October 13, 2019

Our Lady of Pompeii in Hong Kong 在香港的龐貝聖母

Original Portrait of 'Our Lady of Pompeii' 龐貝聖母畫像真跡

Known for bestowing bountiful graces upon all those who ask for Her intercession, it is no wonder that ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ is a favorite among the Catholic faithful worldwide. It would be a blessing if one is able to make a pilgrimage to the beautiful ‘Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii’ in South Italy, founded by Blessed Bartolo Longo, and housing the original miraculous portrait of ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’. However, if one is unable to do so, one may find that ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ is closer to us than we may know. 

噢!凡請求她代禱的人,必能獲得沛降甘霖般恩寵!—— 難怪「龐貝聖母」(Our Lady of Pompeii)是普世天主教信眾最喜愛之一。當然能親身去到座落在意大利南部美妙絶倫的「龐貝神聖玫瑰經之童貞榮福瑪利亞朝聖地那裡朝聖是多麼有福。那裡的聖殿是由真福巴爾托洛·隆戈(Blessed Bartolo Longo)所興建,而收藏著「龐貝聖母」畫像的真跡。但不能親身到龐貝朝聖的人也可能會發現,原來「龐貝聖母」只是近在咫尺。



The Rosary Church
Such is the case in Hong Kong, where the oldest church in Kowloon: ‘The Rosary Church’, is in fact dedicated to ‘Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii’. Upon entering the Church, one is greeted with a statue of ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ at the front of the Church, centered above the main altar. Our Lady is holding Infant Jesus in Her lap and together they are holding a Rosary. 

玫瑰堂
就正如在香港:原來九龍最古老的一座天主教聖堂「玫瑰堂」是其實特別奉獻了給「龐貝神聖玫瑰經聖母」。當一踏入聖堂就會看到在聖堂大祭台後正中的「龐貝聖母」聖像正在親自迎接每一個人。聖母是手抱聖嬰,而他們一起手持著同一串玫瑰念珠。


However, the two other saints who are normally seen in the portrait of ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’, St. Dominic de Guzman and St. Catherine of Siena, are nowhere to be seen here. Both of these saints were importantly associated with the devotion of the Holy Rosary. St. Dominic was the saint to whom Our Lady famously appeared to in the year 1208, entrusting to him the devotion of the Holy Rosary, in order to assist him in combatting the Albigensian heresy in the Church at that time. He was also the founder of the Dominican Order, whose members championed the Rosary and spread it throughout the Church. St. Catherine of Siena was one of those who was attracted to the Dominican spirituality. Moved by a vision of St. Dominic, she entered the Dominican Third Order and is known today as one of the greatest saints of the Order. 

可是原本常見在「龐貝聖母」畫像中的兩位聖人:聖道明(St. Dominic de Guzman)和聖女加大利納(St. Catherine of Siena現在在此卻不知所踪。這兩位聖人對神聖玫瑰經的敬禮其實是有著很深遠和重要的關係。1208年,聖母曾顯現給聖道明,委予其重任:到處宣神聖玫瑰經的敬禮。聖母並教導聖道明藉著玫瑰經將當時教會所面對著的異端邪說Albigensian heresy 阿爾比異端)一一撃退。此外,聖道明是道明會的會祖。他的會士在教會內是以宣講玫瑰經為他們的使命。至於聖女加大利納,她是深深被聖道明的神修精神所吸引,並因著聖道明的神視而受到感動,決定終身成為道明會第三會在俗會員。現在她是道明會裡其中一位最偉大的聖人。


In the past, the statue in the ‘Rosary Church’ did feature Our Lady handing a set of Rosary beads to St. Catherine of Siena on Her left, while Infant Jesus presented a set of Rosary beads to St. Dominic on His right. However, unfortunately, these statues of the two saints were either lost during Church renovations, or removed following the Second Vatican Council. Nevertheless, anyone familiar with ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ would easily recognize Her all the same. 

從前,「玫瑰堂」的聖母像旁還有聖道明和聖女加大利納。聖母的左手拿著一串玫瑰念珠,垂下交給跪在左側的聖女加大利納;而聖嬰的右手也拿著另一串玫瑰念珠交給跪在右側的聖道明。但很可惜,不知道是由於聖堂曾經歷多次維修,或因梵二的原故,所以這兩位聖人的聖像現已不翼而飛了⋯⋯。不過,無論如何,凡熟悉「龐貝聖母」的人,都會很容易認得出「她」。


On the arched wall above the main altar, there are twenty round icons which portray the twenty decades of the Rosary, to assist devotees in meditating the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. The icons featuring the Mysteries of Light were only added in 2006, after St. Pope John Paul II released his Apostolic Letter ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae (‘The Rosary of the Virgin Mary’) on October 16th 2002, introducing to the Church a new set of mysteries to complement the traditional three sets. It was Blessed Bartolo Longo’s writings which inspired St. Pope John Paul II’s important addition to the Rosary.  

祭台上方圓拱的牆上有二十個圓框,繪畫上二十端玫瑰經奧蹟默想的主題,以幫助虔敬者默想歡喜、光明、痛苦、和榮福奧蹟。光明五端的圖像是在2006年加上的,因應聖教宗若望保祿二世在2002年10月16日所發出的宗座牧函《童貞瑪利亞玫瑰經》【Rosarium Virginis Mariae】。在這牧函,聖教宗若望保祿二世提議在原本的十五端玫瑰奧蹟中,另外加上光明五端,使玫瑰經奧蹟更完整。可以在此一提,聖教宗若望保祿二世是因閲讀了真福巴爾托洛·隆戈的寫作有感而發,決定為玫瑰經加上重要的光明奧蹟。

How ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ arrived in Hong Kong
At the beginning of the 20th century, the population in Hong Kong was increasing rapidly and Kowloon was developed as a base in supporting commercial activities in Hong Kong Island. Consequentially, districts in Kowloon started to prosper and naturally, inhabitants started to increase. Many inhabitants were Portuguese Catholics who had come from Macau to work and many had settled in Tsim Sha Tsui. Mass for the Catholics in Kowloon was celebrated in a loaned premises belonging to the Canossian Sisters, situated near Austin Road. However, soon it became obvious that this area could no longer meet the needs of the increasing faithful. The Portuguese Catholics petitioned to build a church and in October 1903, a generous Portuguese Catholic, Dr. Anthony Simplico Gomes, responded by donating the necessary funds to build a church on land released by the Canossian Convent. The foundation stone was laid on December 10th 1904 and construction was commenced. 

「龐貝聖母」怎樣來到香港
在二十世紀初,因香港的人口快速增長,九龍隨著發展成為香港島商業活動的後勤基地。於是九龍很多區域都自然地蓬勃起來,居民相應增加。居民很多都是從澳門來港謀生的葡萄牙天主教徒,並在尖沙咀安頓。當時,九龍區的主日彌撒是借用嘉諾撒修女在柯士甸道附近的一個課外活動場所來舉行。但是,過了不久,這場所明顯地不能再容納正不斷地增加的信眾。其中有一群葡萄牙的天主教徒特別要求建立一間正式的聖堂。得蒙俯聽,在1903年10月:一位葡萄牙天主教徒甘曼斯醫生竟慷慨地捐款興建新聖堂,並獲得嘉諾撒修院讓地。新的聖堂在1904年12月10日奠基興建。


Blessed Bartolo Longo 真福巴爾托洛·隆戈

At that time, devotion to ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ and Her Holy Rosary had spread rapidly across Europe due to the great efforts of Blessed Bartolo Longo. Many devotees flocked to Pompeii in South Italy to venerate the ‘Blessed Virgin of the Rosary’. These included the Portuguese since in those years, ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ had not yet appeared in Portugal. Thus, having a strong love for ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’, Gomes wished to offer the new Church to ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ with the name ‘Rosary Church’, as he desired to promote the Rosary prayer just like Blessed Bartolo Longo. Gomes intended that the Church be consecrated on May 8th 1905, the Feast Day of ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’, in memory of Our Lady. Henceforth, on May 8th 1905, the completed ‘Rosary Church’ was solemnly blessed and opened. 

那時候,全賴於真福巴爾托洛·隆戈的竭力推廣,「龐貝聖母」和「神聖玫瑰經」的敬禮在歐洲廣泛地被傳揚開去。千里迢迢來到意大利南部龐貝去瞻仰「玫瑰經之童貞榮福瑪利亞」的朝聖者絡繹不絕。這當然包括了很多葡萄牙人因為當時花地瑪聖母尚未顯現。由於甘曼斯醫生也對「龐貝聖母」有一份特愛和濃厚的感情,他希望把新建的聖堂奉獻給「龐貝聖母」。他也希望效法真福巴爾托洛·隆戈推廣玫瑰經,所以將聖堂以「玫瑰堂」為名。為了紀念「龐貝聖母」,甘曼斯醫生計畫將聖堂於1905年5月8日「龐貝聖母瞻禮」當日祝聖啟用。因此,新完成的「玫瑰堂」就在1905年5月8日舉行了隆重祝聖儀式及開幕禮。


Prior to the building of other churches in Kowloon, the ‘Rosary Church’ was known as the “Mother Church of the Catholics in Kowloon”. Faithful of all nationalities came together to form a strong Catholic community here. 

那時,在尚未有其他聖堂在九龍區興建之前,「玫瑰堂」可稱為「九龍區天主教的母堂」。在這裏不同國籍的教友逐漸地聚集了在一起, 並共同建立了一個強而有力的天主教團體。



Resemblance to the ‘Shrine of Pompeii’
Upon looking at an old historical photograph of the interior of the ‘Rosary Church’ (prior to reconfiguration) (see photo above on the left), it can be seen that there is a resemblance between the ‘Rosary Church’ in Hong Kong and the ‘Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii’ in Italy (see photo above on the right). Given Gomes’ admiration for ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ in Italy, the resemblance is not surprising. In the ‘Shrine of Pompeii’ (Italy), there are also twenty round icons which surround the original miraculous portrait of ‘Our Lady of Pompeii’, detailing the mysteries of the Rosary (see photo above on the right). The Luminous Mysteries at the ‘Shrine of Pompeii’ were only newly added in July 2018. 

跟「龐貝聖母大殿」不遑多讓
且看「玫瑰堂」聖堂內的舊照(未經維修前)(見左上圖),顯而易見的是香港的「玫瑰堂」和意大利的「龐貝神聖玫瑰經之童貞榮福瑪利亞聖殿」(見右上圖是很相似的。以甘曼斯醫生對「龐貝聖母」的愛慕,這兩座聖堂竟如此這般的相似,其實又真是沒有什麼可驚訝的。在意大利的「龐貝聖母大殿」裡,同樣地也有二十個圓框圍繞著「龐貝聖母」奇蹟畫像真跡,每一個圖像都細緻地描繪了玫瑰經的每端奧蹟(見右上圖。光明五端是在20187月新加添的。


‘Our Lady of Pompeii’ in Hong Kong today
Today, more than one hundred years since its foundation, the ‘Rosary Church’ finds itself situated in one of Hong Kong’s most vibrant and busy districts. Often one would even find tourists posing in front of the Church’s beautiful white and pink façade. Yet, upon entering the Church, a sense of calm and tranquility immediately enters the soul. Surprisingly, amidst all the hustle and bustle of the city, a quiet and safe refuge is found here. Devotees of Our Lady are kneeling silently in deep prayer, clutching Rosary beads tightly in their hands. And there upon Her throne, the ‘Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii’ gazes down gently upon Her children, from generations to generations. Her sweet smile melts away every worry, comforts every tear. Providentially, one does not have to look too far to find the miraculous ‘Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii’– proving once again, that She is always near to those who call upon Her. 

今日在香港的「龐貝聖母」
由落成直至今日,「玫瑰堂」已經歷超過100多年的歷史。它現正座落在香港其中最活力澎湃和極度繁忙的區域中。「玫瑰堂」甚至已成為一個遊覽香港的景點之一。不少遊客常站在聖堂美麗粉紅和白色的外牆前留下倩影。然而,當一進入聖堂,那裡自有令一番風味:一股寧靜和一份平安立即湧入靈魂的深處⋯⋯。真是驚奇 —— 在這營營役役的都市裡,竟然能找到一個平靜和安全的避難所。不少孝愛聖母的虔敬者在聖堂不同的角落,靜靜地跪祈禱,手裡緊握著玫瑰念珠。世世代代,龐貝神聖玫瑰經之后在她的寶座上,不斷地以慈目凝視她的小孩子。她甘飴的笑臉溶化每一個憂慮;安慰每一滴眼淚。眾裏尋「她」千百度,「龐貝聖母」卻在燈火闌珊處⋯⋯這是天主上智的安排!要尋找「龐貝玫瑰經之童貞瑪利亞」並不需要長途跋涉,翻山越嶺,穿山過水 —— 這真的證實了我們天上的母親常在呼求她的人身邊,給予安慰,不停地為他們代禱。


“And how does this happen to me, 
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
(Luke 1:43)

吾主的母親駕臨我這裡,這是我那裡得來的呢?
(路1:43

Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii, Pray for Us!

龐貝神聖玫瑰經之后,為我等祈!

***

Rosary Church (Hong Kong) 玫瑰堂(香港)
Address 地址:
125 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
香港九龍尖沙咀漆咸道南125
Parish Website 堂區網頁:https://rosarychurch.catholic.org.hk/

July 15, 2019

May 31, 2019

March 6, 2019

The Fifteenth Saturday: The Fifth Glorious Mystery - The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin and the Glory of All the Saints

MEDITATION

1. Neither human nor angelic tongue, says St. Epiphanius, can describe the honour and triumph with which Mary was welcomed in heaven on the glorious day of her Assumption. This alone can be said: that there never was and never shall be a greater, after the glory and triumph of her Son. No created mind, St. Bernard states, can grasp with what glory the Blessed Virgin entered into heaven, with what devotion she was welcomed by all the choirs of Angels, with what pleasure and delight she was received and embraced by her divine Son.

Consider therefore, my soul, how the Angels, after the Redemption had taken place, longed to have in heaven in body and soul both the God-Man and his Mother. And now the desire of the heavenly inhabitants is fulfilled.

As the Lord had wanted the Ark of the Testament to be introduced into the city of David with great glory, so now with an even nobler and glorious triumph he ordered his Mother to enter into heaven. The King of heaven himself, St. Bernardine tells us, went to meet her with all his heavenly court, and thus surpassed the glory of his own Ascension.

Consider how, shining with joy and splendour, he invited her saying: “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon!” (Song 4:8). And Mary, fairer than all other creatures altogether, rises from earth, crosses the spheres and arrives at the throne of the Most Holy Trinity. And the Angels, upon seeing her so beautiful and glorious, ask: “Who can this creature be who comes from the wilderness of the earth, a place of thorns and tribulations, so pure and rich in virtue, leaning on her beloved Lord?” “Who is she?” The Angels accompanying her reply: “This woman is the Mother of our King, she is our Queen, the blessed among women, full of grace, the saintliest of the saints, the beloved of God, the Immaculate, the dove, the fairest of all creatures.” Hear then the canticle of all the blessed Spirits who praise her: “You are the exaltation of Jerusalem, you are the great glory of Israel, you are the great pride of our nation!” (Jud 15:9).

St. Bernard contemplates that as on earth there was no place or temple worthier of God than the virginal womb of Mary, so in heaven there is no throne higher than the regal throne upon which she was placed by her Son. He placed her at his right hand, above all the choirs of Angels, to make as it were a separate choir with his humanity. He associated her to himself as his Mother, his Bride, the Co-Redeemer, his Collaborator in the Redemption of the world, and as Queen of the universe.

O glorious and blessed Virgin, I rejoice and am glad with you for the great glory you enjoy in paradise, seated at the right hand of your Son and established as Queen of Heaven and earth. O dear Virgin, the whole universe, by believing in your divine Son and in the true Church, acknowledges you as Mother and Queen, and rejoices that in you it has such a gracious Mother at God’s side, and such a great, loving and powerful Queen.

2. Now consider, my soul, how the Most Holy Trinity crowns Mary with the most precious crown. The Eternal Father places the crown of power on her head, granting to her, after Jesus Christ, dominion over all the creatures of heaven and earth and hell, so that the Spirits of darkness tremble at her name. To her, therefore, the words of the Psalmist can be applied: You have crowned her, O Lord, with glory and honour; you have placed her above all the works of your hands (cf. Psalm 8:6-7). The Son encircles her head with a crown of wisdom, as the Queen of heaven, of the Angels and of man redeemed by his blood; and the fruit of redemption he places in her hands. As the Queen of clemency he gives her the keys of divine Mercy. The Holy Spirit adorns her with a crown of charity and, as the Mother of beautiful Love, infuses her with God’s love as well as a burning love for her fellow creatures, and ardent zeal for their well-being and salvation. Behold her, therefore, become the wonder and admiration of the angelic hierarchy.

Moreover, the Virgin was crowned with the wreaths of virginity, martyrdom and learning, for she was the Virgin of virgins, a martyr in the passion of her divine Son and a teacher of our religion, instructing the teachers themselves in the mysteries of the faith.

Finally Our Lady was crowned with the crown of twelve stars, as it is written in Apocalypse: “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Ap 12:1). For just as the greatness and virtues of all the orders of Saints who are in heaven were united in her, so she was crowned with all their merits, represented by the twelve stars. There shone in her to the highest degree the faith and hope of the Patriarchs, the light and contemplation of the Prophets, the charity and zeal of the Apostles, the fortitude and magnanimity of the Martyrs, the patience and penance of the confessors, the wisdom and prudence of the doctors, the holiness and purity of the priests, the solitude and prayer of the hermits, the poverty and obedience of the monks, the charity and purity of the virgins, the humility and patience of the widows, with the fidelity and the harmony of the married Saints. And by them she was recognised as their Queen.

My soul, who can ever imagine the angelic symphonies, the melodies and canticles of the blessed Regions in praising God and the Queen of mercy? The great Virgin sits at the right hand of her Son, and seems to be saying to all generations: “The Lord has regarded the humility of his handmaiden, and has been pleased to let the riches of his grace shine in me. Therefore, come to me all of you who in this valley of tears and sorrow are oppressed and afflicted, I shall relieve you, for God has made me the cause of your joy.”

Yes, my adored Mother, I come in answer to your call. I am oppressed by the weight of my faults, I am prostrate, weighed down by the chains of sin. Yet great is my hope, O Queen, that you will deliver me! O my Mother taken up into heaven, reigning in body and soul in blessed glory; I believe you as such, and love and revere you. O Mary, send your light to illuminate the darkness of my spirit which lies buried in the gloom of bitter night. Let the rays burning in your holy love penetrate me, to kindle this lukewarm heart of mine with virtue, zeal and fervour. O divine Mother, do not allow my soul to perish in darkness. Surly I deserve every misfortune and punishment for my sins; yet, interposing your merits before Jesus, let your goodness deliver me from the punishments I deserve and obtain for me the favours I deserve not.

3. Behold, my soul, how all the saints of paradise come to greet her as Queen, from Adam and Eve to the Patriarchs, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob, and the Prophets and holy Virgins. “The maidens saw her and called her happy; the queens also, and they praised her” (cf. Song 6:9).

Then followed the martyrs and the confessors, her relatives, Elizabeth, Zechariah and the Baptist, her parents, Joachim and Anne, and her purest spouse, Joseph. Who can express the joy of all these, and their words of gladness and consolation? My soul, join your voice with the blessed choirs, as they exclaim:

Hail, O Queen of heaven,
Hail, O Queen of Angels;
Hail, sacred root, hail, O gate
whence light was born to the world.
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
the fairest of all,
and pray thy Jesus for us.

Now, if the human mind cannot comprehend the immense glory God has prepared in heaven for those who have loved him, who shall ever comprehend, notes St. Bernard, the glory He prepared for his beloved Mother, who on earth loved him more than all humans and Angels together?

Finally, Mary wishes us to contemplate in this last mystery not her glory alone, but also the glory of all the Angels and the Saints, as the glory of her vassals which is likewise unto her honour. This contemplation shall prompt us to do as the Saints did, to acquire glory.

Therefore consider, my soul: from heaven Mary invites you to contemplate in this mystery the glory of the Saints alongside her own; that glory which has been made ready for you too, to encourage you to begin and continue the path of virtue with perseverance. Thus the great Mother will always keep you in her company in the blessed kingdom. Then look towards paradise, and let the vision of so many Saints who were once weak and tempted like you, but by the grace of the Lord and through Mary’s intercession have now obtained this everlasting bliss, be an encouragement and comfort to you. Resolve therefore to do everything possible, to omit nothing, that may lead you to this infinite good: to live and reign with Jesus and Mary for ever.

If you are wanting in virtues, seek them from Mary on this day of her glorious triumph: especially, ask her for perseverance in her love, which is a sure pledge of predestination to glory.

Remember what Saint Alphonsus says: “He who is persevering in devotion to Mary, particularly in her Rosary, shall obtain final perseverance.” For as St. Augustine teaches us, final Perseverance is not a virtue one can acquire, but a gift granted to one as the reward of assiduous prayers. And what prayers are more efficacious than those which Mary addresses to her Son on our behalf?

O great and most glorious Lady, prostrate at the foot of your throne my soul venerates you from this valley of tears. Now that you are already enthroned as Queen of heaven and earth, do not forget me, your poor servant. Being so close to the source of graces, you can more easily furnish us with them. From heaven you see my miseries better, and so must have pity on me. Make me your faithful servant here on earth, that I may come to bless you in paradise. Today, as I contemplate you as Queen of the Universe, I consecrate myself to your service. In the midst of so much joy add to my consolation by accepting me as your son. You therefore are my Mother, and as Mother must save me. On this last of the Saturdays consecrated to you, grant me your love and everlasting devotion to your holy Rosary, and obtain for me final perseverance.

With you too I now rejoice, O blessed spirits and saints of paradise, because of the glory and unspeakable bliss you enjoy in God and with God. I too am destined to the same blessed glory, but shall never arrive if not with your virtues. Therefore, O angels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, hermits and all you saints, pray to your Queen for me, that through her mediation I become worthy of one day joining you in contemplating my God, and may glorify and bless Him, with Her, for ever and ever. Amen.

***

VIRTUE – Perseverance in devotion to Mary.

REFLECTION – Kneel today before an image of Mary and, declaring that you wish to be her faithful servant for all your life, offer her your thoughts, affections, works and entire being. Promise that you shall never neglect reciting at least five decades of her Rosary. Ask for her love and perseverance in your devotion to her for the rest of your life. Blessed are you if you arrive to reciting the fifteen decades of her holy Rosary every day: Mary has promised final Perseverance for the daily reciting of the Rosary.
Invite every soul to the devotion of Mary, distribute rosaries and advise the practice of the Fifteen Saturdays. If you want Most Holy Mary to come and assist you at the hour of death, always trust in her goodness, and love her as your Mother.

EJACULATION – O Mary, Queen of the angels and of the saints, You are the Queen of my heart.

* * * * * * * * * *

A READING
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII

GIOVANNI ROMINGERA Swiss Protestant is converted through the Virgin of Pompeii and dies on the evening of the last of the Fifteen Saturdays.

The rev. priest Nicolo Gori, the Assistant Parish Priest of the Cathedral of Volterra, wrote the following report which was published in the magazine Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei.

“Mr. Giovanni Rominger of Silvapiana in Switzerland had been living in Volterra for many years, and had taken Ferdinanda Redaelli as his wife.

He was not strongly against Catholicism as so many Protestants are; on the contrary, following the example of his wife, he felt some devotion to the Immaculate Virgin and to the Blessed Souls of Purgatory. However, he could not bring himself to forsake his own religion because he was too little instructed in the Catholic faith, and especially because he noticed that this faith was not even being particularly observed by Catholics themselves; indeed it was often mocked and derided by these very Catholics. The morning of October 4th of the year 1888 came, three days before the great feast of the Rosary. Mrs. Radaelli came to the bedside of her sick husband, and with loving care reminded him of his decision made at another time, to become Catholic. But he said,

“I am indifferent, regarding both Catholicism and Protestantism. Both are good in order for one to be saved.”

Upon hearing such a reply this devoted woman did not become discouraged; rather, concerned to save the soul of this man she dearly loved, she had a Mass celebrated. And full of trust in the help of the miraculous Virgin of the Valley of Pompeii, she took a small image sent to her by that Shrine, and showing it to the sick man, said,

“Look, this is the image of that miraculous Virgin of the Rosary, who by means of her miracles has involved the whole world in building a Temple for her in the Valley of Pompeii.”

And she read that part of the Novena to him which is attached to the Image.

Afterwards she placed the Image under her husband’s head, and went into the next room. Her heart torn by pain and her eyes turned towards heaven, she cried:

“Most Holy Mary, who pour out so many graces from Pompeii, grant me this favour: that my husband be converted! I do not ask this of you through my merits, because I have nothing but my sins, but through the merits of your Son who came into the world to save us all. Grant me this consolation: save my husband.”

Having said this prayer, she knelt down and began reciting the holy Rosary. Then, strengthened by a strong hope, she returned to the bedside of the sick man and asked him,

“Giovanni, do you want to become Catholic?”

“Yes, call the Bishop for me,” the dying man exclaimed all of a sudden: “I want to be baptized a Catholic.”

Ferdinanda, overwhelmed by joy, informed him that the Bishop was not necessary for one to be baptized; the Parish Priest would do. And so I was sent for.

I immediately went to Mr. Rominger and in few words explained to him the falseness of the Protestants’ principal errors. Seeing that he was already convinced, but was desirous of further instruction, I promised him we would continue as soon as he was better. Meanwhile, in the presence of two witnesses, I had him renounce his errors and profess the Catholic faith. Then according to the regulations of the Roman Rite I baptized him.

So great was the joy felt by the sick man that with true contrition he exclaimed:

“Oh, how happy I now am!”

He then asked for the small Image of Our Lady of Pompeii which Ferdinanda had placed under his head: he kissed it over and over again and placed it upon his heart, from where he would often hold it up.

On the following day, the 5th of October, a Friday, the sacraments of Penitence and Confirmation were administered to him. And on Saturday, the eve of the great feast of the Virgin of Pompeii, and the last of the Fifteen Saturdays consecrated by the devotees in her honour, Giovanni Rominger was united to Jesus Christ through holy Communion, and cancelled any remaining traces of sin with the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

That Saturday so dear to the devotees of Mary was drawing to a close. Three hours before midnight, that solemn hour which, beginning the great day of Mary, is sanctified in the Shrine of Pompeii with hymns and songs to the Queen of the Rosary, the soul of Giovanni Rominger, cleansed by the baptismal waters, flew to heaven to sing unto eternity the compassion of God and the glory of his Most Holy Mother, who had obtained for him the grace of conversion and of everlasting bliss.

FR. NICOLO GORI
Assistant Parish Priest
of the Cathedral of Volterra.”

February 24, 2019

The Fourteenth Saturday: The Fourth Glorious Mystery - The Assumption of Mary into Heaven

MEDITATION

1. Consider, my soul: for Mary also the hour of departure from this valley of darkness has arrived. Finally, after so many torments, she too can repeat the words of her Beloved: All is fulfilled: the prophecies, the spread of the Church of Jesus Christ, the heroism of all the virtues.

After the Ascension of her divine Son, she lived in Jerusalem with St. John the Evangelist, with whom she then retired into Ephesus. She later returned to Jerusalem where she lived until her death.

As in every other place, here too her life was dedicated to the love of God, to uninterrupted prayer and to the perfect practice of every virtue, especially that of most ardent charity towards her neighbour. She would often visit the places sanctified by the Mysteries and the presence of her divine Son, and was the consolation, Teacher and Mother of his Church.

The moment finally came which she so ardently desired, that of being for ever united to the Sovereign Good. Her spirit rejoiced in the love and desire of its Lord, and most wholeheartedly offered itself to happily return to its principle.

And you, my soul, bound to the misery of this earth, why do you not aspire to your homeland? Why do you so greatly fear leaving this life? What does this world offer you? What enchants you in this valley of tears? Pray to Mary, that she obtain for you detachment from the earth and the desire of everlasting treasures, and prepare you for death by the ardour of her holy examples!

When John heard from the Blessed Virgin that she was about to depart from this life, we read that her relatives and friends, and the Disciples, came in a great number to Mount Sion where the Mother of God then was, to contemplate her yet another time, express their love to her, listen to her last memories and recommend themselves to her prayers. Indeed, by divine providence, as St. Dionysius the Areopagite tells us, the holy Apostles too were there, who at that time were scattered throughout the world to preach the faith of Jesus Christ. All were weeping over the loss of so gracious a Mother, and so powerful an Advocate and Teacher, as the Damascene writes, and the Blessed Virgin was consoling everyone with her sweetest love, promising them all her help and intercession. 

May you too draw near this most gracious Lady, express your needs to her, seek her help, and through the merits of those holy Disciples ask that she obtain for you all the graces you desire. Have confidence, do not doubt, that our dear Mother will hear you. But remember the love of neighbour and the saving of souls, helping them as much as possible by your good example, by suitable warning, by patience, by charity and by praying to God for all the world. If you pay this homage to Mary, you can be sure that she will always be favourable to you.

O my sweet Mother, if only it had been my lot to be present at your felicitous passage! If only I could have kissed your sacred feet and recommended myself to your protection! However, because I did not have the pleasure of beseeching you then, I now kneel before the throne of your Majesty and recommend myself to you, glorious and immortal.

May you be present, I pray, at my bitter death and assist me in that tremendous moment on which depends my eternity, for the sake of this adored hour of your passage and triumph.

2. Consider how, the hour of Mary’s passage having arrived, her Divine Son came down from heaven accompanied by innumerable hosts of Seraphim. Think how He must have whispered the words of the Canticle “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past…” (Song 2:10). Quit the valley of tears where you have so greatly suffered for my sake. The voice of the turtledove, of your yearning heart, is heard in our land (cf. Song 2:12). Mary rejoiced exceedingly at this loving apparition, and her spirit was glad in Jesus her divine Son. And after receiving the Most Holy Eucharist from the very hands of Jesus, as St. John Damascene says, full of joy she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me once again according to your word. Into thy hands, O Son, I commit my spirit.” (ck. Lk 1:38; Lk 23:46). You gather to yourself this soul whom You created in your image and preserved from sin.

Behold, my soul, Mary is already departing for heaven; turning to those before her, she gives them her dear maternal blessing. You too draw near her feet and seek her blessing.

O dear Mother, I rejoice with you over your destiny and happiness, your glory and greatness. You well deserved, O Mary, to be so highly loved and glorified by God, for throughout life you thought only of loving and glorifying God.

However, I shall not quit this place till you will have blessed me. This is the last memory of the Mother who is about to leave her children orphaned and downcast. Recommend me to Jesus Christ, and have mercy on my misery. A loving glance from you, a kind recommendation, a word, a sound is sufficient to obtain every grace for me. Have pity on my mortal life, and at the hour of my death do not forget me, rush to my aid and assist me in my bitter agony.

My soul, if in death you wish to experience Mary the Mother of love, in life be a faithful child of Mary’s love. And if you desire that your death be accompanied by Jesus’ assistance, do not sever your heart from Jesus. Happy am I, should I love Jesus and Mary throughout my life! Blessed am I, should I die in their arms!

I promise you, O my God, to love no one but you, to think of no one but you alone. I recommend to you, O Mary, the tremendous passage of my soul.

A sweet melody resounded in the air accompanied by an angelic song which said: “Mary has been taken up into heaven amidst the rejoicing of Angels, who bless the Lord for having glorified their Queen. Open, O eternal gates, for the King of glory enters, and is leading his Beloved and our Queen.” The others were saying: “Who is she who comes from Lebanon leaning on her Beloved, like the Dawn appearing, beautiful as the Moon, shining as the Sun? She is a perfume sending out the fragrance of every virtue. She is a majestic olive tree, radiant in grace and beauty.”

Understand then, my soul: the Blessed Virgin, being free of original sin and any trace of present fault, does not lose her beauty; and the Lord wished that she rise into heaven, not by her own power, as Jesus, but by the power of God.

The glorification of her body in advance was a seal of the privileges of God’s Mother and of her Immaculate Conception. She was conceived in the blood of Adam, but through a very special grace without a shadow of his sin, completely pure, completely beautiful and immaculate. She became a mother while remaining the purest Virgin, a unique privilege granted to no other woman. It was therefore even more just that the glorification of her immaculate body be anticipated, this living temple of the Holy Spirit, with all the qualities of glorious bodies: agility, lightness, impassability and luminosity.

3. The light could not be divided from the sun. The light was Mary’s soul, rich in grace from the very moment of its creation; and the sun was her immaculate body, in which the Holy Spirit had formed the humanity assumed by the Word. The Church calls the Virgin choice as the Sun because she was privileged above all other creatures. And as the sun when setting leaves behind a golden light, so Mary at the setting of her mortal journey left to us the light of her examples, in all the theological and cardinal virtues, and especially in her fourfold purity: 1st. Purity of her body, by which she became the Mother of God. 2nd. Purity of her heart, by which she was the delight of the Holy Spirit in all the purest affections of her soul. 3rd. Purity in her faith in God which she preserved inviolate and fervent, and consequently she was teacher to the Apostles, consolation to new Christians and the seat of wisdom. 4th. Purity of intention, by which she directed everything to God and received everything from his hands, as a faithful handmaiden: joys and sorrows, humiliations and triumphs. She is therefore compared to the Cedar of Lebanon and to the Cypress of Mount Sion with its trunk towering towards heaven, and to the Palm in Cades.

Purity does not only regard the body, which is called chastity, but is the whole of all the virtues, which excludes any vice. As a result it belongs more to the soul, as the Psalmist says: “O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2).

In fact, God’s blessing has been promised to the one who keeps his or her conscience pure: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God his salvation” (Psalm 24:3-5).

All of Mary’s glory, therefore, proceeds from her being Immaculate and from being from the very first moment superior to the very Angels. And from that moment God was looking towards our age, when after nineteen centuries the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into Heaven were to be defined.

O holy immaculate Virginity of Mary, together with the Church I too shall exclaim that I know not with what words I may praise you!

O my sweetest Lady, you have already left earth, and have arrived in your kingdom where you reign Queen over all the choirs of Angels. I congratulate you for the very lofty privilege of your Assumption into Heaven. But remember, it was on behalf of us sinners that you were raised to such dignity and glory; you therefore have not lost, indeed have increased, your compassion towards us poor children of Adam. And so, from the great throne upon which you reign turn your merciful gaze upon me too, O Mary, and have pity on me. See me, help me. Observe what storms and dangers I must encounter until arriving at my life’s end. Through the merits of your blessed death, therefore, obtain for me love of perfection with purity of faith, of conscience, of heart and intention, that I may end my days in the grace of God. And on the day of the Lord may my body too rise glorious and come to kiss your feet in paradise, as I join the blessed Spirits in praising you and in singing your glories, as You deserve. Amen.

***

VIRTUE – Purity.

REFLECTION – The best way to glorify Mary on earth is to imitate her virtues, especially purity of conscience, avoiding every offence against God. To obtain this, for ever struggle against the most frequent and deliberated venial sin, and make every effort to avoid it. Strive to overcome your passions and acquire perfection, thinking that you will gain Mary’s special protection and love. This is the way to go straight to heaven and avoid purgatory. Pray to her every day to obtain for you her fourfold purity; that is, purity of the body, purity of the heart, purity of intention and purity of faith.

EJACULATION – O Mary, Mother of divine love, let me die to the world and live only for You.

* * * * * * * * * *

A READING
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII

IN MALTAThe conversion of a Protestant woman, Anna Charles, through the Fifteen Saturdays to the Virgin of Pompeii.

Anna Charles, of the Protestant faith, had been living in Malta for over twenty years. She married a teacher, Giuseppe Misued, who was Catholic, and they had a son.

The good Giuseppe and his sisters, also very fervent Catholics, had done everything in their power to persuade Anna to abandon her sect and embrace the Catholic religion, but she did not want to hear of it; indeed, she held their religion in contempt, and in particular the Sacraments of Confession and of Communion.

Quite a few learned priests were concerned about her conversion, in particular the late Fr. Alfonso Micalles of the Capuchins who worked for her conversion for years and years, but in vain.

In 1887 Anna became very ill. It was hoped that her very grave condition, the loving and concerned cares of those surrounding her, and the endless prayers addressed to God for her conversion would lead her to wiser counsel.

Since her health did not improve, the doctors ordered a very painful operation. In the Central Hospital of Malta Anna underwent a horrible amputation. She was reduced to an extreme state.

Once the wound was healed she left the hospital and passed several months of convalescence at home, still tenaciously clinging to her false religion.

Then, at the end of August of 1888, she became sick once again.

Therefore Giuseppe’s family begged the priest Andrea Debono, of Misida, a great devotee of the Virgin of Pompeii, to come and visit the poor sick woman and speak to her about religion.

He went, and had several conversations with her about this subject, but from what the obstinate woman asserted he understood that speaking with her was impossible. She demonstrated an implacable hatred toward her own husband and his family, toward the Maltese and their religion; in particular, she despised the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. Furthermore, her hatred became so diabolic that as soon as someone began speaking to her about religion, she would immediately break off all conversation.

Notwithstanding this, the pious Priest did not lose all hope, trusting in the power of the Virgin of the Rosary honoured in her very dear Shrine of Pompeii. He therefore recommended to his penitents to pray for this woman, to make Novenas to the Virgin of Pompeii, and to apply many Communions on her behalf.

A sister-in-law of Anna’s, Maria Misued, a woman of strong faith, asked Rev. Debono to celebrate a Mass in order to obtain the desired conversion. It was established that the mass would be celebrated on the following Saturday, September 15th, during the ceremony of the Fifteen Saturdays which were practiced there.

Meanwhile they wrote to Avv. Bartolo Longo in the Valley of Pompeii, asking him to have the young Orphans of the Rosary in the Shrine of Pompeii pray, to obtain the greatly desired conversion.

The days of the Novena made by these young orphans passed, and September 29th arrived, the fourteenth of the Fifteen Saturdays, on which Mary’s blessed death was commemorated, or better, her happy passage from this to eternal life. That was the day chosen by the merciful Queen of Pompeii to save from Satan’s clutches this soul for whom so many of Mary’s children were endlessly praying.

All that Saturday night Anna was not able to close her eyes in sleep. Mary’s eye was upon her, grace was working on that unhappy heart. Then came dawn of Sunday, the day of the Lord, and this Protestant woman, having hit the very bottom, was already changed into another. Quite suddenly and to everyone’s surprise she asked:

“Where is that priest? Hurry and call him, I want to see him as soon as possible!”

And then, as if a blindfold had fallen from her eyes, serene in countenance but with a certain urgency in her soul:

“I want to be baptized,” she cried, “I want to die a Catholic!”

At these unexpected words everyone burst into tears of consolation, and almost did not believe what they were seeing with their own eyes.

Fr. Debono was immediately sent for; however, he was on the point of ascending the pulpit in Misida. He answered that he would come immediately after his sermon.

But Anna, prompted by Mary’s grace, did not want to wait and so had him called a second time.

Meanwhile the Rev. Provost of the Birchircara Collegiate Church was sent. With indescribable feelings he received the abjuration of the Protestant convert, and immediately baptized her in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“Amen”, all those present responded, with warm tears of tenderness and compunction.

At that moment the reverend Debono entered the house. At first glance she no longer appeared a mortal creature, but an angel.

She received him with extraordinary joy and asked his pardon for not having awaited him.

They began preparing her for Confirmation, without delay. The Excellent Msgr. Antonio Maria Buhagiar, as a loving father, came that night to the bedside of the dying woman, and as the Lord’s anointed laid his hands on the newly baptized woman: upon this soul which the baptismal waters had purified the Sanctifying Spirit descended.

There now only remained the final Sacrament of Extreme Unction to make the soul of Anna Charles blissful unto eternity. This too was administered to her with the holy Indulgences and all the other blessings of the Catholic Religion.

After fifteen hours of the sweetest agony, perfectly resigned to God’s most holy will, with the Beads of the Holy Rosary in her hands and embracing the Crucifix, Anna peacefully gave up her soul to her Creator.

Our great Queen of Heaven and of the earth never denies a grace of any sort, when honoured with the efficacious practice of the Fifteen Saturdays, and at the same time invoked by the title so pleasing to her maternal Heart, the title of the Queen of the Rosary, of the Valley of Pompeii.

(From the magazine IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI)