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5 Marian Devotions to Know This September

September marks a number of significant anniversaries for the Marian devotions from around the world celebrated at the National Shrine. From the somber reflections of Our Lady of Sorrows to the promise of hope in the apparition at La Salette, each of these celebrations offers an opportunity for the faithful to grow in devotion. Today, we invite you to explore these five Marian devotions honored in the sacred art and architecture of the Basilica.

September 4 – Our Lady of Charity

Our Lady of Charity The devotion to Our Lady of Charity originated in Cuba in the early 17th century. Tradition holds that a group of Cuban peasants on the Bay of Nipe encountered a Marian statue that remained dry despite the raging storm preceding its arrival. On the board to which it was attached were the words “I am the Virgin of Charity.” Astonished, the men took the statue to their village, Barajagua, and it eventually found a home in the “El Cobre” parish. Some reported that during its residence at both places, the statue mysteriously vanished and reappeared in the Cobre Mountains. One night, villagers noticed a great light shining from the mountains, and at its source, they found the statue. On that spot, the villagers constructed a hermitage, where they placed the statue for veneration. Today, the site is known as the National Sanctuary of Cuba, and Cuban residents affectionally refer to Our Lady of Charity as “Cachita,” the patroness of Cuba.

You can find this manifestation of the Blessed Mother portrayed in the Basilica in the Our Lady of Charity Oratory in a statue of Botticino and Trani marble. On September 4, 1977, the oratory was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Eduardo Tomás Boza Masvidal, Auxiliary of San Cristobal de la Habana, Cuba.

September 15 – Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows invites us to meditate on Mary’s sorrows as the Mother of Christ, striving to imitate her example of perseverance through suffering. Catholic tradition recognizes seven sorrows of Mary:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The burial of Jesus (Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

At the Basilica, this devotion is honored in the Chapel of Our Mother of Sorrows, which features a life-size marble sculpture of the Pietà, depicting the sixth of the Seven Sorrows: Mary holding Jesus as he is taken from the Cross. The other sorrows are sculpted in bronze and flank the Pietà. The chapel is a gift of the Slovak Union of the United States and Canada. Inscribed in Slovak above the altar is the text: “Our Mother of Sorrows, Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Slovak People, Pray for Us.”

September 17 – Our Lady of Camarin

Our Lady of Camarin The devotion to Our Lady of Camarin originated in the late 1600s, after Padre San Vitores and a group of Jesuits founded a mission in Guam, which became known as Islas de Marianas (the Islands of Mary) under his influence.

According to tradition, a Chamorro fisherman was on the water one day when something extraordinary caught his eye: a floating statue of a lady flanked by two crabs holding lit candles. When he came nearer to the statue, the crabs stopped him and commanded him to change into appropriate attire. He did as he was told and returned to take the statue ashore. Eventually, he gave the statue to a Spanish priest who put it in military barracks (a kamalen), which earned the statue the moniker “Santa Marian Kamalen.” The statue had a habit of mysteriously disappearing from the kamalen and reappearing with drenched clothing and sticker burrs. These recurring incidents convinced the soldiers of its miraculous nature, inspiring them to transfer it to the main church, where it became the most venerated representation of the Virgin Mary. Marian Kamalen is the protectress and legacy of the Chamorro people, who request her intercession from typhoons, earthquakes, disaster, and war.

Our Lady of Camarin is portrayed at the Basilica in a statue hand-carved from the wood of a 300-year-old tree from the grounds of a Guam monastery, where trees are grown solely for the purpose of carving statues like this one. With human hair and a porcelain face, this representation of the Madonna is striking. September 17 marks the 17th anniversary of the Our Lady of Camarin Oratory, where it resides.

Our Lady of SaletteSeptember 19 – Our Lady of La Salette

On September 19, 1846, Mélanie Calvat (14) and Maximin Giraud (11) were herding cattle in the French Alps when they saw the Blessed Mother appear. She sat weeping, holding her face in her hands and surrounded by an orb of dazzling light. According to the children’s account, she expressed her concern about the lack of devotion amongst Catholics and emphasized the importance of prayer and conversion. As she spoke, the children realized that the light was emanating from a special crucifix she was wearing around her neck.

Today, that crucifix is known as the La Salette cross, featuring a hammer and pincers at the ends of the horizontal beam behind Christ’s outstretched arms. While the hammer symbolizes sin and division, the pincers represent the missionaries’ work of reconciliation and combatting sin in the world. This cross is the symbol of the La Salette Missionaries today. The devotion to Our Lady of La Salette is honored with an oratory in the Basilica, featuring a vivid mosaic designed by J. Piercey Studios.

September 27 – Our Lady of Mariazell

Our Lady of MariazellSeptember 27 marks the 31st anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica’s Our Lady of Mariazell Chapel, honoring an Austrian Marian tradition. The origin of the devotion to Our Lady of Mariazell dates back to 1157, when a monk named Magnus found his path barred by a vast boulder one day. Faced with this obstacle, he placed a small statue of Mary that he was carrying with him on the rock, and prayed for guidance. To his astonishment, the rock split in two, allowing him to pass. After this miracle, he built a small cell (in German “zell”) in which to live and pray. Over time, it became a monastery and a church, which still stands as pilgrimage site for the faithful today.

This Marian devotion is honored in the Basilica in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mariazell, which was the first chapel to be donated to the Basilica by a country outside the United States. It is a gift of the Austrian Bishops Conference, the Austrian government, and Austrian-American Catholics. The focal point of the chapel is an exact replica of the statue of Our Lady of Mariazell, made of linden wood and measuring only 19 inches tall. Mary holds a fig, symbolizing sin, while Jesus holds an apple, symbolizing redemption. The statue features a red seal, indicating that it was touched to the original and carries the same graces.


Rohling, Geraldine M., PhD, MAEd. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Guide and Tour Book. Washington, D.C.: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 2018.

Light a Candle at the Basilica

Light a Candle at the BasilicaIn honor of the Blessed Mother, we invite you to light a candle today at the National Shrine. Vigil candles burn in the chapels throughout the Great Upper Church and lower crypt level of the National Shrine. Each candle represents the faith of the supplicants and their fervent prayers entrusted to the loving intercession of the Blessed Mother.

A Prayer to Our Lady of Šiluva
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