DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY July 2, 1998 vol. 9, no. 128
THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS
To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE & SECTION TWO
The Rosary and Scapular - timely vital signs for all times!
As we chronologically listed in chapter one, from the 6th Century to the 11th Century there is no known apparition of the Mother of God. In 1061 Our Lady appeared to Lady Richeldis in Wasisingham, England and was told to recreate the Holy House there on the British Isles. Five years later Mary appeared again, this time in France which would be the first of countless apparitions in this country, leading up to the famous apparitions at Lourdes. Saint Albert was the visionary in Espain, France and the Blessed Mother came to him as the "Queen of Heaven". She appeared in the clouds as the "Queen of the Universe" less than 30 years later above the village of Arras, France. Five years later at the turn of the 12th Century she appeared to Saint Anselm in Canterbury, England asking him to promote devotion to Jesus' Mother and establish the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Ten years later, Our Lady returned to France appearing with a chorus of angels in Clairvaux to Saint Bernard who composed the first Memorare in her honor. The prayer we say today did not come directly from St. Bernard, for it was later revised by Father Giacomo Digione in 1640, and the middle of the century saw reports of her appearances in Rostov, Russia to Prince Yurly Dolgoruky who was instructed to present an Icon to her and, which subsequently, oozed forth a miraculous oil...similar to so many accounts we hear of today throughout the world.
a most powerful prayer is revealed
Shortly after the turn of the 13th Century in the summer of 1206, while Saint Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers, knelt in prayer in the tiny chapel of Notre Dame at the headquarters of the Dominicans in Prouille, Our Lady appeared to him and imparted the charge to spread the devotion of her "Psalter" (150 Hail Mary's) and his mission would be successful. This was, of course, the Rosary. The first role the Rosary would play was in Dominic's mission to defend the Church against the Albigensianism heresy throughout France. True to her word Our Lady's intercession paid off. Wherever Dominic preached, aided by the Blessed Mother whispering words of wisdom to him as he spoke, he promoted the Rosary. With beads always in hand, his tireless efforts revived the courage of the Catholic troops, spurring them on to victory against overwhelming odds at the Battle of Muret in 1213. Through the special instrument of grace - the Rosary - the heresy was crushed.
What the Virgin Mary had begun with Dominic she continued with Saint Peter Nolasco thirteen years later in Spain, requesting that he found the Order of Our Lady of Ransom. Her choice of saints continued with an appearance to the beloved Saint Anthony of Padua where she brought the Christ Child with her and placed the Infant Jesus in Anthony's gentle arms on top of the bible Anthony was holding. That is why he is so often depicted holding the young Jesus in that manor. It was also a sign that he was indeed chosen and all that Saint Francis of Assisi had begun with the Order of Friars Minor was truly of and from God. For this was the period in history when Holy Mother Church was in decline and Jesus' charge to Francis from the Cross, "Rebuild My Church" meant for a revival of all that Our Lord had established. He sent His Own Mother to help and guide those He had chosen. She made her first appearance in Germany in the town of Eifel to a Hermann Joseph in 1232.
the protective garment that became a holy habit
In 1240 the Blessed Mother again appeared in Italy, this time southeast of Padua in Florence, to the Seven Founders of the Servite Order, where she bestowed the Black Scapular and Devotion to her Seven Sorrows. But it was her gift twelve years later in Aylsesford, England that carried the most impact.
The 13th Century had seen the Fourth Council of Lateran wherein the decree was pronounced by Pope Innocent III and his successor Pope Honorius III that all must go to confession and receive Holy Communion. The Franciscan and Dominican fruits, as well as other Orders, were producing ripe dividends within the Church. The Angelical Salutation, namely the Hail Mary was being recited everywhere and often, prompting many to string beads together to keep count, thus fulfilling Dominic's charge to pray the Rosary. The Church was on the rise. New orders were springing up throughout Europe, but Holy Mother Church's people needed a protection from outside forces that threatened the bastions of the Church. Enter once again Our Lady, this time to a holy Friar of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Cambridge on the evening of July 16th, 1251. She bestowed the holy Brown Scapular on him as an assurance of protection.
The scapular per se was a piece of long broad cloth which covered the front and back of a person. This had been adapted from the earliest times and carried on by numerous religious orders as an important uniform ingredient to their habits. The Brown Scapular, however, was not only meant for religious to wear but all laity. As is always the case, if it's from God it will spread and grow. This blessed habit spread quickly throughout Europe and beyond. Every pontiff enriched its existence with more indulgences and accounts of the miracles wrought from wearing this small cloth habit became legendary.
One such tale was about a soldier who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Tehin. A bullet had lodged in his heart. Though in the state of mortal sin, he was given enough time to live in order to make his confession. Once the priest gave absolution, the infantry doctor on hand probed his wound and discovered that the bullet had driven the scapular he was wearing literally into his human heart. As he was giving verbal thanks to Our Lady for preserving him until he could make amends with God, the physician's crude scalpel extracted the scapular. At that very moment, the soldier expired joyfully. There are countless other stories of similar miracles that have been passed down through the centuries.
In the same century Mary bestowed the Scapular, she also appeared at Loretto in Italy. Legend has it that the angels miraculously transported the humble home of the Holy Family from Nazareth to this central Italian coastal village on the Adriatic Sea. With so many appearances for those times, the Church wisely began the custom of dedicating the month of May to Mary.
In the next issue we will detail the Blessed Mother's impact on the 14th and 15th Centuries leading up to the tumultous 16th Century. We will detail the Promises to Saint Bridget and more on the Brown Scapular as we continue this on-going series on The Age of Marian Apparitions.
TOMORROW: More promises of protection
THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS