The Glories Of Mary
by ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI
DEVOTION V. OF VISITING THE IMAGES OF MARY
FATHER SEGNERI says, that the devil could in no better way console himself for the losses he has sustained by the overthrow of idolatry, than by attacking sacred images through the heretics. But the holy Church has defended them even by the blood of the martyrs; and the divine mother has also made manifest by miracles, how much she is pleased by devotion and visits to her images. The hand of St. John of Damascus was cut off because he defended with his pen the images of Mary; but our Lady restored it to him in a miraculous manner. Father Spinelli relates, that in Constantinople, every Friday after vespers, a veil which hung before the image of Mary was withdrawn of itself, and after vespers on Saturday it closed of itself. The veil before an image of the Virgin was seen to with draw itself, in a similar way, by St. John of God, whereupon the sacristan, believing the saint to be a robber, struck him with his foot, but the foot was withered. All the servants of Mary, therefore, are accustomed often to visit her images with great devotion, and also the churches dedicated to her honor. There are, in deed, as John of Damascus teaches, the cities of refuge, where we find safety from temptations, and from the punishments merited by the sins we have committed. St. Henry, Emperor, when he entered a city, always visited, before any thing else, some church of our Lady. Father Thomas Sanchez never returned home until he had visited some church of Mary. Let us not be weary then of visiting our queen every day in some church or chapel, or in our own house, where it would be well for that purpose to have in some retired place a, little oratory, with her image adorned with drapery, flowers, tapers, or lamps, and before it also the litanies, the rosary, &c., may be said. For this purpose I have published a little book, which has already gone through eight editions, of Visits to the most Holy Sacrament, as well as to the Virgin, for every day in the month. Some devout servant of Mary might cause one of her feasts to be celebrated in some church or chapel, and preceding it by a Novena, with the exposition of the Sacrament, and also with sermons.
But here it is well to notice the fact which Father Spinelli relates in the "Miracles of the Madonna. " In the year 1611, in the celebraten sanctuary of Mary in Montevergine, it happened that on the vigil of Pentecost the people who thronged there profaned that feast with balls, excesses, and immodest conduct, when a fire was suddenly discovered bursting forth from the house of entertainment where they were feasting, so that in less than an hour and a half it was consumed, and more than one thousand five hundred persons were killed.
Five persons who remained alive affirmed upon oath, that they had seen the mother of God herself, who with two lighted torches set fire to the inn. After this I entreat the servants of Mary to abstain as far as they can, and to induce others to abstain from going to such sanctuaries of our Lady in times of feasting, for hell then received much more fruit from it, than the divine mother received honor. Let him who practises this devotion go and visit them at a time when they are not thronged.