December 16: Our Lady of Good or Happy Deliverance, brought from Madrid, Spain, to Saint Augustine, Florida (1565)
Institution of the celebrated confraternity of Our Lady of Good Deliverance, in the Church of Saint Stephen des Gres, at Paris, about the year 1533, to which Gregory XIII granted ample indulgences in the year 1581.
In our nation’s oldest city stand the Shrine of Christian Motherhood, patroness for the glorious ideas of a truly Christian home – Our Lady of Milk and Happy Deliverance, brought from Madrid, Spain, and now famous in the United States of America.
This history of the shrine begins in 1565 when the Spaniards went ashore at what is now Saint Augustine, Florida. On the hallowed spot where the first Holy Mass was celebrated, the shrine of Our Lady was built. A bright, smiling statue of the Virgin, nursing the Infant, named La Leche (the milk) statue.
England wanted Spanish Florida and in 1765 it became her colony – a political pawn. Twenty years later England returned Florida to Spain. During these years the Spanish had sought refuge in Cuba, taking with them all religious articles and treasures. The Statue was taken aboard a refugee ship, which disappeared on the sea. Returning to Florida in 1783, the Spaniards prayed for their statue to be returned. In 1822 Spain sold Florida to the United States, and in 1875 the Church bought the site of the shrine. Raids, massacres and land disputes did not lessen the devotion paid the Mother of God. Their shrine was gone; their beautiful statue lost at sea. Still, Catholic mothers paid tribute to Mary. For two centuries the search for the statue continued. In 1938 Artist John Duer was commissioned to do a second copy from the original statue in Madrid, Spain. The La Leche chapel also contains the remains of Admiral Menendez, founder of Saint Augustine.
Every year on Low Sunday there is a solemn pilgrimage to the shrine and the statue is carried in procession. More and more mothers and fathers from every state in the union are joining the pilgrimage each year. They know the need of more fervent devotion to the Blessed Mother. La Leche spans time – from the era of faith in God and the love of motherhood to our modern era of indifference to God and the collapse of families. Those who take part in this devotion express their belief in God as the Giver of Life and openly rebuke the organizations advocating birth control. They are fearlessly protesting against self-styled leaders who trample the ideals of family life.
Today’s mothers must beg intercession from Our Mother Mary for the preservation of the Christian family. They mush model their home life after that of the Holy Family.
Not only will the Virgin of La Leche help those who turn to her in pregnancy; she is anxious to aid all families, who desire to preserve the glorious ideas of a truly Christian home. Mary is the Mother of us all, and she will not refuse any favor, of whatever nature it might be; she will give us the milk of her loving kindness in every need, just for the asking.
*from The Woman in Orbit.
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