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|Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás
Nuestra Señora del Rosario de San Nicolás
|Location||San Nicolás de los Arroyos Buenos Aires province, Argentina|
|Date||1884, rediscovered 1983|
|Type||Plaster statue, crowned|
|Holy See approval||local ordinary, Bishop Cardelli of Roman Catholic Diocese of San Nicolás de los Arroyos|
|Shrine||Sanctuary of Our Lady of Rosary of San Nicolás, Buenos Aires province, Argentina|
Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás is a title of veneration of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism associated with the phenomena of private revelation to a middle-aged housewife (beginning in the 1980s in city of San Nicolás de los Arroyos Argentina) tasked with promoting devotion to the Mother of God under this title, with an emphasis on key passages in the Bible and a particular mystical stellar symbolism. The devotional image, that of a standing Madonna offering rosary beads to the faithful, resembles that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel offering the scapular to St. Simon Stock, while differing from traditional Dominican Seat-of-Wisdom-type depictions popularized by the Order of Preachers—consecrated religious men and women following the rule of St Dominic de Guzman remembered for his renewal of lay Christian piety with rosary devotions—associated with commemoration of the victory at the Battle of Lepanto and the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (seen for example in the Italian altarpiece known as Our Lady of Pompei).
The parish church dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari was inaugurated in 1884 and furnished with a statue of Our Lady donated by a member of the local Confraternity of the Rosary, (promoted during the papacy of Pope Leo XIII, popularly known as The Rosary Pope, author of several encyclicals on Marian devotion under her title Queen of Peace).
A century later an Argentinian lay woman Gladys Quiroga de Motta received a number of private revelations from the Virgin Mary, beginning in 1983 on the September 25 a date now commemorated as the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás. Announced by unusually radiant, glowing rosary beads and followed by a number of brief visions, Gladys subsequently received repeated interior locutions, beginning on October 13 the anniversary of apparitions at Fátima. Specific messages led to the discovery—and restoration to veneration—of a long-neglected statue of a Madonna carrying the Christ Child. Occurring at the close of the twentieth century the messages mirror those given at the beginning of the twentieth century where the Virgin Mary reportedly identified herself as the Lady of the Rosary at Fátima in Portugal. Following approval of the spiritual merits by local religious authorities, a new church dedicated to Marian devotion under this title was erected as requested by Our Lady during the apparitions.
Every September 25, the city of San Nicolás hosts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and faithful who meet to venerate and honor the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of St Nicholas. In 2003, on the twentieth anniversary of the first alleged apparition of Our Lady, the second largest group ever congregated: 400,000 faithful. Pilgrims came from all the provinces of Argentina, with a group of more than 1,000 people from Buenos Aires who travelled the whole 240 km distance on foot: a distance three times greater than that from Buenos Aires to the national Basilica of Our Lady of Luján. On September 25, 2013, thirty years after the first apparition of Our Lady, 500.000 people gathered surpassing the record of 2004 when the greatest number of pilgrims visited.
The church was built according to plans to accommodate 8,000 to 9,000 people standing within the ground floor and special mezzanines. Additional terraces and esplandades were built to accommodate greater numbers at outdoor events.
The 24-meter diameter dome (exterior 27 meters), comprising a vertical arrangement of 64 sections of reinforced concrete faced on the exterior with copper plating, is visible from many locations in the city. Construction in currently 70% complete.
On May 25, 2014 the interior of the Sanctuary was inaugurated in its entirety.
In August 1990, the French theologian René Laurentin an expert in Marian devotions and the seers and mystics associated with them, published the results of his study of the apparitions in over 163 pages produced during his visit to the city. He acknowledged a collaboration with Monsignor Domingo Salvador Castagna|es, Marie Helene Sutter de Gall and Father Carlos Pérez, the priest in whom Gladys Motta confided her spiritual experiences.
In 1994, the historian Cayetano Bruno|es from the nearby city of Rosario seat of the Archbishop Metropolitan of the suffran diocese of San Nicolás published his "History of the Manifestations of Our Lady of the Rosary of St Nicholas" compiled from testimonies and official records kept in the Archives of the Sanctuary.
A 1990 book titled "Messages" records a compendium of the messages in the words of the visionary Gladys Motta as received during apparitions since 1987. In a similar fashion 1991, Victor Martinez published his book titled "Who is this woman?"
The messages are remarkable in studies of Roman Catholic Mariology for their frequent quotation from Old Testament scriptures. Biblical semiosography consecrates time with a seventh day of rest after six days of Divine creation of the cosmos ex nihilo. Common to religious observations and worship of Divine Providence in JudeoChristian cultures is a cycle of pastoral seasons revolving around the sabbath. For example, the Jewish Festival of Weeks, in Hebrew שבועות shavuot meaning "seven sevens" (a week of weeks or 49 days) coincides with Simchat Torah, the commemoration of the Giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai after a Passover deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Pentecost, the Christian culmination of the Pascal season, is derived from the Greek Πεντηκοστή, meaning fifty days. Indeed, a full pastoral-liturgical year—approximated with primitive calculations using a lunar calendar of 12 lunations—can be seen to be roughly equivalent to a week of week of weeks, or seven to the power three (7³).
Eight verses from the 13th 'Lāmed ל (Greek lambda) strophe of Psalm 119 were cited in a lectio divina-styled instruction received in mid-November 1983. In the system of Greek numerals - as in Hebrew gematria - lambda has a value of 30, representing a month in the lunar cycle and thus the female, maternal character in classical poetry and ancient cultures. Psalm 119 is associated with the Gospel proclamation of the kingdom concluding the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' teaching of the Beatitudes as fulfilment of the Decalog found in Matthew and Luke.
A sacramental medal, developed upon a request received during the apparitions, features an impression of the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary on the front face. On the obverse, ten stars are arranged in a traditional vesica piscis format indicating the two natures of Christ: his humanity born of Mary and divinity as second person of the Trinity. A distinctive three-and-seven arrangement resembles that found on the Order of Charles III. The lower three stars are conjoined as vertices of an isosceles triangle signifying the perichoresis of the indwelling of the three Divine persons in the Trinity. The remaining seven call to mind the graces of faith in Jesus Christ celebrated in seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church: the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, the 7 infused virtues, contrition for the 7 mortal sins, and the 7 corporal works of mercy and the 7 spiritual works of mercy.
Medieval paedagogical schemata also made use of classical tropes and their numerical symbolism, for example the illuminated manuscript Hortus Deliciarum compiled in the 12th century by the Frankish Abbess Herrad of Landsberg the first such work written by a woman. Her syllabus of seven liberal arts comprises the encyclopedic knowledge of the Cosmos known to humankind at that time: the four practical skills of the quadrivium, guaranteeing basic sustenance of a community via a fruitful economy pursued by those with the artisanal aptitudes necessary; and the three theoretical skills of the trivium, pursued by those with the scholastic aptitude needed to resolve fractious disruptions amongst those in authority charged with securing the peaceful development of society. The number seven also recalls the Plough asterism of Ursa Major constellation, used since ancient times to navigate the cardinal points of the compass in the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere. Seven is also the number of stars in the Pleiades constellation associated in esoteric myths of Eastern Asia whose disappearance beneath the horizon in the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere announces the culmination of the solar year in a season of ingathering and harvest (preceding nature's deathlike dormition during winter, personified by spirits such as the grim reapers of Hindu astrology, the Kṛttikā).
In a decree signed on May 22, 2016 and made public a few days later, Héctor Cardelli, Bishop of the Diocese of San Nicolás, declared that the apparitions that took place in city of San Nicolás were supernatural in origin. The devotion is thus approved at the Diocesan level within the Catholic Church. The synchronicity between the apparitions at Fátima and San Nicolás promote Mary's role in the 21st century as powerful intercessor for reconciliation and peace between peoples. With the 2002 addition of the luminous mysteries (echoing the supernatural phenomena first perceived by Glady Motta, a radiant glow emanating from rosary beads in various locations), Pope St. John Paul II renewed devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary with meditations on five specific Gospel events commemorated as major feasts in Eastern Rite Byzantine Orthodox churches also: the Theophany in the Jordan, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Proclamation (from Greek kerygma meaning "to cry or proclaim as a herald") of the Kingdom on the Mount of the Beatitudes, the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Falling exactly six months before the Annunciation (25 March), the 25 September feast commemorating Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas can be seen to correspond with the biblical events described in the opening verses of the Gospel of Luke - the annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to the temple priest Zachariah (whose name זכריה in Hebrew means "remember God"), father to-be of Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος the forerunner John the Baptist. In late antiquity it marked the beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year (the Imperial Indiction or Indiction of Constantine described by Bede for civil administration and dating of tax documents), a practice the Russian Orthodox Church retained as late as 1700. The intervening centuries have not been kind to the chronological discipline within Christianity, with a 13-day lag opening up between the dates used for worship in the Eastern Churches, which adhere to a computus according to the lunations of the Julian calendar, compared to that of the Western Churches who follow the solar-based calendar introduced during the Gregorian reforms made possible by rapid advances in the astronomical sciences during the Renaissance. The penitential character of the scriptural context draws attention to other lapses that hold communities of Christians estranged from one another, and encourage reflection focused on reconciliation between East and West, with a long hoped-for reunification as a joint task for the faithful in the third millennium.
The iconography in the robes of the holy image differ from the usual blue-and-white associated with the Immaculate Conception (declared as Roman Catholic doctrine in 1854 by Pope Pius XI) as found in the white scapular and blue mantle of the religious habit inspired by the visionary Portuguese foundress of the Conceptionists St. Beatrice de Silva. The rose-and-blue hues have older roots in traditions of the Eastern Churches where a feast of the Conception of the Most Holy and All Pure Mother of God was celebrated in Syria as early as the 5th century. Marian depictions of the type Pietà have long been associated in both East and West with red-and-blue hues. Invoked as intercessor Mary hodegetria, the all-holy human sign pointing to the Way, the Truth and the Life is unsurpassed in sacred art, endeared by elite and illiterate alike.
altarpiece by El Greco (1606)
Immaculate Conception altarpiece by Rubens (1626-1628)
--from nike- meaning "victory" + -peia "bearer"—Icon by Luca Cancellari (12th century)
--from pan- meaning "all" + -achrantos "spotless"—Icon (11th century)
Based on the prophecy of Simeon, devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows—in Eastern Rites under the title Our Lady who softens evil hearts commemorated in penitential mood on February 2, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple—is honored in the West twice: at the end of the penitential season of Lent on the Friday before Passion Week; and the day after the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 15. The region of Mola di Bari in Apulia is dedicated to her patronage. Popular in North Europe, only after 1482 was the feast extended to the worldwide Church. Gladys Motta's experiences ceased around the 2 February 1990. See also Media related to Icons of the crucifixion of Christ and Paintings of the Crucifixion of Christ at Wikimedia Commons.
Combined as pigments under reflected light, magenta and cyan render a darker purple shade (via a subtractive model, tending to complete obscurity in darkness) associated with penance, sacramental reconciliation, and the hereditary authority of earthly kingship. When combined as transmitted light, the longer wavelengths of warming infra-red light combine with shorter more energetic and penetrating ultra-violet radiation to create a brighter hue (via the additive model, tending to full illumination in visible light) associated with cosmic, Eleutherian mysteries, and the ultimate authority of Heavenly Kingship. The blue-white tinctures of Spanish colonial armorials appear to signify the pre-eminence of Christian faith in the reconquista of the Iberian peninsula after seven centuries of submission under the North African Fatimid dynasty of Shia Islam, and the Sunni caliphates that followed. The red-blue tinctures of an earlier tradition in GrecoRomano hagiography signify the pre-eminence of Christian humanism (and practical reason) over the prevailing dualism found outside the Imperial borders, that negated human free will under a tyranny of relativism and pagan irrationality.
Pre-Columbian colonial era understanding of human development saw women as mere passive vessels carrying their spouses seed through to parturition in birth, with male attributes projecting solar supremacy over receptive female attributes of lunar passivity. This mind set, constrained by flawed categories of human comprehension, made for fraught relations between the Church as mater et magister and State as patria. History records the frequent and bitter power struggles culminating in the widespread sectarianism of contemporary Christianity, characterized by a lack of coherence amongst the Western Reformation movements, and between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox and Coptic Churches. The dating of Easter, tied to the ever-changing lunar phenomena observed at the spring equinox during Passover in Jerusalem, grew more contentious as the Renaissance advanced human knowledge of astronomy and came into conflict with fidelity to religious practice bound to secular calendrical calculations. A further chasm opened between religious practice and secular humanism as revelations of post-Columbian advances in biological sciences demonstrated that human persons are formed by the union of two distinct male and female germ cells, combining hereditary traits from both parents. The "one heart/two-lungs" phenomenological personalism of Pope St. John Paul II and his Theology of the Body teachings extend Christian understanding of anthropology and ecclesiology—and Church-as-Mother modelled on Marian purity—to embrace concepts of purity of heart as fruitful, creative work of the soul, in each unique human person, uniting intellect, sense perception and free will in the reflective embodied consciousness capable of sanctity, ever-receptive to grace in an apophatic conception of reverence and worship.
Since the colonization of the American continent, the central role of the Eucharistic Rite in the various local churches, rooted in a Hebrew spirituality that revered God as Bridegroom and his Chosen People as his Bride, has received renewed attention by Roman Catholic scholars. 19th and 20th century theologians resolving many of the serious misunderstandings that afflicted liturgical communion amongst immigrants to the New World, whereby the majority ultramontanist Latin Rite episcopate exerted control (amidst the Jansenist excesses of certain immigrant ecclesiastics) over their minority Eastern Rite brethren. After the reforms of Vatican Councils I and II, Ukrainian Catholics, Maronite Catholics, Syriac Melchite Catholics now enjoy the liberty to worship with their ancient Byzantine Rites as acknowledged members of the Body of Christ, and administer the affairs of their flock according to codes of canon law particular to the history and culture from which they sprang, as the fruit of the womb of a unique feminine gamete. The Holy See extends ecumenical outreach to yet more isolated branches, separated by diversity in alphabet and political worldview, elevating to the altars a theologian from the Armenian Apostolic Church who do not yet share full communion with Rome, for example. Wherever Christians experience persecution, such as the Copts in Egypt and the Chaldeans in Iraq, a shared devotion to Marian spirituality helps to sustain faithful in ecumenical acts of charity.
The variety of epithets by which the wonderworking Christmas-gift-bearing St. Nicholas, of Bari in the West (a city in Apulia, an historically Greek-speaking region of the heel of Italy where, after the defeat of Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV at the Battle of Manzikert in 1087 AD, a great portion of relics were translated) or of Myra in the East (an episcopal See with ancient roots on the Mediterranean coast of present-day Turkey) indicate the difficulties of alienation in hagiography. As a participant in the first ecumenical Council at Nicaea (called by Emperor Constantine to determine the minimum tenets of Christian doctrine universally-binding across both halves of the Empire's many diverse peoples and cultures, from Rome's western regions to Byzantium's eastern territories) the Bishop of Myra helped reconcile a fierce secular power struggle fueled by sectarianism rooted in denials of Christ's divinity. St. Nicholas of Myra defended the unified orthodoxy of pre-schism Christendom with what came to be known as the Nicene creed. Contemporaneous to events in the turbulent era that led to the Norman Basilica at Bari in Byzantine Apulia an eponymous but far less well known St. Nicholas (of Trani) provides additional context.
Tragically, at the turn of the first millennium precisely within the very regions of Apulia where St Nicholas of Myra's mortal remains would later be venerated in the basilica built to house them—and in whose patronage San Nicolás de los Arroyas was founded—a far more grave spiritual calamity erupted: the Great Schism between Roman Catholics and their Eastern Orthodox brethren. Under Norman hegemony, the greco-Byzantine regions of southern Italy had been compelled by the ecclesial reforms of Pope St. Leo IX—a relative of the German western Emperor Conrad II—to adopt Latin liturgical orthopraxy and clerical celibacy, a situation intolerable to the faithful, their pastors, bishops and ultimately their Patriarch in Constantinople. Certain areas of this unstable region of the Mediterranea Sea were also subject to Saracen suzerainty: the Pope and both Emperors had enlisted the unruly Norman mercenaries to reclaim them for Christ. However Patriarch of Constantinople Michael I Cerularius resisted any such alienation of his flock and ordered the closure of all Latin churches in Constantinople in retaliation. Pope St. Leo IX died before the controversy could be successfully mediated. Meanwhile, at the western end of Mount Helicon the mythical mountain of the Muses in Greece another Nicholas known as il pellegrino (the pilgrim) was born in 1075. His solitary life as shepherd attracted him to a contemplative spirituality in the eremetical manner of a Юро́дство (Juródstvo, or "fool) for Christ"). After a failed attempt at the mortifications of cenoebitic life at the Hosios Loukas monastery, with characteristic youthful zeal he resolved to take up his cross and follow Christ, sailing from Lepanto on a pilgrimage to Rome for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. His pious habit of evangelizing the sailors with constant proclamations (in Greek kerygma from κηρύσσω, meaning "to cry or proclaim as a herald") of the phrase Kyrie Eleison, according to legend, led them to throw him overboard. Swimming ashore at Otranto he encountered further inhospitable persecutions at Taranto, continuing his pilgrimage within Apulia to Trani where he took ill and died in 1094, aged just 19. His reputation for sanctity quickly spread with many reports of miraculous cures and Bishop Bizanzio promptly presented case for immediate beatification at the Council of Bari (where the filioque controversy was contested). Pope Urban II approved the veneration of St Nicholas as spiritual patron of Trani, and in 1099 the cathedral was remodelled in his honor to house his relics. His feast day is 2 June, which corresponded with the eve of the vigil of the feast of All Saints commemorated on the octave of Pentecost (the Latin church, having transferred commemoration of All Saints during the 9th century to October, established the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity some centuries later at that place in the cycle of liturgical worship associated with the celebration of the Paschal Mystery at Easter).
In the prior pontificate of Pope St. Leo XI, Trani had been the rallying point for Byzantine religious practices and defence against the depradations of the Norman overlords, recruited by the powers of church and state. John, bishop of Trani was sent as envoy to the Byzantine court by Argyrus, the region's military commander, to solicit material support precipitating the events that ended with schism. After the reconquest of the Emirate of Sicily by the Normans, Pope Nicholas II awarded them hereditary titles in Apulia also, establishing Latin jurisdiction in Greek churches. Ironically, within the decade not one but two Eastern holy men named Nicholas would swop shores, in turn becoming beloved models of piety in the West. Other than his name and homeland, St. Nicholas of Trani shares serendipitous coincidences with the supernatural events connecting St. Nicholas of Bari with Marian devotion in Argentina: as the young shepherds of Fatima, he too was not part of the educated elite of his day but rather a simple laborer who tended flocks of sheep as a child; and, as Our Lady of the Rosary interceded for sailors lost at sea off Lepanto, so too was the sailor-pilgrim St. Nicholas miraculously rescued from mortal peril at sea off the same Naupaktos coastline (Lepanto's Byzantine name, in Greek Ναύπακτος, meaning "navalyard" from ναύς naus "ship" and πήγ- pêg- "to fix, fasten") in the Gulf of Corinth. Nicholas' name in the Byzantine Greek tongue—Νικόλαος, meaning "the peoples' Victor" as saints had often been recognized by popular acclamation of the faithful—evokes a happy confidence in the vocation of holiness within family life amongst the laity, free of the temptations afflicting the pursuit of power that characterize the institutional weaknesses of certain societies, past and present, afflicted by authoritarianism or clericalism and the compromising entanglements with structures-of-sin that such deprivations can entail. The ancient Christian doctrine of the community of saints reaffirmed at Vatican II continues to unite the Churches of East and West as members of Christ's Mystical Body, both visible and invisible encouraging the Christians faithful in their mission to resist evil, overcome obstacles and heal ecumenical divisions. The apparitions of San Nicolás de los Arroyos serve as supernatural affirmation for all peoples of the New World of the 21st century, offering Mary's maternal heart as the perfect scriptural model for reconciliation and peace in Christ.