

Appealing for dialogue, the bishops said that "only if love of neighbor prevails, will we be able to continue to meet and relate to one another as brothers, despite the differences that might exist between us."

Condemning the profanation, Archbishop Baltazar Porras of Merida, president of the Venezuelan episcopal conference, said that it was not just a question of vandalism, "but that there were manifestations of real contempt for the most minimal respect that should be given any person or symbol, not just the religious."

The archbishop believes that the attack is another incident in a "continual escalation of the most absolute lack of respect for any kind of institution or value, as if a political plan were an absolute god, which must be rejected."


Pope at the Piazza; "Sidelined" Liturgy; Congressmen Call

A Message of Peace on Solemnity of Immaculate Conception

By Delia Gallagher

ROME, DEC. 11, 2003 (Zenit.org)

Monday was the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a national holiday in Italy and an important day for Romans who get to see their bishop, the Pope, crown the statue of Mary at the foot of the Spanish Steps in the center of the city.

Thousands of people lined the narrow street of the Via Condotti, famous for its designer shops, and spilled out onto the Piazza di Spagna, snaking around the fountain and up the wide staircase of the Spanish Steps.

The space reserved for journalists is close to the statue, for a better view of John Paul II, but I chose to forsake the view to stand one among the crowd--the experience of seeing the Pope alongside genuine enthusiasts is uplifting.

We waited for an hour in the cold, clear evening. There were Roman women in expensive furs, babies wrapped up tightly in their prams, clusters of young nuns and many teen-agers. Shopkeepers came to their doors, while above them, chic designers opened the balcony windows of their expensive ateliers and leaned out into the cold air. A young boy next to me clambered up onto a statue, despite the protests of his father, for a better view.

As it turned out, all were rewarded with a close-up view of their Pope who made the 15-minute journey from the Vatican in his popemobile, covered only by a protective sheet of light plastic, the corners of which flopped in the wind. The space being so narrow, it was possible to reach out and touch the plastic, though no one dared.

The Pope looked great, if one can say that about a Pope (I do only because I am constantly asked, How is he, really?). He held his head strongly upright, waving his arm occasionally and smiling.

Next year will be the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pius IX's proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 1854. The statue in Piazza di Spagna was erected on that occasion: a bronze of the Virgin Mary surmounted on a very tall column, at its base are statues of the prophets Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and David.

At the statue, the Pope invoked the Queen of Peace: "Hear the cry of pain of the victims of war and of the many forms of violence that bloody the earth." "Give men and women of the third millennium," the Pope continued, "the precious gift of peace: peace in hearts and in families, in communities and among people; peace above all for those nations where, every day, fighting and death continue."

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the World Day of the Sick will be held in Lourdes, France, on Feb. 11.

John Paul II, in a message to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and organizer of the event, remembered Mary's words at Lourdes, "I am the Immaculate Conception." In this same message, the Pope also encouraged the work of genetic engineering, referring to the "extraordinary possibility that science today offers to intervene at the very font of life." "Every authentic progress in this field," he added, "cannot but be encouraged, provided that it always respects the rights and the dignity of the person from his conception."

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.

Not posted this week.

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