Feast of Our Lady of Montevergine and Memorials of the Saints – 1 September

Our Lady of Montevergine:
Also known as –
• Madonna di Montevergine
• Madonna Bruna
• Mamma Schiavona
One of the so-called Black Madonnas, image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, normally holding the Christ Child, who have been “inculturated”, that is, made the little Jewish girl Mary look more like the people in the area of the artist, or which are actually black in color. This one serves as part of the altar piece of the Sanctuary on Montevergine. This site is the goal of thousands of pilgrims each year.
More on Our Lady of Montevergine here:

Abigail the Matriarch
St Aegidius
St Agia
St Anea
St Arcanus
St Arealdo of Brescia
Bl Colomba of Mount Brancastello
St Constantius the Bishop
St Donatus of Sentianum
St Felix of Sentianum
St Fiacre (Died 670)
St Gideon the Judge

St Giles (c 650 – c 710) One of the 14 Holy Helpers
About St Giles here:
About the 14 Holy Helpers here:

Bl Giustino of Paris
Bl Giovanna Soderini
St Jane Soderini
St Joshua the Patriarch
Bl Juliana of Collalto
St Laetus of Dax
St Lupus of Sens (Died 623) Bishop
St Lythan
St Nivard of Rheims
St Priscus
St Regulus
St Sixtus of Rheims
St Terentian
St Verena
St Victorious
St Vincent of Xaintes

Exiles of Campania
Twelve Holy Brothers: Martyrs of the South –
A group of Martyrs who died c 303 at various places in southern Italy. In 760 their relics were brought together and enshrined in Benevento, Italy as a group.
• Saint Arontius of Potenza
• Saint Donatus of Sentianum
• Saint Felix of Sentianum
• Saint Felix of Venosa
• Saint Fortunatus of Potenza
• Saint Honoratus of Potenza
• Saint Januarius of Venosa
• Saint Repositus of Velleianum
• Saint Sabinian of Potenza
• Saint Sator of Velleianum
• Saint Septiminus of Venosa
• Saint Vitalis of Velleianum
One tradition describes Saint Boniface of Hadrumetum and Saint Thecla of Hadrumetum as their parents.

Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Martyred Hospitallers of Saint John of God – (12 beati)
• Blessed Alejandro Cobos Celada
• Blessed Alfonso Sebastiá Viñals
• Blessed Amparo Carbonell Muñoz
• Blessed Antonio Villanueva Igual
• Blessed Carmen Moreno Benítez
• Blessed Crescencio Lasheras Aizcorbe
• Blessed Enrique López y López
• Blessed Francesc Trullen Gilisbarts
• Blessed Guillermo Rubio Alonso
• Blessed Isidro Gil Arano
• Blessed Joaquim Pallerola Feu
• Blessed Joaquín Ruiz Cascales
• Blessed José Franco Gómez
• Blessed José Prats Sanjuán
• Blessed Josep Samsó y Elias
• Blessed Manuel Mateo Calvo
• Blessed Mariano Niño Pérez
• Blessed Maximiano Fierro Pérez
• Blessed Miquel Roca Huguet
• Blessed Nicolás Aramendía García
• Blessed Pedro Rivera
• Blessed Pio Ruiz De La Torre


One Minute Reflection – 1 September – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 25:14–30 and The 4th World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

One Minute Reflection – 1 September – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 25:14–30 – Saturday of the Twenty-first week in Ordinary Time, Year B and The 4th World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

“For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property….”…Matthew 25:14

REFLECTION – “The universal destination and the private ownership of goods – In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labour and enjoy their fruits (Gn 1:26-29). The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race.   However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. the appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge.   It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.   The right to private property… does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind, the universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.
In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself” (Vatican II, GS 69).   The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.   Goods of production… oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number.   Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.”…Catechism of the Catholic Church § 2402-2405matthew 24 14 - for it will be as when a man going on a journey-the ownership of property ccc2402-2405 1 sept 2018

PRAYER – Holy God and Father, help us by Your grace, to remain “good and faithful servants” so that we may use all You have bestowed upon us and left to our care, in the loving care of our neighbour and of Your gifts.   May Mary, the Mother of Your divine Son and our Mother, walk at our side and teach us to be true children and users of our talents and Your creation.   May we guard Your world with great wisdom.   Holy Mother of Montevergine, pray for us, that we may one day enter “into the joy of our Lord”.   We make our prayer, through Christ, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.our lady of montevergine pray for us - 1 sept 2018


1 September – The Memorial of Our Lady of Montevergine

1 September – The Memorial of Our Lady of Montevergine (c 401-460) – Patroness of Catalonia.   This painting of Our Lady in her sanctuary, a Benedictine abbey, on Mount Partenio, 56 km East of Naples.   In the charming medieval town of Mercogliano you catch the “funicular” or “cob train” that climbs a breath-taking slope in 7 minutes. (Or you can drive a winding road all the way up.)  Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., the painting is on wood 460 x 230 cm and some say dates probably from around 1290 though according to local legend, the face was painted by St Luke the Evangelist and seems to actually stem from the 5th century.Our Lady of Montevergine - maxresdefault

This is one of quite a few Black Madonnas that are attributed to Luke the Evangelist. Tradition says he painted only the head of Mary, which was later fitted into the larger icon.   The whole is considered a “Hodegetria” type of Madonna, i.e. “she who points/shows the way” or “the guide”, so called because her right hand points at Jesus as the way to salvation.   While the Virgin of Montevergine isn’t actually in the classical Hodegetria pose, she is nonetheless known as the Hodegetria of Constantinople.

Tradition recounts that Eudocia (c. 401-460), the wife of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II, brought Saint Luke’s original portrait of the Virgin from Palestine to Constantinople.   There it was fitted into a very large icon of Mary and Jesus and greatly revered with weekly ceremonies described thus:

“Every Tuesday twenty men come to the church of Maria Hodegetria;  they wear long red linen garments, covering up their heads like stalking clothes … there is a great procession and the men clad in red go one by one up to the icon;  the one with whom the icon is pleased is able to take it up as if it weighed almost nothing.   He places it on his shoulder and they go chanting out of the church to a great square, where the bearer of the icon walks with it from one side to the other, going fifty times around the square.   When he sets it down others take it up in turn.”   Another account says, as the bearers staggered around the crowd, the icon seemed to lurch towards onlookers, who were then considered blessed by the Virgin.   Clergy touched pieces of cotton-wool to the icon and handed them out to the crowd.   The image was double-sided, with the crucifixion of Jesus on the other side.   This makes sense if it was painted for processions.”   Madonna_di_Montevergine-2

While the Polish people claim the Hodegetria of Constantinople ended up at Czestochowa and the Russians believe it to be their “Hodegetria of Smolensk”, destroyed during the German occupation in 1941, the Italians maintain that their Mama of Montevergine is the original first Black Madonna painted by St Luke.

As it turns out they may almost be right.   The original sacred image disappeared during the fall of Constantinople in 1453 but this one may actually be the oldest, still extant Western copy of it.   At least that’s what Margherita Guarducci, an illustrious scholar of art history and archaeology claims.   She investigated the famous “Slave Mama” of Montevergine in the 1990’s using newest technology.   It turns out that the bust was painted over several times and previous analyses could only reach down to the layer that was created in the 13th century.   But now Guarducci discovered another, deeper layer painted on linen burlap with a type of paint that was used in the 5th century.

But back to the capital of the East-Roman Empire, Italian traditions say that as the last Latin Emperor of Constantinople, Baldwin II, was escaping the besieged city in 1261, he took the head of the icon (the part attributed to Luke) with him.   Later it came into the possession of the Angevin dynasty, the House of Anjou, who had it inserted again into a much larger image of Mary and the Christ child.   Around the year 1300 they gave the icon to the sanctuary on Montevergine.madonna-di-montevergine-aka-our-lady-of-montevergine-avellino-italy

As so many Black Madonna sanctuaries, so this one too started out as a Pagan holy site dedicated to the goddess Cybele.   Tradition says that in the early 11th century, when Paganism was still practised in remote parts of Europe, St William of Vercelli (1085-1142) Founder of the Congregation of Montevergine or “Willliamites”, the patron saint of Irpinia, decided to turn this mountain shrine to Cybele the Great Mother of the Gods, into a sanctuary of Mary the Most Holy Mother of God.   He gathered a little band of monks around him and occupied the place for Christianity. The first real church was consecrated in 1124.   It was destroyed and rebuilt several times.   The current monastery, guest house and sanctuary date from between the 18th and 20th centuries.   Architecturally they are not very interesting but the basilica is richly decorated and the whole place lies in breathtaking scenery.   From the images it is difficult to grasp that the icon is quite large, with a height of over 3,65 meters and width of over 1,80 meters.

Why “Slave Mama”?
Why is this Black Madonna, along with some of her other Italian sisters, called Slave Mama?   Because in the mind of old time Italians her dark complexion marked her as one of the serving class, the Mother of all Slaves.   An old folk song recounts how the Madonna of Montevergine was ashamed that her dark skin made her look like a slave.   It made her the ugliest of the “six sisters” (six famous Madonnas in the Campania region).   So she hid her face on this mountain.   But lo and behold, the song concludes, this Brown Mama turned out to be the most miraculous and hence the most beautiful of them all.
The local peasants love their Slave Mama more than any other Madonna because she is the mother of all those who are chained to hard work.   She understands their plight.   As another folk song says:  “You alone lighten our chains, the chains to hard work, a thousand years of hard work and thousands of sweats”.
To the more politically minded (and there are many of those in Italy) the divine Slave Mama is also the mother of all who are oppressed or outcast.

Today, it is reported that over one-and-one-half million pilgrims yearly pay homage to Our Lady of Montevergine.   The most popular day is Pentecost.   There have been numerous miracles attributed to this portrait of the Mother of God and her Divine Son.