Today we highlight two Marian devotions– Our Lady of La Vang and Our Lady of Guadalupe – that stand in testament to the powerful miracles which have been wrought through the intercession of the Mother of God. In both instances, her presence was namely to strengthen the faith of those she appeared to, and also to show her loving care to those most devoted to her.
Our Lady of La Vang
The chapel of Our Lady of La Vang stands in memory of the persecution of Vietnamese Catholics during the 18th century. Fearing for their lives, they fled from the local villages and parishes to the nearby jungle, known as the La Vang region. They gathered every night in the jungle at the foot of a great tree to pray the rosary. One night, Our Blessed Mother appeared to them wearing a magnificent cloak, carrying the infant Jesus. Not only did she console them, and remind them of her intercession, but she showed them the leaves of an indigenous fern to treat their physical ailments. Throughout the years, Our Lady appeared many more times in this place, strengthening the faith of the local people.
Commemorating this event, the main focus of the chapel is a statue of Our Lady of La Vang in the same cloak as in her appearance, holding the Christ Child. On the right is a Venetian glass mosaic depicting the initial event, and the villagers who sought the intercession of our Lady. The glass mosaic on the left is a copy of the painting, The Martyrs of Vietnam, representing some of the 130,000 to 300,000 men and women that were tortured and killed for their faith.
Prayer to Our Lady of La Vang
In memory of the sacrificial faith of the Vietnamese martyrs, let us pray:
O Mary, Holy Mother of La Vang, Mother of God and our most loving Mother, pour out your abundant blessings upon your children who earnestly implore you. Give us a heart of compassion and charity to build a culture of love and life. Help us to live lives of virtue and hope, so that we may enjoy eternal life and the happiness of the Trinity with you for all eternity. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
The chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe was built to venerate the appearance of Our Blessed Mother to a baptized native, Juan Diego, on December 9, 1531 on Tepeyac Hill, on the outskirts of Mexico City. The object of this vision was to ask him to have a church built on the spot in which they stood. Juan immediately ran to the bishop with the request, but he was refused many times. However, Our Lady appeared to Juan again, telling him not to lose faith because she would send him to the bishop with a sign. On December 12th, Juan Diego returned to the bishop with his tilma filled with roses, a phenomenon which was impossible at that time of year and in that region. But above and beyond that, when Juan opened his tilma, the flowers fell to the ground, revealing a miraculous image of the Blessed Mother. To date, this is the only “self-portrait” ever given by the Blessed Mother where she is pregnant (signified with the band above her waist).
The walls of the chapel are fully decorated in mosaic tile, the front and center of which show a nearly life-sized image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On the left and right sides of the chapel are depicted many saints and disciples of different cultures and regions, all carrying lighted candles in procession to the Virgin Mary, and some kneeling in her honor. Juan Diego is the closest of these, holding an open tilma with roses tumbling out.
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
In memory of the Blessed Mother’s apparition St. Juan Diego and the miraculous image of herself that she left behind for us, let us pray:
Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful Mother of Holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength. Hear my prayer, offered with deep-felt confidence to beg this favor…
O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call thee under the glorious Aztec title of “Guadalupe” – the Virgin who crushed the serpent.
Queen of Martyrs, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Invoke the Holy Spirit of Wisdom to fortify my will to frequent the Sacraments to that, thus enlightened and strengthened, I may prefer God to all creatures and shun every occasion of sin.
Help me, as a living branch of the Vine that is Jesus Christ, to exemplify His divine charity always seeking the good of others. Queen of Apostles, aid me to win souls for the Sacred Heart of my Savior. Keep my apostolate fearless, dynamic and articulate, to proclaim the loving solicitude of Our Father in Heaven so that the wayward may heed His pleading and obtain pardon, through the merits of your merciful Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.