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7 Quick Takes Ink Slingers Kerri

7 Quick Takes Friday: Lesser Known Marian Titles

It’s May and that means it’s Mary’s month. Mary is so special to our Catholic faith that all around the world she has acquired a variety of titles and traditions. Whether her names are traditional, attributed to a Marian apparition or special devotion, or developed out of a specific culture, there’s probably at least one (if not more) for which we each have a particular fondness. In this post, I thought it would be fun to explore some Marian titles that are a little less well-known. So let’s have some fun and explore some new names for our Blessed Mother.

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Our Lady of the Pillar

Feast Day: October 12

You may recognize this one if you are of Spanish descent; for the rest of us, this may be a totally new title for the Blessed Mother. It was new to me. This is a title for Mary attributed to an apparition said to have occurred in 40 A.D. This is the first apparition of Mary in recorded history and amazingly, she was still living in Palestine at the time. As tradition has it, Mary appeared to a discouraged St. James in what is now Zaragoza, Spain. He was about to give up on his attempts to convert the pagans of the Iberian Peninsula when Mary appeared. Today a huge shrine has been built on the site. To read more about this apparition, check out this article: Our Lady of the Pillar.

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La Madonna del Parto

Feast day: October 9

Jacopo Sansovino - Madonna del Parto (Roma, Sant'Agostino)

Also known as Our Lady of Childbirth or our Lady of Smooth Delivery, this is a Marian title many of us may want to learn more about. If I ever get the chance to go to Rome again I’m definitely going to go look for this sculpture. Carved in 1521 by the sculptor Jacopo Tatti, it is housed in a special niche in the back of the Church of Sant’ Agostino near the Piazza Navona. For some five hundred years, Roman women have prayed to la Madonna del Parto for a child, for a healthy pregnancy, and safe childbirth. The statue is surrounded by offerings from parents on the successful births of their children, including pictures, birth announcements, and pink and blue bows. Read more about this Marian title at this page: Tell us About Our Lady of Smooth Delivery.

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Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto

Feast day: October 11

In the United States, many of us may be familiar with Mary under the title of Our Lady of La Leche, whose shrine is located in St, Augustine, FL. The history of this title may actually go back to 4th century Bethleham. To this day, a Franciscan community maintains the grotto there known as the Milk Grotto; its centerpiece is the Virgin Mary nursing the infant Jesus. Crusaders in the Middle Ages most likely brought this devotion to Europe. The image became popular in Spain under the title Nuestra Señora de la Leche Y Buen Parto (in English: Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery) after a woman and her baby, both expected to die in childbirth, lived through the intercession of Mary under this title. Devotion spread and Spanish settlers brought that devotion to the New World where they built the first Marian shrine in what is now the United States. Read more about Our Lady of La Leche:

Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche (St. Augustine, FL) (Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto)

Our Lady of La Leche’s History

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Our Lady of Einsiedeln

Feast Day: July 16

Our Lady of Einsiedeln is named for a statue of Mary said to work miracles and located in a chapel 20 miles southeast of Zurich, Switzerland. In the late 9th century, St. Meinrad (a Benedictine monk) received the statue from Abbess Hildegard of Zurich and brought it with him into the wilderness. He built a hermitage and eventually a small chapel for Our Lady. The site of St. Meinrad’s hermitage became Einsiedeln and developed into a popular pilgrimage site, receiving about 50,000 pilgrims during the middle ages and continues to receive about 200,000 a year.

The statue is a Black Madonna, her color being attributed to the smoke of the votive candles surrounding her. Her popularity is mostly known in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. More on the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Einsiedeln here and here.

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Our Lady of Good Help (WI, USA)

On December 8, 2010, Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, WI approved the apparitions of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI as worthy of belief by the faithful. Our Lady of Good Help appeared to Sr. Adele Brise in October of 1859 with a message to teach the faith to the children. The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help has been a center for prayer for the past 150 years and many miracles have been attributed to Our Lady’s intercession. This is the first approved Marian apparition in the United States. To learn more about the Shrine and Sister Adele visit the Shrine’s website here. Visit this link to read more about the approval of the apparition.

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Mary, Undoer of Knots

Feast Day: September 28

Mary, Undoer of Knots is a devotion to the Blessed Mother that developed in Germany in the 1700s. The reference to Mary as one who can untie the difficult knots of our lives goes as far back as St. Irenaeus in the second century. In 1700 the artist Johann Melchior Georg Schmittdner, painted the image that is still revered today based on a story of a couple whose marriage was saved after the husband and their priest prayed together for the marriage and a miracle occurred with the couple’s wedding ribbon. The painting now hangs in the Church of St. Peter in Perlach am Augsburg (Germany). Not a very well-known devotion, it was brought to Argentina in the 1980’s by Archbishop Bergolio (now Pope Francis) and continues to be popular today. After his election as Pope, Pope Francis presented Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI a print of Mary, Undoer of Knots thus sparking further interest and popularity in the image over the last year. Read more about the story of Mary, Undoer of Knots here.

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The Kitchen Madonna, or the Madonna of the Kitchen

Kitchen Madonna

This one is not so much a title for Mary as it is a tradition of the faithful. Keeping an image of the Virgin Mary in the kitchen is supposedly an old tradition, although information to support this claim is scarce. At any rate, in more modern times small statues and other images have been created showing Mary in contemporary dress often holding a broom or a loaf of bread and sometimes depicted with the child Jesus at her side. My own mother has always had a “Kitchen Madonna” in her kitchen, so I grew up with the custom, but never gave it much thought. More recently I have seen some interest in images of the Virgin Mary holding a broom and that sparked my interest in learning more. The image is a relatively new idea of the 19th and 20th centuries. These images are meant as historical representations to make Mary more relatable to our day. The images of the Kitchen Madonna vary a lot. Since the kitchen is often the heart of the home, it makes sense that a depiction of Mary would find a place there. Even before specific images of Mary in front of a hearth or holding a broom became popular, it seems that an icon or other image of Mary was often kept in the kitchen as a reminder that Mary too was a housekeeper and the heart of her home.

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Ink Slingers Mary Michelle Motherhood Prayer Revelation: Public vs. Private Spiritual Growth

When Mary Comes to Visit

I am prefacing this post to remind all our readers of the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding Marian apparitions.  The Church teaches that no Catholic is bound to believe in any of the Marian apparitions, including those deemed by the Church as “worthy of belief”.  In addition the Church teaches that these private revelations do not belong to the Deposit of Faith nor is their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation.  (CCC 66-67)  If you would like further information on Marian Apparitions as well as both public and private revelations I urge you to read here

The years have quietly slipped away from me but the miraculous events of my pregnancy with Isabella remains deeply ingrained in my heart and mind.  I was 8 weeks pregnant when I took my 4 children and went on a trip to Iowa.  I was going to visit a friend at her house and then travel down to Kansas City, Missouri to visit my in-laws.  It was a long trip traveling from Georgia to Iowa but I felt up to the task.  I loaded our children, kissed my husband, and we headed off on first leg of our journey. Traveling alone with four children and being pregnant with the 5th was no easy task.  But, as we pulled into Billie Jo’s driveway I knew it was worth the effort.  We unloaded and settled in.

I can’t remember how long we had been there, perhaps only a day or two, but one evening I began to bleed.  I woke up Billie and told her I needed to go to the hospital.  She drove me there and after an exam the doctor handed me a plastic container and coldly said, “I can see tissue and I see blood, you are miscarrying.  Try to get us as much of the tissue as you can and bring it back to us.”  He also told me to stay off my feet for a couple days.  He left the room.  I cried.  Billie held my hand and cried with me.  She will never know how much her presence and love helped me.  She drove me back to her house and she tucked me into bed.

That night, crying alone, I got out my rosary and I began to pray.  I asked God to save my baby.  I pleaded that if He would let her live (and I only became convinced the baby was a girl as I was praying) that I would dedicate her to Him.  She was His and I would raise her for His glory.  In my desperation I asked God to send me a sign that she would be alright.  I asked that He send me one single rose.  I told no one of my prayer.

Several days had passed and I felt up to continuing on to Mike’s parents’ house in Kansas City.  Billie was worried and asked me to stay a little longer.  I assured her I would be ok.  We packed up and headed south to my in-laws.  I told them that I was supposed to stay off my feet because of the bleeding and probability of miscarrying the baby.  They were very helpful in making sure I could rest.  During my stay there I was scheduled to spend some time with my very best friend from high school.  She lived about 120 miles away and said she would drive to see me.  We had scheduled a day to go out to lunch.  She called and I told her what was going on.  She said she would come anyway and we could at least see each other.  My in-laws insisted that we still go out to lunch to have some quiet time to talk.

When Elizabeth rang the doorbell I got up to let her in.  As I opened the door I gasped.  I fought to keep the tears from trickling down my cheeks.  There my best friend stood with a single rose.  She said to me, “I know it seems weird for a girl to give a girl a rose but when I just kept hearing someone say, ‘Get her flowers’.  The ones I wanted were all gone but they had single roses.  I almost didn’t get one but something told me to get it.”  My heart skipped a beat and I told her thank you.  As we got in her car I told her that I had something to tell her.  Over lunch I relayed my entire story to her and told her that I had asked for a sign from God… a single rose.   I think she was as surprised as I was.  After lunch we went to her mother and told her what had happened too.  I knew from that moment my baby was going to live.

My pregnancy was rough; the hardest one up to that point.  I was put on bed rest at 27 weeks.  On top of the problems with the pregnancy I was trying to homeschool 4 other children and take care of my husband and our home.  It was a trial for sure.  There were times I didn’t think I would make it through.  Many times I cried in desperation and pleaded with God to please show me He hadn’t abandoned me.  I prayed once again that God give me a sign that all would be ok.  Perhaps I should have just remembered that first rose but I felt like I was losing the battle and I needed to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and love.

That night, after praying, I was lying in my bed.  I had a small light on and I hadn’t gone to sleep but lay there crying.  A very soft light began emanating from the end of my bed.  As I watched I slowly saw Mary standing there, her arms outstretched towards me.  She quietly spoke and said that my baby was going to live and that I was doing what God had asked of me.  I felt a peace wash over me.  She disappeared just as she came.  I would lie there wondering if she had truly been there or had it just been my imagination.

The next day I got a call from Elizabeth.  She said that something strange had happened to her mother the night before and her mother had asked her to call me.   She said that as her mother was driving past Our Lady of Lourdes church (where I used to go to church) the night before that only one of the stained glass windows was lit up.  The rest of the church was dark but Mary stood burning bright in the darkness, her hands outstretched.  Elizabeth’s mother said she felt the overwhelming need to let me know as she felt that she had seen this for my sake.  I was shaking as Elizabeth told me this.  I told her of my experiences the night before as well.  We determined that these events took place at almost the same time.  I knew at that moment that what I had seen was not a hallucination but that Mary had come to me as the sign that God had not abandoned me or our unborn child.

Mary would come to me once more during my pregnancy, this time at my own parish here.  As I was in Mass I was having contractions.  I looked up to see Mary standing on our altar watching me.  I could feel her love.  She smiled and disappeared.  I found that I could make it through the Mass and was reassured that I would make it through the rest of the pregnancy.

As we were looking for names to name our baby girl I wanted a name that meant “consecrated to God”.  I found the name Isabella.  It had the right meaning but when I found out that it was a derivative of Elizabeth, well, I knew what our daughter’s name would be.  With Rose as her middle name to remember that first sign of God’s promise to me, I knew we had the perfect name for her- Isabella Rose.

Isabella would end up being my biggest baby and hardest birth (outside of our last birth with Jacob which you can read about here).  She was lacking oxygen when she born and we would soon see problems with her heart as well.  Still, we knew she was perfect and God-given.  She has been the one child to keep us on our toes and many of our best stories begin with “This one time when Bella…” She has endeared herself to many people and often I hear them say, “There’s just something about Bella.”  She brings a smile to everyone’s face and they truly are charmed by her presence.  We know that God has a definite plan to use her for something big.

During May, when we honor our Mother, I am even more thankful because God used Mary to assure me that my child, the child I promised to Him, was going to be ok.  He used Mary, the mother of His Son, to comfort me during some of the hardest times I had ever been through at that point.  He allowed her to come to me, to speak to me, and to bring me peace that only another mother could.  What a tremendous gift He gave me.  I am eternally grateful for the experience He gave to both me and to my beautiful daughter.