1
   

There's something about Mary

 
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2005 02:18 pm
Basically the difference is that Saints are humans who have gone to heaven while Angels are non-humans. Both reside in heaven.
0 Replies
 
coluber2001
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2005 09:05 pm
As already has been stated here, Mary is akin to the Earth goddess, and Protestantism is highly patriarchal concentrating on adherance to dogma rather than ritual and mysticism.

The Virgin Mary personifies the rebirth into the spirit, that is, the spiritual awankening of man. Protestants often speak of having rebirth experiences, so that's how Mary is related to, although she is not mentioned by name, and, perhaps, they don't even relate their spiritual rebirth to Mary. Most literalists can't or won't look at their myths and symbols metaphorically.
0 Replies
 
Derevon
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2005 05:42 am
coluber2001 wrote:
As already has been stated here, Mary is akin to the Earth goddess, and Protestantism is highly patriarchal concentrating on adherance to dogma rather than ritual and mysticism.


Goddess? Uhm.

Quote:
The Virgin Mary personifies the rebirth into the spirit, that is, the spiritual awankening of man.


According to whom?

Quote:
Protestants often speak of having rebirth experiences, so that's how Mary is related to, although she is not mentioned by name, and, perhaps, they don't even relate their spiritual rebirth to Mary. Most literalists can't or won't look at their myths and symbols metaphorically.


Are you suggesting Mary is a myth and/or symbol?
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2005 08:19 am
Derevon wrote:
Piffka,

Well, "certain parts" would be a stretch. They are essentially the same, but with some books of it being considered Apocrypha in the Protestant versions.

I'm myself a member of the former Swedish state church (Evangelical Lutheran) since birth. In our tradition, Mary is unfortunately pretty much only seen as the mother of Jesus and nothing else. Sermons here are exclusively based on the Bible as far as doctrine is concerned. You would never hear a priest speak of Mary being an Advocate, Mediatrix, Co-redemptrix for sinners or the like here, since the Bible doesn't say anything about this, so it isn't particularly strange that Marian devotion isn't very widespread here.


Just so you know... Catholic Sunday Mass is based on a three-year cycle of readings (daily readings are a two-year cycle and go through a different set of Biblical books -- for those devout Catholics who attend mass daily)... the first reading is from the O.T.; the second from one of the gospels so that by the end of the cycle all four gospels have been entirely read to the congregation. In between is a Psalm. I'm not sure how the verses from the O.T. are picked but during the Easter season those verses come from the Acts. You can hardly have a religious service that is more Bible-based. (All R.C. churches throughout the world use exactly the same cycle & set of readings.)

There is no sermon but a very brief homily based on the reading. That's the point of a mass -- you don't want the priest to go off on his own tangent and they are to stay strictly to the Bible.

The Protestant Bible has been carefully purged of anything outside doctrine -- just as the Catholic Bible was -- that's the apocrypha.

Marian devotions are usualy almost all women with their children. They are based on the stations of the cross and interspersed with a public reading of the rosary. A large rosary is made from pink & red roses and then draped around the Madonna icon for the week.
0 Replies
 
coluber2001
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2005 08:44 am
Derevon wrote:
coluber2001 wrote:
As already has been stated here, Mary is akin to the Earth goddess, and Protestantism is highly patriarchal concentrating on adherance to dogma rather than ritual and mysticism.


Goddess? Uhm.

Quote:
The Virgin Mary personifies the rebirth into the spirit, that is, the spiritual awankening of man.


According to whom?

Quote:
Protestants often speak of having rebirth experiences, so that's how Mary is related to, although she is not mentioned by name, and, perhaps, they don't even relate their spiritual rebirth to Mary. Most literalists can't or won't look at their myths and symbols metaphorically.


Are you suggesting Mary is a myth and/or symbol?



The virgin birth is not a physical birth, obviously, but represents the birth of the spirit. Of course this would be anathematic to literalists, but this myth is probably repeated in many religions, for instance the Buddha being born from his mother's side.

"The opening of the heart to the world is what is symbolized mythologically as the virgin birth. It signifies the birth of a spiritual life in what was formally an elementary human animal living for the merely physical aims of health, progeny, power, and a little fun." Joseph Campbell
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2005 10:55 am
coluber2001 wrote:
As already has been stated here, Mary is akin to the Earth goddess, and Protestantism is highly patriarchal concentrating on adherance to dogma rather than ritual and mysticism.

The Virgin Mary personifies the rebirth into the spirit, that is, the spiritual awankening of man. Protestants often speak of having rebirth experiences, so that's how Mary is related to, although she is not mentioned by name, and, perhaps, they don't even relate their spiritual rebirth to Mary. Most literalists can't or won't look at their myths and symbols metaphorically.


Well... we are supposed to be assuming the Bible is true -- the pure form of literalism, but I totally agree. Also, I hadn't thought of Mary as within Protestantism but internalized. (Geez, you can't put a good woman down.) One of my least favorite things about the Judeo-Christo religions is the inability to come to terms with women. It is a failing... one that is only slightly bolstered by Marian devotions.

What I noticed was that for a lot of Catholics, especially women and children, Mary is accessible. How often as a child would you go first to your mother to "soften up" your father? Nothing like a good intercession.

Young mothers relate to the young Mary as their children relate to the little baby Jesus. Older mothers relate to the older Mary & to the pride of their son ("Your son's an M.D.? Well, my son is.....") Anyone who has suffered in sorrow relates to the Mother as she watches her Son on the cross.

Besides being the first human to know of the Christ when she spoke her Canticle to Elizabeth, Mary also asked him to perform His first miracle at the bridal feast at Cana. She is also the first to have scolded Him... when he was gone for three days teaching at the temple, aged twelve.

The symbolism is so rich it is hard to know where to start and yet, I didn't think of the wave of Protestant "Born Agains" as a hidden bit of Marianism. Thanks for pointing that out, Coluber. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2005 11:09 am
Please don't think my lack of input doesn't mean I'm not reading and enjoying this thread. Like I said at the start, this is a topic in which I'm not well versed but curious.

The Marian devotion sounds wonderful. I would love to see that.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2005 12:22 pm
Foggy Recollection of Marian Devotions
Boomerang --
I found the Marian Devotions very interesting and beautiful when I was active in the local parish. That, btw, was something I did so that my kids would be fully grounded in Christian thought. It didn't "take" with them but at least they are familiar with Biblical teaching and went through a requisite number of sacraments.

There is something very calming about repetitive prayers. I imagine there are public rosaries going on in Portland that you could check out -- especially with Easter coming up. They were usually done here on a Saturday in the early afternoon. You could probably peek in and see a little bit of it. I don't know about the big rose garlands though. That could be a local thing. At least, I've been trying without success to find an image on the 'net or a description of how to make the big, fresh flower garland. They are very cool and, of course, they are filled with intention and symbolism.

Here is a "road map" -- a set of rosary beads marked with the prayers to be said.

http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/prayers/therosary/images/therosary.jpg

There are public rosaries done in conjunction with the Stations of the Cross and there are ones done for all of the Mysteries. They come in sets, Joyful, Sorrowful, Penitential, Glorious & (new in 2002) the Luminous Mysteries.

Quote:
... the joyful mysteries correspond to Advent (the anticipation of Christ's Incarnation); the sorrowful mysteries correspond to the Lent and Holy Week (the penitential season that commemorates Christ's passion and crucifixion); and the glorious mysteries correspond to Easter (the Resurrection of Christ and the birth of his Church on Pentecost). With the luminous mysteries Catholics may gain a new appreciation for Ordinary Time,


(Ordinary Time is most of the liturgical year except for Advent, Lent, Easter & some holy days.)

Here's a description of the Marian Devotions I've attended. Each prayer is said by a different person or group -- often a mother and her children will go up together, receive a rose while waiting in line (so that there is not much gap in the prayers), then head to the microphone and recite together. The rest of the people join in after the first few words. Then the family steps aside and hands that rose to ladies who sit at a table below the altar. Those ladies stay very busy, industriously sewing the roses together into a long garland -- a real rosary like a beaded one but made from all flowers. It is almost completed when the prayers are finished. By the time some snacks have been eaten the garland is ready to be placed. I should have paid more attention to how the roses were put together because it appears to be an art that is not well-known. The whole thing take a couple of hours because something is said about each station or mystery for every decade of ten Hail Mary's. A family may recite three or four times. Mostly the Hail Mary's are said, but every tenth prayer it is an Our Father.

At the local church here, everyone can tell when there has been a public rosary because the garland is reverently laid on the statue of Mary and left for the week.

Thjs website will give you an entire host of reasons why non-Catholics think Marian (and other Saint) devotions are wrong if not blasphemous. (Warning... there is music.)
0 Replies
 
Rancid
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2005 05:37 pm
The answer is simple.

Mary was used by God to fulfill a certain purpose: give birth to his son. That does not make her someone to be worshipped or prayed to - the lord's prayer: Pray then this way, "our father in heaven, blablabla" - prayer should be directed only to the father (Matthew 6:6).

Many people in the bible were used to accomplish great things through God's will, that does not mean we should put them on a high horse and venerate them. The bible is quite clear about who is to be worshiped - the father alone.

Matthew 23:9 - And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. (What do catholics call their preists?)

Why then do Catholics worship and pray to Mary? ("hail mary mother of God...")

THE TRINITY DOCTRINE

The trinity doctrine states that Jesus is God, therefore, the logical conclusion is that Mary is the 'mother of God'. If mary is God's mother then that makes her the greatest woman ever. The bizzare thing is that most protestants also believe the trinity doctrine, but somehow they haven't put two and two together...


BTW I am not a christian so dont flame me.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2005 06:09 pm
Thank you Piffka, for the "map" and for sharing your experience. I may try to find a service to attend.

I'm not a Christian either, Rancid, just someone who honors all religions and it always trying to learn.

I looked up the Rosary prayers and it doesn't appear, to me, that they are praying TO Mary but THROUGH Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Seeing as how it starts with the Apostles Creed, then an Our Father and is intersperces with the mysteries of Jesus' life I don't get the feeling that it is a prayer TO Mary, at all, but that it recognizes the important role she played in the life of Jesus and in the formation of the Christian church.
0 Replies
 
yeahman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Mar, 2005 05:55 pm
Catholics pray TO Mary. They do not worship her.
There is a fundamental difference in the understanding of prayer between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics see it as just another form of communication. Protestants see it as worship.

If Protestantism returns to Marian devotion, they would only be reverting to the practices of the original Reformers. John Calvin prayed the rosary.

"She is the highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ... We can never honor her enough."
"Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us...."
"Whoever possesses a good (firm) faith, says the Hail Mary without danger!"
"We can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her."
- Martin Luther

"I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary."
"The more the honor and love of Christ increases among men, so much the esteem and honor given to Mary should grow."
- Ulrich Zwinli (one of the founders of Presbyterianism)
0 Replies
 
cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Mar, 2005 06:04 pm
The reason Mary is so popular in pop culture is because she projects her image onto walls, using shadows, tricks of light, and sometimes, grill patterns on cheese sandwiches.

http://www.boingboing.net/ch8.jpg
0 Replies
 
cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Mar, 2005 06:14 pm
I've always questioned that immaculate conception thing too. Something's fishy.

http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/MMPH/232362.jpg
0 Replies
 
muslim1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Mar, 2005 11:41 am
Very interesting discussion about Mary (peace be upon her).

It may be a surprise to you, but Mary (peace be upon her) is very highly estimated in Islam. In the holy Quran, no woman is given more attention than her.
Here is an interesting link about Mary (peace be upon her) in Islam:

Jesus and The Virgin Mary in Islam

Best regards.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Mar, 2005 12:23 pm
Hi ye110man. That is a very interesting distinction - prayer as communication v. prayer as an act of worship - and it makes a lot of sense.

That is very interesting too, about the reformers honoring Mary.

Where do you, or any others on the thread, think Mary became lost among the protestants?

And why?

Hi muslim1, thanks for joinging the thread and welcome to A2K.

And thank you very much for that link. I had no idea that Mary held such a place in the Quran. What a beautiful story the Quran tells of Mary and her history.
0 Replies
 
yeahman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Mar, 2005 01:00 am
Surprisingly the Muslim beliefs about Mary is quite similar to the Catholic/Orthodox beliefs about her.

The Immaculate Conception of Mary and her pertetual virginity are difficult to justify using the Bible alone. However, they were universally accepted beliefs at one point. The Catholic, Orthodox, and Muslim traditions retain these beliefs (albeit through differing theologies). Protestantism, for the most part and especially American Protestantism, abandoned unwritten tradition.

I would also imagine that anti-Catholicism also has something to do with the current disregard for her in Protestantism. I have heard some Protestants try to distance themselves so far from Mary that they fall into heresy even by Protestant standards. For example, the title "Mary, Mother of God" is sound Protestant theology. But if you ask your average Protestant layperson, they'll probably think the title was blasphemous.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Mar, 2005 10:07 am
WOMB OF WONDER?
I read MuslimMan1's link with interest as well. Didn't know there was so much that the Catholics & the Muslims agreed on. Very Happy

I found this in my email today under the title "Womb of Wonder." Opened it thinking it would be about the Virgin Mary.
Quote:

Those who argue and discuss without understanding the truth are lost amid all the forms of relative knowledge, running about here and there and trying to justify their view of the substance of ego.

If you realize the self in your inmost consciousness, it will appear in its purity. This is the womb of wonder, which is not the realm of those who live only by reason.

Pure in its own nature and free from the categories of finite and infinite, Universal Mind is the undefiled wonder, which is wrongly apprehended by many.

-Lankavatara Sutra
From "Buddha Speaks,"
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Mar, 2005 08:30 pm
Found this, Boomerang, & was surprised there were Marian devotionals in China. Thought I'd add it here.

Quote:
27 May, 2004
CHINA
China's Marian shrines

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Sunday Examiner) - The month of May is Our Lady's month and Christians suddenly become pilgrims rather than tourists as they flock in their tens of thousands to Marian shrines throughout the whole of the Christian world. An extremely large number travel to Lourdes, France; others go to Fatima, Portugal or to Ireland to honour Our Lady of Knock, to Poland to venerate the famous Black Madonna of Czestochowa; Italians are partial to Loreto and in the Americas thousands go to Mexico to pray at the beloved shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

What is a Marian shrine?

A Marian shrine is usually a place where the faithful and the Church believe Our Lady has appeared or where some miracle or other supernatural event has taken place through the intercession of the Holy Mother, whom the Chinese like to call Our Lady.

May is also Our Lady's special month in China. May is the time when Chinese Catholics take to the waterways in their sampans or make their way up mountaintops by the tens of thousands to pray at shrines dedicated to Our Lady.

Marian shrines in China

China has a number of Marian shrines. There is the shrine of Our Lady of Bliss situated in the hills north of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in southwestern China. This shrine is reputed to be at least 200-years-old. It was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and since it was reopened in 1980, has attracted numerous devotees of Our Lady annually.

There is the new shrine in Fuzhou, opened on 30 April 1993 on top of the hill in Longtian village near Fuzhou city, Fujian province. This shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and called Rosary Villa. The title given to the shrine is reminiscent of the fact that the Dominicans, who were in Fujian province before Liberation, had dedicated the area to Mary of the Rosary. A statue of Our Lady, a gift from Italy, stands in the middle of the Chinese style pavilion on the shrine grounds. The shrine is used as a place for priests' retreats and for group pilgrimages. It was set up by Fuzhou's elderly bishop to promote unity and community in the Catholic Church.

On 1 May 1994, the famous Marian shrine adjacent to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Qingyang township in Nanjing diocese, Jiangsu province, reopened after having been closed for some 55 years. Tens of thousands of pilgrims were drawn to the site.

In 1901, according to Old Catholics, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared in Qingyang and healed many of the sick. The Church bought a piece of land and built a church where Our Lady is said to have appeared and it immediately became a popular pilgrimage site. The building was bombed by the Japanese in 1939 and was later turned into a factory. It still functions as a factory today. However, in 1993, some 200 metres from the original site, construction began on a new church. Some 40,000 of the faithful attended the blessing of the new church on 1 May 1994. Regular pilgrimages resumed in 1995 with people coming from Wuxi, Shanghai and all the nearby dioceses. There are, however, two shrines that stand out in a very special way: the Marian shrine in Donglu and the Marian shrine at Sheshan.

Our Lady appears in China

In 1900, China reported three apparitions: one in Beijing in which Our Lady was accompanied by St. Michael the archangel who, in turn, was surrounded by multitudes of angels. A second apparition involved a weeping statue of Our Lady in the village of Santai during the Boxer Rebellion. The third apparition occurred in Donglu. Donglu is about 40 kilometres from Baoding in Hebei province, and it is one of the strongholds of the unofficial Catholic Church in China. Witnesses recount that a beautiful lady, recognised as Mary, appeared in the skies. The Catholics implored Our Lady to save them from their enemies and their city from destruction. In thanksgiving for Our Lady's protection over the city of Donglu during the Boxer Rebellion, a beautiful church was built in her honour. It was meant to serve as a constant reminder to the people of Mary's loving and motherly protection. The pastor, at the time, secured a painting of the Dowager Empress Ci Xi dressed in imperial robes. He commissioned an artist to use it as the background for the image of Our Lady holding the Christ Child. The picture was hung in the Church of Donglu, which eventually became a famous place of pilgrimage.

The shrine at Donglu

People began coming to the shrine in Donglu in 1924, but the first official pilgrimage took place in 1929. By 1932, the location had become such a popular pilgrimage site that Pope Pius XI approved it as an official Marian shrine. Since 1929 tens of thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the hill to the shrine, especially in the month of May.

The miracle of the sun

On 23 May 1995, pilgrims witnessed another phenomenon. Over 30,000 Catholics from the unofficial Church had gathered for Mass at the Donglu shrine. It was the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians, a favourite of Chinese Catholics. There were four bishops of the unofficial Church concelebrating the Mass and nearly 100 unofficial priests standing in the open field, all eager to honour Our Lady in a special way during her special month. Suddenly, during the opening prayer and again during the consecration, the people observed the sun spinning from right to left. Light rays of various shades emanated from the sky. The people, mesmerised by the phenomenon, could look directly at it without blinking. Suddenly from the centre of the sun people saw what they later described as an apparition. Some beheld the Cross; others said they had seen the Holy Family. Still others had seen Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus while others claimed they had seen the Sacred Host. People, overwhelmed by the vision, suddenly became conscious of their sinfulness and began to cry out, "Holy Mother, forgive me my sins," or "Holy Virgin Mary, have pity on us your children." The phenomenon of the sun changing colours, approaching and then retreating while radiating various hues, lasted for about 20 minutes.

The government's response

Needless to say, the government has not been terribly enthusiastic about having thousands upon thousands of people gather anywhere. This is all the more threatening when the gathering involves religion and people of the unofficial Church. The Public Security Bureau, the agency in charge of keeping watch over the unofficial Catholic community, periodically flexes its muscles to prevent anyone from going on pilgrimage to Donglu. In 1995, when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Donglu for the Feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24, the Public Security barred all pilgrims from joining anyone on the hill. The police forced people back into buses and trains without offering any explanation. Still, thousands successfully reached the area by finding alternative ways to get there. As many as 100,000 participated in the celebration.

Again in 1996, an official announcement forbade anyone from going to the Donglu shrine. This time two reasons were given for the prohibition: it was an illegal gathering and it was bad for social stability.

Teams of Public Security agents as large as 500 strong were dispatched to all the villages surrounding the Donglu area and to towns all over Hebei Province. As they travelled around, they tried to force the members of the unofficial community to join the Patriotic Association and to do away with unrecognised religious premises such as Donglu. Priests in the towns and villages were ordered not to leave their residences and were forbidden to preach from May 13 until further notice. Lay people were also forbidden to leave their villages. Parents were not allowed to take their children to church or to wear any religious objects.

Against all odds

It seems no amount of pressure can dull the enthusiam of Catholics intent on honouring Our Lady at the Donglu shrine. Every May, regardless of prohibitions, tens of thousands of pilgrims make their way up the steep hill, either in silence or reciting the rosary or singing hymns to praise one who is truly their mother and protector.

The shrine at Sheshan

In June 1989, Pope John Paul II prayed that the Virgin of Sheshan Help of Christians, would look kindly on "the beloved Chinese people." This remark by Our Holy Father indicates the importance of this shrine as a symbol of Christian renewal in China. Sheshan, with its "nine peaks above the clouds" is situated about 35 kilometres from Shanghai city. Its forest of bamboo, its scenic winding paths and running brooks are a fitting location for communing with God and Our Lady. The mountain, according to legend, gets its name from a hermit named She who centuries ago, lived atop the mountain.

In 1866, the Church in Shanghai built a hexagonal pavilion and placed within it an altar and a statue of Our Lady. Five years later, the Jesuits built a church at the summit of the mountain and dedicated it to Our Lady Help of Christians, opening it in 1873.

In 1924, the bishops of China consecrated the nation to Our Lady and following the consecration they made a pilgrimage to Sheshan. Work on a basilica began in 1925 and was completed 10 years later. This church was the first basilica in all of the Far East and it became China's favourite pilgrimage site.

During the Cultural Revolution the beautiful bronze statue of Our Lady at the pinnacle of the basilica disappeared and other religious symbols, including the altar and the stained glass window were all virtually destroyed. A replica of the bronze statue of Mary holding up the Christ Child was finally re-installed on top of the tower in the year 2000. Some 10,000 believers paid for it. Pilgrimages to the shrine resumed in 1979.

Every year since then, pilgrims by the thousands have flocked to Sheshan. In 1990, the first pilgrimage of the decade saw 30,000 Catholics coming to Sheshan for Our Lady's feast. The elderly and the young made the long steep climb from the foothills of the mountain to the summit as a testimony of their love and devotion to Our Lady. One large group of pilgrims are the fisherfolk of Jiangnan who, from earliest times, sailed up the Yangtze, carefully steering their craft through the canals surrounding the foothills of the mountain.

Every year, they come, moor their boats and spend three days and nights at Sheshan to implore Our Lady's help for the future and to thank her for favours received. But they are only a small group compared to the thousands from all over China who come to pay tribute to their heavenly mother in whom they place so much of their trust.



27 May, 2004
CHINA
China's Marian shrines

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Sunday Examiner) - The month of May is Our Lady's month and Christians suddenly become pilgrims rather than tourists as they flock in their tens of thousands to Marian shrines throughout the whole of the Christian world. An extremely large number travel to Lourdes, France; others go to Fatima, Portugal or to Ireland to honour Our Lady of Knock, to Poland to venerate the famous Black Madonna of Czestochowa; Italians are partial to Loreto and in the Americas thousands go to Mexico to pray at the beloved shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

What is a Marian shrine?

A Marian shrine is usually a place where the faithful and the Church believe Our Lady has appeared or where some miracle or other supernatural event has taken place through the intercession of the Holy Mother, whom the Chinese like to call Our Lady.

May is also Our Lady's special month in China. May is the time when Chinese Catholics take to the waterways in their sampans or make their way up mountaintops by the tens of thousands to pray at shrines dedicated to Our Lady.

Marian shrines in China

China has a number of Marian shrines. There is the shrine of Our Lady of Bliss situated in the hills north of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in southwestern China. This shrine is reputed to be at least 200-years-old. It was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and since it was reopened in 1980, has attracted numerous devotees of Our Lady annually.

There is the new shrine in Fuzhou, opened on 30 April 1993 on top of the hill in Longtian village near Fuzhou city, Fujian province. This shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and called Rosary Villa. The title given to the shrine is reminiscent of the fact that the Dominicans, who were in Fujian province before Liberation, had dedicated the area to Mary of the Rosary. A statue of Our Lady, a gift from Italy, stands in the middle of the Chinese style pavilion on the shrine grounds. The shrine is used as a place for priests' retreats and for group pilgrimages. It was set up by Fuzhou's elderly bishop to promote unity and community in the Catholic Church.

On 1 May 1994, the famous Marian shrine adjacent to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Qingyang township in Nanjing diocese, Jiangsu province, reopened after having been closed for some 55 years. Tens of thousands of pilgrims were drawn to the site.

In 1901, according to Old Catholics, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared in Qingyang and healed many of the sick. The Church bought a piece of land and built a church where Our Lady is said to have appeared and it immediately became a popular pilgrimage site. The building was bombed by the Japanese in 1939 and was later turned into a factory. It still functions as a factory today. However, in 1993, some 200 metres from the original site, construction began on a new church. Some 40,000 of the faithful attended the blessing of the new church on 1 May 1994. Regular pilgrimages resumed in 1995 with people coming from Wuxi, Shanghai and all the nearby dioceses. There are, however, two shrines that stand out in a very special way: the Marian shrine in Donglu and the Marian shrine at Sheshan.

Our Lady appears in China

In 1900, China reported three apparitions: one in Beijing in which Our Lady was accompanied by St. Michael the archangel who, in turn, was surrounded by multitudes of angels. A second apparition involved a weeping statue of Our Lady in the village of Santai during the Boxer Rebellion. The third apparition occurred in Donglu. Donglu is about 40 kilometres from Baoding in Hebei province, and it is one of the strongholds of the unofficial Catholic Church in China. Witnesses recount that a beautiful lady, recognised as Mary, appeared in the skies. The Catholics implored Our Lady to save them from their enemies and their city from destruction. In thanksgiving for Our Lady's protection over the city of Donglu during the Boxer Rebellion, a beautiful church was built in her honour. It was meant to serve as a constant reminder to the people of Mary's loving and motherly protection. The pastor, at the time, secured a painting of the Dowager Empress Ci Xi dressed in imperial robes. He commissioned an artist to use it as the background for the image of Our Lady holding the Christ Child. The picture was hung in the Church of Donglu, which eventually became a famous place of pilgrimage.

The shrine at Donglu

People began coming to the shrine in Donglu in 1924, but the first official pilgrimage took place in 1929. By 1932, the location had become such a popular pilgrimage site that Pope Pius XI approved it as an official Marian shrine. Since 1929 tens of thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the hill to the shrine, especially in the month of May.

The miracle of the sun

On 23 May 1995, pilgrims witnessed another phenomenon. Over 30,000 Catholics from the unofficial Church had gathered for Mass at the Donglu shrine. It was the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians, a favourite of Chinese Catholics. There were four bishops of the unofficial Church concelebrating the Mass and nearly 100 unofficial priests standing in the open field, all eager to honour Our Lady in a special way during her special month. Suddenly, during the opening prayer and again during the consecration, the people observed the sun spinning from right to left. Light rays of various shades emanated from the sky. The people, mesmerised by the phenomenon, could look directly at it without blinking. Suddenly from the centre of the sun people saw what they later described as an apparition. Some beheld the Cross; others said they had seen the Holy Family. Still others had seen Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus while others claimed they had seen the Sacred Host. People, overwhelmed by the vision, suddenly became conscious of their sinfulness and began to cry out, "Holy Mother, forgive me my sins," or "Holy Virgin Mary, have pity on us your children." The phenomenon of the sun changing colours, approaching and then retreating while radiating various hues, lasted for about 20 minutes.

The government's response

Needless to say, the government has not been terribly enthusiastic about having thousands upon thousands of people gather anywhere. This is all the more threatening when the gathering involves religion and people of the unofficial Church. The Public Security Bureau, the agency in charge of keeping watch over the unofficial Catholic community, periodically flexes its muscles to prevent anyone from going on pilgrimage to Donglu. In 1995, when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Donglu for the Feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24, the Public Security barred all pilgrims from joining anyone on the hill. The police forced people back into buses and trains without offering any explanation. Still, thousands successfully reached the area by finding alternative ways to get there. As many as 100,000 participated in the celebration.

Again in 1996, an official announcement forbade anyone from going to the Donglu shrine. This time two reasons were given for the prohibition: it was an illegal gathering and it was bad for social stability.

Teams of Public Security agents as large as 500 strong were dispatched to all the villages surrounding the Donglu area and to towns all over Hebei Province. As they travelled around, they tried to force the members of the unofficial community to join the Patriotic Association and to do away with unrecognised religious premises such as Donglu. Priests in the towns and villages were ordered not to leave their residences and were forbidden to preach from May 13 until further notice. Lay people were also forbidden to leave their villages. Parents were not allowed to take their children to church or to wear any religious objects.

Against all odds

It seems no amount of pressure can dull the enthusiam of Catholics intent on honouring Our Lady at the Donglu shrine. Every May, regardless of prohibitions, tens of thousands of pilgrims make their way up the steep hill, either in silence or reciting the rosary or singing hymns to praise one who is truly their mother and protector.

The shrine at Sheshan

In June 1989, Pope John Paul II prayed that the Virgin of Sheshan Help of Christians, would look kindly on "the beloved Chinese people." This remark by Our Holy Father indicates the importance of this shrine as a symbol of Christian renewal in China. Sheshan, with its "nine peaks above the clouds" is situated about 35 kilometres from Shanghai city. Its forest of bamboo, its scenic winding paths and running brooks are a fitting location for communing with God and Our Lady. The mountain, according to legend, gets its name from a hermit named She who centuries ago, lived atop the mountain.

In 1866, the Church in Shanghai built a hexagonal pavilion and placed within it an altar and a statue of Our Lady. Five years later, the Jesuits built a church at the summit of the mountain and dedicated it to Our Lady Help of Christians, opening it in 1873.

In 1924, the bishops of China consecrated the nation to Our Lady and following the consecration they made a pilgrimage to Sheshan. Work on a basilica began in 1925 and was completed 10 years later. This church was the first basilica in all of the Far East and it became China's favourite pilgrimage site.

During the Cultural Revolution the beautiful bronze statue of Our Lady at the pinnacle of the basilica disappeared and other religious symbols, including the altar and the stained glass window were all virtually destroyed. A replica of the bronze statue of Mary holding up the Christ Child was finally re-installed on top of the tower in the year 2000. Some 10,000 believers paid for it. Pilgrimages to the shrine resumed in 1979.

Every year since then, pilgrims by the thousands have flocked to Sheshan. In 1990, the first pilgrimage of the decade saw 30,000 Catholics coming to Sheshan for Our Lady's feast. The elderly and the young made the long steep climb from the foothills of the mountain to the summit as a testimony of their love and devotion to Our Lady. One large group of pilgrims are the fisherfolk of Jiangnan who, from earliest times, sailed up the Yangtze, carefully steering their craft through the canals surrounding the foothills of the mountain.

Every year, they come, moor their boats and spend three days and nights at Sheshan to implore Our Lady's help for the future and to thank her for favours received. But they are only a small group compared to the thousands from all over China who come to pay tribute to their heavenly mother in whom they place so much of their trust.



27 May, 2004
CHINA
China's Marian shrines

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Sunday Examiner) - The month of May is Our Lady's month and Christians suddenly become pilgrims rather than tourists as they flock in their tens of thousands to Marian shrines throughout the whole of the Christian world. An extremely large number travel to Lourdes, France; others go to Fatima, Portugal or to Ireland to honour Our Lady of Knock, to Poland to venerate the famous Black Madonna of Czestochowa; Italians are partial to Loreto and in the Americas thousands go to Mexico to pray at the beloved shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

What is a Marian shrine?

A Marian shrine is usually a place where the faithful and the Church believe Our Lady has appeared or where some miracle or other supernatural event has taken place through the intercession of the Holy Mother, whom the Chinese like to call Our Lady.

May is also Our Lady's special month in China. May is the time when Chinese Catholics take to the waterways in their sampans or make their way up mountaintops by the tens of thousands to pray at shrines dedicated to Our Lady.

Marian shrines in China

China has a number of Marian shrines. There is the shrine of Our Lady of Bliss situated in the hills north of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in southwestern China. This shrine is reputed to be at least 200-years-old. It was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and since it was reopened in 1980, has attracted numerous devotees of Our Lady annually.

There is the new shrine in Fuzhou, opened on 30 April 1993 on top of the hill in Longtian village near Fuzhou city, Fujian province. This shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and called Rosary Villa. The title given to the shrine is reminiscent of the fact that the Dominicans, who were in Fujian province before Liberation, had dedicated the area to Mary of the Rosary. A statue of Our Lady, a gift from Italy, stands in the middle of the Chinese style pavilion on the shrine grounds. The shrine is used as a place for priests' retreats and for group pilgrimages. It was set up by Fuzhou's elderly bishop to promote unity and community in the Catholic Church.

On 1 May 1994, the famous Marian shrine adjacent to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Qingyang township in Nanjing diocese, Jiangsu province, reopened after having been closed for some 55 years. Tens of thousands of pilgrims were drawn to the site.

In 1901, according to Old Catholics, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared in Qingyang and healed many of the sick. The Church bought a piece of land and built a church where Our Lady is said to have appeared and it immediately became a popular pilgrimage site. The building was bombed by the Japanese in 1939 and was later turned into a factory. It still functions as a factory today. However, in 1993, some 200 metres from the original site, construction began on a new church. Some 40,000 of the faithful attended the blessing of the new church on 1 May 1994. Regular pilgrimages resumed in 1995 with people coming from Wuxi, Shanghai and all the nearby dioceses. There are, however, two shrines that stand out in a very special way: the Marian shrine in Donglu and the Marian shrine at Sheshan.

Our Lady appears in China

In 1900, China reported three apparitions: one in Beijing in which Our Lady was accompanied by St. Michael the archangel who, in turn, was surrounded by multitudes of angels. A second apparition involved a weeping statue of Our Lady in the village of Santai during the Boxer Rebellion. The third apparition occurred in Donglu. Donglu is about 40 kilometres from Baoding in Hebei province, and it is one of the strongholds of the unofficial Catholic Church in China. Witnesses recount that a beautiful lady, recognised as Mary, appeared in the skies. The Catholics implored Our Lady to save them from their enemies and their city from destruction. In thanksgiving for Our Lady's protection over the city of Donglu during the Boxer Rebellion, a beautiful church was built in her honour. It was meant to serve as a constant reminder to the people of Mary's loving and motherly protection. The pastor, at the time, secured a painting of the Dowager Empress Ci Xi dressed in imperial robes. He commissioned an artist to use it as the background for the image of Our Lady holding the Christ Child. The picture was hung in the Church of Donglu, which eventually became a famous place of pilgrimage.

The shrine at Donglu

People began coming to the shrine in Donglu in 1924, but the first official pilgrimage took place in 1929. By 1932, the location had become such a popular pilgrimage site that Pope Pius XI approved it as an official Marian shrine. Since 1929 tens of thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the hill to the shrine, especially in the month of May.

The miracle of the sun

On 23 May 1995, pilgrims witnessed another phenomenon. Over 30,000 Catholics from the unofficial Church had gathered for Mass at the Donglu shrine. It was the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians, a favourite of Chinese Catholics. There were four bishops of the unofficial Church concelebrating the Mass and nearly 100 unofficial priests standing in the open field, all eager to honour Our Lady in a special way during her special month. Suddenly, during the opening prayer and again during the consecration, the people observed the sun spinning from right to left. Light rays of various shades emanated from the sky. The people, mesmerised by the phenomenon, could look directly at it without blinking. Suddenly from the centre of the sun people saw what they later described as an apparition. Some beheld the Cross; others said they had seen the Holy Family. Still others had seen Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus while others claimed they had seen the Sacred Host. People, overwhelmed by the vision, suddenly became conscious of their sinfulness and began to cry out, "Holy Mother, forgive me my sins," or "Holy Virgin Mary, have pity on us your children." The phenomenon of the sun changing colours, approaching and then retreating while radiating various hues, lasted for about 20 minutes.

The government's response

Needless to say, the government has not been terribly enthusiastic about having thousands upon thousands of people gather anywhere. This is all the more threatening when the gathering involves religion and people of the unofficial Church. The Public Security Bureau, the agency in charge of keeping watch over the unofficial Catholic community, periodically flexes its muscles to prevent anyone from going on pilgrimage to Donglu. In 1995, when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Donglu for the Feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24, the Public Security barred all pilgrims from joining anyone on the hill. The police forced people back into buses and trains without offering any explanation. Still, thousands successfully reached the area by finding alternative ways to get there. As many as 100,000 participated in the celebration.

Again in 1996, an official announcement forbade anyone from going to the Donglu shrine. This time two reasons were given for the prohibition: it was an illegal gathering and it was bad for social stability.

Teams of Public Security agents as large as 500 strong were dispatched to all the villages surrounding the Donglu area and to towns all over Hebei Province. As they travelled around, they tried to force the members of the unofficial community to join the Patriotic Association and to do away with unrecognised religious premises such as Donglu. Priests in the towns and villages were ordered not to leave their residences and were forbidden to preach from May 13 until further notice. Lay people were also forbidden to leave their villages. Parents were not allowed to take their children to church or to wear any religious objects.

Against all odds

It seems no amount of pressure can dull the enthusiam of Catholics intent on honouring Our Lady at the Donglu shrine. Every May, regardless of prohibitions, tens of thousands of pilgrims make their way up the steep hill, either in silence or reciting the rosary or singing hymns to praise one who is truly their mother and protector.

The shrine at Sheshan

In June 1989, Pope John Paul II prayed that the Virgin of Sheshan Help of Christians, would look kindly on "the beloved Chinese people." This remark by Our Holy Father indicates the importance of this shrine as a symbol of Christian renewal in China. Sheshan, with its "nine peaks above the clouds" is situated about 35 kilometres from Shanghai city. Its forest of bamboo, its scenic winding paths and running brooks are a fitting location for communing with God and Our Lady. The mountain, according to legend, gets its name from a hermit named She who centuries ago, lived atop the mountain.

In 1866, the Church in Shanghai built a hexagonal pavilion and placed within it an altar and a statue of Our Lady. Five years later, the Jesuits built a church at the summit of the mountain and dedicated it to Our Lady Help of Christians, opening it in 1873.

In 1924, the bishops of China consecrated the nation to Our Lady and following the consecration they made a pilgrimage to Sheshan. Work on a basilica began in 1925 and was completed 10 years later. This church was the first basilica in all of the Far East and it became China's favourite pilgrimage site.

During the Cultural Revolution the beautiful bronze statue of Our Lady at the pinnacle of the basilica disappeared and other religious symbols, including the altar and the stained glass window were all virtually destroyed. A replica of the bronze statue of Mary holding up the Christ Child was finally re-installed on top of the tower in the year 2000. Some 10,000 believers paid for it. Pilgrimages to the shrine resumed in 1979.

Every year since then, pilgrims by the thousands have flocked to Sheshan. In 1990, the first pilgrimage of the decade saw 30,000 Catholics coming to Sheshan for Our Lady's feast. The elderly and the young made the long steep climb from the foothills of the mountain to the summit as a testimony of their love and devotion to Our Lady. One large group of pilgrims are the fisherfolk of Jiangnan who, from earliest times, sailed up the Yangtze, carefully steering their craft through the canals surrounding the foothills of the mountain.

Every year, they come, moor their boats and spend three days and nights at Sheshan to implore Our Lady's help for the future and to thank her for favours received. But they are only a small group compared to the thousands from all over China who come to pay tribute to their heavenly mother in whom they place so much of their trust.
0 Replies
 
Jackofalltrades
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 01:08 am
From what I understand The Catholics seem to believe that to get to God you have to go through Jesus and to get to Jesus you have to ask His Mother. Question Question
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2005 05:02 pm
I think you have a gross misunderstanding there, Jackofalltrades. Catholics recite many prayers... the most common being the Pater Noster.
0 Replies
 
 

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