Tag Archives: Catholic history

The Miraculous Image of Our Lady with the Bowed head

Our Lady of the Bowed Head
Our Lady of the Bowed Head                             pineterest.com

By Larry Peterson

“The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God.” St. John Damascene

Pictures and statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been carved, chiseled, painted, or made in some way by many people from all over the world since the beginnings of the Catholic church. The numbers are too many to count.  One of these is a picture of the Blessed Mother that was originally found in a pile of trash. It is called Our Lady of the Bowed Head.

The story of the picture begins in Sicily in 1610. A Carmelite monk, by the name of Dominic of Jesus and Mary, was charged with inspecting an old, broken-down house to see if it might be suitable to convert into a monastery. As he walked around the grounds, he passed a pile of trash. Giving the debris a cursory look, Friar Dominic kept on walking. Suddenly he stopped. Something or someone was telling him to go back and look closer at the trash.

He heeded the prompt and returned to the garbage pile. He grabbed a broken stick and began separating the mounds of junk. When he saw the edge of a picture frame, he paused. He carefully pushed away the debris that surrounded what he now realized was a painting. Rescuing the artwork from its impending fate, he pulled it out and discovered it was an old oil painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He could not believe someone had thrown such a beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother in the garbage. Friar Dominic wrote that the first thing he did was to apologize to Mary. He said, “I am sorry, dear Mother, that someone has treated thy image in such a terrible manner. I will take it back to the monastery with me and fix it up, and I will give thee the homage which thou so rightly deserve.”

Dominic did indeed, take it back to the monastery, and restore it as best he could. He hung the picture in his cell and every day gave Mary the attention, reverence, and devotion that was due her. He prayed to Our Lady with an increased exuberance asking her for the graces to please Jesus in all things.

One day when Dominic was cleaning his cell, the sunlight happened to land on the picture. Dominic thought there was dust on the painting and went over to clean it. The humble friar felt that he had been remiss in his duties and, raising his eyes to heaven,  apologized profusely to Our Lady for having neglected her painting. He even apologized for using the old rag he had.

As he proceeded to dust the picture, Our Lady’s face began to move, and she smiled at the priest. Dominic was not sure what was happening and then Our Lady spoke to him saying, “Fear not, my son, for your request is granted! Your prayer will be answered and will be part of the reward, which you will receive for the love that you have for my Son Jesus and myself.”

She proceeded to tell him that she would grant him any favor he wanted. He asked for Her to help his friend be released from Purgatory. She told him,  Dominic, my son, I will deliver this soul from Purgatory if you will make many sacrifices and will have many Masses offered for this soul.” Then the apparition of Mary faded away.

The apparition of Our Lady vanished, and Friar Dominic remembered the words of the Holy Virgin when she promised to answer the prayers of all who would honor and pray to her before the miraculous image. He knew he had to share it with everyone and the painting was placed in the Oratory of St. Charles located next to the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale.

The painting remained in the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale until Dominic’s death in 1630. Then it was loaned to the Duke of Bavaria, Maximilian. Later it was loaned to Emperor Ferdinand II and then returned to the Carmelite Fathers after Ferdinand’s death in 1655. In 1901 a new church was built in Vienna and the image was given a place of honor there.

Today it is in the monastery Church of Vienna Dobling. September 27, 1931, it was solemnly crowned by Pope Pius XI – the 300th anniversary of its arrival in Vienna.

Fr. Dominic was declared Venerable by St. Pius X in 1907.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Sister Mary Ephrem—God’s ‘Little White Dove’ and the apparitions of Our Lady of America

By Larry Peterson

Mildred Marie Neuzil was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on August 2, 1916. A few days later Mildred was baptized in Most Holy Trinity Church on Montrose St. in Brooklyn’s, Williamsburg section. Shortly after that, Mildred’s mom and dad moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Mildred’s dad, a home builder, had heard there was more opportunity in the Cleveland area and off they went.

There was a pronounced spirituality that surrounded Mildred. At the age of 14, she entered the religious congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, in Dayton, Ohio. When she was 17, she made her first vows as a professed religious and was given the name, Sister Mary Ephrem, a name that means “doubly fruitful.”

Sister Mary Ephrem’s duties were a combination of domestic chores and teaching kindergarten. When she was 21 years old, she was sent to work at the Chancery in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was here she would meet a holy man who would, as time went by, become her confessor and her mentor. He would also become an archbishop. His name was Father Paul Leibold. Neither of them had any idea of the special plans God had for each of them.

It was in 1940 when Sister Mary began receiving interior messages and revelations with specific detail and clarity. These messages were coming directly from Jesus and she was being told that her mission was going to be one that would help provide for the sanctification of the family. She began maintaining a diary and documenting all of these things.

One of the quotes taken from her diary was as follows; “Pray, pray, pray, oh My Little White Dove. Pray and sacrifice yourself for the souls of poor sinners. How many are lost because there are no prayers said for them, no sacrifices made for them.”

Jesus even gave Sister Mary a message for Father Leibold. He told her to tell him, “—not to become discouraged at the crosses awaiting him, for I the great High-Priest, go before him carrying the heaviest part of his cross—I seek only the humble and lowly of heart.”

It was after this message that she turned to Father Leibold for guidance. The priest had only been ordained a short time before. The year was 1940. He would be her confessor and her advisor until he died in 1972.

Before 1956, Sister Mary spent time in many different locations. She worked in Rome City, Indiana; Denver, Colorado; North Dakota; back to Cincinnati, and on to Ottawa, Ohio. Here she was visited by St. Michael the Angel of Peace to prepare her for what lie ahead. She was told that Satan would do everything to keep her from doing what Jesus wanted.

The Blessed Mother first appeared to Sister Mary Ephrem on September 25, 1956. She was wearing a blue mantle and a white robe like Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady gave Sister Mary a message which was a promise of  “great miracles of the soul” for her children in the United States if they would heed the call for repentance. She also expressed her pleasure in the fact that the American Catholic Church had dedicated a national shrine to her in Washington D.C.

The very next day, on September 26, Our Lady appeared to Sister Mary holding a lily in her right hand. She was dressed all in white without any decorations of any kind. Her veil was white and reached to her waist. Her mantle and robe were also pure white and a gold clasp held her mantle together. She wore a golden crown and her heart was encircled with roses and sending forth flames of fire. Sister Mary wrote that Our Lady said in a beautiful voice, “,I am Our Lady of America, I desire my children honor me by the purity of their lives.”

The Blessed Mother showed Sister Mary a medal she wanted to be struck honoring Our Lady of America. She gave a sketch of it to Bishop Leibold, and he had it made. He placed his Imprimatur on the sketch.

Raymond Cardinal Burke presented this letter to the USCCB in 2007: (see entire letter here)  What can be concluded canonically is that the devotion was both approved by Archbishop Leibold and, what is more, was actively promoted by him. Also, over the years, other Bishops have approved the devotion and have participated in public devotion to the Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of America. 

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This nun had visions of heaven and the Holy Family

Venerable Marie-Martha Chabon and the Holy Face of Jesus   (public domain)

By Larry Peterson

It was Good Friday in 1850 when Francoise Chambon reported her first vision of Jesus. She was with her godmother at Good Friday services when the vision occurred. She reported that she saw Jesus, on the cross, covered in blood and His body having many wounds. She was nine years old.  Later on during the year, upon receiving her First Holy Communion, she saw Jesus again, who told her, “My child, so it will be every time you go to Holy Communion.”

Francoise Chambon was born in Davoy, France on March 6, 1841. Her parents were poor farmers, and life was not easy. Francoise, for the most part, kept her experiences to herself. She bided her time and when she was 20 years old, she entered the Monastery of the Visitation Order in nearby Chambery. This was when she was given the name, Marie-Martha.

Marie-Martha was favored with many supernatural visions during her life. One of these was actually of heaven. While on a retreat in 1870, during a recreation break the Sisters would pray the Rosary. Marie-Martha said to them: “The Sisters who endeavor to be present and attend the Rosary give me much delight; those who say it with much fervor will one day be in my entourage.” Marie-Martha then witnessed the graces and many blessings which Jesus poured out on the families of these sisters because of their prayers in honor of His Mother.

There were times when Marie-Martha was allowed to see the Holy Family. After a long vision, she told Mother Superior: “My Mother, I return from Paradise! I cannot say that which I saw! I can only say that I prostrated myself in front of the Holy Family and I said to Saint Joseph: My good Father, I thank you that while you were on the earth, you took care of my sweet Mother Mary.”

She said that St. Joseph was very happy and told her to say this short prayer often, “Jesus, Joseph and Mary, I give you my heart and my soul.”

Marie-Martha began to have more visions of Jesus when He would ask her to contemplate the Holy Wounds. Jesus would teach her specific prayers and meditations. Her Mother Superior began to chronicle Marie’s life, and this was published in 1923 and sold worldwide. The following year the Vatican granted an indulgence to those who said the following prayer which was based on her reported visions:  “Eternal Father I offer the wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to heal those of our souls.”

Jesus wanted her to unite her sufferings with His in the Rosary of the Holy Wounds. This would be done as an act of reparation for the sins of the world and the souls in purgatory. He told Marie-Marthe that the Holy Wounds were a true treasure for the souls in Purgatory.

Marie-Martha foresaw the death of Pope Pius IX whose soul appeared to her. He thanked her for her prayers which helped open the doors of paradise to him. She had a clear vision of her twenty-five-year-old sister’s death. Her younger brother passed away in 1878, and he appeared to his big sister to tell her he was in Paradise.

On March 21, 1907,  Marie-Martha Chambon passed away. She was sixty-six years old. Her cause for beatification began in 1937.

Venerable Servant of God, Marie-Martha Chambon, please pray for us.