Q: Can you tell me the meaning of a medal entitled Our Lady of Olives?
A: Our Lady of Olives is to be situated within the larger context of the biblical symbolism of the Olive tree. In the Bible, but also in patristic and medieval writings, the olive tree--together with the vine and wheat ears--was considered a symbol of heavenly blessings, prosperity and fecundity in times of peace. The olive tree is also a symbol of spiritual excellence and distinction such as reconciliation with God, rectitude and innocence as well as fruitfulness of good works. This symbolism applied to Mary is a sign of faithful and loving dedication to the Lord but also a symbol of Mary's strength, intercessory power and mercy. Originally borrowed from Sirach 24:19 (Vulgate, or v. 14) the expression oliva speciosa (fair olive tree) changes according to specific meanings: for example, oliva fecunda (fruitful olive), oliva pinguissima (fat, rich olive), oliva mitis (meek olive).
The use of this symbolism is widespread and multifaceted. We find sanctuaries of this title in this country and many others, for example, France, Italy and Spain. Here are some examples of the variety of meaning this symbolism has in Italy.
We were able to track down the following Italian sanctuaries with reference to olives:
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Olives is located at St. Alphonsus Church, 201 Church Road, Wexford, PA 15090 (Tel 412-935-1151).
Prayer of Our Lady of the Olives
Kneeling at thy feet we pray thee, Virgin Mary, that through thine intercession there may be born a new generation which will unite all hearts and souls in the same faith and charity.
We pray thee, "Divine Olive of Peace," to implore God that harmony may reign between nations, that true liberty be given to all people, that heresies and all bad doctrines condemned by the Pope may disappear.
We pray that all the treasures of the Divine Heart be showered upon all men and that we may be preserved from all harm.
Pray for us and save us. Amen.
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