Skip to comments.Marian Apparitions in China
Posted on 05/30/2004 5:56:34 AM PDT by NYer
27 May, 2004
|Chinas Marian shrines|
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Sunday Examiner) - The month of May is Our Ladys month and Christians suddenly become pilgrims rather than tourists as they flock in their tens of thousands to Marian shrines throughout the whole of the Christian world. An extremely large number travel to Lourdes, France; others go to Fatima, Portugal or to Ireland to honour Our Lady of Knock, to Poland to venerate the famous Black Madonna of Czestochowa; Italians are partial to Loreto and in the Americas thousands go to Mexico to pray at the beloved shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
What is a Marian shrine?
A Marian shrine is usually a place where the faithful and the Church believe Our Lady has appeared or where some miracle or other supernatural event has taken place through the intercession of the Holy Mother, whom the Chinese like to call Our Lady.
May is also Our Ladys special month in China. May is the time when Chinese Catholics take to the waterways in their sampans or make their way up mountaintops by the tens of thousands to pray at shrines dedicated to Our Lady.
Marian shrines in China
China has a number of Marian shrines. There is the shrine of Our Lady of Bliss situated in the hills north of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in southwestern China. This shrine is reputed to be at least 200-years-old. It was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and since it was reopened in 1980, has attracted numerous devotees of Our Lady annually.
There is the new shrine in Fuzhou, opened on 30 April 1993 on top of the hill in Longtian village near Fuzhou city, Fujian province. This shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and called Rosary Villa. The title given to the shrine is reminiscent of the fact that the Dominicans, who were in Fujian province before Liberation, had dedicated the area to Mary of the Rosary. A statue of Our Lady, a gift from Italy, stands in the middle of the Chinese style pavilion on the shrine grounds. The shrine is used as a place for priests retreats and for group pilgrimages. It was set up by Fuzhous elderly bishop to promote unity and community in the Catholic Church.
On 1 May 1994, the famous Marian shrine adjacent to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Qingyang township in Nanjing diocese, Jiangsu province, reopened after having been closed for some 55 years. Tens of thousands of pilgrims were drawn to the site.
In 1901, according to Old Catholics, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared in Qingyang and healed many of the sick. The Church bought a piece of land and built a church where Our Lady is said to have appeared and it immediately became a popular pilgrimage site. The building was bombed by the Japanese in 1939 and was later turned into a factory. It still functions as a factory today. However, in 1993, some 200 metres from the original site, construction began on a new church. Some 40,000 of the faithful attended the blessing of the new church on 1 May 1994. Regular pilgrimages resumed in 1995 with people coming from Wuxi, Shanghai and all the nearby dioceses. There are, however, two shrines that stand out in a very special way: the Marian shrine in Donglu and the Marian shrine at Sheshan.
Our Lady appears in China
In 1900, China reported three apparitions: one in Beijing in which Our Lady was accompanied by St. Michael the archangel who, in turn, was surrounded by multitudes of angels. A second apparition involved a weeping statue of Our Lady in the village of Santai during the Boxer Rebellion. The third apparition occurred in Donglu. Donglu is about 40 kilometres from Baoding in Hebei province, and it is one of the strongholds of the unofficial Catholic Church in China. Witnesses recount that a beautiful lady, recognised as Mary, appeared in the skies. The Catholics implored Our Lady to save them from their enemies and their city from destruction. In thanksgiving for Our Ladys protection over the city of Donglu during the Boxer Rebellion, a beautiful church was built in her honour. It was meant to serve as a constant reminder to the people of Marys loving and motherly protection. The pastor, at the time, secured a painting of the Dowager Empress Ci Xi dressed in imperial robes. He commissioned an artist to use it as the background for the image of Our Lady holding the Christ Child. The picture was hung in the Church of Donglu, which eventually became a famous place of pilgrimage.
The shrine at Donglu
People began coming to the shrine in Donglu in 1924, but the first official pilgrimage took place in 1929. By 1932, the location had become such a popular pilgrimage site that Pope Pius XI approved it as an official Marian shrine. Since 1929 tens of thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the hill to the shrine, especially in the month of May.
The miracle of the sun
On 23 May 1995, pilgrims witnessed another phenomenon. Over 30,000 Catholics from the unofficial Church had gathered for Mass at the Donglu shrine. It was the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians, a favourite of Chinese Catholics. There were four bishops of the unofficial Church concelebrating the Mass and nearly 100 unofficial priests standing in the open field, all eager to honour Our Lady in a special way during her special month. Suddenly, during the opening prayer and again during the consecration, the people observed the sun spinning from right to left. Light rays of various shades emanated from the sky. The people, mesmerised by the phenomenon, could look directly at it without blinking. Suddenly from the centre of the sun people saw what they later described as an apparition. Some beheld the Cross; others said they had seen the Holy Family. Still others had seen Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus while others claimed they had seen the Sacred Host. People, overwhelmed by the vision, suddenly became conscious of their sinfulness and began to cry out, Holy Mother, forgive me my sins, or Holy Virgin Mary, have pity on us your children. The phenomenon of the sun changing colours, approaching and then retreating while radiating various hues, lasted for about 20 minutes.
The governments response
Needless to say, the government has not been terribly enthusiastic about having thousands upon thousands of people gather anywhere. This is all the more threatening when the gathering involves religion and people of the unofficial Church. The Public Security Bureau, the agency in charge of keeping watch over the unofficial Catholic community, periodically flexes its muscles to prevent anyone from going on pilgrimage to Donglu. In 1995, when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Donglu for the Feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24, the Public Security barred all pilgrims from joining anyone on the hill. The police forced people back into buses and trains without offering any explanation. Still, thousands successfully reached the area by finding alternative ways to get there. As many as 100,000 participated in the celebration.
Again in 1996, an official announcement forbade anyone from going to the Donglu shrine. This time two reasons were given for the prohibition: it was an illegal gathering and it was bad for social stability.
Teams of Public Security agents as large as 500 strong were dispatched to all the villages surrounding the Donglu area and to towns all over Hebei Province. As they travelled around, they tried to force the members of the unofficial community to join the Patriotic Association and to do away with unrecognised religious premises such as Donglu. Priests in the towns and villages were ordered not to leave their residences and were forbidden to preach from May 13 until further notice. Lay people were also forbidden to leave their villages. Parents were not allowed to take their children to church or to wear any religious objects.
Against all odds
It seems no amount of pressure can dull the enthusiam of Catholics intent on honouring Our Lady at the Donglu shrine. Every May, regardless of prohibitions, tens of thousands of pilgrims make their way up the steep hill, either in silence or reciting the rosary or singing hymns to praise one who is truly their mother and protector.
The shrine at Sheshan
In June 1989, Pope John Paul II prayed that the Virgin of Sheshan Help of Christians, would look kindly on the beloved Chinese people. This remark by Our Holy Father indicates the importance of this shrine as a symbol of Christian renewal in China. Sheshan, with its nine peaks above the clouds is situated about 35 kilometres from Shanghai city. Its forest of bamboo, its scenic winding paths and running brooks are a fitting location for communing with God and Our Lady. The mountain, according to legend, gets its name from a hermit named She who centuries ago, lived atop the mountain.
In 1866, the Church in Shanghai built a hexagonal pavilion and placed within it an altar and a statue of Our Lady. Five years later, the Jesuits built a church at the summit of the mountain and dedicated it to Our Lady Help of Christians, opening it in 1873.
In 1924, the bishops of China consecrated the nation to Our Lady and following the consecration they made a pilgrimage to Sheshan. Work on a basilica began in 1925 and was completed 10 years later. This church was the first basilica in all of the Far East and it became Chinas favourite pilgrimage site.
During the Cultural Revolution the beautiful bronze statue of Our Lady at the pinnacle of the basilica disappeared and other religious symbols, including the altar and the stained glass window were all virtually destroyed. A replica of the bronze statue of Mary holding up the Christ Child was finally re-installed on top of the tower in the year 2000. Some 10,000 believers paid for it. Pilgrimages to the shrine resumed in 1979.
Every year since then, pilgrims by the thousands have flocked to Sheshan. In 1990, the first pilgrimage of the decade saw 30,000 Catholics coming to Sheshan for Our Ladys feast. The elderly and the young made the long steep climb from the foothills of the mountain to the summit as a testimony of their love and devotion to Our Lady. One large group of pilgrims are the fisherfolk of Jiangnan who, from earliest times, sailed up the Yangtze, carefully steering their craft through the canals surrounding the foothills of the mountain.
Every year, they come, moor their boats and spend three days and nights at Sheshan to implore Our Ladys help for the future and to thank her for favours received. But they are only a small group compared to the thousands from all over China who come to pay tribute to their heavenly mother in whom they place so much of their trust.
Thanks for posting this. I read it a couple of days ago and wanted to post it, but didn't get to it!
But all the glory is given to Mary, from the title of this article on. It's always about Mary, and with personal respect, don't you see that?
Blessed by the Great Mother of God, Mary most holy!
Not at all. Our Lady always leads people to her Son.
3:31 And His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him, and called Him.
32 And a multitude was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You."
33 And answering them, He said, "Who are My mother and My brothers?"
34 And looking about on those who were sitting around Him, He said, "Behold, My mother and My brothers!
35 "For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother." (NASB)
And remember that Jesus also said that He was the way, the truth, and the light and that no man cometh unto the Father except by him. Praying for intercession by anyone else won't help by our Lord's own words. Nobody died on that cross except Jesus as the atonement for our sins, and He's our only redemption and intercessor. To believe otherwise is to call Jesus a liar.
But why do these Marian apparitions always put in a go-between, and always bring the overridding attention to 'Mary'?
At Lourdes, Fatima, and Guadalupe, always the emphasis is on Mary, the "Queen of Heaven". The apparition mentions "her son" and to come to him, but people only see that Mother Mary supposedly appeared. That is not calling attention to Jesus, that is calling attention to the apparition called Mary.
For I know that this shall fall out to me unto salvation, through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my expectation and hope; that in nothing I shall be confounded: but with all confidence, as always, so now also, shall Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. (Philippians 1:19-20)
Was St. Paul wrong when he thought that these prayers would help him? Is it a bad thing to ask a Christian to pray for you? St. Paul didn't think so.
He's our only ... intercessor.
Let's test this doctrine according to the Scriptures:
1 I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men:
2 For kings and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. (1 St. Timothy 2)
And also, it shouldn't take an apparition calling itself "Mary" to point the way to Jesus. The apparition is the one that ends up with all the attention.
Nonsense. Sola scriptura is not scriptural.
Call now, if there be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the saints. (Job 5:1)
When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner, and hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord. (Tobias 12:12)
Now the vision was in this manner. Onias, who had been high priest, a good and virtuous man, modest in his looks, gentle in his manners, and graceful in speech, and who from a child was exercised in virtues holding up his hands, prayed for all the people of the Jews: After this there appeared also another man, admirable for age, and glory, and environed with great beauty and majesty: Then Onias answering, said: This is a lover of his brethren, and of the people of Israel: this is he that prayeth much for the people, and for all the holy city, Jeremias, the prophet of God. Whereupon Jeremias stretched forth his right hand, and gave to Judas a sword of gold, saying: Take this holy sword, a gift from God, wherewith thou shalt overthrow the adversaries of my people Israel. (2 Machabees 18:12-16)
And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel. (Revelation 8:3-4)
The ability to ask the saints in heaven to intercede for you follows directly from the nature of the Beatific Vision of God's essence, in which those glorified know all that is fitting, including requests made for their prayers.
At any rate, I have to go now and I respect you as a fellow Christian, a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
"it shouldn't take an apparition"
If I see God, I'll tell him He's doing things all wrong, according to xJones.
The first miracle of Our Lord was done via Mary's request! She interceded on earth, and still does. If people just read the Catholic Cathechism instead of just repeating stuff other's have said, there would be so more understanding.
Yes. I don't know where the line is crossed between honoring Mary and Mariolatry.
Holy Mother, forgive me my sins,
Clearly, this is going too far.
I never have been able to understand why Jesus in the church, Eucharist and sacraments is insufficient to satiate peoples' hunger. I'm kind of caught in the middle on a lot of this. If people already have Jesus, as Catholics do from the day they are baptized, through their confirmation and by attending mass throughout their lives, why do they need Mary to lead them to Him?
The real Mary was a major contributor to the Christian religion and deserves to be honored as such. I can't help seeing a parallel in the old testament where the Jews had their revealed religion and evidently it wasn't enough for them and they went off worshipping other gods in shrines on the hilltops which was ultimately divinely punished by their being carried off into captivity.
I'd be more open to a lot of this if I were sure that it is the real Mary that is the source of all the Marian phenonema.
I know the church builds her theology on the intercession of Mary and the saints, but in the first intercession, from what little we are told about it, it appears that she took it upon herself to mention it and not by being asked to do so. Furthermore, she didn't ask. She made a declarative statement, "They have no wine". Then she makes an imperative statement, "Do whatever he tells you." She never really asks . I suppose this is considered intercession in a roundabout way.
I cannot explain the Marian apparitions other than to say that Mary is a Jewish Mother...and if your son was divine, you'd probably never tire of telling people about him, too! :-)
God alone deserves and must receive divine worship: "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:10). Angels cannot receive this worship: "Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels" (Colossians 2:18; see also Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). Human beings also cannot receive it (Acts 10:25). But the Bible also tells us in regard to creatures to give honor where honor is due (Romans 13:8) such as civil authorities and parents: "Honour thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16).
Mary is our heavenly Mother, as discussed in article. Since God commanded us to honor our mothers, Mary certainly deserves our honor.
Marian devotion began when the Angel Gabriel saluted Mary, saying "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" (Luke 1:27, Douay); words undoubtably given him by God. The Holy Spirit then inspired Elizabeth to carry on the devotion, by making her cry out "Blessed art thou among women...blessed is she who believed". God inspired the first devotees of Mary; He even inspired Mary herself to prophesy "From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" (Luke 1:48). God clearly wants all people to call Mary blessed! The Catholic Church fulfills God's will in this matter.
An inscription at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, dating back to 200 A.D., says "Hail Mary!". This is very early evidence of prayer to Mary.
The Sub Tuum Praesidium is another early prayer to her:
We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God.The Hail Mary also originated early on, since most of it comes from the Bible. This later became one of the prayers of the Rosary, along with the Our Father, Glory be and Apostle's Creed, all of Biblical or early Christian origin.
Despise not our petitions in our necessities,
But deliver us from all dangers,
O ever-glorious and Blessed Virgin! (circa 300 A.D.)
So Marian devotions clearly trace back to the early Church.
Sorry xJ, I don't believe that. And I don't think anybody believed as you do until the 19th Century. Even Martin Luther was devoted to Our Lady.
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