In the News: Oct. 31, 2016

By Michael Duricy

Read recent items about Mary in both Catholic and secular news. Also see International Marian Research Institute news and updates.

ML/IMRI Features

Marian Events

Mary in the Catholic Press

Mary in the Secular Press

Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute Features


Call for Papers for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary--USA

ESBVM-USA July 2017 Conference Call for Papers

The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary USA (ESBVM USA) exists to advance the study of Mary, the Mother of Christ, in Christian biblical and spiritual perspectives, and in the light of such study, to promote ecumenical interchange and prayer. Its aim is to show that in Mary, Christians of many traditions may find a focus in their search for unity. The ESBVM was formed by Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox, and Presbyterian Scholars and is open to all Christians.

PROPOSAL DUE DATE: December 1, 2016

Conference Theme:  "Mary, Disciple of the Lord: Prayer and Holiness"

Conference Dates: July 12 – 15, 2017 (Wed. evening through Sat. morning).

Conference Location:  Misericordia University in Dallas, PA (near Scranton)

Submission Guidelines and Requirements:

The paper proposal should be in DOC or DOCX and must include:

    Presentation Title

    Presenter's name, professional affiliation (e.g., university or church name), and status (undergrad, grad. student, Ph.D. candidate, faculty, pastor, etc.)

    Contact information (e-mail address, daytime telephone)

    Abstract (350-500 words)

    Equipment needs.

The overall theme for the conference is "Mary, Disciple of the Lord: Prayer and Holiness." This theme may be approached through a variety of avenues appropriate to your field of study, interests, and particular Christian tradition. The following are some suggestions for different scriptural, systematic, anthropological, liturgical, artistic or historical approaches to help get you started. This is not an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add to it.

  Scriptural study of Mary's "pondering" in Luke 2:19 or the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55

  Historical or systematic study of writings by the Early Church Fathers on Mary and prayer, holiness, and the interior life

  Historical study of Mary as a model of prayer and holiness in a particular tradition, such as Anglicanism

  The thoughts of Protestant reformers on Mary as a holy example

  Contemporary developments in Protestant thought and practice regarding Mary as an example of holiness for Christians, new Lutheran Marian feast days,  or ecumenical Marian celebrations such as those at the shrine in Walsingham, England on the Feast of the Assumption

  Commentary on a particular contemporary theologian or author who wrote about Marian prayer and/or Mary as an example of holiness

  The theology of particular Marian prayers

  Marian references in the liturgy

  Mary as teacher of prayer and advancement in the interior life for contemporary society

  Mary's holiness as portrayed in the visual, performing, or literary arts

Please submit proposals to the review committee at Maura.hearden@desales.edu.

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

Religious Cakes

If you are looking for something "new" about the Rosary as we conclude the month of October, there are Marian and even Rosary cakes featured in a magnificent album of cakes that include an icon and the two hearts. Click here to see photos posted on Flickr.


From the Marian Treasure Chest

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M., sent us the text below with the following comments: "On November 1 we celebrate the feast of All Saints. Below is some information about honoring our saints." 

Tune In To Our Saints by brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

Today more than ever we need saints and heroes to admire and emulate. The cult of the saints and its history has fallen out of focus in recent times with shifts in society, family life, and religious formation. But the veneration and invocation of saints still hold a place of considerable importance and value in the life of Christians and in the liturgy of the Church. A brief historical review will shed some light on the situation.

In the beginning of Christianity the martyrs, bishops, and other saintly persons were held in veneration in the local church where they had lived. As time progressed some gained universal renown and found a place in the calendars of all churches. And for some mysterious reasons a small number of saints like St. Anthony of Padua and St. Rita of Cascia, and St. Pio of Pietrelcina in our day, became the objects of extraordinary popular devotion around the world, even though they never wandered far from home and their place in the Church's liturgy is rather moderate or nonexistent. 

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, is another topic altogether.

To understand the cult of the saints it is important to trace its history from the beginnings of Christianity to our own time. Up to the sixth century there was one tradition for both East and West. Later a divergence developed. Twentieth century reforms improved on previous practice and highlighted the significance of the liturgical cult of saints in the contemporary Church.   

             The History of the Cult of Saints

In the East and in the West we find a double source for the liturgy of the saints: the cult of martyrs, whose anniversary was celebrated by the community gathered around their tombs; and the cult of bishops, whose memory was kept with devotion by the churches they headed. Each particular church developed its own calendar, which was gradually enlarged to include martyrs from other churches and also noteworthy figures like the apostles and others who played a basic role in the universal Church. Thus the "memory" of martyrs and bishops developed into the "feasts" of saints.

Tracing the evolution of the development is more than a historical exercise. Because we celebrate the saints in a uniform manner in our day, this will help us recapture the distinctive characteristics of each category of saints, and to understand what kinds of sanctity throughout the centuries the Church deems worthy of a cult.

 The First Six Centuries

  • Martyrs

From earliest Christianity the cult of the martyrs was one of the forms of honoring the dead. It was a cult of memory, a way of insuring that the deceased person lived on in the memory of the living. For the living it was a way of being nourished by the example and courage of those who gave their lives to attest to their faith. Recall that martyr comes from the Greek word for "witness."

From the beginning the cult of the martyrs was distinguished from the cult of the ordinary deceased because the anniversary gatherings did not concern only the family but the entire local community. Those memorial gatherings lasted not only a few years but indefinitely. The Christian memory of the martyr is lasting.

Records regarding the cult of the martyrs in the early centuries are sparse. The East preceded the West in documenting this practice. The earliest testimony concerns St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who was martyred about 155 or 156. In a letter written some months after his death, the Christians of Smyrna indicated "We took up his bones ... and laid them away in a suitable place. There the Lord will permit us, so far as possible, to gather together in joy and gladness to celebrate the day of his martyrdom as a birthday, in memory of those athletes who have gone before us, and to train and make ready those who are to come hereafter." Most likely this meeting included the celebration of the Eucharist.

In the West the earliest documentation was found in Carthage, at the time of St. Cyprian and the persecution of Decius (250). In a letter to his clergy Cyprian gives this recommendation concerning the confessors of the faith: "You should keep note of the days on which they depart this life. We will then be able to include the celebration of their memories in our commemorations of the martyrs." In another letter about three martyrs of Carthage, Cyprian adds, "We never fail to offer sacrifices on their behalf every time we celebrate in commemoration the anniversary dates of the sufferings of these martyrs." These two texts demonstrate that the celebration of the martyrs was already customary at Carthage at the time of Cyprian and that it included the Eucharistic sacrifice.

In contrast Rome rendered no special cult to martyrs before the middle of the third century. The bloody persecution of Valerian in the summer of 258 caused a change. On August 6 Pope Sixtus II and six of his deacons were put to death, and on August 10 the deacon Lawrence. In June of that year the remains of St. Peter and of St. Paul were placed in safety. The Church of Rome wanted to preserve the memory of a summer that experienced such grief and trial.

The veneration of martyrs included a Eucharistic celebration at the grave on the anniversary of death. This veneration also expressed itself in written inscriptions near the martyrs' tombs to seek their intercession. Following Constantine's Edict of Toleration in 313 the Christians began to erect over the martyrs' graves small edifices marking their presence and sheltering the hallowed spot. Such a structure was known as a memoria or a martyrium.

  • Confessors and bishops

The risk and opportunity of martyrdom ceased with the end of the persecutions. Feeling impoverished, the Church sought new forms that would substitute for martyrdom. 

Already in the third century it was customary to venerate persons , usually bishops, who had suffered either prison or exile for their faithfulness to Christ, but had not been put to death. These courageous witnesses were called confessors because they confessed their faith openly as did the martyrs.


Life today without the saints is unthinkable. The saints are for the ages, ours no less than others. Without saints life would be miserable. The saints are for everyone--believing and unbelieving--because they are the people who proclaim by their lives that life is valuable, life is worth living, that a provident God cares for us. Without them life would be a series of disasters. The saints personify Christian hope. We need their example and help. 

Are you in touch with your patron saint?


Marian Events

Fatima Conference


The Shrine of Fatima and the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University of Portugal, in charge of the organization of the International Conference of the Centennial of Fatima, Thinking Fatima--Interdisciplinary Readings, which will take place in the Shrine of Fatima from June 21-24, 2017, invite researchers of different disciplines of Theological, Social, and Human Sciences to present papers related to the event of Fatima, throughout the 100 years of its existence.

Papers are accepted in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, and German. Plenary conferences will be guaranteed in Portuguese, English, and Italian. The proposals must fall within one of the thematic fields, and should be submitted anonymously to the evaluation of at least two members of the Scientific Committee of the Congress, selected by the Organizing Committee, upon presentation of an abstract.

 The deadline for Paper proposals (Abstracts) is December 31, 2016.

Click here for further details.


Mary in the Catholic Press

EU Establishes New Position to Address Religious Freedom Issues (Zenit) May 6, 2016

The president of the European Commission issued a decision today that establishes a new position designed to effectively address the growing restrictions on religious freedom internationally. Former European Union Commissioner and Slovak politician Ján Figel will take on the role of special envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion and belief outside the EU.

The decision was made public at the Vatican on the occasion of the award of the Charlemagne Prize to Pope Francis. It refers to February's resolution on the systematic mass murder being committed by ISIS, in which the European Parliament called for the creation of a special representative for these matters.

"Anti-conversion laws, blasphemy laws, and other legal restrictions lead to social exclusion and even physical persecution today," said Sophia Kuby, director of EU Advocacy for Alliance Defending Freedom International. "An increasing number of people are not free to live out their faith according to their conscience. With the growing persecution of religious minorities throughout the world, the European Union must act beyond political statements and resolutions." ...

Click here to read the complete article [includes photo of vandalized statue of Mary].


Mary in the Secular Press

The director and editors of All About Mary 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.

Christian Girls Who Hid From ISIS: Blessed Mother Helped Us (National Catholic Register) October 24, 2016

Seven young women in Kirkuk credit the Virgin Mary for their safety after spending a harrowing eight hours hidden underneath beds while Islamic State group fighters used their room as a hideout during an assault on the city.

"The Virgin Mary was with them," Father Roni Momika told CNA Oct. 23....

He shared with CNA some photos taken of the room after the soldiers left. He explained that "when ISIS was attacked by our army (the Iraqi Army), there were two people from ISIS injured, and ISIS put them here on these beds ... and under the beds were the girls."

Father Momika said he was in constant contact with the girls, telling them not to forget their faith and to "pray to the Virgin Mary; she will come to help you."

In what both the priest and the girls view as a miracle, "ISIS didn't see them," Father Momika said. One of the girls told him later that "when ISIS entered our room, they didn't see us, (and) we feel that the Virgin Mary closed their eyes from seeing us." ...

Click here to see the complete article.

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Weekly Features: Oct. 31, 2016

This week we are featuring answers to the following two questions from our readers: Can you tell us about Mary knitting? Why is Mary wearing red? Also highlighted is Marian spirituality at home, Chinese Marian spirituality and shrines in Hungary.

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Winner of the Brubaker Award

Catholic Library World magazine presents this award annually to "an outstanding work of literary merit published in CLW during the previous year."

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