When I was a child I didn’t understand why the Virgin Mary had a lot of names. I thought there were different Virgins everywhere! I lived with that doubt in my mind, not even bothered to get out of my ignorance by asking my devoted Catholic mom, or someone else, about it. As I grew up, my curiosity led me to look into the Catholic faith by reading and learning more about the history of the Catholic Church.
St. Bridget was born in Sweden in the 14th century. Her parents were devout in their Christian faith, and because of this Bridget was brought up with an excellent religious education. It comes as no surprise, then, that St. Bridget would go on to have incredible mystical experiences during her life.
When she was just a child, St. Bridget received a vision of Christ scourged and hanging on the Cross. In sorrow, she asked him who had treated him like this.
Christ answered, “They who despise me, and spurn my love for them.”
It is not a coincidence that Catholic Latinos are highly devoted to the Virgin Mary. It is a heritage from Spain and it is due to the series of mystical manifestations that occurred throughout the histories of these countries.
There is a long list of Marian devotions in Latin America; they are almost innumberable. Some titles of Our Lady represent a whole nation, with other titles for nearly every town, city, and region. Read 20 Marian Devotions by Country in Latin America.
Out of all the many Marian devotions in Latin America, below are the top four most popular:
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, affectionately called the ‘Lily of the Mohawks’, was born in New York in 1656 to a Mohawk chief father and an Algonquin mother who was converted to the faith by Jesuit missionaries.
Kateri’s mother was a practicing Catholic, though in secret due to the hostility between the Indian tribes and the missionaries. She was even forbidden from having Kateri baptized as a child.
Her feast day is July 14 and she is the patron saint of the environment, ecology, and orphans. Not only is this canonization wonderful since the Church’s mission is to evangelize all tribes and tongues, but St. Kateri’s short life is a great example of heroic virtue for our modern times.
The Virgin Mary’s Feast day in Latin America is a big deal. Catholic Latinos celebrate a lo grande with processions, hymns, fireworks, and cultural events in her honor. It is part of the culture, a tradition; it the Spanish heritage, and a way of living where you may hear people exclaiming ¡Virgen Santísima! in everyday conversation.
It is not a coincidence that the majority of Latinos are Catholics and highly devoted to the Virgin. It is a heritage brought from Catholic Spain combined with a series of Marian apparitions and mystical manifestations that occurred during the history of these countries.
Christians are being persecuted for their faith, to a heightened degree, all over the world. What can we do about it?
First and foremost, we must stay close to Christ through frequenting the Sacraments, through personal prayer, and through devotion to his Blessed Mother. She will teach us how to be united with Christ more perfectly, and how we should personally respond to the crises that surround the Church and her faithful.
Whenever we face times of great trial, the Blessed Virgin Mary is always the one to whom the Church collectively turns in times of great trial.
“When you see the storm coming, if you seek safety in that firm refuge which is Mary, there will be no danger of your wavering or going down.”
–St. Josemaria Escriva
From the time of the Passion, when Christ poured out His blood for us all, the faithful have practiced devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. In the month of July, the Church honors the Precious Blood and encourages us in this devotion. The traditional feast day devoted to the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ is July 1st.
Like the martyrdom of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul (see previous post here), a great number of Christians perished at the hands of Nero during the terrible persecution that lasted from the years 64-68 A.D. This was the first major persecution of the newly founded Church at Rome. The holy men and women are also called the “Protomartyrs of Rome.” The historian Tacitus, in his said that a “great multitude” of Christians were put to death.
The devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is an important patroness in many cities and countries worldwide, such as Haiti and the Philippines. Latin America knows her too as Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro, or, Our Lady of Perpetual Succor.
Many cathedrals, parishes, schools, hospitals, and non-governmental organizations carry her name.
Each year on June 22nd we celebrate the feast day of two notable Catholic saints and martyrs: Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher. It’s fitting that these two men have the same feast day, because they were both Englishmen martyred within two weeks of each other, for the same cause (religious freedom), on the same occasion (defending the sanctity of marriage and Papal authority against State usurpation), and at the hands of the same man (King Henry VIII).