HISTORY OF OUR LADY’S INFLUENCE IN THE U.S.A.
We know that the Blessed Mother was always present in the exploration of, voyages to, and founding of the United States. Christopher Columbus, in 1492, named one of his ships the Santa Maria de Concepcion after Mary under this title. He and his crew were devoted to her and prayed the Salve Regina every night.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, of course, is the oldest Marian patroness of the Americas, as she appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1591. It seems that she has been a guiding force from Heaven for over five hundred years in this region of the world. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why our Catholic bishops chose her to protect and intercede for us in the U.S.A.
On May 13, 1846, the USCCB overwhelmingly opted for the Immaculate Conception to be the patroness of the United States of America, which was approved shortly thereafter by Pope Pius IX. They said of her intercession, “By the aid of her prayers, we entertain the confident hope that we will be strengthened to perform the arduous duties of our ministry, and that you will be enabled to practice the sublime virtues, of which her life presents the most perfect example.”
THE PATRONAGE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Interestingly, Spain also chose patronage to the Immaculate Conception, which was approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1760. This was the primary reason the U.S. Bishops unanimously decided to adopt Our Lady under this title for our own patroness – due to the connection between Spain and its direct involvement with the founding of our nation as we know it today (think of Spanish territories, such as Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and California).
By 1862, 145 Catholic churches in the United States were dedicated to or named for the Blessed Mother under the title of the Immaculate Conception. As of 1943, that number grew to 637. Consider that much of this occurred around the same time that Pope Pius IX made the declaration of faith about the Immaculate Conception, as well as the revelation of Mary to St. Bernadette Soubirous under the same title. It seems that Mary was sending a strong message to us during the nineteenth century about the importance of invoking her as the Immaculate Conception. But why?
PRAYING TO OUR LADY FOR OUR NATION
Mary as the Immaculate Conception means that she was fully, wholly united with God, from the moment of her own conception. To be immaculate is to be sinless, stainless, guileless – all of which accurately describe the Blessed Mother. It seems she was telling us through the apparition at Lourdes and the different, Providential circumstances surrounding the culture and Church throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that she wants us to be wholeheartedly devoted to God, too – to allow nothing to come between our love for and service to God, to bring about His kingdom through total devotion to Him every day.
Here are some ways you can increase your devotion to the Immaculate Conception as patroness of the United States:
>> The USCCB has a beautiful, patriotic prayer to Our Lady as the Immaculate Conception.
>> St. John Paul II wrote this prayer to the Immaculate Conception
>> PrayMoreNovenas.com offers a nine-day novena from November 30 to December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
>> Pray the Patriotic Rosary for the intentions of conversion of our nation. I love this Rosary, because you offer a Hail Mary for a specific state of the union (50 Hail Marys, 50 states), and each Our Father is dedicated to the offices of government, from local to presidential. This is a powerful prayer you can incorporate into your Independence Day festivities this year
>> Visit the National Shrine and Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. if you are up for a patriotic trip this summer
>> Distribute holy cards of the Immaculate Conception
>> Honor Our Lady under this title by putting up a statue or framed image of the Immaculate Conception in a sacred space of your home
Remember, there is truly no timeline for when you can begin or increase the depth of your love for the Blessed Mother. Today might be the day we all ponder with gratitude the ways she has protected our nation from serious pitfalls and danger, as well as how she continues to guide our families on the path of holiness each
Do you pray the Patriotic Rosary? Please share your experience with us below.
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