The Convent of the Immaculate Conception was the first convent of Religious Sisters in the city of Quito, Ecuador. The Catholic nobility of the city of Quito petitioned King Philip II for this favor, so that the women of the colony might enjoy the benefits of the religious life. Five professed Sisters of the Order were sent from Spain as Founding Mothers of the new Convent. They were accompanied by a 13-year old girl, Mariana de Jesús Torres—the niece of the Mother Superior. She was to become the most well-known of the Founding Mothers, but she remained almost unknown outside of Ecuador until the 20th century. The Convent was formally founded on January 13, 1577.
The young novice made rapid advancement in the spiritual life and enjoyed many favors from Heaven. She also practiced severe penance and was chosen by God to suffer as a victim soul. Many of her sufferings were occasioned by those of her sisters in religion who were lax, and who rebelled against the austere way of life insisted upon by Blessed Beatriz de Silva and the Spanish Founding Mothers, and required by the Holy Rule of the Community. Eventually Madre Mariana was chosen to be Abbess in place of her ailing aunt, who died soon after.
Very early on the morning of February 2, 1594, Mother Mariana was praying in the upper choir of the Convent, fervently beseeching Jesus and Mary for relief from the many severe trials the Convent was undergoing, and that many sins would be prevented. During her long prayer, she heard a sweet voice call her name. Rising quickly, she saw the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus in Her left arm. Being asked who She was, Our Lady replied:
"I am Mary of Good Success, the Queen of Heaven and Earth... As His Mother, I carry (the Child Jesus) here, in My left arm, so that together we might restrain the hand of Divine Justice, which is always so ready to chastise this unfortunate and criminal world.
"In My right hand, I carry the crosier that you see, for I desire to govern this Convent as Abbess and Mother... Satan will begin to try to destroy this work of God... But he will not succeed, because I am the Queen of Victories and the Mother of Good Success, and it is under this invocation I desire to be known throughout all time..."
The Most Holy Virgin Mary placed the Child Jesus in the arms of Mother Mariana, giving her a strong desire to suffer as a victim soul.
Our Lady appeared many more times to Mother Mariana. During the apparition of January 16, 1599, Our Lady commanded Madre Mariana to have a statue made depicting Her just as She appeared to the holy religious. She then bade her to measure Her height with the cord of her religious habit. Our Lady promised:
"When tribulations of spirit and sufferings of body oppress them and they seem to be drowning in a bottomless sea, let them gaze at My holy Image, which will be for them a star for the shipwrecked. I will always be there, ready to listen to their lamentations and calm their weeping. Tell them that they should always have recourse to their Mother with faith and love..."
Early in the morning of January 21, 1610, Mother Mariana was favored by an apparition of the Archangels St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. Then Our Lady appeared and related many predictions:
"Thus I make it known to you that from the end of the 19th century and shortly after the middle of the 20th century, in what is today the Colony and will then be the Republic of Ecuador, the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs (morals), for Satan will reign almost completely by means of the Masonic sects.
"They will focus principally on the children in order to sustain this general corruption. Woe to the children of these times! It will be difficult to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, and also that of Confirmation... Often during this epoch the enemies of Jesus Christ, instigated by the Devil, will steal consecrated hosts from the churches, so that they might profane the Eucharistic Species...
"As for the Sacrament of Matrimony... it will be attacked and deeply profaned... The Catholic spirit will rapidly decay; the precious light of the Faith will gradually be extinguished... Added to this will be the effects of secular education, which will be one reason for the dearth of priestly and religious vocations.
"The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed, and despised... The Devil will try to persecute the ministers of the Lord in every possible way; he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from the spirit of their vocation and will corrupt many of them. These depraved priests, who will scandalize the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church fall upon all priests...
"Further, in these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury, which will ensnare the rest into sin and conquer innumerable frivolous souls, who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women. In this supreme moment of need of the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent."
Early on the morning of February 2, 1610, Our Lady appeared again to Mother Mariana and repeated her command to have a statue made. Then She added:
"Tell the Bishop that it is My will and the will of My Most Holy Son that your name be hidden at all costs... for it is not fitting for anyone at the present time to know the details or origin of how this Statue came to be made. For this knowledge will only become known to the general public in the 20th century.
"During that epoch the Church will find herself attacked by terrible hordes of the Masonic sect, and this poor Ecuadorian land will be agonizing because of the corruption of customs, unbridled luxury, the impious press, and secular education. The vices of impurity, blasphemy, and sacrilege will dominate in this time of depraved desolation, and that one who should speak out will be silent..."
The sculptor of the Statue of Our Lady of Good Success was actually named for this work by Our Lady Herself. Nevertheless the work was predicted to be completed by the Angels. Mother Mariana witnessed this prodigy early in the morning of January 16, 1611. She saw in vision the Most Holy Trinity, the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the Nine Choirs of Angels, and in particular the Archangels St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, together with the Seraphic St. Francis. These last four approached the statue and finished the work which the sculptor had intended to finish that very day. Then she saw Our Lady enter into and animate the Statue. All of these facts were attested to by Mother Mariana to the Bishop, before he solemnly consecrated and installed the Statue. The sculptor, too, testified that he had not finished the Statue, and that it must be the work of Angels.
The most important of the apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success took place near the end of Mother Mariana's life. The early morning of February 2, 1634, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, found Mother Mariana praying before the Blessed Sacrament, beseeching Him that she might be united with Him and be engulfed in that love which belongs to the Blessed. She also reminded Him to protect and preserve His daughters in this beloved Convent.
As she finished this prayer, she saw the sanctuary light extinguish itself, leaving the altar completely dark. Our Lady appeared to tell her that Our Lord had heard her clamors and would end her earthly exile in less than a year: "Prepare your soul so that, increasingly purified, it might enter into the fullness of the joy of Our Lord. Oh! if mortals, and in particular religious souls, could know what Heaven is and what it is to possess God! How differently they would live! Nor would they spare themselves any sacrifice in order to possess Him!"
The Blessed Virgin Mary then explained the five meanings of the Tabernacle light that had been extinguished before Mother Mariana's eyes.
I."The first significance is that at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century, various heresies will be propagated in this land, then a free Republic. As these heresies spread and dominate, the precious light of Faith will be extinguished in souls by the almost total corruption of customs (morals). During this period, there will be great physical and moral calamities, both public and private.
"The small number of souls who, hidden, will preserve the treasure of the Faith and the virtues will suffer an unspeakably cruel and prolonged martyrdom. Many of them will succumb to death from the violence of their sufferings, and those who sacrifice themselves for Church and Country will be counted as martyrs.
"In order to free men from bondage to these heresies, those whom the merciful love of My Most Holy Son will destine for that restoration will need great strength of will, constancy, valor and much confidence in God. To test this faith and confidence of the just, there will be occasions when everything will seem to be lost and paralyzed. This, then, will be the happy beginning of the complete restoration."
These chosen souls, who will restore the health of the Church, are described in detail as the apostles of the latter times, by St. Louis Marie de Montfort in his True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
II."The second meaning," Our Lady said, "is that My Convent, being greatly reduced in size, will be submerged in a fathomless ocean of indescribable bitterness, and will seem to be drowning in these diverse waters of tribulations." Many authentic vocations will perish, She continued. Injustice would enter even this Convent, "disguised under the name of false charity, wreaking havoc in souls." And faithful souls, weeping in secret and imploring that such dire times be shortened, would suffer a continuous and slow martyrdom.
III."The third reason the lamp was extinguished is because of the spirit of impurity that will saturate the atmosphere in those times. Like a filthy ocean, it will run through the streets, squares and public places with an astonishing liberty.
"There will be almost no virgin souls in the world," Our Lady told her. The delicate flower of virginity would be threatened by complete annihilation. However, She promised that there would always be some good souls in cloisters where it might take root, grow and live like a shield to deflect Divine Wrath. "Without virginity," She said, "it would be necessary for fire from Heaven to fall upon these lands to purify them."
IV.The fourth reason for the lamp being quenched is that the Masonic sects, having infiltrated all the social classes, would subtly introduce its teaching into domestic ambiences in order to corrupt the children, and the Devil would glory in dining upon the exquisite delicacy of the hearts of children.
"During these unfortunate times," Our Lady foretold, "evil will assault childhood innocence. In this way, vocations to the priesthood will be lost, which will be a true calamity."
Again Our Lady promised that during this time there would still be religious communities who will sustain the Church and holy ministers of the altar—hidden and beautiful souls, who will labor with valor and disinterested zeal for the salvation of souls. "Against them," She warned, "the impious will rage a cruel war, letting fall on them vituperations, calumnies and vexations in order to impede the fulfillment of their ministry. But they, like firm columns, will remain unswerving and will confront everything with the spirit of humility and sacrifice with which they will be vested, by virtue of the infinite merits of My Most Holy Son, Who will love them in the innermost fibers of His Most Holy and Tender Heart."
During this time, Our Lady foretold, "the secular clergy will be far removed from its ideal, because the priests will become careless in their sacred duties. Lacking the Divine compass, they will stray from the road traced by God for the priestly ministry and they will become attached to wealth and riches, which they will unduly strive to obtain.
"How the Church will suffer on that occasion—the dark night of the lack of a Prelate and Father to watch over them with paternal love, gentleness, strength, discernment and prudence. Many priests will lose their spirit, placing their souls in great danger."
Our Lady continued to explain the fourth reason for the extinguishing of the Tabernacle light: "Therefore, pray insistently without tiring and weep with bitter tears in the secrecy of your heart. Implore our Celestial Father that, for the love of the Eucharistic Heart of My Most Holy Son and His Precious Blood shed with such generosity... He might take pity on His ministers and bring to an end those ominous times, and send to the Church the Prelate who will restore the spirit of Her priests.
"My Most Holy Son and I will love this favored Son with a love of predilection, and We will gift Him with a rare capacity, humility of heart, docility to Divine inspiration, the strength to defend the rights of the Church, and a tender and compassionate heart, so that, like another Christ, He will assist the great and small, without despising the more unfortunate souls who ask Him for light and counsel in their doubts and hardships. Into His hands the scales of the Sanctuary will be placed, so that everything is weighed with due measure and God will be glorified."
Our Lady continued, "The lukewarmness of all the souls consecrated to God in the priestly and religious state will delay the coming of this Prelate and Father. This, then, will be the cause of the cursed Devil taking possession of this land, where he will achieve his victories by means of a foreign and faithless people, so numerous that, like a black cloud, it will obscure the pure heavens of the then Republic consecrated to the Sacred Heart of My Divine Son.
"With these people, all the vices will enter, which will attract in their turn every type of chastisement, such as plagues, famines, internal fighting and external disputes with other nations, and apostasy, the cause of the perdition of so many souls so dear to Jesus Christ and to Me.
"In order to dissipate this black cloud which prevents the Church from enjoying the clear day of liberty, there will be a formidable and frightful war, which will see the bloodshed of countrymen and foreigners, of secular and regular priests, and of religious. That night will be most horrible, for, humanly speaking, evil will seem to triumph.
"This, then, will mark the arrival of My hour, when I, in a marvelous way will dethrone the proud and cursed Satan, trampling him under My feet and fettering him in the infernal abyss. Thus the Church and Country will finally be free of his cruel tyranny."
V.The fifth reason that the lamp was extinguished is due to the laxity and the negligence of those who possess great wealth, who will indifferently stand by and watch the Church being oppressed, virtue being persecuted, and the triumph of the Devil, without piously employing their riches for the destruction of this evil and the restoration of the Faith. And it is also due to the indifference of the people in allowing the Name of God to be gradually extinguished and in adhering to the spirit of evil, freely delivering themselves over to vices and passions.
"Alas! My chosen daughter! If it were given to you to live in that tenebrous era, you would die of sorrow to see all that I have revealed to you here take place. But My Most Holy Son and I have such a great love for this land, Our legacy, that We desire even now the application of your sacrifices and prayers to shorten the duration of such a terrible catastrophe!"
Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the evils she saw and the countless souls that would be condemned during these times, Mother Mariana fell unconscious. There the Sisters found her, as if dead, except for the violent beating of her heart. All of the doctor's efforts to restore her to consciousness proved useless. In fact he said, humanly speaking, her life should have ended from the shock she had received.
The Sisters surrounded her, beseeching Heaven to leave them their great treasure, the last of the Founding Mothers, "the mainstay of observance, the column of the house." Two days later, Mother Mariana opened her eyes, encouraged her Sisters to continue to follow the Rule, and consoled them that she would remain with them yet a little longer.
In the last ten months of her life, Mother Mariana never fully recovered the vigor of her health and was often obliged to remain in bed. In sickness as well as in health, she edified the Community with her example. Amid her intense pains, she always maintained a smile on her lips, an admirable serenity and an imperturbable spirit, proper to a soul whose life had unfolded in the shadow of the Cross.
Late in the night of December 8, 1634, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady appeared for the last time to Mother Mariana. She was again accompanied by the Archangels St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. After many revelations Our Lady concluded:
"In the 20th century, this devotion (to Our Lady of Good Success) will work prodigies in the spiritual as well as temporal spheres, because it is the Will of God to reserve this invocation and knowledge of your life for that century, when the corruption of customs will be almost general and the precious light of Faith all but extinguished..."
Madre Mariana de Jesús Torres died a most holy death at 3:00 p.m. on January 16, 1635—just as she had foretold.
Over and over during the last four hundred years, the prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success have been fulfilled. The 19th and 20th centuries proved the accuracy of the prophecies to be astounding. Clearly the significance of Our Lady's message, and the Devotion to Our Lady of Good Success, is now all the more important in the 21st century. As we see the world engulfed in error, heresy and sensuality, not to mention vices of all kinds, Our Lady's call to prayer, reparation and penance becomes all the more urgent. How can we not heed Our Lady's plea and daily strive to console Her Most Tender and Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Her Divine Son?
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