We can see at once why Our Lady is called a "House." In Holy Scripture the human soul is often spoken of as "God's house." In the Office for the Dedication of a Church, the descriptions of God's House can all be applied to the soul. "Holiness becometh Thy house," "My house shall be called a house of prayer," and so on, with many other passages from the same Office.
"Wisdom hath built herself a house." Wisdom, as we have seen, is a Scriptural name for Our Lord, Who is the Wisdom of the Father, as the Holy Ghost is Love. And the house that Eternal Wisdom built for Himself is, of course, Our Blessed Lady, though the text is also applied to the Church. Above all others is the title "God's House" fitted to Our Lady. For nine months Our Lord dwelt really and truly within Her; She was His dwelling in the literal sense of the word. In Holy Communion each one of us also becomes literally God's house.
Why is Our Lady called "House of Gold?" Gold is the most beautiful, the most prized, the most durable of metals; it is the union of these three qualities that makes it so precious. When you want to give the highest praise to anything, you say it is "of gold," as for instance, "a heart of gold."
How grand is the appearance of anything made with gold—a monstrance, a chalice, for instance, or a beautifully illuminated painting. Gold glitters and sparkles as nothing else does, and at once gives an appearance of splendor and value to anything. It is the richest of all material objects. Gold is thus a worthy image of Our Lady's spiritual qualities.
We can only imagine what a splendid, rich, dazzling thing would be a church or a house all made of gold—for one does not see such a building. But we can picture it to our mind's eye as a thing of surpassing magnificence and resplendent beauty. How it would flash and glitter and sparkle in the sunlight, and how we should love to stand and gaze upon it! Just as if we could see Our Lady's soul, we should be rapt and enthralled by its spiritual splendors and brilliance.
Precious, solid, true, beautiful, and durable as gold were all Our Lady's virtues. But there is one virtue which is most specially signified by gold. It is the highest and greatest virtue, just as gold is the most precious of metals. You remember, when the Three Kings offered their gifts to Jesus, what the gold signified. It meant love, charity. You can buy anything on earth, in the material order, with gold. And in the sphere of heavenly things, you can buy everything with love. To say, then, that Our Lady is a House of Gold, means that Her soul was resplendent and glowing with charity, with love of God and Her neighbor—that is what made it so precious to God, that it was a House of Gold.
When Our Lord comes into our souls in Holy Communion, He longs to find them like Our Lady's—all "houses of gold," all full of love for Him and for our neighbor, for that is what will make them golden in His sight. He comes to make them so for us.
When some Belgian exiles in England wished to express that certain persons had shown them particular kindness, they would describe them as des cœurs d'or—hearts of gold. Love is precious to man as well as to God. Be full of love and kindness to others; that is one of the best ways to prepare for Holy Communion. We must beg of Our Lady, the "House of Gold," to give us more and more of this heavenly charity, which makes us rich and precious in God's sight. The poorest in this world's goods may thus be the richest before God. On the Day of Judgment, Our Lord will say: "Come ye, blessed of My Father," to those who have been kind and charitable.
Charity is, then, the gold which will buy for us the Kingdom of Heaven. If we have not this charity—if we are cold, selfish, and unloving and the house of our soul is not of solid gold, but poor and full of holes like a mud-hovel—we must ask Our Lady, the "House of Gold," to make it golden, to fill it with love for God and man. She only waits for us to ask Her for this favor, for She does not want to be the only "House of Gold." No, She wants every one of us to be a beautiful House of Gold in which to receive Jesus Christ, Her Divine Son.
Motto: "The devotion of all devotions is the Love of God." (St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.)
Practice: Make many acts of the love of God daily.
In the favored place of the famous warrior El Cid, the noble city of Valencia, is venerated the beautiful image of Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados (which may be translated, Our Lady of the Forsaken, Our Lady of the Homeless, or Our Lady of Orphans). In that city, embalmed by the fragrance of aromatic gardens rising majestically above the Mediterranean, there are also many temples, including the Cathedral, dedicated to the Mother of God.
The devotion of the Valencians to the Queen of Heaven is as remarkable and edifying as that witnessed in the provinces of Andalusia; Our Lady of the Forsaken is invoked by the people in all their difficulties and afflictions. Amongst the churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin is the one under the title, de los Desamparados, to which there is a Fraternity attached, established hundreds of years ago, whose origin and aim are worthy of the admiration of all who have a heart capable of appreciating works of genuine charity.
In the year 1380, ten pious men of Valencia resolved to devote their lives and fortunes to the laudable object of rescuing and providing for children abandoned by their "unnatural" parents. After mature deliberation and prayer, they organized a religious community to which they gave the name of Monte de Piedad. They then rented a house, gathered the orphans, and begged alms from door to door for them. Their charity went still further—for they received also aged and infirm people and pilgrims.
These heroic acts of charity soon reached the ears of Don Martin, King of Aragon, who, highly approving the zeal and charity of the members, declared himself their protector. After their community had been in existence twenty years, they placed themselves and their pious labors in a special manner under the protection of the Mother of God. They knew that this heavenly Mother is the Queen of Charity, and exercises it not only towards mortal men in general, but especially towards those who know how to unite the love of God with that of their neighbor.
After much prayer and deliberation, they resolved to call their community "The Fraternity of Innocent Children and of the Mother of the Forsaken." They next wished to have a statue of Mary for their new establishment lately erected by the munificence of the King of Spain. They consulted Father Juan Gilaberto, to whose zealous preaching was due, next to God, their vocation and united action. He undertook to have one executed by an excellent artist, but God, in Whose eyes works of charity and mercy are so acceptable, resolved to reward them in a miraculous manner.
It was in the year 1414 that three pilgrim youths arrived at the door of the monastery, soliciting lodging for the night. They were hospitably received by the superior, who, in the course of the evening spoke to them about the wished-for statue. They told him they were sculptors by profession and, in reward for his hospitality, and for the honor and glory of Mary, the Mother of God, they would carve him such a statue as was never before seen in all Spain. They asked to be furnished with a block of marble, tools and provisions for three days, and to be left undisturbed during that time. They locked themselves up in a large room; and, to the no small amazement of the good Abbot and his brethren, not a sound of hammer or chisel was ever heard during the three days.
The fourth day arrived without bringing any tidings of the three young men or the statue. The monks knocked repeatedly at the door without receiving any answer. At that time there was living in the city a blind and paralyzed woman, who, by her patience and resignation to the will of God through all her sufferings, had arrived at a high degree of sanctity. This holy woman, hearing of the circumstance, consulted God in prayer in order to know what was to be done. She then told the monks to force in the door and they would find their statue, but not the young men, for they were heavenly visitors.
The good priest, Father Gilaberto, opened the door, and lo! to the astonishment of all, found no sculptors, but a lovely statue of Our Blessed Lady; at the same time the holy woman was entirely cured of her paralysis and blindness. All were unanimous in the opinion that they were angels, since neither the tools nor victuals were touched by them, and the block of marble remained as when purchased. The happy news of the beautiful statue and its miraculous origin spread rapidly over the city. The inhabitants flocked to its feet to thank God and His Holy Mother for this new proof of their love. As we have said, it came to be called Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados. It is four feet high, the head a little inclined, the left arm, as usual, holding the Infant Jesus, while in the right is held a beautiful bouquet of silver. No person has ever been able to tell of what material the statue is composed.
The great number of jewels adorning this statue are very valuable, and serve to show the tender devotion and gratitude of the people for miraculous favors received. It occupied, and was venerated in the place where the angels formed it during many years, until, in the year 1489, the Bishop and clergy, seeing the wonderful miracles worked there, and the throngs of visitors becoming so great, had it removed to the Cathedral Church.
But Mary, the sweet Help of Christians, was not to be without a splendid temple for her wonder-working. The Count of Oropesa, Viceroy of Valencia in the year 1646, saw the city attacked by pestilence, and great numbers carried off, himself also contracting the disease. With a firm and unshaken faith he invoked Our Blessed Lady, and immediately the pestilence ceased. In gratitude to Mary, the people, with their Viceroy, resolved to build a noble temple that would be a lasting monument of their devotion toward Her.
With the pious Viceroy taking the lead, the citizens commenced the building, the completion of which took fifteen years. As a still further mark of their gratitude, they resolved that Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados should be publicly proclaimed the Patroness of Valencia. Accordingly, on the 18th day of March, 1697, the Archbishop, with all his clergy, the civil authorities, and all the people, amidst the booming of cannon, sounding of trumpets and loud acclamations of the people, proclaimed Her their Protectress, while Her miraculous statue was carried in procession.
The church stands in the principal plaza and is rich in architecture. It has three fonts, with arches and columns in the Ionic style. The interior of the sanctuary presents a beautiful appearance; it is oval in form, the arch frescoed, and the walls enriched with precious marbles. The miraculous statue reposes on a solid silver base in the form of a cloud.
The statue of Our Lady of the Forsaken is one of the most richly adorned in Spain—it has a crown sparkling all over with diamonds. The mother of the King, Isabella II, in the year 1859, visited Valencia and made costly donations to the Holy Shrine, putting under Mary's protection her son, Don Alfonso XII, then Prince of the Asturias. Christina of Bourbon, grandmother of King Alfonso, also gave very rich presents to this sanctuary.
There is an account of two most remarkable miracles wrought at this Shrine. The statue, as before remarked, has in its right hand a lily of silver. At one time an innocent man, condemned to death for murder, while passing by this church on his way to execution, was allowed to pray before the statue: when lo! to the astonishment of all, the right hand holding the lily was seen to move several times. The people cried: "A miracle! He is innocent! Set him free!" The Viceroy being consulted, answered: "How can I condemn him now?" The liberated man returned to the church to thank his Protectress, vowing to love and honor Her and proclaim Her praises all his life.
A rich man of Naples, Italy, was condemned to death for a murder he never committed; but Our Lady appeared to him and told him he would be set at liberty. He told his confessor of it, describing Her just like Her image in Valencia, though he had never seen or heard of Her statue there. He even described the number and appearance of the diamonds in Her crown. The next day, the real culprit gave himself up, and the innocent man was set free. He made a vow to travel until he found a statue representing Her as She appeared to him in his vision. After sixteen months' travel, he arrived in Valencia, and going to the beautiful church of Our Lady, exclaimed: "I have found what I have long sought, for there is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, my Savior, just as She appeared to me." He remained long in that holy sanctuary, returning thanks to his Blessed Mother, and then returned to his own country, full of gratitude and devotion.
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|Reference Library||The Story of Fatima||The Message of Fatima||The Fatima Cell||The Holy Rosary|
|Salve Maria Regina Bulletin||The Angel of Portugal||Promise & Plan of Our Lady||Cell Meeting Outline||Fatima Devotions & Prayers|
|Marian Apparitions & Shrines||Jacinta||Modesty||Monthly Cell Program||Seasonal Devotions|
|Calendars||Francisco||Scapular Consecration||Cell Reference Material||"The Fatima Prayers"|
|Saints||"Here You See Hell..."||Living our Consecration||Rosary Crusaders||Litany of Loreto|
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