March 7 – Our Lady of the Star, Villa Vicosa, Portugal
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of the Star, at Villa Viciosa, in Portugal, so called from a star, which a shepherd saw shining where the church is built.”
Vila Vicosa, and not Villa Viciosa, is a Portuguese village in the district of Evora having a population of about 5400 people. There are five parishes: Bencatel, Ciladas, Cponceicao, Pardais, and Sao Bartolomeu.
Our Lady of the Star translates roughly to Nossa Senhora da Estrela in Portuguese, and I located information about a convent, Convento Nossa Senhora da Estrela, in Portugal, but the convent is not located in Vila Vicosa. I also learned that there is an Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Vicosa, which is a dynastic order whose Grand Master is the head of the Portuguese Royal family. The medal for the order is a kind of star. The order, however, was not instituted until the year 1818, and thus cannot be what the Abbot Orsini was referring to.
Then there is the Shrine of Our Lady of the Conception of Vila Vicosa, which is also known as the Solar (Star or Sun?) Patroness. The church is located outside the medieval walls of the town’s castle, and the date and manner of its founding are unknown. The present church is the results of the reform of King Sebastian in the year 1569, and marble from the region is the predominate material used in the construction.
The people of Portugal believe that they were the first in the world to accept the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It is known for certain that it was during the reign of King Don Juan IV when the University of Coimbra and all of the bishops approved his initiative of offering the Kingdom of Portugal to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception. The image of Our Lady at Vila Vicosa was proclaimed Patroness of Portugal on March 25th, 1646. Since that time no Portuguese monarchs of the House of Braganca ever again put the royal crown on their own heads. This decision of the Portuguese people and their nation has never been revoked by any governmental agency, and thus it remains in force to this very day.
If you have any information on this title of Mary, please forward it to this site to help complete the most comprehensive listing of the titles of Mary in the Marian Calendar available anywhere on the web! Thank you, and may God Bless you.
Our Lady of the Star Portugal
I have very limited information about this feast of Mary. Have you visited this shrine? Do you have more information, or a great story about this? Please share it!
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