12 December 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And while her role in the conversion of the Mexican people and ending the bloody human sacrifices of the Aztecs is well known, she is less well known for her assistance a few years later in a battle half way around the world. "Pope Pius V called for a rosary crusade among all Christians, as he anticipated the conflict. At the same time, the second archbishop of Mexico, Don Fray Alonso de Montufor, had become a devotee of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the miraculous image of the Mother of God given to a humble Indian convert, Juan Diego, on the newly discovered continent. The archbishop had seen evidence of continuous miracles through the intercession of God's Mother, and he was aware of the crisis in Europe. He had a small reproduction of the holy image of Our Lady of Guadalupe made, then touched it to the original and sent it to King Philip of Spain in 1570. Archbishop Montufor expressed the desire that the king would see that this copy of the sacred image of our Lady was placed in a suitable place in the Christian navy when the battle began.
Archbishop Montufor believed that God's Mother would work a miracle for the Holy League which the Pope had organized, just as she had so often done for the Mexicans. The king agreed and had it mounted in the cabin of Admiral Andrea Doria as the Battle of Lepanto approached. During the battle, Andrea Doria was compelled to separate from the center force of Christians. Uluch Ali then broke through the gap and was prepared to destroy Andrea Doria's fleet. Doria knew he was facing destruction, together with his fleet. His was the ship with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in his cabin, and the battle was thus under her intercession.
At this critical moment a tremendous wind came up and blew the Turkish navy into total disorganization. Their squadrons were thrown into panic and, thus stricken, most of their fleet was captured or destroyed....Until 1811 the small reproduction of the holy image of Guadalupe remained in the Doria family. A descendant, Cardinal Doria, made a present of it to the people of Aveto in Liguria, north of Genoa. There it remains, enshrined to the present day in the Church of San Stefano d'Aveto. Pius VII in 1815 granted that shrine the faculty of a Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as indulgences, in answer to the great faith and love inspired by the shrine and the reported miracles. Pope Leo XII granted perpetual privileges to the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe in San Stefano d'Aveto.

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