The centennial year of Our Lady of Fatima is coming to a close. Therefore, for today’s blog, I offer a few frivolous facts about Mary. For meatier explanations, see my previous blogs about our Blessed Mother or read one of my bestselling books The Catholic Companion to Mary, which has theology as well as “tidbits” of information. For starters: A candidate for a religious men’s community showed up one morning with blue hair. The novice director inwardly groaned, but then the lad explained, “I dyed it blue in honor of Mary. Today is her feast day.”
Blue is arguably the most popular color. Apparently God likes it too because he used it lavishly in creation: the sky and oceans are blue. Oddly, blue is associated with Mary, although in Nazareth clothing was cream-colored from natural fibers. Blue dye was expensive. How then did it become Mary’s color? About 500 AD, Byzantine empresses wore blue, so in artwork Mary was given blue clothing to reflect that she is Queen of Heaven and Earth. In apparitions at Fatima and Mexico, Mary wore a blue mantle, and at Lourdes a blue sash. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant where God resided was covered with blue cloth. Mary was a flesh-and-blood ark of the covenant when the God the Son dwelt within her, so it is fitting that she be garbed in blue. Blue is the color of the heavens and therefore stands for spirituality. As such, it is a good color for the Mother of God. Blue also stands for calm and peace. Blue rooms are restful. Mary is the Queen of Peace.
Have you ever noticed that tabby cats have an M on their forehead? A charming legend is that on Christmas night a tabby cat crept into the manger. There he kept baby Jesus warm and purred him to sleep. Supposedly, Mary showed her gratitude by marking the cat with her initial.
Statues and paintings of Mary have been reported to shed tears, but many of these proved to be a hoax. In Rome long ago about a thousand little shrines to Mary were on the outside of buildings. Strangely, in 1796, for days people saw the eyes on some of these move.
In 1492 three ships set sail on the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels to carry the Good News to other people. Christopher Columbus sailed on the flagship, the Santa Maria, whose full name was St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Columbus had renamed the ship this. Each evening the crews on all three ships sang the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen). They sighted land on the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar. The second island Columbus discovered he named Santa Maria de la Conception. The first island he called San Salvador (the Savior) Island.
What little known facts about Mary are you aware of?
Please read on for a review of an excellent book . . .
BOOK REVIEW: Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace
Brian Doyle Franciscan Media $18.99
Eight Whopping Lies is a collection of thirty-eight scintillating essays by one of my favorite writers. His topics ran the gamut from infants’ push-up pants to the idiocy of war. One essay’s focus is the nail Martin Luther pounded into the beautiful church door!
Doyle’s unique observations about God and his creatures are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and sometimes so poignant that a tissue is required. He recounts personal experiences as a son, brother, dad and husband. He also describes encounters with others, such as the patient worker at the post office, who is God. All are told with the delicious words and metaphors and in the rambling sentences that never seem to need a period, which are this creative writer’s trademark.
The essays are told in the first person. They invite the reader to see the holy in the everyday and in other people . . . and to appreciate it. A splash of humor in the telling make the essays a delight to read. One can picture Doyle typing away with a twinkle in his eye.
The book begins with a remembrance from Doyle’s father, for, sadly, this gifted author died recently when he was too young. This fact makes some of his comments in the essays all the more touching. I recommend Eight Whopping Lies to anyone looking for a thought provoking yet thoroughly enjoyable read. It encourages living life to the full and with eyes wide open.