A Caress From His Heavenly Mother: Our Lady of Montserrat and St. Josemaria Escriva
If I were a leper my mother would hug me. She would kiss my wounds without fear or hesitation. —Well then, what would the Blessed Virgin Mary do?
When we feel we are like lepers, all full of sores, we have to cry out: Mother! And the protection of our Mother will be like a kiss upon our wounds, which obtains our cure.
St. Josemaria Escriva
The Forge, no. 190
Approximately 28 miles northwest of Barcelona, Spain, is the mountain of Montserrat. Located on the mountain is the Benedictine Monastery and Marian Shrine of Montserrat where since the 8th century pilgrims have journeyed to see the miraculous image of Our Lady of Montserrat.
According to tradition, the image of Our Lady was found on the mountain in 718 AD. The Benedictine Monks chose to build their monastery around the statue of Our Lady because they were unable to lift or move it. The statue of Our Lady of Montserrat remains on the mountain today, enshrined within the sanctuary in a beautifully decorated chapel. Our Lady is depicted seated on a throne holding the Child Jesus. Her face and hands have darkened over time due to external elements for which she is affectionately called “La Morenita.”
Saints Peter Nolasco, Ignatius Loyola, and Josemaria Escriva are counted among the many pilgrims that throughout the centuries have gone to Our Lady of Montserrat to seek her intercession.
St. Josemaria was deeply devoted to Our Lady of Montserrat. During the 1940’s, he frequently visited the shrine and made an especially important visit in 1946 before departing for Rome, which would become his new permanent home and where would begin an important period in the history of Opus Dei.
A CARESS FROM HIS HEAVENLY MOTHER: CURED OF DIABETES
Despite his move to Rome, St. Josemaria’s love for the Blessed Virgin Mary under this advocation continued throughout his life. And it was on the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, April 27, 1954, that he was cured of diabetes, after a very severe attack which brought him to the point of death.
The story is told by Jose Miguel Cejas in his book Josemaría Escrivá, un hombre, un camino y un mensaje (“Josemaria Escriva, a man, a way and a message”):
April 27, 1954, and life was going on as usual in Villa Tevere, the headquarters of the Opus Dei prelature in Rome. It was the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, an ordinary day, filled with prayer and work in the warm Italian springtime. Recently Escriva’s diabetes had intensified. Every week he went for a blood test and the results were progressively worse, in spite of a strict diet and the high doses of insulin he was given daily.
Escriva did not lose his peace of mind over this: God led him along paths of abandonment, humility, simplicity, and trust. That day, following the doctor’s instructions, at ten to one in the afternoon, Alvaro del Portillo had given him an injection with a new prescription of delayed-action insulin. Afterwards they went down to the dining-room.
Escriva sat down at table and suffered a physical collapse. He realized that he could be about to die and his instant reaction was to ask for absolution.
“Alvaro, give me absolution.”
“But, Father, what are you saying?”
As Fr Del Portillo was too surprised to do anything, Escriva began the words for him, “Ego te absolvo – ” and fell unconscious on the floor.
It was an anaphylactic shock. Del Portillo gave him absolution, put some sugar in his mouth and made him swallow it, dashed water in his face and moved his head and limbs, and quickly summoned a doctor. Some minutes later, Escriva slowly began to come round, though he found that he could not see anything.
The doctor was astonished, since these types of insulin reaction are normally fatal. However, after some hours Escriva felt better, and recovered his sight again. From that day on, his diabetes was cured. It had been a caress from his Heavenly Mother, on the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat.
The feast of Our Lady of Montserrat is celebrated on April 27th. To learn more about Montserrat visit the official website of the monastery and shrine at www.abadiamontserrat.net