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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Privileges at Our Lady's Altar

Fr. Scott A. Haynes


THE STORY OF AN UNUSAL PENANCE



In holy obedience, the novice prays at the Altar of Our Lady awaiting her answer.


A supernatural occurrence took occurred in the Franciscan Monastery of Alenquer, which was located in Portugal, in the year 1224. There was a novice with a pure heart who was guilty of committing a little fault in the observance of the religious rule of the community, and as part of his penance, the Master of Novices instructed him not to go from the Altar in the Lady Chapel in the Chapter Hall until she had revealed to him the prayer that she enjoyed the most.


The Novice Master imposed an unusual punishment. Why? Perhaps he was inspired by some exceptional grace, in which case he was anticipating some extraordinary fact, or he sought to test the novice's obedience and humility to see how he would fare.


The novice did not give up and spent the entire day kneeling in prayer in front of Mary's Altar. As the night progressed, he addressed Our Lady with words that came from the depths of his heart and were filled with great affection. He said:

"O Most Holy Virgin, Mother of Pity, I humbly beg Thee to manifest to this Thy servant what the Master commanded me by obedience to ask of Thee. Blessed Mother, I will not leave from this place without an answer."


O amazing marvel! Behold the Queen of the Angels, who, bending forward from the altar where she stood and responding, Behold the Queen of the Angels!

Speaking to the novice, the Virgin Mother Mary said:

"Go, beloved son, and tell your Master that the hymn O Gloriosa Domina that the Church sings to me is, amongst all the prayers, the one that most pleases me. And to prove that what I say you is true, this, my Infant, who until now I held in my right arm, I now pass to my left arm. For this reason, you may go with confidence and give my response, for when all will see such an extraordinary marvel, they will believe what you say. So go, and invite the Master and the other religious to come visit me."


The novice, who had been greatly comforted by such a magnificent favor, thanked Our Lady, and then proceeded to tell the Master of Novices about what had occurred. The latter proceeded to the Altar in the Chapter Hall, where they were met by all of the monastery. After seeing the miracle, everyone believed what Our Lady had spoken to the novice regarding the prayer "O Gloriosa Domina."


Since that time, devotion to Our Lady has continued to develop even up to the present day. Since that day forward, the Holy Infant has remained in Our Lady's left arm, testifying to the miracle that took place, while the marks in the sculpture have remained indicating that the Divine Child had previously rested in Our Lady's right arm.


In order to pay tribute to this miraculous occurrence, on every Saturday evening, following the conclusion of the Compline service and the tolling of the Great Bell, the entire Monastery makes its way in procession to the Chapter with lit candles. They sing the hymn "O Gloriosa Domina" in a manner that is serious and full of devotion.


It would appear that this was the point in time when St. Anthony first developed his profound devotion to this hymn. He would recite it to himself whenever he was facing a significant obstacle, such as the night that the Devil made an attempt to drown him as a kind of retaliation for the significant amount of success that his preaching had brought about in Italy. When Saint Anthony began to sing this hymn, the Devil immediately fled.



Latin Text


O Gloriosa domina excelsa super sidera, qui te creavit provide, lactas sacrato ubere. Quod Eva tristis abstulit, tu reddis almo germine; intrent ut astra flebiles, sternis benigna semitam. Tu regis alti ianua et porta lucis fulgida; vitam datam per Virginem, gentes redemptae, plaudite. Patri sit Paraclito tuoque Nato gloria, qui veste te mirabili circumdederunt gratiae. Amen.


English Translation


O Heaven's glorious mistress, elevated above the stars, thou feedest with thy sacred breast him who created thee. What miserable Eve lost thy dear offspring to man restores, the way to glory is open to the wretched for thou has become the Gate of Heaven. Thou art the door of the High King, the gate of shining light. Life is given through a Virgin: Rejoice, ye redeemed nations. Glory be to Thee, O Lord, Born of a Virgin, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

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