Liturgical Season 1/14/05 World News
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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 month of January 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 January.

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New Resources

A section on Mary in Doctrine has been added to our Resources index.  The latest addition was The Immaculate Conception. Expect more articles to follow.

A section on Marian Spiritualities has been added to our Resources index.  The latest addition was a paper by Sr. Marie Azzarello on Visitation-Pentecost Spirituality in the Congregation of Notre Dame.  Expect more articles to follow.

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

A section on Mary and Women is now under construction in our Resources index.  The latest addition was Bibliography.  Expect more articles to follow.

We have posted One Glory, a poem by Clifford J. Laube.  We have also added a Novena Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes, and revised our meditation on Our Lady of South Carolina.

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  News from the Marian Library

New Look for The Mary Page!

To prepare for the tenth anniversary of our web site,  the Mary Page Advisory Board has initiated a number of changes to the look, feel, and organizational structure of The Mary Page.  We welcome feedback from our readers.

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Current Exhibit Extended!

Sacred Dolls: Re-Imaging Our Lady, a display by Dianne Marlene Hargitai, will be exhibited at The Marian Library Gallery through Feb 28, 2005.  For more information call 937-229-4214 or click here to see a virtual exhibit.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Spring 2005 semester will begin on February 14.  The course schedule through Fall 2005 is now available.

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Alumni Update

We thank God for our many blessings this past year! We announce the "birth" of Gloria's dissertation, The History and Theology of the Movement for the Dogmatic Definition of Mary's Universal Mediation: 1896-1964, on June 9th, at a healthy weight of 5 pounds and 12 ounces! Ennis and Gloria traveled to Dayton, OH, for the summa cum laude defense on July 24th. Now Gloria must correct and publish the dissertation in order to receive her certificate for the doctorate of sacred theology.

We were thrilled to make our first trip to Rome December 1-9 for the International Mariological Marian Congress, held at the University of St. John Lateran, where Gloria presented a paper. Gloria was overjoyed to be chosen to be the English-language lector for the pope's Mass at St. Peter's Basilica to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 150th anniversary of its dogmatic definition. Televised internationally on EWTN both live and later in the day, the Mass was seen by some family members who spotted Gloria as lector and Ennis in the sanctuary.

It was a profoundly moving experience to assist in the Mass with the pope during this Year of the Eucharist. We were both saddened and inspired by Pope John Paul II's strength of will to participate in the Mass when he is debilitated by illness. He reminds us of Gloria's mother in her final months. Please pray for him.

There were many other highlights of joy for our year. On Mother's day we became the god-parents of our 17th god-child, Louis Rosarium Sarwal, named after St. Louis Marie de Montfort and for the Year of the Rosary when he was born. The photo of Ennis crowning the parish statue of Mary made it into the official Legion of Mary magazine, Maria Legionis. Ennis now works full-time in the garden shop at Behnke's Nursery in Potomac, MD. Gloria works part-time at the Dominican Theological Library. Gloria attended the annual meetings of the Mariological Soceity of America in Houston, TX, and the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature in San Antonio, TX. At the latter she had three job interviews with universities seeking theology professors. One university has progressed to the next step by scheduling an on-campus interview in January.

Love and prayers, Ennis and Gloria Dodd

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Marian Events

2005 Fatima Marian Conference and Retreat
Topic: Our Lady and the Reality of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory
Date: July 7-14, 2005

The itinerary for this pilgrimage includes visits in Portugal to: Santarem; Fatima; and Nazare; and special July 13 feast day ceremonies.
For more information contact the 101 Foundation at 908-689-8792.

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

The Pontifical International Marian Academy [PAMI]
21st International Mariological Congress
Held at the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome December 4-8, 2004

Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis
XXI Congresso Mariologico Mariano Internazionale

A report by Virginia Kimball, President, Mariological Society of America

The Pontifical International Marian Academy held its 21st International Congress in Rome this past December and the Mariological Society of America (MSA) was well represented.  This International Congress, held every four years by PAMI, gathered together Marian theologians from all over the world, and was dedicated this year to the theme, “Mary of Nazareth welcomes the Son of God in history.” 

The American contingency of members of the Mariological Society of America who participated in the Congress included Dr. Deyanira Flores of Costa Rica who represented the Marian Library at the University of Dayton and presented a plenary session paper titled "In the Fullness of Time, to the 'Fiat' of the Word is joined the 'Fiat' of the Virgin" (delivered in Spanish).  In the first part, "Biblical Foundations," Dr. Flores examined Galatians 4: 4-7, Hebrews 10: 1-18, and Luke 1: 26-38: the eternal Economy of the Father, the "Fiat" of the Word, and the "Fiat" of the Virgin.  The second part dealt with the different characteristics of the “Fiat” of the Word and of the Virgin, and the way these two “Fiats” are joined in God’s Eternal Plan.  The authors from Tradition that she mentioned in the paper ranged from the second to the 17th centuries. Other MSA participants in the Congress included Rev. Johann Roten, S.M. of the International Marian Research Institute (IMRI) in Dayton, Ohio.  Those who spoke in the English-Speaking Section were:

- Rev. Luigi Gambero, S.M., faculty member of the Marianum in Rome and faculty member at IMRI in Dayton, Ohio, who spoke on “Mary and the Church Welcome Their Heavenly Spouse in His Coming Into Our History: the Teaching of St. Augustine,” a paper which drew many interesting questions and prompted Fr. Gambero to distribute his sources for the paper to participants in this session;

- Sr. Mary Catherine Nolan, O.P., MSA board member, who spoke on “Mary’s Song: Living Her Timeless Message”;

- Rev. Marian Zalecki, O.S.P.P.E. of the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa near Philadelphia, PA, who offered “The Shrine of Czestochowa: A School of the Teaching Mother, Mary of  Nazareth” showing how Mary teaches through the shrine, a paper also abundant with details of the history of Poland’s Madonna;

- Sr. Jean Frisk, Schoenstatt Sister affiliated with the Marian Library in Dayton, who offered a paper on the “Schoenstatt Home Shrine,” demonstrating how the Virgin’s Home Shrine creates a “holy space”;

-  Sr. Isabelle Naumann, a Schoenstatt sister who spoke on the “Anthropological Aspects of Mary as the Immaculata in the Schoenstatt Spirituality”;

- Sr. M. Danielle Peters, a Schoenstatt sister, who spoke on “Father Jakob Rem and the title, ‘Mother Thrice Admirable’”;

- Gloria Dodd, who recently defended her doctorate in Mariology at IMRI spoke on her research, “Mary, Mother of the Church, in the Movement for the Definition of Mary as Mediatrix”;

- Virginia Kimball, president of MSA, who gave the paper “‘Nymphe anymphete, Bride Unwedded’: Mystical meanings in the liturgical phrase describing spousal union between Mary and God”;

- Rev. Nicholas Gregoris, of Columbus, Ohio, who spoke on “John Henry Cardinal Newman: on Mary’s Cooperation in the Incarnation as Theotokos and New Eve.”

- Also, speaking in the English-Speaking Session was Dr. Constantine Charalampidis, a professor at the University of Thessaloniki in Greece, who presented a comprehensive slide lecture on “Representations of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Byzantine Iconography.”

Each day, the Plenary Session speakers gave papers to the Congress membership representing mariologists from 12 international regions (African, Asian, Croatian, French, English-speaking, Italian, Latin-American, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Spanish, and German).  The proceedings were presided over by S. Em. Cardinal Poupard, who also delivered greetings from the Holy Father to the Congress, bringing Pope John Paul II’s welcome and expressions of prayer and hope for the Congress. Vice President of the Congress was Rev. P. Vincenzo Battaglia, O.F.M., President of Pontificia Accademia Mariana Internazionale, who warmly received our small group of American participants.  The Secretary of the Congress, Rev. P. Stefano Cecchin, O.F.M. was a gracious and welcoming host, as well, to our American group.  At the close of the Congress, all participants were invited to the Liturgy of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, at St. Peter’s Basilica, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the declaration of the dogma, presided over by the Holy Father.  The Congress was mentioned in John Paul II’s homily, when he recognized the presence of mariologists who came to Rome for the Congress in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 in 1854. Of particular joy was the invitation that MSA member Gloria Dodd received to read the Epistle at Mass. 

Extra features of the Congress included two special events: one, a pre-screening of a video to be used at a center planned for opening in Jerusalem, and secondly, an enjoyable concert of Christmas music.  The presentation on Sunday night, December 5,  presented a new project in Jerusalem, “Marie de Nazareth,” including the plans there for a new museum of Mary in the Holy Land, announced recently by a new accompanying website. A feature film of considerable length was reviewed by participants, who were generally impressed with its full treatment of the Virgin Mary in images and understanding of western cultural expression, but including also some allusions to eastern Christian, Islamic, and Judaic culture.  Information on this project can be found online at www.mariedenazareth.com.  On the evening of December 6, a concert of Marian music was presented at the Basilica of St Anthony near the Lateran, specially performed for PAMI attendees by Polifonica Antoniana.  The program included classic Marian compositions by Palestrina, Haydn, Spingola and others.

All the plenary session papers and language session papers are to be published eventually in the Acta Congressus Mariologici Mariani, published at the offices of the Antonianum.  It will be of interest for former participants of PAMI to know that for the proceedings of 2004, all of the plenary sessions are completed for publication and the language sessions are still in preparation.

At the end of this Congress 2004, news came that the Holy Father had announced the location of the next Congress in 2008, which will be held at Lourdes, France.


Pope John Paul dedicated today's Angelus reflections entirely to the upcoming feast of the Immaculate Conception, as this year marks the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of this dogma by Pope Pius IX.

"We prepare to celebrate with intimate joy," he said, "the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary which this year takes on special meaning. We will commemorate, in fact, the 150 years since the proclamation of this important Marian doctrine.

"We will remember this anniversary on December 8 with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica where, in 1854 my venerated predecessor, Blessed Pius IX, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, together with many bishops from every part of the world. Thus we will honor 'Tota pulchra,' she whom God chose as the Mother of His only begotten Son." The Holy Father closed by reminding everyone that in the afternoon, as he does every year, he will go to Rome's famed Piazza di Spagna for the traditional homage to Mary Immaculate. "I invite all of you, dear Romans and pilgrims, to join me in this act of filial veneration to our heavenly Mother."




The 21st International Marian Mariological Congress will be held December 4-8 in the Pontifical Lateran University on the theme "Mary of Nazareth Welcomes the Son of God in History." Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will preside at the congress on behalf of the Holy Father. The International Pontifical Marian Academy, which organized the conference, is made up of experts, including Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, on mariology from all over the world.

The congress will be inaugurated tomorrow at 10 a.m. in St. Mary Major Basilica with a liturgy presided by Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, archpriest. At 3:30 p.m. in the Lateran University, Bishop Rino Fisichella, the rector, and Cardinal Poupard will address participants in an opening ceremony.

During the morning sessions, nine presentations are scheduled. Each afternoon, the participants, who are divided into 12 sections by language and geographic region (African, Asian, Croatian, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Latin American, Polish Portuguese, Slovenian and German), will listen to talks by various members of the National Mariological Societies.

The congress will close on Wednesday December 8 in the Vatican Basilica with a Eucharistic Celebration presided over by John Paul II on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.


From Zenit

An Order With Special Ties to the Immaculate Conception

Conventual Franciscans Urged to Keep Spreading the Teaching

ROME, DEC. 6, 2004 (Zenit.org)

A century and a half after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Friars Minor Conventual are being urged to "spread this truth in men's hearts." This is the path indicated by the order's minister general, Father Joachim Giermek, in a letter to his brother Franciscans, dated Dec. 8, the 150th anniversary of the culmination of a process of close to 550 years of theological reflection and contemplation, in which the Friars Minor Conventual participated. This is why the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception is part of the order's "history, tradition and identity," states the letter.

The "filial love of the Franciscan family for the All Holy is inborn in the hearts of its members," as, when St. Francis of Assisi renounced his blood ties, he "discovered the maternity of Mary, who was given by Jesus on the Cross to John, his beloved disciple, in the name of all the redeemed," the letter said. For him, "Mary is first and foremost Mother because she gave us the Lord of majesty as a Brother."

"And the sons of the Poverello, in those early times and ever since, have tried to emulate this filial love for Mary both in their personal lives and in the life of the fraternity," added Father Giermek. "They have likewise striven to spread that same love everywhere among the faithful and in the Church by the example of their lives, through their preaching and in the realm of theological thought."

Witnesses of this are, among others, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bonaventure, Alexander of Hales, William of Ware, Petrus Aureolus, John Duns Scotus, "who was the first to elaborate, in a definitive way, the doctrine of preventive redemption," points out the minister general of the Conventual Franciscans. In fact, "Scotus was the first to state that the immaculate conception of Mary is not an exception to the universality of Christ's redemption, but a case of a perfect and more efficacious salvific act of the one and only Mediator," he continued. The contributions of the order up to the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception were constant.

The feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated in the order since 1263, was adopted officially by Rome, with its own Mass and liturgical office, by Pope Sixtus IV, himself a Conventual Franciscan. In 1477 he affirmed "that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was consistent with the tenets of the Catholic faith."


Pope Invites Faithful to Celebrate a Marian Anniversary

Plans to Preside Over Mass on Solemnity of Immaculate Conception

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org)

John Paul II invited Catholics worldwide to join in the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of a key Marian dogma. The Pope announced today from the window of his study that on Wednesday he will preside at a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, "where in 1854 my venerable predecessor, Blessed Pius IX, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception."

"In this way, we will honor the 'Tota Pulchra' [All Beautiful], she whom God chose as Mother of his Only-Begotten Son," he added, when addressing thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the midday Angelus, on a rainy day. "Later, as every year, I will go to Piazza di Spagna for the traditional tribute to the Immaculate Conception," the Pope said in a clear voice.

"I invite you all, dear Romans and pilgrims, to join me in this act of filial veneration of our heavenly Mother," he concluded.

The origin of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is found in Christian writings of the first centuries. The feast was already celebrated in the West toward the 10th century. It was introduced in the universal calendar by Pope Sixtus IV in 1476. After a long debate among theologians, Franciscan John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) coined the theological key to understand the dogma, stating that Mary was preserved from original sin in anticipation of the merits of Christ. Pope Pius IX defined the dogma with the bull "Ineffabilis Deus."

In commemoration of this anniversary, last Aug. 14-15 John Paul II visited the Marian shrine of Lourdes in France. When the Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 she announced that she was the "Immaculate Conception."

In the context of the celebrations taking place in Rome, the 21st International Mariological Congress is being held through Wednesday at the Lateran University on the theme "Mary of Nazareth Welcomes the Son of God in History." Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is presiding at the congress on behalf of the Holy Father.

On Tuesday a concert will be held in honor of the Immaculate Conception in Paul VI Hall.


Mariology, in a Historical Perspective

Interview With Father Paul Haffner, Professor and Author

ROME, DEC. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org)

The modern world's difficulty in accepting the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is a fruit of the many false and incomplete philosophies it lives with, says a theologian. Father Paul Haffner, a theology professor at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, made that point in an interview with ZENIT. The London native, whose book "The Mystery of Mary" was recently published by Gracewing in Great Britain, and Hillenbrand Books in the United States, shared some insights with ZENIT.

Q: Why did you feel it was necessary to write a book on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception?

Father Haffner: The book is not only on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This book is published to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the definition, by Pope Blessed Pius IX, of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

In this book I have tried to offer a clear, structured overview of theology and doctrine concerning Mary, within a historical perspective. It is my conviction that the foundation for fruitful devotion to the Mother of God starts from sound doctrine based in Scripture and Tradition, and is nurtured by good theology.

Q: Why did Pius IX decide to proclaim the dogma?

Father Haffner: In 1849, Pope Blessed Pius IX consulted the bishops regarding the faith of the Church concerning the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and also whether a dogmatic definition in this regard would be opportune. The response was affirmative on both counts, and so, on December 8, 1854, Blessed Pius IX solemnly defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Pope proclaimed a doctrine which had been believed by the Church in one form or other since the earliest times.

Q: How does your book develop the topic, and what are the salient aspects that you will like to emphasize to readers?

Father Haffner: The book goes in thematic order. In the first chapter, I outlined the basic scheme of what constitutes Mariology, not in isolation but in relation to other forms of theological enquiry. The second chapter works through the contribution of sacred Scripture -- in the Old Testament forms of prefiguration and prophecy, and then the New Testament fulfillment and witness are proposed in Chapter 3. The succeeding chapters examine each of the fundamental doctrines that the Church teaches about Our Lady. Chapter 4 develops the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and other truths dealing with Our Lady as being full of grace. The fifth chapter looks at Mary as Mother of God, the central dogma of Mariology. The various dimensions of the perpetual Virginity of Mary are elaborated in the sixth chapter. Mary's discipleship, a relatively recent theological acquisition, is examined in the seventh chapter, and this forms the basis for a discussion of her special and active participation in the Redemption.

Chapter 8 illustrates the end of Mary's earthly life and her glorious assumption, body and soul, into the glory of heaven. The ninth and final chapter elaborates Mary's continuing Motherhood in the Church, in which she is the Mediatrix of all graces. In this year of the Eucharist, there is also a special focus on Mary's relation to the Eucharistic Christ.

Q: It is difficult for the modern world to understand the meaning of the dogma, and it is even more complicated in regard to the Virgin Mary. How would you explain it to the young people of today?

Father Haffner: The difficulty lies with the modern world, and the fact that it is the heir to many false and incomplete philosophies. In fact, the mystery of Mary illustrates and reveals not only the Mystery of Christ, but also the deepest yearnings and aspirations of human existence. The fact of her Immaculate Conception and sinless life, for example, shows us that God's salvation really has had an impact, since he preserved her from sin. She is thus a ray of light in a darkened world.

Also, the definition of Mary's assumption took place in 1950, and this was of great historical significance. It took place in the middle of a century when the sacredness of the human body was denied theoretically and practically at many levels.

In the first half of the 20th century it was denied politically in the totalitarian systems of Marxism and Nazism, which denied the sacredness of the body in theory, and in the slaughter of millions in the gulags and concentration camps.

In the second half of the 20th century, the assault on the sacredness of the human body was taken a step further through the massacre of untold millions through abortion and euthanasia, and also through sacrilegious experiments carried out on embryos -- to say nothing of genetic engineering and attempts to clone the human being. All of this is counterbalanced by the Church's affirmation that Our Lady was assumed "body" and soul to the glory of heaven. The Church, which believes in the resurrection of the body, believes that this same body has been created in the image and likeness of God, and is called to a supernatural destiny in Christ.

Q: What is the relationship between Mary and ecumenical dialogue?

Father Haffner: I have often treated ecumenical questions concerning Our Lady in this work.

While there is considerable agreement between Catholics and Orthodox on Mariology, it is heartening that there is also growing appreciation of Mary in Reformed circles.

Indeed, one Reformed theologian, whom I have cited in Chapter 7, John Macquarrie, writes: "It is Mary who has come to symbolize that perfect harmony between the divine will and the human response, so that it is she who gives meaning to the expression Co-Redemptrix."1

Mary is also Mediatrix for the angels, as Eastern theology has often pointed out. Mary, being nearest to God, is the only one worthy of receiving all of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

St. Gregory Palamas pointed out the importance of the Theotokos after her departure from this world: "To the degree that she is closer to God than all those who have drawn close to him, by so much has the Theotokos been deemed worthy of greater audience. I do not speak of men alone, but also of the angelic hierarchies themselves."2

--- --- ---

1 J. Macquarrie, "Mary for All Christians," (London: Collins, 1990), p. 113.

2 St. Gregory Palamas, "A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary," (Homily 37).


Poised for Solemnity of Immaculate Conception

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org)

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

1. We are preparing to celebrate, with profound joy, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which this year takes on a particular significance. Commemorated, in fact, are the 150 years since the proclamation of this important Marian dogma.

2. We will remember this anniversary on December 8 with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican basilica, where in 1854 my venerable predecessor, Blessed Pius IX, accompanied by bishops from all over the world, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In this way, we will honor the "Tota Pulchra," she whom God chose as Mother of his Only-Begotten Son.

3. Later, as every year, I will go to Piazza di Spagna for the traditional tribute to the Immaculate Conception. I invite you all, dear Romans and pilgrims, to join me in this act of filial veneration of our heavenly Mother.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Concert to Mark a Marian Anniversary

Tribute to Pius IX, Who Proclaimed Immaculate Conception

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2004 (Zenit.org)

A concert will be held here Tuesday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The concert will be under the baton of Monsignor Pablo Colino, with the participation of the choirs of the Roman Philharmonic Academy and the Capella Giulia, as well as the orchestra Friends of Harmony. Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé will also perform.

The event is taking place thanks to the sponsorship of Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, and the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See. The concert has been organized by the Pro Music and Sacred Art Foundation, the International Association Friends of Sacred Music, as well as the postulation of the canonization of Blessed Pius IX, who promulgated the dogma.

The first part of the program is a "Homage to Mary," in which, among others, O. Ravanello's "Tota Pulchra" and G. Verdi's "Ave Maria" will be performed.

The above will be followed by compositions dedicated to Pius IX, in particular, D. Mustafa's "Tu es Petrus," for 10 voices; G.B. Grifoni's "Laude to Mary," and G. Rossini's "Hymn to Pius IX."

The concert will end with J. Massenet's "Mary's Ecstasy" and C. Gounod's "Pontifical Hymn."

Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo, Spain's ambassador to the Holy See, told ZENIT that he wished to join the sponsorship of the initiative as the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is very much linked to the history of Spain and, in particular, to its embassy in the Vatican.

On Sept. 8, 1857, from the balcony of the embassy's building, next to Piazza di Spagna, Pope Pius IX blessed the statue of the Virgin that was set up there, which the Pope visits every year on Dec. 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception. With that monument, Pope Pius IX wished to commemorate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which took place Dec. 8, 1854, with the bull "Ineffabilis Deus."

Among the authorities who will receive John Paul II on the afternoon of Dec. 8, when he makes a floral offering to the Blessed Virgin's image, will be Spanish Ambassador Dezcallar de Mazarredo.

The concert begins in Paul VI Hall at 7 p.m. Sitting is limited but admission is free.


Trappists Leave the Cloister for a Special Trip

Brazilian Pilgrimage Marks Anniversaries

TREMEMBE, Brazil, NOV. 30, 2004 (Zenit.org)

In a rare outing, an entire monastery of Trappist monks went on a pilgrimage. The 25 members of Our Lady of the New World Monastery, of Campo do Tenente in the state of Parana, went on pilgrimage last Monday to the place where the first monks were established in Brazil, as well as to the Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida, in Sao Paulo. This unheard-of event for the Trappist community was due to an exceptional celebration: the centenary of the arrival of the Trappists in Brazil, the centenary of the crowning of the statue of Our Lady Aparecida, and the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

It was a way of honoring the "father and mother" of the community of monks, said the prior of the community, Trappist Father Bernard Bonowitz, during his homily at a Mass celebrated in the Basilica of the Good Lord Jesus in Tremembe. He was referring, respectively, to the first Trappist monastery in Brazil and to Our Lady Aparecida.

The first monks of the order arrived in Brazil and established themselves on Sept. 13, 1904, in the city of Tremembe, … a place that became famous as the Monastery of Our Lady Star of the Sea ("Maristela").

In the 1920s, the monks of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, as the Trappists are formally known, … returned to the city of Campo de Tenente, … where in 1997 they founded the Monastery of Our Lady of the New World.


Envoy to Help Close Year of Immaculate Conception

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org)

John Paul II appointed Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte as special envoy to the closing celebrations of the Year of the Immaculate Conception, scheduled for Dec. 8 in Washington, D.C. The year has marked the 150th anniversary of the definition of the dogma of Our Lady's preservation from the stain of original sin.

News of the appointment of Cardinal Schotte was published by the Holy See on Saturday in a letter written in Latin. The cardinal is president of the Central Labor Office of the Holy See. Accompanying him will be Monsignor Michael Bransfield, rector of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, and Father David O'Connell, president of the Catholic University of America.


Dogma of Immaculate Conception Opened a New Era

Interview With Journalist Vincenzo Sansonetti

ROME, JAN. 7, 2005 (Zenit.org)

Proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was a providential event that reinvigorated "an exhausted Church" by reminding the faithful of "the existence of original sin and Christ's redemption."

So says Vincenzo Sansonetti, who worked for the Italian episcopal conference's newspaper Avvenire from 1976 to 1989.

In this interview with ZENIT he highlighted striking passages of his new book "The Immaculate Conception. From Pius IX's Dogma to Medjugorje" ("L'Immacolata Concezione. Dal Dogma di Pio IX a Medjugorje"), published in Italy by Piemme.

Since 1989, Sansonetti has been special envoy of and responsible for the cultural pages of the weekly Oggi; he also contributes to reviews such as Mass Media, Studi Cattolici, and Timone.

Q: When and why did the Holy See, all of a sudden, change its position on this mystery of faith, the object of devotion since the very first years of the Church?

Sansonetti: Rather than a change, one may speak of progressive maturation through the centuries which led the Popes to "support," with discretion but attention, popular devotion and the liturgical feast, for centuries already present in the Church.

The Popes were like arbiters in the disputes, often bitter, between the "maculates" and the "immaculates," led by Dominicans and Franciscans.

However, if one wishes to identify a crucial point, it must be found in the forced exile of Pope Pius IX, forced to flee to Gaeta, a fortress located in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, to remove himself from the fierce anti-Catholic and anti-papal persecution of the Roman Republic, led by Freemason Giuseppe Mazzini.

The book opens with an almost cinematographic scene, on a cold morning of January 1849, when Pope Mastai Ferretti went out on the balcony of the palace that offered him hospitality and saw a stormy sea. He was worried. Cardinal Lambruschini, who was by his side, said to him: "Your Holiness, the world will only be cured of the evils that oppress it ... by proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Only this doctrinal definition will re-establish the sense of Christian truths."

A few days later, from Gaeta, Pius IX published the encyclical "Ubi Primum" in which he asked all bishops worldwide to define themselves on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

The result was virtually a plebiscite and, on December 8, 1854, the Pope pronounced the solemn declaration that "the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by special grace and privilege of God and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, was preserved immune from all stain of original sin."

Q: The promulgation of this dogma took place in a period, heir to the Enlightenment, which in Italy enabled Giuseppe Mazzini to say: "A new era is arising which does not admit Christianity" and that was, as you affirm, characterized by a certain decadence in the life of the Church. Do you believe that this historical and ecclesial event had some affinity with what happened, for example, with the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe and, therefore, that it must be interpreted as the response of grace to an impossible human situation?

Sansonetti: The Guadalupe apparition in Mexico completed the evangelization of Latin America in the 16th century. The proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, gave back vigor, in the mid-19th century, to an exhausted Church in a tight spot, by recalling the existence of original sin and the redemption of Christ.

They were providential events, which corresponded to a mysterious divine plan. And it is amazing that, four years after the proclamation of the dogma, on February 11, 1858, Our Lady appeared in Lourdes calling herself the Immaculate Conception, confirming the dogma.

She could have done so earlier -- there were tens, if not hundreds, of Marian apparitions prior to Lourdes -- but the Virgin respects the human way, the steps of the Church. And she described herself as the "immaculate" only "after" Pius IX's Bull of December 8, 1854.

Q: Can you tell us something about the supernatural events that reporters of that time wrote in regard to the promulgation of the bull "Ineffabilis Deus"?

Sansonetti: On the morning of December 8, 1854, in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, a ray of light fell on Pius IX at the moment of the reading of the bull "Ineffabilis Deus." An amazing phenomenon, because in no season, and much less so just before winter, and from no window of the Vatican basilica, could a ray of light reach the apse where the Pope was. It was seen as a kind of heavenly approval, the hope of a joyful future in the midst of the tormented life of the Church at the time.

A few months later, on April 12, 1855, Pius IX was visiting the "Propaganda Fide" School in Rome. All of a sudden the pavement opened up. That instant, the Pope cried out: "Immaculate Virgin, help us!" Miraculously, no one was hurt. For a century in that school the custom continued among the students, when dismissed for a break, to repeat the prayer "Immaculate Virgin, help us!"

Q: In "Ineffabilis Deus," Pius IX, in declaring the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, said that it was destined for "the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the enhancement of the Christian religion." What were the benefits obtained with the definition?

Sansonetti: It was another Pope who described the benefits for the life of the Church: St. Pius X, in the encyclical "Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum," published in 1904, fifty years after the proclamation of the dogma.

In addition to "the hidden gifts of graces" given by God to the Church through the intercession of Mary, Pope Sarto recalled: the convocation of Vatican Council I in 1870, with the dogmatic definition of papal infallibility; the "new and never before seen fervor of piety with which the faithful of all classes and nations, have been coming, for a long time, to venerate the Vicar of Christ"; the longevity of the pontificates of Pius IX and Leo XIII, most wise pilots of the Church; the "apparitions of the Immaculate in Lourdes and the flourishing of miracles and piety."  Missions, charity and culture flourished again, and the presence and visibility of Catholics returned to social life. An amazing example: On the day of the Assumption of 1895, after the courageous example of the Catholics of Roubaix, Eucharistic processions, which had been prohibited, resumed throughout France.

Q: During John Paul II's visit to Lourdes [last] year, on the day of the Assumption, papal spokesman Navarro Valls said: "The Pope has come to ask for healing not only of physical illness but of the gravest sickness that torments the modern world: forgetfulness of original sin."

Sansonetti: In reality, with his reminder of original sin, John Paul II did nothing other than repeat something already clear at the end of the 19th century, the century of Pius IX and of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. And, on top of that, in environments that were certainly not clerical.

At the end of the 19th century, the poet Baudelaire, who was certainly not a flatterer, said: "The greatest heresy of our time is the negation of original sin!" This heresy is still alive and acting.

Suffice it to think of the campaign against the former Italian Minister Rocco Buttiglione, a Catholic, obliged to give up his candidature for European Commissioner for Justice and Liberties, for having used the word "sin" during a hearing.

Sin and original sin are denied because there is the desire to affirm the idea of man totally liberated from a supernatural dependence, from a Creator, a man who does not acknowledge his limitations and puts himself in God's place.

But man, freed from this bond, without a religious reference, becomes a tyrant to himself, prey to utopias and totalitarianisms. From a man without God, spring Nazism, Communism and the present terrorism that uses the word "god" for its bloody ends.

Mary Immaculate, with her gentle and benevolent smile, just as she has been pictured, has crushed the serpent's head and leads us by the hand toward Paradise, toward the immaculate condition that is her privilege, though promised to us all.


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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.

LET THERE BE A LIGHTED CROSS, COURT SAYS [Source: The Boston Globe, 1/6/2005]

Twenty-three years ago, Noel Dube said, the Virgin Mary urged him to erect a shrine to God. Now a different authority has ruled that it can stay. A Middlesex Superior Court judge said Dube can keep an illuminated, three-story religious display in his Pepperell backyard, more than five years after local officials ordered that he take it down because he did not have the proper building permits.

Dube, an 85-year-old World War II veteran who lost a leg sweeping mines in Germany, said he began building the shrine after the Virgin Mary spoke to him during his morning prayers on May 28, 1982. After a neighbor complained about the shrine's size and the visitors it attracted, the town asked Dube to remove it in 1999. Instead, he expanded it, adding a 30-foot painting of Jesus and a 24-foot illuminated cross to a 20-foot mural of Our Lady of Fatima.

Dube could not be reached for comment yesterday, but feels vindicated, said his lawyer, Edward McCormick. "He's not a guy who ever wanted to flaunt the rules and regulations, but on the other hand, when no accommodations were made, he fought back," McCormick said.  Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Fishman handed down the ruling last week.

The town of Pepperell had argued that Dube needed permits to legally maintain the mural. Since he refused to apply for permits, the town reasoned, the mural had to be removed. McCormick argued that the shrine was protected by the First Amendment, as well as a state law that prohibits zoning ordinances from regulating or restricting structures for religious purpose, as long as the dimensions of the structures are reasonable. In his decision, Fishman said the structures are clearly used for religious purposes and are of reasonable dimensions.

The town has not decided if it will appeal the ruling, said Town Administrator Robert Hanson. But he criticized Fishman's decision as being "narrow in its focus." The town is concerned about safety, not religion, Hanson said."  He has a structure 20-something-feet tall, and the town has no knowledge of how it was fastened to the ground," Hanson said. "The judge just focused on religion." "We're surprised and a bit disappointed," said neighbor Jen Reale. "He clearly disregarded the fact that there is a size limitation. He's taken advantage, and we strongly feel that should be addressed."

Dube, a devout Roman Catholic who considered entering the seminary as a teenager, said he was commanded to erect a shrine while he was on his knees in his backyard saying his morning prayers that spring day 23 years ago. Uncertain what to do, he procrastinated until he nearly died of prostate cancer a few years later. After recovering, he erected the Fatima mural and placed small signs around town to advertise the new shrine. As the faithful and the curious began to trickle into his half-acre, tree-lined backyard, Dube added the mural of Jesus. But in 1999, with the number of visitors approaching 4,000 a year, a neighbor complained that the shrine did not belong in a residential neighborhood.

Test of faith for Lourdes of East; Sightings of the Virgin Mary ensured Velankanni was packed with pilgrims when the wave hit [Source: South China Morning Post, 1/3/2005]

Every year, more than 150,000 people, both Catholics and non-Christians, attend midnight Mass on New Year's Eve in the southern Indian pilgrim town of Velankanni, the "Lourdes of the East." But this year, a huge tin-roofed assembly hall erected for the occasion next to the seaside town's famed Virgin Mary chapel was almost empty--only 8,000 people came to hear Father Anthony Swami's sermon heralding the start of 2005.

On Saturday, just a handful of devotees had gathered in the chapel. The imposing Gothic basilica was locked. Two smaller churches marking the spots where, according to legend, the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus appeared in front of local Hindu children, were deserted. It was only the entrance to the parish priest's house that was packed, as distraught men and women came looking for aid after the tsunami devastation.

For centuries, Indians of all faiths have believed that a visit to Velankanni restores health and prolongs life. This belief was badly shaken when the small town on the Tamil Nadu coast, 350km south of state capital Chennai, was battered the morning after Christmas. "I've been a Christian all my life, but after this, I don't want to have anything to do with God," said A.Murugan, standing in what remained of his house.  Mr Murugan, employed at the shrine to fill bottles of holy water and coconut oil to sell to pilgrims, lost his wife in the disaster.

Ray Kancharla, a regular visitor to Velankanni, and an official of the Catholic charity Caritas India, said: "People are going through a terrible trauma, they're asking God why he has let them down. "But this is a temporary shock," he added. "Such disasters are milestones which change people's entire perspective. The healing has to be spiritual, and it will take place through prayer."

Two days after the disaster, the town's massive, makeshift church hall had to be converted into a funeral parlour. Denominations ceased to matter as Christian, Hindu and Muslim priests performed the last rites as more than 1,000 bodies were despatched for mass burial. Scores had died anonymously, with entire families of pilgrims from across India drowned by the tsunami. At least 5,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the pilgrim centre, though the official death toll is only 550. They were still disposing of the dead in Velankanni on Saturday.

The body of 21-year-old Sathya lay on a palm-frond-covered bier on the beach, on the spot where her house once stood. "We've lost everything," sobbed her father P. Adumalai, a fisherman. Velankanni's origins as a pilgrim centre date to the 16th century, and are similar to Lourdes in France. According to local legend, a Hindu milk vendor boy saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus. This was followed by two other apparitions--Mary appeared to a lame Hindu boy and healed him, and then saved shipwrecked Portuguese sailors off the coast. Before leaving Velankanni, the sailors built a small chapel dedicated to Mary, which has now grown into a complex of buildings, and become the most visited Christian pilgrim centre in India.

The big question after the tsunami disaster is whether Velankanni's popularity will endure. "People have noticed that the chapel and other church buildings, though located close to the beach were not submerged in water," Mr Kancharla said. "These structures have symbolised security, and this dimension of faith will continue to assist in the rebuilding of life."

A giant among women THINKING BIG [Source: The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand), 12/29/2005]

The 14-metre-tall, concrete Our Lady of Lourdes has watched over Paraparaumu for almost 50 years.  Our Lady of Lourdes stands on the hillside above the road at the northern end of Paraparaumu. Unlike Ohakune's carrot or Masterton's giant sheep shears, the 14.3-metre statue of the Virgin Mary is not a celebration of a town's identity to draw visitors, but simply a demonstration of faith.

In 1858, a 14-year-old French girl was visited by visions of the Virgin Mary in a grotto near her home town of Lourdes. One hundred years later, the parish priest at Paraparaumu wanted to mark the centenary by building a temporary statue of Mary on land behind the Presentation Sisters convent, but later decided a permanent statue would be better.

Our Lady was made by Dutch artist Martin Roestenberg, who built the two-metre-high head in his workshop in Taihape. He managed the project--from leveling the top of the 75-metre knoll the statue sits on, to building the scaffolding and transporting the head down to Paraparaumu. The rest of the statue was built on site. It took about six months through the winter of 1958 to build the body--in winds of up to 156kmh that threatened to tear down scaffolding.

Sister Joseph-Mary was a teacher at the Presentation Sisters convent at the time. "Building the statue was strenuous work. At that time there was no road to the top of the hill, so Roestenberg and his assistant had to haul the concrete to the top themselves. They got some locals to help them," she says. "We thought the statue was a wonderful thing, and it certainly is an outstanding feature of the district."

In October that year, the statue was officially blessed by Archbishop Peter McKeefry and thousands flocked to take part in the ceremony. They sang a hymn, Our Lady of Lourdes, composed for the blessing by Dorothy Curran, who was a music teacher at the Catholic school.  According to the convent's archives, the blessing of the statue "was without doubt the biggest display of faith that the seaside town of Paraparaumu had ever seen, and no doubt ... the statue of Our Lady will become to be known right through the entire country."

In 1983, about 5000 people from around New Zealand gathered at Our Lady to mark the 50th anniversary of the Legion of Mary, a Catholic lay organisation. An 11-carriage train came from Auckland with pilgrims, stopping to collect more on the way. Sister Joseph-Mary was at the event. "The train was packed with 600 people. Many pilgrims spent the night on the hill in prayer. We were praying for peace. I spent most of the time providing people with cups of tea," she says.  The Evening Post described the scene: "At the top as the darkness closed in, hundreds of pilgrims, packed together, knelt in prayer for the Catholic ceremony of Benediction. Below, hundreds of other pilgrims listened to loudspeakers, unable to reach the hilltop because there was no room."

Our Lady was the victim of vandalism in 1959, when the statue was sprayed with creosote. According to the archives, "the night the vandals chose to do this was very windy. Judging by the amount of liquid on the ground the next morning, the persons responsible must have got well-covered themselves at the same time." Sister Joseph-Mary says the community was shocked at the incident. "We all think Our Lady should be respected as a work of art."

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