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. Out of all the many Marian devotions in Latin America, below are the top four most popular:
The Blessed Trinity—the Triune God—is the greatest mystery of the Christian faith and the end for which we were created. While in this life we should prepare our hearts for heaven by catechizing ourselves as best we can about each Person of the Blessed Trinity and the role they play in our sanctification and salvation. Here are a few great resources from the saints, our teachers and forbears, to meditate on the Person of the Holy Spirit during this octave of Pentecost.
On May 13th, 1917, Our Lady appeared for the first time to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Between May and October she appeared five more times. She urged the children to pray the rosary daily for peace in the world and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Over the course of these visits and several preceding visits by an angel, five prayers were given to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta.
The Feast of the Ascension, also called Ascension Thursday, follows 40 days after Easter Sunday and is a Holy Day of Obligation. The Feast of the Ascension is probably treated in many places today as one of the ho-hum feast days, but historically it was a major feast (thus, its status as a holy day of obligation). In order to think of it and treat it with the same reverence as Christians of days past, it helps to reflect on it more deeply.
The “Day of the Cross” is a popular part of religious and cultural identity in many Latin American countries. “Holy Cross Day” is based on an old liturgical feast celebrating the discovery of the true cross of Christ. The day is honored with processions, singing, and hundreds of decorated crosses along roadsides and other public places.
St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the most loved saints of the Church. As the guardian and protector of the Holy Family, St. Joseph was entrusted by God with the greatest of responsibilities – earthly provision for the Son of God Incarnate and the Immaculate Conception. Because of his faithfulness he is one of the greatest intercessors in heaven, a supreme model for doing God’s will in humility, faith, and obedience. His mission continues in heaven as the patron and protector of the Universal Church.
He was especially known for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and for being a great promoter of the Holy Rosary, so much so that he is called “The Pope of the Rosary.” Pope St. Pius V was given this title for two reasons: for penning an important papal document on the rosary and for establishing a rosary feast day, two important steps in solidifying this powerful tool of prayer for the universal Church.
Though often associated with healing, St. Bernadette has an important lesson to teach us about suffering. She endured sickness throughout her life. As a child she suffered from severe asthma and was weak and sickly. Added to that was the pain that being a visionary caused her—the jealousy, suspicion, and rejection of others. Throughout much of her time living with the Sisters of Nevers she struggled with a very painful tubercular tumor in the bone of her right knee.
As Catholics, we know that the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith: it is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pope Francis said, “The Eucharist is at the heart of ‘Christian initiation’, together with Baptism and Confirmation, and it constitutes the source of the Church’s life itself. From this Sacrament of love, in fact, flows every authentic journey of faith, of communion, and of witness.”
For children who are preparing to receive Holy Communion for the first time, this is a big deal. And for all of us, no matter how many times we have received Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, it should always be a big deal.
According to Church tradition St. Gabriel is one of seven archangels, and one of only three angels mentioned by name in the Catholic Bible (the others are St. Michael and St. Raphael). St. Gabriel is also thought to have been the angel who appeared to St. Joseph, and the herald angel who announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds on Christmas night (even though Scripture is silent on the names of these angels).
If this is true, then St. Gabriel appears five times in the Bible, and possibly a sixth: Because of St. Gabriel’s special role of announcing the Messiah, he is also believed to be the archangel who will announce the Second Coming of Christ as prophesied in this Bible verse: “For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thes. 4:16)