The month of May celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary. During this month Christians, both in church and in their homes, offer up to Mary from their hearts loving prayers and worship. It is befitting that, as the Mother of God and Queen in Heaven, Mary has numerous titles and names. Through centuries of Catholic artwork, she has revealed herself to us in various images. It is fascinating that one person can have so many titles, but how else could we grasp the greatness of Our Lady merely by her given name? Churches, shrines and cathedrals have been erected in her honor, all of them with different names and representations of the Blessed Mother. These are some of the most popular titles that Mary is known by and the story behind the meaning of each.
Our Lady Maria Dolorosa
Our Lady Maria Dolorosa is an image of the Virgin Mary with her heart pierced by swords. Also known as Our Lady of Sorrows, she is often surrounded by jewels and flaming hearts, and is depicted with a sword piercing her own heart. Our Lady Maria Dolorosa is the image of the Virgin Mary Mother as she witnessed her son Jesus Christ crucified on Mount Calvary. Maria Dolorosa is always depicted with an expression of deep sadness on her face and a sword piercing her heart. She evokes the suffering of a mother for the death of her child, and the suffering of the Mother of Mankind for the sins and sorrows of the world. She is the Patron Saint of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and of the state Mississippi.
She wears colors of white and blue, with a gold halo around her head. Her devotees call on Her for healing from sorrow and disappointment, especially in love; for bringing love into their lives and to mend their broken dreams. Her feast day is September 15th. Wear La Dolorosa perfume to petition the Virgin Dolorosa to answer your prayers. Place a Dolorosa prayer card on your altar and burn a 7 Day La Dolorosa candle to ease your suffering.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
The patron saint of Mexico, she is depicted with brown skin, an angel and moon at her feet and rays of sunlight encircling her. As legend tells it, Mary appeared before a poor farmer, Juan Diego on December 9, 1531. The Virgin requested that Juan Diego build a shrine in her honor. Diego went to his local bishop and informed him of his meeting with Mary. The bishop doubted his account and demanded proof of her request before he would okay the building of the church.
The Virgin reappeared to Juan Diego three days later. She instructed him to climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill where he will find flowers which he could bring to the bishop as proof of her request. Skeptical but loyal, Juan climbed the mountain, only to find a stunning patch of flowering roses waiting for him. Juan took the flowers back to the bishop to show him his proof. As he opened his coat, the roses fell to the ground. The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was imprinted on the inside. This very image is still preserved in the Basilica in Mexico City. Those of Mexican heritage honor the patron saint’s birthday every year on December 12. You can pay homage to the Virgin Guadalupe by lighting a Virgin Guadalupe 7 Day Saint Candle or wearing a bracelet or medal depicting her image.
Our Lady of Fatima
The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three Portuguese shepherd children in the early 20th century. She radiated beams of light and was dressed in a pure white mantle edged with gold, with a beautiful rosary. Our Lady came with a message from God to every man, woman, and child. Our Lady of Fatima promised that world peace would reign supreme, and that all souls would go to Heaven if Her requests were listened to and obeyed. She told them that war is a punishment for sin and that God would punish the world for its sins by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and persecution of the Holy Father, the Pope, unless we listened to and obeyed the command of God.
May 13th is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. On this day, her faithful followers pay homage to the many miracles she performed. Pray to Fatima when you find yourself battling unseen negative forces in your life. Place a Virgin Fatima prayer card on your altar and burn an Our Lady of Fatima candle to petition this almighty Virgin to guide you in your time of need.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
This is the title given to the image of Mary as depicted in a Byzantine icon. The icon has been in Rome since 1499, and is now permanently located at the church of Sant'Alfonso di Liguori. In this portrayal, Our Lady is pointing to the infant Jesus, showing that her purpose is to serve Him. This painting shows the Madonna and Child surrounded by the archangels Michael and Gabriel. The angels are holding the tools that would be used to crucify Jesus.
The painting is extremely moving. Baby Jesus, having glimpsed the instruments of torture the archangels are holding, runs to His mother's protection. His right foot is bare, indicating that He was so scared He ran out of his sandal. The feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is celebrated on June 27. Under Pope Pius XII's Pontificate, our Mother of Perpetual Help was deemed the national Patroness of the Republic of Haiti and Almoradi, Spain. In times of need, call upon the Virgin Mother by carrying an Our Lady of Perpetual Help talisman. Light a candle to summon her never-failing, ever-enduring support and assistance.
The Virgin Altagracia
The Virgin Altagracia portrays the Virgin Mary in a nativity scene. The Dominicans see the image as exemplifying Our Lady watching over the island and the growth of Christianity there. European settlers Alfonso and Antonio Trejo brought the portrait to Santo Domingo before 1502. The brothers donated it to the parish church at Higuey. The shrine was finished in 1572, and was moved to the Basilica in 1971. The image was crowned on August 15, 1922 during the pontificate of Pius XI.
Día de la Altagracia is celebrated on January 21st and is a national holiday in the Dominican Republic. The feast day is celebrated by festivals, religious services and all-night vigils. Today, this celebration combines the traditions of Catholicism with the African religions. Dominicans recite prayers, play African music, dance, recite prayers and sing hymns. Every year more than 800,000 people make the pilgrimage to the Basílica of Altagracia in Higuey. One in every twelve Dominicans is named Altagracia in honor of the patron saint. Burn a 7 Day Virgin Altagracia Candle to petition the powerful Virgin Altagracia. Wear Virgin Altagracia perfume to call upon the protection of the Virgin Mary.
Throughout the month of May, take time to celebrate and honor the spiritual gifts that the Virgin Mary has bestowed on us all. Through contemplation and reflection, we can learn from the unconditional love and sacrifices that she made for her son and followers.