News from the
Marian Library
Mary in the
Secular Press


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 April 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 May.

The Eucharist with Mary

Eucharist with Mary is an answer to John Paul II's proclamation of "a special Year of the Eucharist" (2004-2005).  This feature will explore facets of Mary's relationship with the Eucharist and will be updated frequently throughout this year.  Our latest addition is The Gift You Received.

Return to Top

New Resources

A section on Mary in Doctrine has been added to our About Mary page.  The latest addition was Mary in Magisterial Documents.

A section on Marian Spiritualities has been added to our About Mary page.  The latest addition was The Marian Spirituality of Fr. James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family. Expect more articles to follow.

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has also been added to About Mary page.  The latest added was St. Pierre and Miquelon.  Expect more countries to follow.

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

We have updated contact information for Marian Shrines in the United States.  We have also posted the following new features: May and Mary; A New Type of Apparition?; and Why Stay in the Church, Benedict XVI?

Return to Top

  News from the Marian Library

New Web Addresses for The Mary Page

In order to make our web site more accessible, The Mary Page may now be reached at the following URLs:;; and  The original address on the University of Dayton site remains active as well.

Return to Top

Collaboration with CatholicWeb

An important Catholic web site,, has added The Mary Page to their list of Media Partners.  They will highlight particular items from The Mary Page in their section on Catholic News.  Please visit their site in return.  We expect continued collaboration with them in the future.

Return to Top

Symbols of Grace Booklet Available at The Marian Library

The ML/IMRI recently produced, Symbols of Grace, a pamphlet showing many emblems  representing Mary's Immaculate Conception along with explanatory text for each.  The emblems featured in this booklet were reproduced and restored by The Society for the Preservation of the Roman Catholic Heritage.  Robin Smith designed the layout, while Fr. Johann Roten and Br. William Fackovec contributed the text.  These booklets are available for $1.00 per copy in The Marian Library on the 7th floor of U.D.'s Roesch Library.  For more information, call 937-229-4214.

Return to Top

Current Exhibit

Images of Epinal

Popular Art of mid-19th-centurty France featuring devotional images of Mary from the holdings of The Marian Library will be on display in our Gallery on the 7th floor of Roesch Library until May 12 from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm during on weekdays.  For further information, or to arrange a special visit during other times, call 937-229-4214.  Click here for a virtual exhibit.

Creches and Straw Art are also on display in our museum.

Return to Top

Alumni Update

Michael Duricy, webmaster for the Mary Page and IMRI graduate, is currently facilitating an on-line course on Mary for catechists through U.D.'s Institute for Pastoral Initiatives.  He is also an independent filmmaker.  His latest production, Nesiur: The Dayton Mummy, a documentary short on the Egyptian collection at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, has been given repeat airings on Dayton Access Television, and is next scheduled for cablecast on DATV [channel 20 in the Dayton area] on 5/6 at 3:30 pm.  It will also be cablecast on CATV [channel 23 in Centerville, Kettering and Oakwood] on May 9 at 10:40 pm and on May 15 at 5:40 pm.  Copies on DVD or VHS videotape are available at the circulation desk of Roesch Library.

Return to Top

Koehler Award Recipients Honored

Marie Michelle
Wong Kung Fong

Awards honoring the memories of Marianists influential in establishing the University of Dayton's libraries [Frank Ruhlman, Walter Klick, and Theodore Koehler] were presented to students in a ceremony in Roesch Library on April 14.

Two students received the Koehler International Student Award, which provided $300 to help international students buy textbooks.  This year's awards went to Marie Michelle Wong Kung Fong and Lyala Esadova.

Lyala Esadova

Started in 1996, the award is named for Father Theodore A. Koehler, S.M., the French Marianist who headed The Marian Library from 1969 to 1986.  Koehler founded the International Marian Research Institute and directed it from 1974 through 1986.  As Director Emeritus of ML/IMRI, he continued an active life of scholarship--as a researcher, editor and teacher--until shortly before his death on May 15, 2001.

Return to Top

MSA Conference

The 56th Annual Meeting of The Mariological Society of America will be held at Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford, Maine, May 18-21, 2005.  This year's theme is Mary, Eschatological Icon of the Church.  The program is as follows:

WEDNESDAY, May 18, 2005
3:33 p.m.--Meeting of the Administrative Council


5:30 p.m. Supper
7:30 p.m. Marian Evening Prayer--with the Cathedral Choir
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland. ME

THURSDAY, May 19, 2004


7:30 a.m. Morning Prayer
8:00 a.m. Eucharist (followed by Breakfast)
9:00 a.m. Registration
9:15 Welcome, Announcements

9:30 a.m. "Hope in a Hurting World: The Assumption/Dormition of Mary, Eschatalogical Icon of God's Promise"
Dott. Virginia M. Kimball, MSA President (Merrimack College)
Moderator: Fr. Sam Maranto, C.Ss.R.

10:45 a.m. "Francis of Assisi and Mary: Virgo Facta Ecclesia"
Fr. Michael W. Blastic, O.F.M.Conv. (St. Bonaventure, NY)
Moderator: Fr. Thomas Thompson, S.M.


12:00 p.m. Dinner

1:30 p.m. "The Assumption and Queenship in Complementarity"
Fr. George F. Kirwin, O.M.I. (Buffalo, NY)
Moderator: Fr. Bert Buby, S.M.

3:00 p.m. "Survey of Recent Mariology 2005"
Fr. Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm. (Nokomis, FL)
Moderator: Fr. Thomas Thompson, S.M.

5:45 p.m. Supper

7:30 Open Forum (List of participants will be posted)

8:45 p.m. Marian Devotion/Evening Prayer

Friday, May 20, 2005


7:30 a.m. Morning Prayer
8:00 a.m. Eucharist (followed by breakfast)

9:30 a.m. "Making Mary's Fiat Our Own: A Theological Study of Personhood"
Ronald Novotny, Ph.D., S.T.L. (Clearwater, FL)
Moderator: Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M.

10:45 a.m. "Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary's Queenship"
Ted Sri, S.T.D. (St. Benedict College/Atchison, KS)
Moderator: Sr. M. Catherine Nolan, O.P.


12:00 p.m. Dinner

1:3 p.m. "Eschatology and the Church in the Light of the Assumption"
Fr. Paul Duggan, S.T.D. (Boyes Hot Springs, CA)
Moderator: Fr. Francois Rossier, S.M.

3:00 p.m. "The Fourth Gospel's Icon of Mary"
Fr. Bert Buby, S.M. (Dayton, OH)
Moderator: Ron Novotny, Ph.D., S.T.L.

4:00 p.m. Business Meeting


5:15 p.m. Reception/Festive Dinner
Presentation of MSA Awards

8:30 p.m. Marian Hour in Memory of Fr. Ignacio Calabuig, O.S.M.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


7:30 a.m. Morning Prayer
8:00 a.m. Eucharist

9:00 a.m. Excursion [Maine Seacoast Sampler] to 2:00 p.m.

12:00 p.m. Dinner (for those not on the excursion)

General Information

Attendance open to all. You need not be a member to register.

For attendees residing at the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center:
MSA Registration Fee (3-day pkg.) $30.00

Room and Board Package:
Lodging and meals--Wed. evening (5:45 p.m.) to Sat. noon $155.00

For Commuters:
MSA Registration: $10.00 a day

Breakfast $5.00
Dinner $8.00
Supper $7.00

Meals must be "reserved" on the Registration Form.

Early arrivals? Late departures?--Contact the MSA Secretariat at 937-229-4294 for information about possibilities, rates.

Payment may be made now or at the time of the meeting. Make check payable to the Mariological Society of America. Note: No refunds possible after May 13, 2005

Return to Top

International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Spring 2005 semester concluded on March 18.  The course schedule through Fall 2005 is now available.

Return to Top

Mary, Model of Justice (Wednesday, May 25 7:30-9:30 pm)

Celebrate the Feast of Mary, Help of Christians, and explore the call of Mary's Magnificat and her model of discipleship for living justly at Bergamo's MEEC Center.  Presenters will include Carol Ramey, Br. Don Geiger, and Sr. Leanne Jablonski.  RSVP by May 23.  Free will offerings accepted.  For more information call 937-429-3582.

Return to Top

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!

Return to Top


From VIS

General Audience
Pope Tells Why He Chose Name of Benedict
Vatican City, April 27, 2005

In his first general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 15,000 people, the Pope again gave thanks to God for having elected him as Peter's successor, and explained why he chose the name of Benedict.

The Holy Father spoke of the feelings he was experiencing at the beginning of his ministry: "awe and gratitude to God, Who surprised me more than anyone in calling me to succeed the Apostle Peter; and interior trepidation before the greatness of the task and the responsibilities which have been entrusted to me. However, I draw serenity and joy from the certainty of God's help, that of His most Holy Mother the Virgin Mary, and of the patron saints. I also feel supported by the spiritual closeness of all the people of God whom, as I repeated last Sunday, I continue to ask to accompany me with persistent prayer."

From Zenit

Benedict XVI Signals Support For Ecclesial Movements
"With Paternal Affection," Says Cardinal in Message to Charismatic Gathering
Vatican City, April 26, 2005

Benedict XVI will continue to guide "with paternal affection" the ecclesial movements, associations and communities, which were nurtured by Pope John Paul II, says the Vatican's secretary of state.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano confirmed the new Pope's intentions in a message sent Friday to the national congress of Renewal in the Spirit, which gathered 25,000 people in Rimini, Italy. That event ended Monday.

The letter, signed by Cardinal Sodano, included the Holy Father's apostolic blessing.

The document expressed the Pope's satisfaction to send, "at the start of the ministry of the Successor of Peter," "a special thought" to all those gathered in Rimini for the occasion: bishops, priests who assist the movement's groups, and numerous faithful from Italy and abroad.

"The beloved and venerated John Paul II, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit as he was, guided with great care the path of the ecclesial movements, associations and communities," said Cardinal Sodano in his letter.

"With paternal affection, His Holiness [Benedict XVI] wishes to continue this service, so that the gifts that the Lord dispenses to his Church will be fully appreciated and oriented in the best way for the building of the Body of Christ which is the Church," the Vatican secretary of state said.

Benedict XVI assured the meeting "of a special remembrance in prayer, invoking the heavenly intercession of Mary Most Holy" so that, "as [in] the first community gathered in the Cenacle," she will preside spiritually over the "assiduous and harmonious" prayer of the participants, "obtaining a renewed effusion of the Paraclete," the letter said.

With a strong call to unity, in remembrance of John Paul II, and with his thoughts focused on Benedict XVI, Salvatore Martinez, Renewal's national coordinator, closed the meeting on Monday.

"Benedict XVI tells the truth: The Church is alive!" he said, recalling the Pope's words on the eve of the solemn Mass for the inauguration of his pontificate.

Renewal "will never cease to cry out with the Pope that the Church is alive because it is inhabited by Jesus Christ alive and animated by the Holy Spirit," Martinez added.

In Italy, more than 200,000 people in 1,800 communities and prayer groups share the spirituality of Renewal in the Spirit, an expression of the Catholic charismatic movement.

More than 100 million Catholics share the charismatic experience worldwide. The movement has a council, the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, that is recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.


Pontiff Praises a Bavarian Foe of Nazism
Father Rupert Mayer was Interned in Concentration Camp
Vatican City, April 26, 2005

One of the first blessed that Benedict XVI has spoken about is a priest who risked his life to challenge Nazism.

Father Rupert Mayer (1876-1945), a Jesuit from Bavaria, was interned in a concentration camp.

The new Pope, himself a native of Bavaria, proposed the priest as an example of life to the 5,000 German pilgrims who attended his audience Monday in Paul VI Hall.

Born in Stuttgart, Rupert Mayer entered the Society of Jesus in 1890. He was chaplain of immigrants and spiritual adviser to soldiers during World War I.

He was wounded in the war, and had to have his left leg amputated. He resumed his ministry, dedicating himself to the poor and to the direction of the Marian Congregation of Munich.

Father Mayer was one of the first to understand the nature of the Hitlerian movement and as early as 1923 said that a Catholic could not support National Socialism.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Father Mayer continued to express his ideas publicly. As a result, he was imprisoned in 1939 and then confined in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

As his health deteriorated, the Nazis, fearing that he would die in the camp and be considered a martyr, sent him to the Abbey of Ettal.

Father Mayer died of a stroke in Munich in 1945. Pope John Paul II beatified him in that city on May 3, 1987. His tomb is in Munich.


Pope to Take Possession of His Cathedral in May
Vatican City, April 26, 2005

Benedict XVI will officially take possession of his cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, on May 7 at 5:30 p.m., announced the Vicariate of the Rome Diocese.

The celebration, during which the Pope will sit for the first time on his episcopal chair, will be dedicated to the Holy Spirit to implore for wisdom.

After the "incatedratio," the Holy Father will visit the nearby Basilica of St. Mary Major to render homage to the icon of the Virgin Mary, "Salus Populi Romani," at 7:30 p.m.

After greeting the image with the words of the Gospel, Benedict XVI will recite for the first time a prayer of an Eastern patriarch of Constantinople, dedicated to the protection of the city's citizens and visitors.


Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect and Theologian
Mark Brumley on the Writings of a Future Pope
Vatican City, April 26, 2005

Q: What do you consider to be Pope John Paul II's theological legacy?

Brumley: It's extremely difficult to summarize his theological legacy in a short space. The ongoing pastoral application of Vatican II to the issues facing the Church and the world is probably his main legacy. The enrichment of personal faith and the universal call to holiness are two important themes in that regard.

John Paul II's emphasis on Vatican II's ecclesiology of communion is also important. He saw such communion as an earthly participation in the divine communion of the Holy Trinity brought about through Jesus Christ and spread in the world through the Church. The immediate expression of that mission is the call for a new evangelization.

With respect to his moral theology, John Paul's Christian humanism and his "theology of the body" are fundamental. Solidarity and subsidiarity received special emphasis in his social teaching, which is in turn rooted in an emphasis on the dignity of the human person and the mutual obligations human beings have to one another by virtue of their being made in God's image and called to the same destiny in Jesus Christ.

Finally, John Paul's Marian teaching stresses the centrality of Jesus Christ--we say all we do about the Blessed Virgin because of her relation to Christ and his Church. Mary is the model of faith, the grace-enabled "yes" of faith that entrusts the self to God and in this way embraces the offer of divine communion.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Incatedratio of the four major Churches in Rome

The date has yet to be announced but the Pope also plans on visiting the fourth major basilica of Rome, St. Mary Major. The Pope will go to St. Mary Major Basilica to greet the Blessed Virgin with the prayer "Ave Maria Stella." Mary's image as the salvation of the Roman people ("salus populi romani") is housed in that basilica.

After greeting the image with the words of the Gospel, Benedict XVI will pronounce for the first time a prayer of Eastern Patriarch St. Germanus of Constantinople, dedicated to the protection of the city's citizens and visitors.


Return to Top

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.

Faithful find solace at centuries-old grotto; Sanctuary on grounds of Mount St. Mary's provides comfort to some
[Source: The Baltimore Sun, 4/5/2005]

As she knelt on the cold concrete of the outdoor sanctuary, Donna Hogan gazed at the statue of the Virgin Mary. The swoosh of the grotto's stream, said to run deep with healing waters, was the only sound as she bowed her head in prayer and quiet contemplation. With a flawless blue sky overhead and a crisp spring breeze at her back, Hogan, 67, of Fairfield, seemed to melt into the tranquility emanating from the grotto, a cave-like structure the size of a walk-in closet, made of stone more than 200 years ago on the side of a mountain.

The grotto, on the grounds of Mount St. Mary's University, serves as an anchor for the spiritual community in this Frederick County town 12 miles south of Gettysburg, Pa. Hogan came to pray for Pope John Paul II and the Roman Catholic Church's future--and to find peace and solitude. "Coming here is always an act of love," said Hogan, who comes to the shrine nearly every day. "When I'm here, I feel the peace and grace."

The National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg is the oldest replica in the Western Hemisphere of the more famous one of the same name in France. Built in 1875, the grotto and its imposing 120-foot tower bear witness to the 18 appearances, the first of which was Feb. 11, 1858, that the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have made to a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubiroux in France. The grotto marks the site of St. Mary's Church, "the Old Church on the Hill," built in 1805 by Father John DuBois, who later became the third bishop of New York. He founded what is now Mount St. Mary's University and seminary, the second-oldest Catholic college in the United States.

DuBois created the grotto 200 years ago when he built the church. But it lacked a name until 1875 when the replica was completed. About 125,000 people cross the grotto's threshold each year and enter into a natural sanctuary hard to find even in a rural setting such as Emmitsburg. This is where Hogan was Saturday, when the grotto's serenity was broken just before 3 p.m. with the clanging of the bell tower delivering news of the pope's death. "It was a terribly sad moment," she recalled as she carefully placed in the back of her car a pitcher filled with water from the stream. "Just as we were wrapping up our prayers [for those who are dying], we heard the bells."

Towering trees and marble benches line the path that leads pilgrims past a series of monuments depicting the Stations of the Cross to the grotto, where prayer candles are lit and the stream's soothing sound invites visitors to linger in prayer or deep thought. Yesterday, black fabric draped across the two columns at the grotto's entrance marked a community in mourning over the pope's death. The smells of freshly mulched flower beds draw visitors deeper into the sanctuary, first to the Corpus Christi Chapel, a diminutive structure that beckons pilgrims to its tiny altar, and then to the grotto. "We've seen more people than usual" in the days surrounding the pope's death, said the grotto's chaplain, the Rev. John J. Lombardi. What strikes him most is not their numbers, but their mood. "Their tenor is, on one hand, sad. Yet, it's also thankful," he said. "They're recalling his beauty and holiness, and his heroic faith. ... This is bringing out in people a love of God and God's friend, Pope John Paul II."

Most of the pilgrims who knelt at the grotto yesterday spoke of a sense of calm and peace, content in their belief that Pope John Paul is now in heaven. Hogan and others said they don't know quite what to expect next--those are matters to entrust to a higher power--but they are hopeful the next pontiff will share Pope John Paul's philosophy and sense of humanity. "I think the Holy Father has set the stage for anyone to follow him," Hogan said. "We believe the Holy Spirit will guide people to vote for the right person." In the meantime, pilgrims like Letebrhan Imam, 48, of Silver Spring--who came to the United States nearly 30 years ago when she left her homeland of Eritrea to escape the war-torn East African country--said she will continue to seek solace at this slice of heaven on earth, the grotto. "I come here to feel the presence" of God, she said.

Child prophet who predicted shooting
[Source: The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), 4/5/2005]

The last member of the Fatima trio, the children who apparently saw the Virgin Mary in 1917, died this year. Now the Pope has also died--long after the attempt to assassinate him which was predicted by the Fatima prophet, Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos. In 1981 the Pope was shot on the anniversary of the Fatima children's first vision.

John Paul II later said he owed his life to the Lady of Fatima. Lucia de Jesus dos Santos was a 10-year-old shepherd when she and her two cousins said they were visited by the Virgin Mary, near the village of Fatima, Portugal. Lucia died on February 13, aged 97. The oldest of the children, she said she was the only one who heard clearly what Mary said. She went on to become a Carmelite nun, living in a monastery in central Portugal since 1948. She took no part in the Fatima cult.

Mary apparently gave the children three prophecies. The first two were that World War I would soon end but that it would be followed by an even worse war. The second was that Russia would become a communist threat to the world. The third (kept secret until 2000) was that a pope would be assassinated. It referred to a bishop dressed in white being shot. Many people have been sceptical about the 1917 events. But the late Pope John Paul II--who was shot at on the 64th anniversary of the event--truly believed them.

It is claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared to the three children six times at monthly intervals between May 13 and October 13, 1917. The visions became well known. By the time of the last one about 70,000 people had gathered with the children to see what was happening. There were doubts that the events took place. Some people assumed the children were making it all up or having hallucinations. Why, after all, would the Virgin Mary visit three poorly educated shepherd children in an obscure Portuguese village? If the children were so special, why did two die young? Francisco Marto, born on June 11, 1908, died in the great flu epidemic on April 4, 1919. His sister Jacinta Marto was born on March 11, 1910 and died on February 20, 1920. Others have wondered whether the children were caught up in some Church conspiracy to embarrass the government. The 1910 Portuguese revolution resulted in a government that wanted to reduce the influence of the Catholic Church. Church property was confiscated and it was fashionable among university circles to be anti-Catholic. Suddenly, in 1917, amid the gloom of the continuing war, the Virgin Mary visited the children. This seemed too coincidental. People asked if the alleged visions were being exploited by local Church officials for their own purposes.

Scepticism has continued because the event has become a moneymaking opportunity. Local people make souvenirs for visitors to the shrine. The Virgin Mary's features are replicated on candles, key-rings and perfume bottles. The region's banks are among the country's most profitable. In May 2000 it was reported that the Fatima shrine had benefited from Nazi German gold. Gold bars had been sold in the early 1980s to help pay for new visitor buildings. (Portugal had been neutral in World War II and so traded with both sides).

The senior officials of the Catholic Church were not originally enthusiastic about the reported visions. It does not normally accept children as seers. It took 13 years and extensive research for the Church to accept the events. The Bishop of Leiria-Fatima announced on October 13, 1930, that they were authentic. Fatima has since become one of the Catholic Church's most important shrines, with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims journeying there each year. Mel Gibson has recently announced he will be making a film based on the events of 1917.

Despite all the scepticism and cynicism, the visions had the support of Pope John Paul II, who firmly believed that his life was saved by the Virgin Mary of Fatima. Lucia wrote down the third secret, sealed it and gave it to the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, with instructions that it not be read until 1960. The bishop turned the envelope over to the Vatican. Pope John XXIII reportedly opened the envelope in 1960 but refused to say what the secret was, saying it did not relate to his time. Fringe Fatima fanatics held hunger strikes and one even hijacked a plane to try to force the Vatican to disclose the third secret. The Vatican tried to play down the significance of Fatima. It welcomed the faithfulness of the pilgrims but was concerned about the extremes to which some of the fanatics were willing to go to discover the details of the third vision.

Then on May 13, 198--the anniversary of the visions--Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish terrorist, shot Pope John Paul II as he drove through a crowd in St Peter's Square. Among the explanations the gunman gave prosecutors at his 1985 trial was that his attempt was apparently connected to the third secret of Fatima. This claim surprised everyone at the trial. It has since been revealed that the KGB may have been involved. The Pope made several trips to Fatima and first met Sister Lucia during a trip in 1991. Before the third secret was revealed on May 13, 2000, speculations continued as to what it could be. It was assumed by some to relate to World War III or some other catastrophe, even the end of the world. When the third message was published by the Vatican, it was possible to see the link with the 1981 attempted assassination of the Pope. The Vatican hoped that publication would reduce the alarmist fears about what the secret could contain. On the same day as Sister Lucia's message was revealed, the Pope beatified two of the Fatima shepherds--a step towards their becoming saints. It was the first time that children have been beatified. Before this, the Church believed that children were not spiritually mature enough to work miracles or to have been martyred for their faith (the standards required for sainthood). In all likelihood, before his death, the Pope set in motion the process towards Sister Lucia's beatification as well.

Settlement Prepares for a Sad 'Last Ringing of the Bells'
[Source: San Antonio Express News (Texas), 4/2/2005]

PANNA MARIA--Inside the Catholic church serving the oldest Polish settlement in the United States, parishioners Friday were testing its historic bells in anticipation of Pope John Paul II's death. For the first time in more than half a century, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church was planning to conduct the ''last ringing of the bells'' to mark the pontiff's death.

The bell ringing is a Polish tradition--done to announce a death within the church--that has been lost over time in this small parish of about 175 members, said Loretta Niestroy, the church's secretary. ''We haven't done it since I was a child,'' Niestroy said. ''We will do it this time.''

For parishioners here, the pope held a special place in their hearts. He's not only the first pope to have traveled to San Antonio, but he's also the first pope to have come from their native Poland. ''The priests say he knew all about Panna Maria,'' said Rosalie Moczygemba of Hobson. So, it was no surprise when the pope agreed to a private audience with several Polish parishes when he visited San Antonio in 1987. Because of time constraints and security reasons, he didn't visit Panna Maria.

But Niestroy remembers the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church chartered two buses to San Antonio to meet the pontiff. She rode on the first bus with her family. ''It was just amazing,'' she said. ''There's something about his presence that makes you feel special. Don't ask me what it is, it's just something about his charisma.''

Others here agreed Friday. As Pope John Paul's health continued to deteriorate throughout the day, the Polish faithful spoke of their beloved pontiff and his ability to relate to all people. They also pointed out a gold chalice and paten he presented to the parish of Panna Maria. The pieces are now only used for special occasions, parishioners said. ''He was a good teacher,'' said Elizabeth Kopecki, a volunteer at the Panna Maria visitor's center. Kopecki said she never will forget seeing the pope in 1987. He shook her hand. ''I said, 'I will never wash my hand,''' she said of her meeting. ''But, I did. I had to eat.''

Adrian Niestroy said he would be in charge of ringing the bells when the pope dies. The historic bells date back to 1858 and until recently, had been inoperable. Like others here, Leona Janysek said she hoped he would get better. But like so many others here, she also knows the inevitable. Panna Maria, and its aging congregation, isn't a stranger to death. ''I just hope and pray he has a happy death,'' Janysek said.

Return to Top

Our Mary Page web site is updated frequently. Please stop in again and see What's New.

  Return to Archive


This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Kris Sommers , was last modified Friday, 05/13/2005 10:38:42 EDT by Michael P. Duricy . Please send any comments to

URL for this page is