QUESTION TIME with Father John Flader
Q: A friend recently told me about devotion surrounding a statue in Ecuador known as Our Lady of Good Success and about a 17th century nun associated with it who had revelations about the 20th century which have proved very accurate. Can you tell me about this?
A: I HADN’T heard about this devotion or the nun until you sent me the question and I have found the whole matter quite fascinating.
I will write about the image and the nun in this column and reserve the revelations for the next one.
The image has its origin around 1606 in Spain when two Brothers of the newly-founded Order of Minims for the Service of the Sick were on their way to Rome to ask the pope for official approval of their order.
When they were near the Catalonian town of Traigueras a fierce storm broke out and they feared for their lives.
They prayed to Our Lady for help and then saw a soft light in the mountains and headed toward it. They found a cave with the fragrance of flowers that surrounded a beautiful statue of Our Lady. She had Jesus in her left arm, a sceptre in her right and a precious crown on her head.
They fell on their knees in veneration, wondering how the statue came to be in that remote place. The next day they inquired of the local people about the cave and the statue but no one knew anything about them. The brothers then took the statue with them to Rome.
They told Pope Paul V what had happened and he not only acknowledged the supernatural character of the discovery but also approved the new order, placing it under the protection of Our Lady, to whom he gave the name Our Lady of Good Success.
It should be understood that the word “suceso” in Spanish does not mean success, but rather “event” or “happening”.
Back in Spain the statue was placed in the Royal Hospital of Madrid and it soon became famous when numerous favours were granted through it. In 1641 King Philip III ordered the construction of a beautiful shrine for it in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. But how did the devotion reach Ecuador? The answer is to be found with the nun, Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres.
She was born Mariana Francisca Cadiz in the Spanish province of Vizcaya in 1563.
On the day of her First Communion at the age of nine, Our Lady appeared to her and told her she would be a religious of her Immaculate Conception in the New World.
In 1577, at the age of 13, Mariana left Spain in the company of her aunt, Mother Maria de Jesus Taboada and four other Sisters, to found a Royal Convent of the Order of the Immaculate Conception in Quito, Ecuador. Mariana joined the order and over the years was the abbess three times.
On February 2, 1610, Our Lady appeared to her and asked that a statue be made of her under the title Mary of Good Success of the Purification. The statue, similar to the one in Madrid, was to be placed above the abbess’ chair in the choir because Our Lady wanted to be the one to govern and watch over the convent.
The statue was commissioned and it was blessed on February 2, 1611. The feast of Our Lady of Good Success, both in Spain and in Ecuador, is celebrated on February 2. One of the most extraordinary aspects of Mother Mariana’s life was the fact that she died three times, as attested to by records in the archives of the convent and the diocese.
The first time was in 1582, when she was only 18 or 19. Standing before the judgment seat of God, she was given the choice of remaining in heaven or returning to earth to suffer as an expiatory victim for the sins of the 20th century. She chose the latter. Her second death was on Good Friday in 1588 after an apparition in which she saw the terrible abuses and heresies that would exist in the Church in our own times.
She arose two days later on Easter Sunday morning. She finally died on January 16, 1635.
Miracles through her intercession immediately followed and when her body was exhumed in 1906 during the remodelling of the convent it was found to be incorrupt. It is preserved there today. Her process of canonisation is open and she has been declared Venerable.