In the News: October 21, 2015

By Michael Duricy

ML/IMRI Features

Marian Events

Mary in the Catholic Press

Mary in the Secular Press

Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute Features


The Twentieth International Mariological Symposium was held at the Marianum in Rome from October 6-9, 2015. Father David Fleming, S.M., attended as a representative of the International Marian Research Institute. He provide the following summary report of the Symposium and granted us permission to reproduce it here (see below).

I was warmly welcomed by the directors of the Marianum: Father Salvatore Perella, Father Dennis Sahayaraj Kulandaisamy, Father Silvano Maggiani, etc. Father Giuseppe Corradi, who spent two years at IMRI and lived at Alumni Hall, sent many warm regards. They gave many signs of welcome, inviting me to dinner and giving me a deferential place, waiving any fees for participation, etc. They sent many greetings to various Marianists: Father Rossier, Father Roten, Father Buby, Father T. Pragasam, etc.

The theme of the meeting was Mary and the Sacred: Forms, Places, Contexts. Approximately 60-100 people attended each of the thirteen sessions covering three-and-a-half days.

These were thirteen hour-long presentations, each followed by about a half-hour of questions and responses. The presentations were read, for the most part at very high speed, in Italian, Spanish, German, or French. I believe that simultaneous translation of other languages into Italian was available.  There were no presentations in English.

The general level of the presentations seemed excellent to me. Key themes included anthropology of the woman and her role in religion, inculturation and inter-religious issues, popular piety and the anthropological roots of the sacred. I was struck by the many references in various presentations to Elizabeth Johnson, Charles Taylor, and Paul Ricoeur, in addition to Mariologists properly speaking. Many references were made to the work of the late Stefano de Fiores. I was surprised by the absence of reference to Rudolf Otto, whose work a century ago might be considered the beginning of the new wave of reflection on the “holy.”

I particularly appreciated the following:

Carmelo Dottolo (Rome Urbanianum): a clear and focused presentation on The Incidence and Plausilibility of the Sacred in Mariological Theology, as opposed to what some qualify as a “bland naturalism” without any sense of the sacred.

Elzbieta Adamiak (Poznan): on the latent sacred in some Mariological perspectives; she gave an outstanding presentation on three Mariological pespectives: Christo-typical, Ecclesio-typical, and Anthropo-typical; I felt her development of the third theme was especially valuable.

Diego Irarrávaval (Santiago, Chile) gave a fine and sympathetic presentation on popular Marian piety, even with vestiges of earlier non-Christian practice, in Latin America.

Dennis Sahayaraj Kulandaisamy (Rome Marianum) gave an extremely clear and positive presentation on the inter-cultural and inter-religious dimensions of Marian shrines in Asia, with emphasis on Vailankanni, the largest of them all. His excellent presentation renewed my inspiration to work with Sister Celia Chua some time on further presentations at IMRI concerning Asian approaches to Mary.

Sandrine Keriakos Bugada (Neufchâtel, Switzerland) treated a similar theme concerning Marian apparitions and pilgrimages in the Middle East.

Fabrizio Bosin (Rome-Marianum) spoke on Perversion of the Sacred, critiquing “the imagined images of the woman and Mary of Nazareth.” His presentation was full of references to Germanic thought of the twentieth century (from Barth, Bultmann, and Guardini to Jürgen Habermas).

Pablo Largo Domínguez (Rome Claretianum) was awarded the “René Laurentin Pro Ancilla Domini Prize” for 2015 and gave a lecture on the Marialogical-Marian Panorama of the first decade of the twenty-first century. In his presentation he prominently mentioned the work of Father Francois Rossier concerning the “brothers of Jesus”; he covered such general areas as scripture and hermeneutics, feminine anthropology, eschatological themes in relation to the doctrine of the Assumption, ecumenical dialogues concerning Mary, the study of magisterial documents concerning Mary, and the phenomena of apparitions.

Mary in Media: Books, Films, Music, etc.

Father René Laurentin is widely considered one of the leading experts on Mariology. The Marian Library holds a collection of his papers, primarily course materials from his years teaching at the International Marian Research Institute. Take a look at the finding aid for this collection: Guide to the Father René Laurentin collection, 1948-2003. Also, click here to see an article on this topic by Jillian Slater, Librarian/Archivist at The Marian Library.


From the Marian Treasure Chest

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M., sent us the information below along with the following comments:  "October 12 is the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar.  Her shrine in Zaragoza, Spain, has an interesting history. It was at this shrine that Blessed William Joseph Chaminade was inspired to found the Marianist Family of laity and religious."

Our Lady of the Pillar: Patroness of All Hispanic Peoples, Woman for All Peoples by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

What do you know about Our Lady of the Pillar? Have you heard of her? Except for Hispanic peoples, especially Spaniards, and lovers of Hispanidad, she is most likely not as widely known as the Blessed Virgin Mary of other famous shrines. Yet her story pre-dates the gospels and was told long before the gospels were written. This is an interesting story, seemingly unbelievable, about Mary's first apparition in history.


The tradition tells us that seven years after the death of Jesus, on January 2, 40 A.D., the Apostle St. James the Elder, brother of St. John, sat tired and disappointed by the bank of the Ebro River in what is now Zaragoza, Spain. The people of the Roman province of Hispania (Spain/Iberian Peninsula) were not open and receptive to the Good News of Jesus and St. James was ready to give up his efforts to evangelize them. On that January day the Blessed Virgin Mary, still living in Palestine, appeared to James atop a column or pillar of stone. With encouraging words, she assured him that the people of Hispania would become Christians and that their faith would be as strong and durable as the pillar on which she stood. 

To remember the visit and promise of the Virgin Mary, the first Marian shrine was built around the pillar. And James began to convert the pagans of early Spain.


Many will automatically think this is just another pious myth among many Catholic legends and an interesting story for tourist guide books, or another excuse for celebrating a weeklong fiesta around the time of the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, which is celebrated on October 12. Some will suspect this is simply one more occasion for selling glitzy, chintzy Marian souvenirs. Why would an enlightened person of this modern era believe such a story? Yet neither natural nor religious reasoning have been able to discredit and discard the story of Mary of the Pillar and relegate her to unbelief and something unworthy of genuine devotion.

On the positive side, it is interesting to note that the German Augustinian stigmatist and visionary of the early nineteenth century, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, commented on Mary of the Pillar's appearance to James. With rich detail she described the Zaragoza event in chapter 14 of The Life of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Some, even with scientific reasoning, might dismiss any claims of sincere devotion of Marian devotees. The story of Our Lady of the Pillar does seem unbelievable, unless you grew up with it or have an unshakeable faith. Anyone who was raised in Zaragoza or somewhere in Spain, anyone who has grown up knowing Our Lady of the Pillar, is intimately linked to her as any Mexican person is to Our Lady of Guadalupe, or any Irish Catholic is to Our Lady of Knock.  The same is true of Lourdes and the French, or Fatima and the Portuguese, or Czestochowa and the Polish.

The reality

For devotees of these and other Marian apparitions, Mary is not only the Mother of Jesus and of the Church; she is above all their mother--and our mother.   Some might even be lapsed Catholics, but they will at least once a year on her feast day visit her church or pray to her.

Our Lady of the Pillar has a special place in the lives of many, not the least of which are those who bear her name. In Spain and in Latin America the name "Pilar" is commonly given to girls at baptism. At one time in Spain almost everyone wore a medal of Nuestra Senora del Pilar. Our Lady of the Pillar is also immensely important in the history and mission of several religious congregations and movements, especially the Marianist Family founded by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade in the nineteenth century. Her special relation with Hispanic America results from Columbus' discovery of America on October 12.

Devotion to Mary is something that cannot be dismissed simply with psychological and sociological explanations. This devotion goes beyond collective pride, national identity, and the need to belong. It is something more mysterious, something that transcends time, cultures, and even reason itself.

We learn to live with the seeming contradiction between reason and faith, between believing Mary is our mother and thinking all this is unbelievable. After all, faith is about love, mystery, and life. And those are real, even if we cannot understand them. Just because we do not fully comprehend all this and cannot fully explain it, does not mean it does not exist.

Let the thought and the image of Our Lady of the Pillar be a forceful reminder that we walk in the footsteps of St. James and the early Christians of Hispania in following Christ. May she be for us a pillar of faith.

Perhaps the conclusion penned by Franz Werfel in his popular novel, Song of Bernadette, says it best: "For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. For those who believe, no explanation is necessary."

Our Lady of the Pillar, pray for us!

Marian Events

God's Word Received: Bibles from University of Dayton Collections

A rare opportunity to connect Scripture to art, history, education, science, religious studies, and more will take place in the Roesch Library Gallery at the University of Dayton from October 3 - November 8, 2015.

God's Word Received, this fall's exhibition of twenty Bibles from the University of Dayton's collections, presents a rare opportunity for students, faculty and members of the community to connect scriptural presentations from many eras to art, history, education, the sciences, religious formation, and more.

"Scripture has been translated and artistically rendered by different generations and cultures for people of many ages, languages and abilities," said Brother Andrew J. Kosmowski, S.M., a librarian in the Marian Library who helped select from the University's extensive collections of Bibles for the exhibit. "Each one has relevance for its own time, as well as relevance for today."

Click here for details.

Mary in the Catholic Press

Seven Modern Sorrows of Our Lady from Zenit (Ireland) September 21, 2015

Here is the homily given Sunday by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, at the annual Padre Pio pilgrimage to the National Marian Shrine of Knock.

* * *

Mother of Sorrows - Mother of Mercy

On Monday last while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with other European bishops, I knelt to touch the very spot where Jesus was crucified. Our visit to the shrine of Golgotha was all the more special because we were there on both the Feast of the Holy Cross and the Feast of Mary, Mother of Sorrows. At Golgotha I could not help thinking of our Blessed Mother standing at the foot of the Cross.

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina had a great devotion to Our Lady, as Mother of Sorrows. He once wrote: "The Mother of Sorrows is my confidante, my teacher, my counsellor, and my powerful advocate."

Apparently when people came to him in Confession he often asked them as a 'penance' to recite seven Hail Mary's while reflecting on the so-called seven 'dolors,' or 'sorrows' of Mary. My Granny used to pray the seven sorrows on her 'dolor' beads: first, the prophecy of holy Simeon; second the flight into Egypt; third, the loss of the child Jesus for three days at Jerusalem; fourth, Mary meets her Son on the way to Calvary; fifth, Mary stands beneath the Cross; sixth, Mary receives the dead body of Jesus taken down from the Cross; seventh, Mary arranges the body of Jesus in the tomb with her own hands....

Click here to read the complete article


Mary in the Secular Press

The director and editors of The Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

New General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (Official website for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) September 19, 2015

... The Plenary Assembly elected a new CCCB General Secretary for an initial term of three years. [IMRI Professor] Mgr. Frank Leo, C.S.S., a priest from the Archdiocese of Montréal who has taught at Montreal's Grand Séminaire, will officially take office on November 1, 2015, replacing Mgr. Patrick Powers, P.H., who has been General Secretary since March 2010....

Click here to read the complete article (scroll down to the article which includes a photograph of Mgr. Leo)


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