In addition to being the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, today is Our Lady’s birthday and the feast of Our Lady of Charity—Nuestra Señora de Caridad del Cobre. I don’t like to reuse material from old sermons, but today I will reiterate some facts about Our Lady that I told you about two years ago.
Our Lady of Charity is celebrated primarily in Cuba, other Catholic countries, and here in Florida. The feast commemorates the rescue by the Blessed Virgin of two American Indian men and an African slave boy in a boat during a terrible storm around 1612. After the storm cleared, the men found a image of the Virgin floating it the water, which was ultimately enshrined in the city of El Cobre—named for the copper mines. Locally produced statues and pictures include the three men in a row-boat, below the shining image of the Virgin as she prepared to calm the waters. In 1801 King Charles IV of Spain freed the slaves from the copper mines in honor of the Blessed Virgin.
Our Lady of Charity is important to modern Americans as she is invoked to protect us from hurricanes. Two years ago Hurricane Irma was predicted to roar north up the Florida Peninsula, devastating both coasts—the path of the storm was altered on the Feast of Our Lady, and little or no damage was done to the coastal interests. Today, Hurricane Dorian, is predicted to blow harmlessly into the North Atlantic at around noon. The Bahamas sustained serious damage and the Carolina/Virginia coast was impacted to a lesser degree, but we can thank our Lady that our homes and our church were left untouched—I haven’t heard of our people even losing electricity!
What I said two years ago and want to reiterate is that:
Catholic history is filled with accounts of the Blessed Virgin Mary coming to the aid of her faithful clients in many miraculous ways. Many accounts concern her intercession in military manners. Our own church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, commemorates a great naval battle on Sunday, October 7, 1571 during which Pope Pius V lead the Catholic faithful in praying the Rosary while a hopelessly outnumbered Don Juan of Austria and his navy gained a signal victory over the Moslems who had been tyrannizing the Mediterranean.
The Eastern churches celebrate Pocrova, the “Holy protection” of Constantinople from the Moslems in A.D. 911 by the Blessed Virgin:
She held her veil (omophor) over the attacked city as a sign of assured protection. To the great joy of the inhabitants the Christian soldiers were blessed with a striking victory over the Moslems.
In just a few days we will observe the feast of the Holy Name of Mary (September 12) instituted by Pope Innocent XI when the Moslems were repelled from the gates of Vienna by John Sobieski under the patronage of our Blessed Lady.
In 1716, Clement XI inscribed our feast of the Holy Rosary on the calendar of the Universal Church, in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene in Serbia, on August 5, the feast of Our Lady of the Snow.
More recently, at Hiroshima, on August 6th, 1945, a group of German Jesuits survived the nuclear bomb blast in a house that was a mere eight city blocks from the explosion site. Everything around, except for their house, was leveled, and a half million people died. The Jesuits attributed their protection from the blast to the fact that they recited Mary’s Rosary together every day.
Today, people are drawn to the false god of materialism. The threat of Islam looms as it did in the middle ages. Marxism and the errors of Russia threaten the Church and all of Western civilization, not just Russia and Ukraine. The threat of nuclear annihilation is greater than ever before. The Blessed Virgin has promised to remedy all of these if we would do penance and honor her Immaculate Heart as requested at Fatima.
Someone once said that “All history is military history” referring, or course to the reality that battles and bombs and wars do fill most of the pages of our history books. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the Blessed Virgin is more than the patroness of generals and admirals—she is the patroness of all faithful Catholics when they face situations more than they can handle with their own resources. She is the Health of the Sick, our Lady of Consolation, Help of Christians, Refuge of Sinners, Comforter of the Afflicted, Virgin Most Powerful, Virgin Most Merciful —and the titles go on and on.
It turns out that she is venerated [as Our Lady of Charity del Copre] in a number of countries and is often associated with her protection of common people who face more than they could handle with respect to wind and water—poor people, often desperately adrift on the waves.
May she continue to protect us in the future, and may she ask her Son to relieve the pains of those who were severely damaged by this most recent storm.