Our Lady of Succor
In 1613 the Spanish governor of Manila sent out a small fleet made up of two large galleys and several barques, to assist a neighboring settlement which was under siege by pirates. The two galleys were named for Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Guidance.
The chief gunner on the Guadalupe was one Francis Lopez, a man given to all kinds of wickedness. He had only one soft spot in his hard heart, and that was for Our Lady of the Rosary. Wicked as he was, he never neglected this offering to the Mother of Mercy.
On the voyage in question, the Guadalupe struck a rock and sank and everyone had to swim for shore. Francis arrived safely, but promptly got embroiled in a free-for-all with the native galley slaves, who saw an opportunity to escape from the Spaniards. The slaves entrenched themselves behind the cliffs and rolled rocks down on their former masters. Francis was horribly wounded and left for dead, when the few survivors pulled away in a boat, sent from the Guidance.
For two weeks he lay helpless and in a frightful state from his wounds. He was surrounded by the dead, and deserted by the living. In his lucid moments he prayed not to Our Lady of Succor, not to be delivered or for his heath to be restored, but for a priest. Francis was in no state to face God without confession, and he begged Our Lady of the Rosary to send him a priest.
Two weeks later, the other galley was in trouble and blown off its course. It was carried into the straits where the Guadalupe had gone down, and with all the efforts of the crew, it could not be gotten around the cape. Finally the captain gave up, dropped anchor, and sent the crew ashore for fresh water. One of the sailors heard someone calling his name.
The wounded man he found was almost too horrible to look upon, but his request was plain enough, “For the love of God, get me a priest!” The Franciscan chaplain of the Guidance was hastily summoned, and the man made his confession, and then died.
Favorable winds filled the sails of the Guidance, and in an hour the vessel was back on course. Back in Manilla, the sacristans were decorating the sanctuary for a feast. Dusting around the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary, one of the ladies noticed an odd fact.
“His little shoes are wet and muddy,” she said, pointing to the Infant, “and Our Lady’s skirts are damp and full of wet sand, as though she had been walking on the beach!”
The prior, Father Michael Ruiz, was summoned to see the phenomenon. He confirmed that the Mother’s robe and the Baby’s shoes showed definite signs of a journey in a wet sandy place, and that the niche where the statue stood was perfectly dry. He carefully noted the day and the time, and summoned a visiting Franciscan who examined the statue and finally took the Baby’s sandals to his room with him as a proof of the incident.
Weeks later when the Guidance came home, the story was put together. Our Lady of Succor had heard the cry of her wandering child, and no one ever doubted that the sand on her robe came from the beach where Lopez died, calling on her for help.
*from The Woman in Orbit
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