The Original Mobile Home
We are in the midst of an incredible season of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It all began on Friday, December 8 with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of course, this is the patronal feast of our beloved parish in Botkins. The feast day recalls God’s providence in preserving Mary from Original Sin, so that Jesus Christ may have a worthy dwelling place. There is a fancy word in the prayers for the Mass, “prevenient.” It comes from the Latin prefix “pre-“ (before) and “veniere” (to come). So it is literally the grace that came before Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. Hopefully you celebrated this wonderful feast with incredible joy.
On Saturday, December 9th we celebrate the memorial of St. Juan Diego. Juan Diego received the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, which is another great feast day. December 9 was the first day that Mary appeared to him and the apparition culminated on December 12.
On December 9, 1531 Juan Diego was traveling to present-day Mexico City to fetch a priest to give his uncle last rites. During the journey, a woman appeared to him and asked him to build a shrine to her on top of the mountain, called Tepeyac. She instructed him to go to the bishop and request the shrine be built. Juan Diego followed these instructions but he wasn’t believed.
After two more encounters with the “virgin of Guadalupe” and another refusal by the bishop, Mary appeared to Juan Diego a fourth time. This time she instructed him to pick flowers that weren’t native to the area and wouldn’t have blossomed in December. He found the flowers and wrapped them in his cloak. When he arrived at the bishop’s residence, he unfurled his cloak to reveal the roses, and a miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared on Juan Diego’s cloak.
You can still see the cloak in Mexico City. It is an amazing image. Scientists have thoroughly studied it and realized that it should have deteriorated. Also the image isn’t painted on the fibers – it is in the fibers. There are numerous other miraculous features. There is a documentary on Formed.org entitled, “Guadalupe: The Miracle and the Message.” I highly recommend it.
There is one final Marian feast day, but it is trumped by the Second Sunday of Advent. In 2019, Pope Francis included the memorial of Our Lady of Loreto into the Catholic Calendar for December 10. Loreto is a small charming town in Italy. It is rather unremarkable. On the morning of December 10, 1294 a house was discovered on a hill outside of town. It wasn’t there the night before.
It is believed that this house is the home of Mary in Nazareth. There is good archeological evidence to support this claim. The stone from the walls is native to the Middle East. The mortar in between the stones is native to Palestine and not Italy. The graffiti on the walls is similar to other first century Palestine buildings discovered near the basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Finally, the house in Italy stands directly on the dirt – there is no foundation.
There is a tradition that angels transported this house from the Holy Land to Italy, making it the original home. Regardless of how it landed in Italy, the house reminds us to take the Blessed Virgin Mary into our own homes and hearts. These wonderful Marian feast days remind us that Mary is a wonderful image for Advent. She teaches us how to wait and listen. We wait for God to act and intervene and we listen to His voice. May Mary be our guide and friend during this Advent season.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson