Sunday, February 20, 2011

Songs for the Blessed Virgin Mary


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The Rosary and the Battle of Lepanto (detailed)




When Saint Pius V ascended the throne of Saint Peter early in 1566, Christendom faced extreme peril. The Huguenots had been waging a particularly violent war in France since 1562; the Spanish Netherlands exploded in revolt later in the year; England, having gone from schism to heresy, was openly assisting all the anti-Catholic forces; but the greatest danger came from the constricting tentacles of Muslim aggression throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.
Don Juan of Austria, the supreme commander of the Holy League against the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.
The defense of Malta understandably raised Christian spirits, but it was only a defensive action. The powerful Ottoman fleet, still intact, continued to raid Christian lands. The year after that strategic triumph, Ali Pasha, who commanded the naval forces in Malta, captured Chios, the last Genoese position in the Eastern Mediterranean and through treachery murdered the ruling Giustiniani family. Then for three days the Mohammedans roved over the island, massacred all the inhabitants and destroyed everything Catholic. Two boys in the Giustiniani family, aged ten and twelve, were martyred. The younger boy, almost cut to pieces, was told to hold up one finger if he wished to apostatize and live. He clenched his fists so tight that they could not be opened even after death.
Some months later, Suleiman led another of those huge armies—always at his disposal—of 200,000 men and 300 cannons up the Danube River Valley toward Vienna. But instead of focusing on his main objective, he allowed himself to be distracted by a minor irritant in southwestern Hungary. The small, walled town of Szigetvar and its Croatian overlord, Count Zriny, who was cut from the same cloth as Skanderbeg, continued to resist occupation. Like most tyrants, Suleiman would not accept what he saw as insulting behavior and so deviated from his original plan. After losing several weeks just transporting his cumbersome equipment over difficult terrain, he was tied down another five weeks by the heroic resistance of the Hungarians. Zriny died leading a final charge with a sword in his hand and praise of Jesus on his lips. However, Suleiman could not enjoy any satisfaction from his misdirected effort, for he had died the night before. Vienna would have to wait for another day. Selim II, known as the Sot because of his drinking habits, took over the throne in Constantinople, having already eliminated all rivals in his family, and plotted the next attack on Christianity.

The Pope of the Rosary
From the moment of his elevation, Saint Pius V, through his experience and extraordinary vision, not only recognized the grave peril to Christendom but also saw the solution; the Ottoman power could be broken solely by means of a crusade; and crusades are won not only on the battlefield but also in the spiritual life, that is, on the supernatural level. Spain and Venice, as we shall see, viewed the Turks as a threat to their material welfare—as indeed they were—but the holy Pope also saw them as a threat to the order that God Himself placed in the world and for that reason employed the weapons of spiritual warfare.
Saint Pius V increasingly asked for more prayers from pious Catholics, especially from the monks and nuns in their cloisters. If he asked for more sacrifices from others, he certainly intended to carry his portion of the burden by doubling his accustomed exercises of piety and mortification. A devotion to which he gave special attention was the Rosary, so much so that he was called the “Pope of the Rosary.”1 In fact, the great saint secured the uniformity of recitation of the Hail Mary through a Papal Bull published in 1568.
Maps showing the positions of the Christians (red) and of the Turks (black) in the naval battle off the coast of Greece at 10:30 a.m. and noon.









The Holy League

While Saint Pius V was trying to organize an effective alliance against the increasing danger, another Muslim provocation illustrated the precarious situation. During the Christmas season of 1568, the pent-up hatred of the “converted” Moors, known as Moriscos, burst forth in all its massive cruelty. Savage tortures were employed against their victims before they were violently dispatched, especially against humble village priests and their altar boys. If they called on Jesus or His Blessed Mother for strength, their tongues were cut out or their mouths were loaded with gunpowder and ignited. These descendants of the invaders who had nearly destroyed Christian Spain during an occupation lasting eight centuries again drenched the country in blood.
Ferdinand Braudel in his acclaimed work on the Mediterranean2 remarked that there was no doubt about the links between the Spanish rebels and the corsairs of Algeria, the latter being staunch allies of the Turks. The Barbary pirates brought men, ammunition, and weapons to the southern Spanish coast and took Christian prisoners as payment, thus introducing another thread in the noose strangling Catholic Europe.
Initial attempts to subdue the well-organized revolution met with failure until Don Juan of Austria was placed in overall command. A soldier who possessed all the extraordinary abilities of leadership, including judgment and courage, he vigorously and relentlessly pursued a campaign that destroyed the enemy strongholds and brought the survivors to their knees. Meanwhile, all the courts of Europe were informed that extensive preparations for greater aggression were visibly under way at Constantinople.
Only a saint who lived daily in God’s presence and His benevolent power could have assessed the seemingly insurmountable difficulties of forming an anti-Turkish league and then going forward with such energy and tenacity.3 Saint Pius V repeatedly sent out requests to the counts of Europe to join the crusade; yet, one treacherous or indifferent monarch after another excused himself. Spain, which could be motivated by Catholic considerations, and the Republic of Venice, whose territories were most vulnerable, did not refuse; nevertheless, they sent evasive replies.
Spain, alone among the Europeans, was willing to contribute its resources in men and material, although it had difficulty in seeing beyond its narrow interests. On the other hand, Venice, basically unreliable in any idealistic cause, was willing to fight only when its commercial interests were threatened. Yet Saint Pius V was finally able to bring the greatest power in Europe and the possessor of the largest fleet in the Mediterranean to the bargaining table.
Once there, the skillful and occasionally duplicitous negotiators, mutually distrustful and desirous of financial advantage, began to haggle over every possible issue. Throughout the long, agonizing months, the Pope’s overpowering personality swept aside all obstacles to force a decision. Although sick and in constant pain, the indomitable Pontiff finally concluded an agreement with the two shortsighted governments in March 1571.
According to the treaty, the choice of its supreme commander was reserved for the Pope. Behind his sumptuous chapel adorned with gold cloth and silver vessels was a bare, miserable oratory where the Dominican monk would go in the early morning hours to pray unobserved. Prostrated on the cold stones before a crucifix and with deep groans, the holy monk appealed to God for guidance. The Pope then went into the rich chapel to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When he reached the Gospel of Saint John, he began to read, “Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomem erat Joannes!” (“There was a man from God whose name was John!”).4 Turning his face toward the Virgin, he paused and realized that the commander of the crusade was to be Don Juan of Austria. The choice of this truly great crusader was of inestimable value, for the lack of competent leadership caused several scandalous failures during previous decades.

The Battle of Lepanto
The Battle
In the middle of September, the largest Christian fleet ever assembled sailed out from Messina in Sicily to seek out and destroy the Muslim fleet commanded by the Sultan’s brother-in-law, Ali Pasha. Saint Pius V granted all members of the expedition the indulgences of crusaders. Not one of the 81,000 soldiers and sailors had failed to confess and receive Holy Communion.
The immense fleet moved eastward across the Ionian Sea in a file stretching out for nearly ten miles. Ten days later it arrived at Corfu off the northwestern coast of Greece. The Turks had ravaged the place the month before and left their usual calling cards: burned-out churches, broken crucifixes, and mangled bodies of priests, women, and children.
Here the animosity between the Italians and Spanish that festered just below the surface almost erupted when the Venetian commander, the crusty, battle-scarred old Sebastian Veniero, hung four argumentative Spaniards from his yardarm. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. Don Juan wondered if the Christians would annihilate one another before the enemy was even sighted.
Then word arrived: “Ali Pasha is in Lepanto!” A long thin body of water, known as the Gulf of Corinth, separates central Greece from the Peloponnesus, the southern peninsula. About a quarter of the way into the inlet from the west sits Lepanto, the fortified headquarters of the Turkish fleet.
From Corfu the fleet worked its way down the northwest coast of Greece. On October 5 came the infuriating news that Christendom had suffered another cruel indignity from the Ottomans. Cyprus, the jewel of Venice’s far-flung island possessions, had been attacked the year before. The besieged capital, Nicosia, had fallen quickly, and its twenty thousand survivors had been massacred. The fortified city of Famagusta held out for another year due to the courageous leadership of Marc Antonio Bragadino, its governor. With no hope of relief in sight and starvation and disease reducing the population, Bragadino agreed to what appeared to be honorable terms and surrendered. In an act of unbelievable treachery, the Turkish general, three days later, hacked the Venetian officers to death. For the next week, Bragadino was horribly mutilated and then flayed alive.
At sunrise on Sunday morning, October 7, the chaplains on each ship were celebrating Mass as the vanguard of the fleet cruised south along the coast, turned the corner at the headlands, and entered the Gulf of Corinth. Since dawn the Turks had been moving in their direction from the east, with the advantage of having the wind at their back. While the ships of the League maneuvered from file to line abreast, Don Juan, with crucifix in hand, passed by each galley shouting encouragement and was met, as he made his way through the line, with tremendous applause and enthusiasm. By using tact and understanding, and forcefulness when necessary, he had welded many disparate elements into a united fleet.
The young crusader divided his force into four squadrons. On the left, he placed the soft-spoken but fierce-fighting Venetian Agostino Barbarigo. Don Juan led the central squadron, ably supported by Veniero and the papal commander, Marc Antonio Colonna. The cautious Gian Andrea Doria controlled the fate of the right wing. Only the Christians displayed their forces in such a way as to create a reserve squadron, and they had the good fortune of having this under the command of the Marquis de Santa Cruz, the Holy League’s most respected admiral.
Although the Christian galleys were outnumbered, 274 to 208, they had superior firepower in cannon and harquebuses, while the Turks relied mostly on bows and arrows. By nine o’clock the two lines were fifteen miles apart and closing fast. Just before contact was made, the wind that had been favoring the Turks shifted around from the east to the opposite direction. The Christians drew first blood when their huge, though unwieldy, galleys fired many rounds of cannon shot with devastating effect. But because of their lack of maneuverability, the floating batteries quickly passed out of action.
Alvaro de Bazan, first Marquis de Santa Cruz, commander of the reserve squadron of the Holy League. Painting by Andrea F. Phillips
Barbarigo’s counterpart, Mohammed Sirocco, made a quick dash between the Venetian commander’s left wing and the shore line, hoping to swing around and trap Don Juan’s squadron from behind. Barbarigo quickly slid over and intercepted the Turks, but several galleys had slipped by and attacked him from the rear. When his squadron closed in to help, Barbarigo, standing in the midst of fierce struggle, lifted the visor of his helmet to coordinate their attack. An arrow pierced his eye; mortally wounded, he was carried below. However, his quick, self-sacrificing action had prevented Sirocco’s flanking movement. The Christian left then trapped the Muslim wing of fifty-six galleys against the shore and methodically destroyed it.
The center of both lines bore down heavily on each other without any thought of subterfuge or trickery. The Muslims were yelling, screaming, and banging anything that would make noise. The Christians were in an ominous silence, weapons in one hand, rosaries in the other. Usually, the flagships stand off from the heat of battle, but not this time; both supreme commanders set a hard course for each other. Ali Pasha’s Sultana gained the initial advantage by ramming into the Reale up to the fourth rower’s bench. Don Juan grappled the two ships together and boarded. Instantly, a dozen Turkish ships closed in behind Ali Pasha, supplying him with thousands of janissaries. Veniero and Colonna hugged the Reale from either side. Reinforcements arrived from other galleys. Some two dozen ships became interlocked, thus forming a floating battlefield. The battle raged back and forth over the blood-soaked, carnage-strewn decks.
Many in the Christian fleet performed magnificent acts of valor. The ferocious old Veniero stood at his prow in full view, firing shot after shot while his young servant reloaded. A Sicilian sergeant, rather than die of disease, jumped out of his sickbed, went on deck, and killed four Turks before dying from nine arrow wounds. The duke of Parma, companion to Don Juan and future military genius, jumped aboard a Muslim galley and cut down the first twelve men he faced.
Finally, Don Juan, huge broadsword in one hand and an axe in the other, led an attack across the Sultana that ended in the death of Ali Pasha. From that point on the spirit and fighting capacity of the Turks declined.
One last hope for the Ottomans remained. Aluch Ali, the clever Barbary corsair, out-foxed Doria by dragging him too far to the Christian right. He then cut back and slipped through the opened hole. Cardona, with a handful of galleys, attempted to block him but was wiped out. Santa Cruz, who was giving valuable support to the center squadron, broke away to intercept Aluch Ali. The latter, seeing his opportunity for an unhindered attack on the Christian rear disappear, fled to the open sea with just a few of his ships. Most of his squadron was destroyed when Doria wheeled about and assisted Santa Cruz in finishing the weakened Ottoman fleet.
The Holy League had achieved an overwhelming victory in the largest sea battle fought up to that time. The Ottoman Empire lost about 240 galleys and saw 30,000 killed. The League suffered a trifling 12 galleys sunk; 7,600 men were killed.
At the time the battle was won, Saint Pius V was studying financial sheets with the papal treasurer. He rose, went to the window and looked toward the east. When he turned around his face was radiant with supernatural joy, and he exclaimed, “The Christian fleet is victorious!”5 After human agencies verified the news two weeks later, Saint Pius V added the Feast of the Holy Rosary to the Church calendar and the invocation Auxilium Christianorum to the litany of Our Lady, since the victory was due to her intercession.    


Notes:
1. C. M. Antony, Saint Pius V: Pope of the Rosary (New York: 1911), 77.
2. Ferdinand Braudel, The Mediterranean (New York: 1973), 1061.
3. For a complete and accurate account of the difficulties, see Ludwig von Pastor, History of the Popes (St. Louis, Mo.: 1929), vol. XVIII.
4. Father Luis Coloma, Story of Don John of Austria (London: 1913), 215.
5. Robin Anderson, Saint Pius V (Rockford, Ill.: 1978), 78. Several biographers use a longer quotation. See Antony, op. cit., 91.

The 15 Promises of Our Lady to those who pray the Rosary with Devotion


(from St. Dominic and Blessed Alan de la Roche)



1. Whosoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest Graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against Hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.

4. It will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant Mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men [and women] from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal Things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

6. Whosoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself [herself] to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the Grace of God, and become worthy of Eternal Life.

7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.

8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the Light of God and the plenitude of His Graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise.

9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of Glory in Heaven.

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.

12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire Celestial Court during their life and at the hour of death.

14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons, and brothers of my only Son, Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Rosary Saves Man’s Life on September 11

A man from New York who had fallen away from the Catholic Church and not gone to confession in years was met at a TFP Fatima presentation given by America Needs Fatima Custodian, Jose Ferraz.

After the visit, the New Yorker took home a Rosary and Rosary Guide and started praying it and going to the sacraments again. Months later, on September 11, 2001, he was in the World Trade Center at the very moment when the terrorist attack took place.

Seeing the fireball and smoke from the crash, the man fled his office and tried running down the stairs to safety. However, he met a big obstacle. The fire doors had locked and he was trapped in the stairwell, listening to the screams of burning people who were still inside the building, unable to escape death. It was awful—horrific. Any attempt to pry open the fire doors with bare hands would be futile.

With Our Lady’s help, instead of panicking, he felt calm. He grabbed his Rosary and started praying to the Blessed Mother for help. And within minutes, firemen reached his floor, broke down the fire doors and set him free. He ran downstairs to safety, his prayers answered thanks to the power of the Most Holy Rosary.

The Rosary and the Fatima Message

Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children, Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco, at the Cova de Iria, near Fatima, Portugal. During six visits, Our Lady communicated to them a secret which had three parts. The first part was a vision of Hell. During this vision, Sister Lucia said numerous souls fell into Hell like “snowflakes.”

In the second part, Our Lady states that WWI would end, but “if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.”

As Our Lady predicted, World War II erupted and the errors of atheist Communism spread. Our Lady added that many will be martyred and nations will be annihilated, if people do not convert. Have people converted? The answer is no. Can Divine punishment be avoided? It depends on the world’s fidelity to Our Lady’s requests.

Lucia asked Our Lady during the apparitions, “Who are you and what do you want?” Our Lady responded, “I am the Lady of the Rosary, and I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. People must not continue to offend the Lord, Who is already so deeply offended. They must say the Rosary.”

Therefore, Our Lady gave us a solution: the recitation of the daily Rosary for the conversion of sinners. The Fatima message is a remedy for our culture immersed in sin. If it were not for Our Lady’s promise that “Finally, My Immaculate Heart will Triumph,” we would be much dismayed and disheartened. So let us heed her requests. Let us practice the First Saturday devotions. Let us pray the daily Rosary. By fulfilling these requests, we will be consoling the sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and hasten the triumph of good over evil.

Holy Rosary Crusade of Reparation

After World War II, Austria was divided between four countries: America, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. At the time, Russia was still communist. The section of Austria controlled by the communists was the richest, and included the city of Vienna. The Viennese were subject to the all the atrocities and tyrannies of communism. However, in 1946, Fr. Petrus Pavlicek, after making a pilgrimage to Mariazell, the principle Marian shrine in Austria, was told by an interior voice: “Do as I say and there will be peace.”

To obey this inspiration of Our Lady, Fr. Pevlicek founded the Holy Rosary Crusade of Reparation in 1947. This Crusade consisted of the Viennese faithful coming out of their homes in order to participate in a public Rosary procession in the streets of the city. The intentions of the Rosary were for the end of communism in their country and in the world. At first, the processions were miniscule, but in time they grew to staggering proportions. In 1955, after eight years spreading the word about the Crusade throughout Austria, the Rosary processions would reach sizes of half a million people, about 1/10 of the Austrian population. Finally, through the help of Our Lady, the Soviet forces pulled out of Austria in October of 1955, leaving the country for good.

The Rosary and the Battle of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto was a crucial conflict between the Christians and the Ottoman Turks, one of the greatest naval battles of all time. The Christian lands around Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean were constantly getting sacked by Muslim pirates, and Imperial warships were ravaging the land. At this point in time, Pope Saint Pius V saw it appropriate to raise a Crusade against these heathen Muslims. After raising a Crusade, he asked every non-combatant across the whole Christian world to pray the Rosary.

Even after this call to arms, the Christian fleet at Lepanto was greatly outnumbered by the Ottoman Turks. The Crusaders got on their knees and began to pray the Rosary. Soon after, the Christians and the Muslims were immersed in a bloody battle. Thus it was that on October 7, 1571, the Christian fleet was blessed with a miraculous victory. Pope Saint Pius V immediately dedicated the victory to Our Lady, establishing October 7 as “The Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

The Rosary and Saint Dominic Defeat Heresy

The Rosary—as spiritual weapon against evil—has a very long and precious history. In twelfth and thirteenth century France, a group of heretics known as the Albigensians was destroying the minds of the Catholic laity with its erroneous ideas. The Albigensians’ teachings encouraged suicide, many times by self-induced starvation, because they believed that the body was an intrinsic evil and that the soul must be liberated from matter at all costs. However, as history often shows, Providence raises up great Saints in times of dire crises. This time it was no different. Saint Dominic, born of noble lineage, received the Rosary from Our Lady in the year 1214. Our Lady gave Saint Dominic the Rosary as a weapon to combat the awful Albigensian heresy.

The Rosary as we know it today took some time to develop. After Saint Dominic died in the year 1221, the Rosary was almost immediately forgotten. However, in 1464 Our Lord, Our Lady, and Saint Dominic appeared to Blessed Alan de la Roche, a Dominican friar, after which he preached the Rosary until his death in 1475. This tremendous apostolate by Blessed Alan de la Roche, through the direct intercession of Our Lady, made the Rosary a widespread devotion. The fifteen mysteries as we know them came about through the many confraternities founded after Blessed Alan de la Roche’s preaching, and were formalized with Pope Saint Pius V’s encyclical, Consueverunt.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Romance of a South Sea Pearl

There was no Dominican Father in Zamboanga, as yet, when a moro pearl-diver had confidently gone to sea one early May morning. At least, he had not heard of any. 

A sturdy, bronze-sinewed fellow, he had, for sometime now, substituted his father in the family chore of fishing pearls & selling them at ridiculously low prices to support three younger brothers and two sisters. 

Everybody knew him well, a veritable "chip off the old block', for this diver's father had been the best pearl fisher for miles around. Now he was perpetuating the "old man's" glories.

The day before, a bearded missionary had told him and twenty others - catechumens all - about the Santo Rosario, whose miraculous image was revered in far away Manila. He could not now recall how or why did the religious come to talk to them of that Virgin. Possibly the fact that they were now in May - the Virgin's month - or that the miracles of La Naval de Manila has just been officially proclaimed so, has moved the 'fisher of men' to talk to them, 'pearl fishers', about the Santo Rosario. At any rate, the pearl-diver wasn't so sure that morning.

It came to happen then, that our man, whilst probing the depths of the azure southern waters, caught sight of a dazzling pearl, of gigantic proportions, nestled in the softness of an open mother-o'-pearl. Now, there was some gem! he thought and quickly made for it! 

As he engages himself in cutting out the ligaments that held the jewel to the recesses of the mother-o'-pearl, this suddenly closed itself, and thus caught the moro's hand! 

In no time, he exerted himself vigorously to extricate his imprisoned hand. He was at quite some depth and all his violent motions brought not a ripple nor a stir to the surface of the water. He, therefore, could not expect help from his colleagues. Whatever little air was left in him was quickly being expended with the great efforts of our man to set himself free from the murderous grip of the shell. His heart beats began to falter. His strength was leaving him. The telling hue of deep scarlet was noticeable in his recoiling body.


Then, came the light! He remembered the Santo Rosario and her wonder; he recalled, La Naval, an eminently sea-victory. The Mother of God would aid those at sea, then. So, he lifted up his heart and mind to the Virgin of the Most Holy Rosary, and, in exchange of his safe release from sure death, he would go all the way to Manila and offer that pearl to Her, Queen of the Sea.

Even before he had time to fully finish his supplication, the mother-o'-pearl broke in two and he was free. Quickly he rose to the surface, where, detected by his friends, who had noticed his beleaguered face, rescued him and brought him safely ashore.

Soon the moro pearl-driver left Zamboanga. With but the missionary's letter of introduction [for he had not told anyone of the incident, but had only confided it to the padre] and the pearl, safely tucked in his waist pocket, he came to Manila and went directly to the Convent of Santo Domingo. 

In sincere, if incorrect, language he appraised the Dominican Fathers of his intention and gave the Father Prior the dazzling gem. He then, led by the friars, went to the altar of the Santo Rosario, where, kneeling piously, uttered a prayer of thanks & veneration. 

The Virgin must have smiled at him, for he left - back to Zamboanga - in complete bliss!

******************************

Not long after, a lowly creature hid himself in the dark recesses of the Church of Santo Domingo and waited for midnight. When the sacred place had been closed for the day, the thief - for he had come to rob Our Lady of that pearl, which everybody had already occasion to admire - stealthily made his way to the throne of the Santo Rosario. Most impiously climbing the altar, he reached the niche of the Virgin, lifted up the silken blue curtain, and extended his hand... covetingly towards the south sea pearl.

"¿Por qué me roba usted cuándo no le daño?" - Why dost thou rob me when I harm you not...?


The voice was a woman's. The thief had made sure, a few moments ago, that he was alone inside the church. And the voice came directly from the image! Our man was lost! He trembled and frightfully tumbled down, causing some commotion. But, the friars had gone to bed a long time ago and the cloisters were quite a distance away.

The early hours of the morning, saw the lay brother aghast at the sight of an unconscious man, half naked and rubbed with oil, at the foot of the Virgin's throne. The Dominican friars, having been quickly summoned, shook the man to consciousness and from him heard the wondrous tale of the Virgin's recrimination.



Since then, and following the thief's conversion, our people have had a high regard for the Virgin's jewels. 

Our Lady has, thus, given ample proof that She would not betray the unsullied gratitude of that moro pearl-diver, who had come to her all the way from far Zamboanga, where, in her southern waters, "he had caught sight of a dazzling pearl, of gigantic proportions, nestled in the softness of an open mother-o'-pearl!" and had wanted it for Her, Queen of the Sea: Mary of the Most Holy Rosary!

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