As I worked on my latest book about Mary, my research uncovered some interesting facts. Hope you enjoy reading them:
• This is the fact I found most interesting: During the Middle Ages Europe’s crops were plagued by pests. After farmers prayed to Mary, beetles appeared that preserved the crops. These beetles were dubbed ladybugs in honor of Our Lady! Their red color was said to resemble her cloak, and their seven black dots were thought to represent her seven sorrows.
• The Marianum in Rome, a pontifical institute for the study of Mariology, offers a master’s degree and a doctorate in the field. Its library holds more than 85,000 books on Mary!
• The Protoevangelium of James (Gospel of James) from about 150 AD is apocryphal, not considered divinely inspired. The Church, however, drew from it the traditional names for Mary’s parents. One of its stories also gave rise to the November 21 celebration of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple at age three.
• The flagship Christopher Columbus sailed on to America was the Santa Maria. Its full name was Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Missionary and explorer Jacques Marquette, S.J., who discovered the Mississippi River, named it River of the Immaculate Conception. (Maryland was named by King Charles I of England for his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria.)
• The mystics Saint Bridget of Sweden, Venerable Mary of Agreda, and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich supply details about Mary that allegedly were revealed to them in visions. Some of these details are contradictory, for example, how long after Jesus’ death Mary was assumed into heaven.
• In 2020, Pope Francis added three titles to the Litany of Loreto: Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope, and Solace of Migrants.
• The prayer We Fly to Thy Patronage (Sub Tuum Praesidium) is the oldest Marian prayer.
• Under a variety of titles Mary is the patroness of all fifty states in the United States. See Elizabeth Scalia’s Litany to the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States of America at https://bit.ly/3irBZAY.
• Arguably the most well-known Marian hymn is “O Sanctissima,” which was first published in 1792 and thought to have originated with Sicilian seamen invoking Mary’s protection each evening.
• Saint Padre Pio observed, “In times of darkness, holding the rosary beads is like holding your Blessed Mother’s hand.”
• In the eleventh century Lady Godiva bequeathed her paternoster of precious gems to a monastery. This paternoster, a forerunner of the rosary, was a circle of beads on which Our Fathers were prayed. Pater noster is Latin for “our father.”
• No doubt the 322-foot statue Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace in the Philippines is the tallest one of Mary.
• Notre Dame is one of around eighty cathedrals in Mary’s honor built in France from 1140 to 1280.
• The largest Christian church in the world is also named for Mary: the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’ Ivoire (Ivory Coast), in Africa. This basilica is larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
My book was published on May 13, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima!