THE FAIREST FLOWER OF PARADISE - CONSIDERATIONS ON THE LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ENRICHED WITH EXAMPLES DRAWN FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS BY Very Rev. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O. S. M.
"And he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti." (Esther, ii, 17.)
THE resurrection and assumption of Mary were immediately followed by her coronation in heaven. Mary's entry into glory was celebrated with tokens of the greatest joy by all the denizens of the Celestial Court. The Incarnate Word arose on His Mother's entrance, and seated her at His right hand. He then placed upon her head a crown fairer and more resplendent than any diadem bespangled with the most precious gems: Corona aurea super mitram eius. (Ecclus. xlv, 14.) Then, with one accord, the Angelic choirs made heaven ring with the glad melody: Regina Caeli, laetare, alleluia!
On the crown which adorned Mary's brow were graven the titles of her excellence and the most glorious deeds she had achieved in her mortal life.
Ah, indeed, Mary was worthy to be crowned in heaven. Had she not, by the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son, crushed the proud head of the infernal serpent? Had she not offered herself and her beloved Jesus to death for the redemption of mankind? Was she not that unconquerable Virgin who triumphed over the world and the devil?
Rejoice, my soul, that Mary, thy Mother, has been crowned by the Almighty, Queen of All Saints, and proclaimed by Him Sovereign and Mistress of heaven and earth.
Amongst the saints reigning in heaven, there are some who, besides the crown of glory which decks their brows, possess also a distinctive mark, in token of some peculiar merit they have acquired in life. This mark is called aureola, and it is of three kinds; that of the Martyrs, of the Doctors and of the Virgins.
The Mother of God did not receive an aureola properly speaking, because her crown of glory is so dazzlingly bright, as to eclipse all distinctive marks of singular excellence. The spotless purity of her soul, the ardent charity which burned in her immaculate heart, her profound knowledge of the divine mysteries, all these things were perfectly expressed by the matchless splendor of her crown of glory, which outshone in its brilliancy the beauty of all the crowns of lesser saints put together.
While the sun robed Mary with its royal mantle, and the moon was set as a footstool under her feet, twelve shining stars encircled her head with radiant splendor, as though to enhance yet more her crown of glory: they were, as it were, the outward expression of the extraordinary virtues and precious gifts which adorned her soul.
Though crowned with such exceeding glory, Mary did not, however, lose anything of that sweet mother-love infused into her heart by God, when, at the foot of the cross, she was appointed our spiritual Mother. On the contrary, her kindness, her mercy, her compassion for us are intensified in proportion to her exaltation. She now uses her high position only to aid us and load us with benefits.
Ah, how happy should we esteem ourselves to have for our Queen such an exalted creature, who is at the same time the most tender of mothers!
It often-times happens that the images of Mary, venerated in the most renowned sanctuaries of the world, are crowned with solemn pomp by the prelates of the Church. Such ceremonies are but a faint and far-off shadow of the august pageantry of her coronation in heaven. It would he wrong to see in these acts a vain pretension or a rash temerity; it is only filial piety which prompts the Church to crown here below the image of her, who became at the foot of the cross our Advocate and Mother.
The Redeemer, in placing on Mary's brow a crown of everlasting glory, desired to bear witness to the fidelity of His Mother. In the same way, the golden crowns with which the sacred ministers adorn the images of the Immaculate Virgin, are meant as tokens of grateful homage on the part of humanity at large to its supreme Benefactress. It is, furthermore, an act of reparation for the ingratitude whereof so many are guilty toward her, and an expression of love in atonement for the many offenses which, alas! sinners commit against our august and merciful Queen. And Mary, as a kind and loving Mother, does not disdain such acts of atonement, but graciously accepts them as tokens of mankind's filial love.
Example - The miraculous cure of two dumb boys
A pious custom exists in Catholic countries of placing, on the exterior walls of houses some picture or statue of our blessed Lady, whereby those who pass by may be reminded to render homage to the Queen of Heaven. How pleasing such acts of reverence are to the Mother of God, may be seen from the miracles which took place in the town of Reggio, in Emilia, on the evening of the twenty-ninth of April, 1596.
The Religious of the Order of the Servants of Mary had painted on the outward side of their garden wall a picture of Our Lady, and the citizens never failed to salute it when passing. The devotion of the people toward this picture increased as time went on, and little children used to come with their parents every evening to sing the praises of Mary before it.
It happened, one day, while several people were gathered together, that among these pious visitors was found a boy of fifteen named Mark, of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, who was both deaf and dumb. While he was kneeling with hands joined in prayer, expressing in this way his tender affection toward Our Lady, he suddenly felt his tongue growing in his mouth, and transported by joy he exclaimed: "Jesus Mary!" Mary had answered the prayer of the poor boy. He was perfectly cured.
The fame of this miracle spread far and wide, and soon reached the ears of the Bishop of Modena, Monsignor Claudius Rangoni, who ordered a process of this event to be canonically instituted.
Meanwhile another young boy, who also was dumb, had recourse to the same image of Our Lady, and suddenly recovered the use of his tongue. The Sovereign Pontiff, Clement VIII, hearing of these marvelous occurrences, declared the picture to be miraculous and ordered that it should be venerated as such by all the faithful.
But miracle succeeded miracle and on the sixth of June of the following year, 1597, in the presence of Alphonsus II duke of Ferrara, Modena e Reggio and of his consort Margaret Gonzaga, the first stone of a magnificent church was solemnly blessed. This church is now known as the "Shrine of Our Lady of Ghiara." (From Annals of the Order of the Servants of Mary.)
We rejoice with thee, O Virgin Immaculate, at the glory which thy Son, true God and true Man, heaped upon thee on the day of thy coronation. Grant, we beseech thee, that we too, after this short life, may be admitted to contemplate thine incomparable glory in heaven. Amen.