Spiritual Pilgrimage to the
Dear brothers and sisters,
As we do every year, next October we will be celebrating our International Day of Prayer of the Marianist Family. For several years now, the Marianist Family has been on “spiritual pilgrimage” to some Marian sanctuary located in a different continent each year.
This year, on October 10th, we will focus our attention on Latin America, on the Sanctuary of the Patron of Colombia, Our Lady of the Rosary in Chiquinquirá.
As done every year, we renew some of our intentions and add those special to Colombia, which we do of everyone. We share all the intentions on the last page of this publication.
As is always the case, we also propose to the different groups of the
Marianist Family that, altogether os one family, plan and carry out a
special celebration next October 10th, to join in one unique International
Day of Prayer of the Marianist Family.
Carlos Beneitez MLC
Popular religious spirit over has created
a landscape of tender devotion, connecting all of Latin America in
a thronging of pilgrimages to Marian
shrine. These great centers of worship their tremendous power for bringing
people together, are like treasuries of faith, preserving images of Mary
that are venerated by the people with deep heartfelt love and intertwined
with their national identity. The histories and legends that have grown
up around those images express the experience of pain and
the hope of our Latin American peoples; hence festivals and acts of worship
offered by the Church to these national Patronesses have in time become
a basis for popular evangelization. These devotions provide the faithful
with a deep religious experience that has not yet been adequately
Pictures that were miraculously pointed, discovered or restored; figures of clay, wood or stone; objects discovered in the sea along highways, rescued from river beds or sculpted in response to a grace received or in memory of an escape from a great danger; brown, mestizo, mulatto, Indian: these varied representations Mary, greatly beloved, are an important element in belonging to the catholic faith.
One thing is common in all the origins of these great devotions, their deep popular feeling. Discoveries and apparitions occur among simple and humble people: Indians, people of mixed race, poor people, and people whose hearts are open to God's action.
On a homespun piece of cotton, woven by Native Americans, a Spanish painter named Alonso de Narváez rather artistically pointed on image of Our Lady of the Rosary. He pointed with distemper, using natural pigments created with minerals coming from the soil and the juice of local herbs and flowers. Since his canvas was almost square (44 inches high and 49 inches wide), the artist balanced and filled out the space, adding next to our Lady of the Rosary the images of Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Andrew the Apostle. The former was the patron of the individual who commissioned him to paint the image; the latter, the patron of the friar who had suggested the idea.
In 1562 the painting was hung in a chapel with a straw roof, which was exposed to humidity and dripping rain. Together with the action of the air and the sun, this left the painting in such a bad condition that it was very soon impossible to recognize what it represented. In 1577 the ruined image was taken to Chiquinquirá and abandoned in a room that had previously served as a family oratory. Eight years later, there arrived in this place Maria Ramos, a devout woman from Seville, who arranged and cleaned the small chapel and hung in it the blurred canvas that was supposed once to have borne the image of Our Lady of 'the Rosary. Tradition says that on Friday, December 26, 1586, the image that this woman so much desired to contemplate miraculously shone forth anew in an instantaneous restoration. It returned to its original color and brightness. The scratches and holes in the cloth were mended and covered with light and color.
Our Lady of the Rosary, who stands in the center of the painting, measures approximately three feet in height. She gazes toward the left, focusing attention toward the nearly naked Child she is carrying in her arms. It is a calm image, with a delicate smile radiating great sweetness. The color of her face is pale, like that of the Child. Curiously, the Child carries in his right hand a little bird with bright wings, tied to his thumb by a cord; from his left hand hangs a little Rosary.
Our Lady is supported by a crescent, in a posture that suggests she
is in movement.
The pointing shows the marks of its previous deterioration. Remarkably, the figures, which appear vogue or blurred when looked at closely, show up clearly and in good perspective when you look at them from a certain distance. Two crowns, a scepter, two rosaries and 27 gold shields have been attached to the canvas, beautifully offsetting the picture. The frame, formed by semicircles of silver, bears the insignia of the national president. For three hundred years the image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá was exposed to the faithful without any protection, permitting thousands of objects to be touched each year to the flimsy cotton cloth. Devout people used long rods or reeds to touch various objects to the holy canvas. It is really amazing to see that the cloth remained intact despite the fact that so much touching necessarily should hove destroyed the fragile homespun cotton. Since 1897 a thick glass protects the pointing from inclement weather and from excesses of pilgrim fervor.
Pius VII declared her Patroness of Colombia in 1829, with a proper liturgical
Intentions suggested by the Marianist Family in Colombia so that we, joining the clamor of the Latin American people and the Colombian people, ask the Virgin of the Rosary in Chiquinquirá: