The many chapels and oratories dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception not only portray the role of Our Lady throughout salvation history, but also throughout the history of nations, races, and ethnicities.
Below are three distinct devotions to the Blessed Mother from around the world represented in the National Shrine. May these beautiful monuments to Our Lady featured at the Basilica, along with their accompanying prayers, strengthen your own devotion!
Our Lady of China
The main element of the Oratory of Our Lady of China is a brilliantly-colored mosaic of a Chinese depiction of Our Lady, fashioned after a painting by John Lu Hung-Nien, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts at the Catholic University of Peking. The painting was featured on a holy card used by the first cardinal of China to promote devotion to the Blessed Mother. The harsh persecution suffered by Christians in China gives the mosaic special meaning. It represents the risk which Chinese Catholics take in order to practice their faith and give tribute to Mary. Faith, Hope, Charity and Unity are written in Chinese characters.
Prayer to Our Lady of China
Like the Catholics of China, let us pray:
Hail, Holy Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mother of all nations and all people. You are the special heavenly Mother of the Chinese people.
Teach us, your way of total obedience to God’s will. Help us to live our lives true to our faith. Fill our hearts with burning love for God and each other. Stir up in our youth an unconditional giving of self to the service of God.
We call on your powerful intercession for peace, reconciliation, and unity among the believers, and conversion of the unbelievers in China and throughout the world, for God’s mercy is our only hope.
Our Lady of China, Mother of Jesus, hear our petitions and pray for us. Amen.
Our Mother of Africa
Simple but impactful, the Chapel to Our Mother of Africa is centered around a bronze sculpture of Our Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child. He points toward the narrative relief of the African-American experience from slavery to emancipation. The sculpture culminates in a mother and father, freed from the bronze of the relief, stepping into the nave and lifting their arms to Christ on the cross. The chapel, a gift of the National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC), stands in remembrance of the painful history of slavery in the United States and the pillar of hope which Our Lady represented to many victims of this tragedy.
Prayer to Our Mother of Africa
In memory of this painful part of our nation’s past, let us pray:
Mary, Our Mother of Africa, hear the drumbeat of our prayers. May Your Son Jesus continue to bring us joy, receive our tensions, and forgive us our sins. Help us to walk in His light. Help us to help others do the same. And bring us to life everlasting with the Holy Saints and Angels. Amen.
Our Lady of Vailankanni
The Oratory of Our Lady of Vailankanni located in the Crypt Church of the Basilica is a gift of the Indian American Catholic Association. Devotion to Our Lady of Vailankanni, also known as Our Lady of Good Health, has its origins in the 16th century during which three miracles occurred: the appearance of the Blessed Mother with the Christ Child, the cure of a child who was crippled, and the rescue of sailors caught in a tempest in the Bay of Bengal. The actual Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health, located in Vailankanni, India, is considered the “Lourdes of the East” and is the most frequented holy site in that country.
Prayer to Our Lady of Vailankanni, Mother of Health
Trusting in the miraculous occurrences that took place through the intercession of Our Mother, let us pray:
O Mary! Our Mother of Health and Our Heavenly Queen, seated on your throne of mercy and compassion in your Holy Shrine at Vailankanni, we praise and honor you to be our refuge and our relief. Numerous are the sick who through you have recovered health. Relying on your power and goodness, we fly to you and implore you to heal our infirmities and to obtain for us perfect health of body and soul, that we may better be able to serve you and your Divine Son. At all times you have been the help and consolation of the sick. You obtain for them health, when it is conducive to their salvation. You assist them at time of their death. Help them O Most amiable Mother and obtain for us cure from all our sufferings, or patience to endure them in the spirit of resignation agreeable to God’s Holy Will, so that all our trials and sufferings may help to purify our souls and help us to detach ourselves from earthly ties. Amen.