Welcome family to our e-Newsletter.
Spring 2013 Online Issue #15
God is on the Move – There is change in the air
Family, the beginning of this year has been full of change and surprises. Everything seemed to be on hold. This is why we held off on putting out the Good Newsletter. We were waiting for some stability in our Church. First off, our Pope Benedict XVI announced on February 12 that he would retire as of February 28. The whole idea of a pope retiring is unheard of in our Church. We had some resignations, two which are canonical, St. Celestine V, who believed he was incompetent to hold the office, Pope Gregory VII, who voluntarily resigned from office to end the Great Western Schism, but no pope has ever retired from office, until Pope Benedict XVI. We don’t know the reasons for his retirement, whether it was due to advancing age (85), poor health (?) or just weariness after having labored tirelessly for 62 years in the Church he loved so dearly. He was just 24 years old when he was ordained a priest. There is much conjecture, but no firm answers. We will have to leave it to the history books to sort it all out.
Meanwhile, God is always on the move. He has done a complete about face in bringing us our new leader, Pope Francis I. For the first time in the history of the Church, the Holy Spirit through the Cardinals in the Conclave, have given us a non-European Pope. As he said from the balcony, “As you know, the duty of the Conclave was to appoint a Bishop of Rome. It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away.” So they chose a Pope from Argentina, South America, one of the poorest countries in South America. His name was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, son of an Italian immigrant. So for the Italians, there is at least a connection in that. He spoke to the crowd from his window in perfect Italian, although there are those who say he had an Argentinean accent, that all Argentinians have an accent. We will see what his Pontificate will be like. One comment we can definitely make. For a Jesuit priest, he is very Franciscan. We know he took the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, and then he made the major symbol on his Coat of Arms the symbol of St. Bernadine, reformer of the Franciscans. And that symbol, which he carried with him everywhere, and can be seen all over the city of Siena in Italy, is the symbol of the Eucharist. We pray that he will uphold the basic traditions that we have held dear all our lives, pro-life, marriage between a man and a woman, celibacy for religious, the Eucharist, Reconciliation, Feast days, the Code of Canon Law, the Roman Missal, and on and on. We believe from the little we’ve read about him that he is a solid traditional Catholic, and that everything that we hold dear will be respected.
But what is the Lord telling us with all of this? He is speaking loud and clear. Sure, there has been upset in our lives. Things are not the same today as they were yesterday, nor will they ever be again. We feel that we’re in limbo. All the things we counted on have been taken away from us little by little. Everything is changing. But the only thing we can count on is Change! The Lord is the Lord of change. We have to look forward, not backward. God is in Charge! He is always in charge. He will never abandon you. He is always at your side. He proved that when He sent His only Son to redeem us and open the gates of Heaven for us. He has given us a Mother in Our Lady. How many times has She come down to earth to straighten things out? And She’s not finished yet. She keeps coming and coming. Just read the update on the miracles and healings which took place last year through the intercession of Our Lady, La Conquistadora, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Down through the centuries, God has sent us Saints, men and women just like us only not like us. They have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, and were sent to help us through our Journey of Faith. In the last century and this one, God has given us people like Padre Pio, Maxmillian Kolbe, Therese of Lisieux, Sister Faustina, Blessed John XIII and Blessed John Paul II. He has given us Popes who have led us through the hard times. Not all of them were popular during their pontificate. One of the greatest popes of the 20th Century was Pope Benedict XV, who was not well known, and yet fought for all he was worth to avoid World War II. It goes on and on, family. God is with us. He is always with us.And if you need solace, comfort; if you need someone to talk to, who will listen to you, or if you need someone who will talk to you, Our Lord Jesus is there in the Tabernacle, waiting for you. He will never let your down. He is your best Friend.
Family, we’re in the Season of Lent. It’s a very special time. We’re approaching the day each year when Our Lord Jesus gives up His life for us. It’s a time of Redemption. We are caught up from the clutches of Hell because Jesus sacrificed His Life for us. Take advantage of this time. There are special devotions going on all throughout Lent. Each Friday in your local church, we pray the Stations of the Cross. There is a plenary indulgence attached to praying the Stations of the Cross. Do you know what that means? All your purgatory time is wiped out by praying the Stations of the Cross. Our dear Blessed John Paul the Great gave us a special gift in Divine Mercy Sunday, which takes place the Sunday after Easter. We have a special novena which begins on Good Friday, and ends on Divine Mercy Sunday. The gift we are given by taking part in that Novena is that having fulfilled the requirements of Confession and Communion, all your sins are forgiven. All temporal punishment is wiped out by Our Lord Jesus, thanks to this mandate given by Blessed John Paul II.
Family, God is in charge. He is always in charge. Even when you don’t know what’s happening, you can count on God being at the helm. He will never let you down. Hold on to the gifts we’ve been given in our Church. He will see you through.If we haven’t told you lately, we love you!
Family, we have been faithfully reading National Catholic Register for close to 30 years. It has been one of the few national newspapers which reported Catholic news faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. In a time when many periodicals, secular and religious, have had a field day dedicating their space to attacking the Church and smearing the leaders of the Church Militant, our Body of Christ here on earth, this National Catholic Register has consistently defended the principles and the leadership of our Church.
Our ministry has supported National Catholic Register for years with advertising of our books and videos, and particularly our pilgrimage ministry. We were particularly pleased when our own family, EWTN assumed the headship of the newspaper. The changes in the newspaper have been outstanding, not only in content, but in graphics as well. It has become for us a newspaper that we could not put down. We find ourselves going from front to back without stopping. And we feel so enriched by how National Catholic Register affirms our Catholic Church.
We were blessed to meet most of the staff of the newspaper a few months ago at EWTN when we went to make a program about our new book, Heroes – Popes in Hard Times. We were gratified to see the caliber of people from all over Catholic publishing who have been put together as part of the National Catholic Register team. If we were excited about reading the newspaper before, you can be assured that we are that much more looking forward to each issue as it comes to our home. If you are a subscriber to National Catholic Register, we’re sure you agree with us. If you are not, you don’t know what you’re missing. Become part of the National Catholic Register family today.
A large billboard was posted just before Christmas in our country stating that Jesus is a myth.
They are suggesting to Christians and other believers that there is no evidence that Jesus existed.
So today I want to give you some evidence of the existence of Jesus in case you run into someone calling Him a myth.
First - the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are all about Jesus. The Old Testament is a series of books that detail Jesus' ancestors and in fact the whole genealogy of Jesus is there tracing His ancestors all the way back to Adam. No one else has his genealogy all the way to Adam.
Second - part of the wood of the Cross that Jesus was nailed to, is on display in Rome at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Historical accounts tell us that Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine went to the Holy Land in the fourth century and searched for evidence of Jesus life. She found three wood crosses that were buried near Calvary. In order to determine which one was the Cross on which Jesus died, she had the Cross placed on a dead man and he came back to life - she took this as a sign from God that was the True Cross. The other crosses are also on display at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Third - Saint Helena also found the House where Jesus lived in Nazareth. In the thirteenth century the House was moved but the foundation is there to this day at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. If you want to know where the house is, you will have to contact me . The account of the house of Jesus takes more space than this column can accommodate. We have a replica of the house here at Holy Family Mission and you are welcome to visit and if you do I will tell you the rest of the story.
Fourth - Roman historians wrote about the events in the life of Jesus particularly about the Crucifixion.
Fifth- and most important there are two billion people living on this planet that believe that Jesus lived and died. Furthermore millions of these believers were willing to die rather than deny Jesus. And finally, if this is not enough evidence, then God help you, we can't.
Now on to our new, Pope Francis. This Pope is certainly living up to his name. He started his Papacy by asking everyone to pray for him that he does the will of the Father and he came out onto the balcony in simple white papal attire.
The Holy Spirit seems to be blowing our Church into a new direction based on simplicity and living the life of Christ. We are excited about Pope Francis and each day he reveals more about himself and in so doing is revealing the direction in which he will steer our Church.
We are going into a new sea with his election and we face new challenges.
Pope Francis is asking us to follow the Crucified Christ and to be an example to the world.
Let us pray for Pope Francis every morning that God grant him the wisdon to lead us in the right direction
God paves the way, and then,
takes you by the hand, and leads you
February the twelfth found us rising early, loading up the car for a trip to EWTN in Irondale, Alabama, to appear on Book Mark to talk about our newest book, Heroes -Popes in Hard Times. It was providential in that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI had announced his retirement on that day, so interest in anything about our Popes was a popular subject for reading. Well, here was the plan; after the taping of the program on our book Heroes - Popes in Hard Times, on Thursday, February 14, we were going to Hanceville on Friday for the EWTN Employees Lenten Retreat. Fr.Bill Casey was going to be the retreat master. He has always been a favorite speaker of ours, and we looked forward to spending the day with the EWTN family. Then we planned to to make a special visit to Mother Angelica and her Sisters, and finally to Deacon Bill Steltemeier, who was very ill, and his very special wife, our dear friend, Ramona. That was our plan. But God has a plan and He rarely lets us in on it, lest we try to help and inadvertently mess up. There is an expression, “Man makes plans and God smiles!” Well Friday morning, the phone rang at the house we were staying in! It was Doug Keck, Chief Operating Officer of EWTN. He very quietly, solemnly shared that Deacon Bill had passed away during the night, and would we join him and the other executives of EWTN paying a television tribute to our Deacon Bill Steltemeier at noon of that day. Needless to say, we didn’t attend the Lenten Retreat.
Bob had worn black for the Book Mark interview, so he was in good shape for the tribute to Deacon Bill, except for a bright yellow tie. Penny, on the other hand, had decided not to wear black for the Book Mark, and so although she was wearing dark colors, she was uncomfortable that it was not black. We appeared on the two-hour tribute to Deacon Bill. It was very special. When it came time for us to share about our time with Deacon Bill over the 26 years we have been part of the EWTN family, we were prepared with what we would say. But the strangest thing happened. Bob got all choked up. Now we have always loved Bill, but we never thought we’d get choked up talking about him after he died. Bob was very emotional. But they told us we did a good job in memorializing our time with Bill. He had been very special to us over the years. As the network grew to 24 hour programming, our television ministry grew also. Even when he retired from active ministry in the network, we remained close and would visit when we went to Hanceville.
His passing and the memorial took place on Friday, February 15. The Rosary and visitation was to take place on Monday evening, and the funeral Mass was to be held up in Hanceville on Tuesday morning to be followed by a convoy to Nashville, where his body was to be interred . Now Brother Joseph was not with us. Just Bob and Penny and Luz Elena had gone for the Book Mark. Well, Brother had to be with us for the funeral, as he is as much a part of the EWTN Family as we are, so we arranged for him to fly out to Birmingham from Little Rock on Monday morning, where we would meet him, and then we would all go to the Rosary that evening in Hanceville. We did not have enough medicine to last us through Wednesday, nor did we have enough socks and underwear. In addition, Penny needed a black suit to wear to the funeral and for the trip to Nashville. So the medicine was sent to us UPS next day air and the rest Brother Joseph brought with him on Monday.
The Basilica in Hanceville was packed when we arrived on Monday evening, but there had been places reserved for the EWTN family, so we were able to get a good seat in the Church. We immediately went up to the casket to pray before Deacon Bill’s body. He looked very peaceful in death. He was wearing his Deacon’s vestments, and you could almost see that familiar smile on his face. Even in death, he was a joyful soldier of Christ. Then we turned to Ramona to express our sorrow at Deacon Bill’s death. Now I have to tell you, we have known Ramona for many years. She is as close to being a Saint on earth as any person we have ever known. She gave Bill the confidence to do all that he did for Mother Angelica for all those years. He could not have done it without her support. So as beautiful as she is on the outside, she has always been that beautiful and more on the inside. We never went to Mass in Hanceville that she wasn’t there. She is just a very special lady. When we went up to her, she had a great peace about her in the knowledge that her husband was at peace. You know the expression “If so-and-so is not in Heaven, we’ll never make it?” Well, that was Deacon Bill. Fr. Miguel of the Missionaries of the Eternal Word gave a beautiful eulogy for Bill. It was followed by the Rosary. After it was over, we said our good-byes to Ramona, and went back to Birmingham.
The following day, Tuesday, February 19, we drove back to Hanceville for the Funeral Mass. The church was packed again, and again, special seats were held for us. It’s a good thing, because otherwise we would have been out in the Plaza, it was that crowded. Fr. Joseph celebrated the Mass. Bishop Baker and former Bishop Foley were in attendance. Fr. Joseph’s homily was beautiful, as was the entire ceremony, truly Catholic with a capital C. After the celebration, we headed for the buses which would bring us to Nashville, a distance of about two and a half hours. I’m not sure what the other buses talked about during our trip to Nashville, but our bus all told stories about Bill, their time with him, funny stories about him. It was a time to enjoy the man we were bidding farewell to.
It was cold and windy when we arrived at the cemetery. We had to walk a distance to get to the grave site. Prayers were said around the casket, and finally, Deacon Bill was placed in his final resting place. The celebration of Deacon Bill Steltemeier’s life was over, but his time in Heaven was just beginning. Our remembrance of him will last forever. A lot of tribute was paid him in the days following his death, but I believe the greatest tribute was that he was a true crusader for Christ, who saw a need, saw an opportunity to spread the Eternal Word through the Ministry of Mother Angelica, and did everything in his power to make it happen. We salute you, Deacon Bill. You will always be in our prayers and our thoughts.
We love you!
Family, the Cardinals of the Church have elected a new Pope, Francis I, after St. Francis of Assisi. Our Pope Benedict XVI has retired. He gave us his farewell. We don’t pray for him during our Mass anymore. He may be gone, but he is surely not forgotten. And we should never forget this man. We have been blessed to know and love our Pope Benedict XVI from the day of his election as Pope in 2005, and from the years before, when he tarried in the vineyard of the Lord as God’s Rottweiler, a term he didn’t deserve, but bore with his traditional Bavarian smile. We were all saddened at the gradual loss of physical strength of our beloved Blessed Pope John Paul II. We watched that last Easter Blessing on television where he could not speak the words he wanted to say to us, the frustration he felt. We kept the vigil with the rest of the world as our Sainted Pope took his last breath, and watched the thousands who came and waited for hours through the night to get a glimpse of his body as he lay in State at St. Peter’s Basilica. His funeral celebration was a true tribute to him. But as happy as we were that he was being paid the honor he deserved, our hearts were sinking, knowing that we would not see him again on this earth.
It was difficult for those of us who had known Pope John Paul II since 1978, when he gave us his first blessing from the window of his apartment at St. Peter’s Square, to even consider that there would be another Pope, but prayed that his dear friend and partner, Cardinal Ratzinger, would carry on the work of our Beloved Pope John Paul. As it turned out, the vote for Cardinal Ratzinger was overwhelming. He was elected on the third ballot of the second day of voting. The white smoke emanated from the Sistine Chapel; the bells pealed, and the words “Habemus Papa”, “We have a Pope” were announced. A hush settled over everyone in the Square, until the first word “Josef” came out and then a roar emanated from St. Peter’s Square. Pope John Paul’s strong supporter, Josef Ratzinger, was proclaimed Pope Benedict XVI. This was April 19, 2005.
The Pope is dead! Long live the Pope! That statement, used mostly by royalty of Europe, but which also would apply here in the United States, declares without doubt that there is an unbroken line of hierarchy in our Church. However, for us, it is one of the most difficult signs of obedience we can make. While we have lived through the pontificates of Pope Pius XI, (we were only infants) Venerable Pope Pius XII, Blessed Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, and Blessed Pope John Paul II (the great), we never knew much about our popes, until that little pixy, Pope John XXIII came on the scene. He was lovable. He reached out to the people. He gave the Papacy a much-needed public image. However, he didn’t live very long, and Pope Paul VI, while a brilliant and spiritual father, a prophet (Humanae Vitae), was very reserved.
We left the Church after the death of our son to an overdose of drugs for four years, and returned in 1975, and fell in love with everything that had to do with Church. We fell in love, in particular, with all the shrines of the Saints, Mother Mary, and Miracles of the Eucharist. We also fell in love with our Catholic country, the Vatican State. Every time we would go to Rome, we would stand in St. Peter’s Square, and weep. We were home! We attended two audiences with Pope Paul VI. He was a dear, loving man. But in June, 1979, we met Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on a Sunday afternoon in June. Penny wrote an article, mentioning this event. He has been our love for these last 26 years and 6 months. We were devastated by his passing, although we could see his suffering every time we went to an Audience (the last one was in October, 2004), and when we saw him most recently on television on Easter Sunday 2005.
Our Recollections of Pope Benedict XVI
We recall being in St. Peter’s Square on June 29, 2005, when our new Pope was in charge of conferring of the Palium to those who had become Bishops and Archbishops in the Church. It was a Wednesday, but there was no General Audience that day because of the Palium ceremony.
Our group of pilgrims stood around the Square, which was unusually empty for a Wednesday, and waited to hear something from our new Pope All of a sudden, he came running onto the balcony of the Papal apartments, and could be seen by the huge television screens set up for the Audience. He was out of breath. He apologized to us for keeping us waiting, and explained that he had to oversee the ceremony inside St. Peter’s. This was so different from the image we had been given to accept from the main stream media of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. He was our father; he was our friend. He was so lovable.
Throughout the 8 years of his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has taken on very important issues in our Church. He redid the Roman Missal, promoted The Tridentine Mass, and maintained his stance on all the issues he was criticized for as a Cardinal, but treated all his children with love. He traveled the world as did his predecessor, and became as popular a Pope as Pope John Paul II
We have a Pope. God is so good. He knew, at least for us that accepting a new Pope was going to be a difficult transition. And so he gave us the gift of a man whom we have known for these many years (not personally) and whom we can love as we did our dear Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote many books, but one in particular, called “The Ratzinger Report” in 1984 gave us a lot of confidence in him as head of the Holy Office. We felt very comfortable with what we read in this interview-style format. The words we read were those of Cardinal Ratzinger, but to us they were Church, and that is good.
We didn’t feel threatened by the fact that he had taken over the Holy Office, because we had a very good friend, who had been attached to the Holy Office for 6 years in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This was then Fr. Bill Levada, who became Archbishop Levada of San Francisco and ultimately Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith until his retirement. He is a Catholic, faithful to the teachings of the Church, and he is a beautiful person. There is a cute anecdote given by Cardinal Levada, when he assumed the job of Cardinal Ratzinger. He was interviewed by the press. They asked if he would become God’s Rottweiler, the nickname given to his predecessor. He smiled as replied, “No, I will be God’s pussycat.” So the former office of Cardinal Ratzinger shouldn’t frighten anyone, unless that person would have a problem with the teachings of the Church, as presented to us by two of the most powerful men of the Twentieth Century Church, Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
We have never personally met Cardinal Ratzinger, but we had an experience with him or his office that we would like to share. We went to a Military base in Germany to give a weekend of Recollection to the Catholics stationed there. We met a group of solid, conservative Catholics who were part of the military there. In the next few years, many of them went on pilgrimage with us. On one of these pilgrimages, some of them were with us when we got to Rome for our tour of Rome. They wanted to go to Cardinal Ratzinger’s office to share what they believed to be some abuses going on at their base by the Catholic hierarchy. We didn’t go with them.
When they came back from their visit, they shared that although they didn’t get to see Cardinal Ratzinger, they were treated very well by his staff. When they told the Cardinal’s staff that they were in Rome with Bob and Penny Lord, they were told, “Oh yes, we know of Bob and Penny Lord.” Then they held up a fairly large box of petitions we had gathered at our local churches complaining about the way Sex Education was being conducted in our area. We had sent these petitions to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, FEDEX, and they wound up in Cardinal Ratzinger’s office. That told us that Cardinal Ratzinger and his staff were solidly on the side of Pope John Paul II, which means they’re on our side too. So while we have never met His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI when he was a Cardinal, we do have somewhat of a left-fielded connection.
He has taken on some of the hottest issues in his time
The Kerry Affair: What Ratzinger wanted from the American Bishops
Remember, the Kerry affair began in 2004, right in the midst of the campaigning for the Presidency of the United States. That did not seem to bother Cardinal Ratzinger; as a matter of fact, it was most likely sent to clarify the Church’s stand on politicians supporting abortion and euthanasia, in the minds of the Faithful, prior to making their choices for candidates.
From these, it is very obvious that Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, is very clear about his beliefs, and what he expects from the Church. He has never given anyone any reason to think he believes otherwise.
In addition, he took on and silenced
Dissident professors from Catholic Universities,
Priests and nuns extolling Homophobia and other homosexual agendas
...and many others.
He has always been truly a defender of the Faith. We can rightly assume that he will continue to be so even in retirement. At a time when factions within and without the Church had been counting the days until our dear Pope John Paul II died, so that they could have women priests and married priests, and all kinds of liberal agendas, our good God has told us, through the election of Pope Benedict XVI, defender of the Faith, that God is always with us; He will not abandon us; He will not leave us orphans. It’s hard to believe that there can be a Pope who can compare with Pope Benedict XVI. But then we said that when Pope John Paul II died. God is ultimately in Charge. He has given us who He feels is best to lead the Church at this point in our history in His Holiness, Pope Francis I. Meanwhile, what can we say about the first Pope Emeritus in the history of our Church?
Pope Benedict XVI, thank you. We love you!!
“I cannot; I must not; I will not!!”
Hello, family and welcome. We have a special Super Saint of the 19th century to share with you today, St. Gaspar del Bufalo. His shrine is all over Rome, but his body is venerated in the Church of Santa Maria in Trivio, about a block away from the Fountain of Trevi. When we mention the name, Gaspar del Bufalo to our brothers and sisters in the United States, most Americans know virtually nothing about him. And yet, he was a very powerful worker for the Lord. He is credited with many things, including being the founder of a Religious Order, the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood, which is very active in the United States, as well as all over the world. Gaspar stood up against the powers of hell, which in his day was Napoleon Bonaparte and his reign of terror. Gaspar was a thorn in the side of Napoleon and his cohorts during their occupation of Italy. He spent most of Napoleon’s time as ruler of Italy either in exile or jail. However, by 1815, Napoleon was gone, and Gaspar was there to pick up the pieces of a broken country, and a wounded Church. He was able to found the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood that same year.
But wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. In order to bring you the exciting story of this zealot for the Lord, we must start at the beginning. Gaspar was born in Rome on January 6, 1786, the Feast of the Epiphany, which accounts for his name, Gaspar, Melchior, Balthasar del Bufalo, in honor the three Wise Men. He came from humble circumstances. But his father was a hard working ambitious man. He wanted the best for his family. He worked as a cook for a prominent Roman family. So although Gaspar never had enough to eat, and they feared he would die at an early age, he did have some benefits in living in the home of this prince of the nobility. He was able to get some medical help at a time when it was all but impossible for the poor to obtain. And he needed it all his young life. And as we will see, he was able to get some ideal educational help because of where he lived.
A great blessing about the Altieri Palace, where they lived, and where the father worked, was that it was right across the street from the Gesú, the Mother Church of St. Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuit community. There is a chapel in that church dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, one of the founders and great Saints, along with St. Ignatius of Loyola, of the Jesuit order. Gaspar’s mother, Annunziata, prayed often at that chapel. There was a relic of St. Francis at the foot of the altar, where Annunziata knelt. She kissed the relic every day, sometimes twice and three times a day.
We have to believe the Lord orchestrated everything in the life of this future Saint. Gaspar was a very sickly child, very frail. His mother prayed at the Church of the Gesú every day for her child. A time was to come when Gaspar, only a year or so old, was going blind. He suffered from an incurable disease of the eyes. Annunziata prayed for a healing for her son. She had great faith in the power of prayer, and in the great Saint, Francis Xavier’s intercession. God blessed her faith and miraculously cured Gaspar of his eye’s affliction. Annunziata thanked Our Lord Jesus and the intercession of St. Francis Xavier the rest of her life. She told her son many times throughout his life of the miraculous cure he had received through the gift of prayer.
Gaspar took St. Francis Xavier as his special Saint and put his religious congregation under the protection of the Apostle of India. Gaspar studied about St. Francis Xavier, and also developed a great love for the missions. However, the mission the Lord had planned for him was to be confined to Italy. That is not to say that his followers, those who joined his congregation, did not travel to all parts of the world, creating missions, evangelizing in the name of the Lord. Today, the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood has a worldwide ministry.
It was obvious the Lord had hand-picked his family. He used the best of both parents to help Gaspar in accomplishing what the Lord had planned for him. From his father, he inherited the drive and organizational skills to decide what he wanted to do, determine how to do it, and get the job done. From his mother, he was given the gift of his spirituality. From the time he was a child, probably from the time he could understand the teachings of his mother, she shared with him stories of Our dear Lord Jesus, His Mother Mary, all the Angels and the Saints. Gaspar was very spiritual, very reverent, completely committed to Our Lord Jesus in the Catholic Church. .
In his early years, he was fortunate in that living at the palace, he was able to be taught by highly qualified teachers. However, his later experience in the public schools was not good at all, as there was no comparison to the learning atmosphere of the palace. The public schools were little more than large rooms, crowded with children who learned very little if anything. This situation did not last very long. His father and mother deeply concerned with their son’s education, agreed to pay what, for them, was a highly exorbitant tuition to have their son attend a school run by priests of a religious order. This helped with Gaspar’s religious formation.
At age 12, Gaspar was admitted to the Collegio Romano, to prepare for his future life as a priest and ambassador of God. He spent the next 11 years in this seminary, completing all his formation for the priesthood, and being ordained to the various ministries of the Church, such as sub deacon, deacon, and finally, just before ordination, to acting Canon in the Basilica of San Marco in Rome. Then, on July 31, 1808, he was ordained a priest at the Church of the Missionaries of Saint Vincent de Paul in the Montecitorio area of Rome. He was now ready to begin his career for the Lord. Although he was only 21 years old when he was ordained, he began preaching missions immediately. He became a popular speaker throughout Rome. He was doing what the Lord had planned for him and the Lord blessed him.
That is, until he locked horns with the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. The year after his ordination, 1809, Napoleon took over Italy. In May, he overpowered the Papal States; in June, Pope Pius VII excommunicated Napoleon, and in July, Napoleon arrested the Pope, and sent him to France to sit out Napoleon’s reign in prison. All the loyal priests in Italy knew their future was insecure. The French rulers did not want to close the Catholic Church; they wanted to control it. So they required all religious in the country to take an oath of allegiance to Napoleon. Many priests gave in. Many did not. Gaspar was not about to betray his Pope, and so he refused, saying resolutely, “I cannot, I must not, and I will not.” In 1810, he was exiled to a prison in Piacenza in northern Italy.
The conditions in Piacenza were unbearable. That, coupled with his frail health, caused him to become deathly ill, and so he was transferred to Bologna. Earlier that year, a nun in Rome, the Venerable Sister Agnes of the Incarnate Word, prior to dying in Rome, predicted to Fr. Albertini, Gaspar’s mentor, that there would be a community of priests and nuns of the Precious Blood which would be founded by Gaspar del Bufalo. When Gaspar was so ill in Piacenza, Fr. Albertini told him of the prophesy of Sister Agnes. Immediately, he regained his health.
Things were better for Gaspar and his friend in Bologna that year. He and Fr. Albertini were allowed to live in an old palace. Although he slept in the servant’s quarters in the attic, he was able to celebrate Mass again! He studied in the University. All was going well when two devastating things happened. His friend, Fr. Albertini, was sent to the Bastia prison in Corsica, where he suffered for the rest of the war. As if that was not enough, his sainted mother, Annunziata, died. There were those who said she died of a broken heart because her son had been taken away from her and been imprisoned. She was 50 years old.
The following year, 1812, did not prove to be any better, as it was a period of exile and imprisonment for Gaspar. In September, he and a group of deported priests were brought in front of the French government and asked to take the oath of loyalty to Napoleon. They all refused. Gaspar was sent to a prison, San Giovanni in Monte in Bologna, where he languished in terrible conditions for the next six months. The prison was so foul and seedy, unbearable for most, but for Gaspar, it was horrendous.
There’s an old adage, “When fate hands you lemons, make lemonade.” That’s exactly what St. Gaspar and his companion did. It was very obvious the French were determined to break their spirits. But our future Saint followed the way, another future Saint, the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux would take. He and another priest, who were confined together under the worst conditions, behaved as if they were living in a palace. They slept on bare boards. They never let on how uncomfortable it was. They were given dirty soup to eat. They said it was delicious. It just went on and on. They offered everything up, for many petitions, one, the end of the captivity for their Pope and for themselves, and a final resolution of the Napoleon question. The French in charge came to the conclusion that there were too many in the one prison, and they were fortifying each others’ spirits.
So at the beginning of 1813, the French took half of them, of which Gaspar was one, and sent them to a far worse prison if that was possible, in Imola. The logic was that after six months in a prison like Imola, they should be ready to agree to anything. In January, 1813, Napoleon had forced Pope Pius VII to issue a statement of sort of reconciliation, called the Second Concordant, which the Pope then recanted a few days later. But this would have allowed his priests to take the loyalty oath, according to French logic. So in May, Gaspar was asked again to take the oath of loyalty, and again he refused, insisting “I cannot, I must not, and I will not.” He was told about the Pope signing the Second Concordat, but Gaspar still refused.
The French were furious. They took Fr. Gaspar and all those who had not taken the oath of loyalty, and sent them to an even worse prison in Lugo di Romagna. Their time there was possibly the worst of all their imprisonment. Now, the number of priests who had refused to take the loyalty oath had dwindled considerably. These fourteen were severe holdouts. The French had to either break them or send them to Corsica, which amounted to a near death sentence. We believe our Saint would have gone to his death rather than give his loyalty to anyone other than his pope. But the Lord intervened.
In December, Gaspar was sent back to Bologna, and again Napoleon ordered him to take the loyalty oath. He refused for what would be the last time. That was it. He was sent to Florence to prepare for his last trip, to Corsica, which would ultimately lead to his death. But Napoleon came up against his greatest adversary, and the One he gave no importance to at all, God. Before the end of the year, Napoleon’s armies had suffered defeat after defeat. He was all but finished, and by the beginning of the new year, he was on his way to his first place of exile, Elba. In January, 1814, all the priests in Italy were freed, and allowed to return to their homes. Gaspar was on his way back to Rome, and a powerful ministry for the Lord.
During the almost four years Gaspar was incarcerated, he dreamed about going back to Rome and working with the people he’d left behind. He yearned to teach the people about Our Lord Jesus in the Sacraments, Our dear Mother Mary and the Angels and Saints. While he was still in Florence, awaiting his voyage to the prison in Corsica, he was contacted by a group in Rome called the Evangelical Workers, asking him to join their group and evangelize all over the countryside. You see, everyone felt confident this horror, which they had been subjected to and were living through, would end. They had ultimate and complete faith that God would deliver them, and so all the priests and religious were planning for the future. Gaspar could not wait to return to his beloved Rome.
But the Rome he came back to was not the Rome he had left. After years of French domination, Rome had been hit badly. Many of the men had not returned yet from enforced servitude. The streets and piazzas were almost empty. The people were in a depressed state. So what did Gaspar and his fellow priests and religious do? They made lemonade! (Remember, we had told you, When fate hands you lemons, make lemonade.”) They got to work. Because there was no formal organization, Fr. Gaspar and a fellow priest, Fr. Gaetano Bonnani, went to the small towns and villages surrounding Rome, preaching, hearing confessions and administering the Sacraments, most importantly Holy Communion.
In Gaspar’s heart, he had always dreamt of giving back to the Jesuits for the gift of healing he had been given as a child, through the intercession of St. Francis Xavier. It was at that time that the Lord came through and guided Gaspar. It was through the intercession of Pope Pius VII. Both Gaspar and Fr. Albertini were invited to have an audience with His Holiness. Gaspar could see how his beloved Pope had aged from the ordeal with Napoleon and the imprisonment in France. But he was their Pope, and he was about to advise them. He said to them:”My dear sons, news has reached me that you are preparing to become Jesuits. It is a very laudable choice, but it does not seem the most appropriate choice for you. You, Don Carlo, will serve in our diplomatic corps; while you, Gaspar, will become a missionary. So go and may God bless you.” Gaspar’s head was spinning as he left the audience with the Pope. But at least there was no question as to what his vocation would be. His Holiness had declared it, “You will be a Missionary.”
What you have read is a short excerpt from the life of St. Gaspar del Bufalo. For ordering information, Click here
His banner of love to his children - “Be not afraid!”
Family, we’ve shared with you the great Heroes Our Lord has given us down through the ages to lead us on our Journey of Faith. For us, Blessed Pope John Paul II, or John Paul the Great as he is being hailed, was the hero who led us for 26 years in our journey. It is he who we, in our generation, have related to as “Our Sweet Christ on Earth.”(St. Catherine of Siena, one of three women doctors of the Church). We’ve laughed with him, cried with him, prayed for him during his great physical struggles, and wept on that Easter Sunday, 2005, when he tried so hard to give us his last blessing, but the words would not come out. He has been for us a true hero, our Father on earth, who lived and reigned through hard times. When he was elected Pope, he walked to the window in the Papal Apartments in St. Peter’s Square, and waved to his children cheering below. His first words as Pope were “Be Not Afraid!” a summons which he used consistently throughout his Papacy. Never before in the history of the Church has a Pope done so much, traveled so far and wide, been so well-known and loved by so many men and women of good faith and all religions. Ambassador of peace--Pope John Paul II won the hearts and souls of the world; all races and creeds calling him their Pope. Like Jesus before him, he walked among the people, loving God’s children. Born into a modest, humble home, like his Savior before him, the poor and the down-trodden embraced him for they, looking into his eyes could see a brother and father who knew and cared.
Early in his pontificate, he chose key people who would demonstrate the direction his political and doctrinal policies would take. One of these was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whom he appointed to the important post of Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This holy man and Defender of the Faith--loved by those who love the Church and hated by those who hate her, in company with our Pope would do much to correct the errors being disseminated throughout the world to the Church at large. The spirit of modernism taking on all the heresies of the past, this would be a full time job for an army of men; as in the days of Gideon, God would have to be content with a handful--Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Mother Teresa angel of the dying, and a cloistered Nun who would spread the Gospel, the Eternal Word to the whole world; Mother Mary Angelica, Abbess and Foundress of the Poor Clares of Eucharistic Adoration and Our Lady Queen of the Angels Monastery, and Foundress of the Eternal Word Global Television and Radio Network. Contradictions in our time, this “remnant” of the Lord would stand by Mother Church and speak the Truth, not counting the cost.
The Nazis attack Poland; World War II begins
In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. One of their first targets was the University. All able-bodied males were gathered and made to work! Consequently, Karol Wojtyla, along with others, was drafted into working. For example, Karol worked as a messenger for a restaurant, a manual laborer in a limestone quarry, and for the Solvay chemical factory. There was no other choice; you worked where they assigned you, regardless of your education or talents. But there was an option! You could choose to be deported to Germany, and death in a gas chamber, the punishment for refusal to work.
The Angel of Sorrow was not finished with Karol! His father, a non-commissioned officer in the Polish Army, suffered a heart attack in 1941, and Karol, the only living survivor of the immediate family, was informed of his death. Karol grieved, “I was not at my mother’s death, I was not at my brother’s death, I was not at my father’s death,” he said painfully recalling these sorrowful times in his life, some forty years later. “At twenty, I had already lost all the people I loved.”
It was then he began to think seriously of the priesthood! October, 1942, the war still raging, Karol knocked on the door of the Archbishop’s palace in Krakow, and shared his desire to become a priest. His heart now overflowing with desire, Karol clandestinely began to study in the underground seminary run by the Archbishop of Krakow, Adam Stefan Cardinal Sapieha. The enemy of God unwilling to allow this to come to pass, Karol was hit by a German truck. But by the grace of God, a German soldier of the Wehrmacht tended to him and sent him to a hospital. Karol spent two weeks there recovering from a serious concussion and a shoulder injury. It appeared to Karol that the accident and his recovery were gifts from God, pointing to confirmation of his vocation. On the 6th of August 1944, “Black Sunday,” the Gestapo rounded up young men in Krakow, to avoid an uprising similar to the one that had come about in the Warsaw Ghetto. Karol avoided being captured by hiding in the basement of his uncle’s house, while the German troops were furtively combing the streets above. More than 8,000 men and boys were rounded up, that day. By of Grace of God, Karol escaped to the Archbishop’s Palace and remained there until after the Germans had left.
Karol Wojtyla is ordained a priest
When he finished his studies at the seminary in Krakow, Karol Wojtyla was ordained a priest on All Saints Day, the 1st of November, 1946 by the Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Sapieha. He followed that, studying theology in Rome at the Pontifical International Athenaeum Angelicum, where he earned a licentiate followed by a doctorate in Sacred Theology. As now Father Wojtyla, he returned to Poland in the summer of 1948 with his first priestly assignment in the village of Niegowic, fifteen miles from Krakow. Upon arriving in Niegowic, before doing anything else, he knelt and kissed the ground. This would become his heart-felt symbol of love, as Pope, whenever he landed in a country. In 1954, he was awarded a second doctorate, in Philosophy, but the Soviets would not allow him to receive it, until 1957. He wrote many articles in Krakow’s Catholic newspaper concerning contemporary church issues. During his first twelve years of priesthood, he concentrated on working, creating original literary work influenced by his labors as a priest, and his struggles as a Pole. In 1960, he wrote: Love and Responsibility in defense of traditional Church teachings on marriage.
The years fly by and it’s time to become Bishop and then Cardinal
At the age of 38, Karol Wojtyla became the youngest bishop in Poland. October, 1962, Bishop Karol Wojtyla, took part in Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), where he made invaluable contributions to two of its most historic and influential documents: The Decree on Religious Freedom and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes). According to historian John F. Crosby, as Pope, John Paul II used the words of Gaudium et Spes later to introduce his own views on the nature of the human person in relation to God: man is “the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake”, but man “can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” On the 13th of January, 1964, Pope Paul VI appointed Bishop Karol Wojtyla Archbishop of Krakow. On the 26th of June, 1967, Pope Paul VI announced Archbishop Karol Wojtyla’s promotion to the Sacred College of Cardinals. In 1967, he was instrumentally involved in formulating Humane Vitae, which dealt with issues that forbid abortion and artificial birth control.
August 1978, sadly saw the death of Pope Paul VI, and Cardinal Wojtyla, who voted in the Papal conclave which elected Pope John Paul I, who at 65, was considered young by papal standards. But John Paul I died after serving only 33 days as Pope, requiring another conclave. The second conclave of 1978 started on October 14th, ten days after the funeral. The results of the vote showed there was no way either candidate could prevail. A compromise candidate, Cardinal Karol Josef Wojtyla was proposed, and on the second day of voting, he won with 99 votes from the 111 participating electors.
A new pope is chosen!
Our new Pope chose the name, John Paul II, honoring his immediate predecessor; and with that, the traditional white smoke rose, declaring a new pope had been chosen!
Karol Josef Wojtyla became the 264th Pope, the first non-Italian in 455 years. At only 58 years of age, he was the youngest pope since Pope Pius IX in 1846, which was 54 years old.
Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visits around the world…
During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II visited 129 countries, covering over 680,000 miles, reaching out, touching his children worldwide. He gave them hope, hope that they were loved; they counted! People were hungry to see and hear their pope. He drew huge crowds, some larger than any ever amassed in the history of the world. Their cry was (John Paul II all the world loves you)
Although we Americans, too, love him dearly, we couldn’t compete with the multitudes from around the world, their voices booming, there voices resonating, but we tried! At his Wednesday audiences, when the Spanish-speaking pilgrims chanted over and over again in Spanish, Juan Pablo Segundo Te quiere todo el mundo!
We piped in, chanting in English, John Paul II we love you!!
For those who were not able to visit him in Rome, our Pope went to them.
It’s time to go home – His Holiness travels to Poland!
In June, 1979, Pope John Paul II traveled to his homeland, Poland, bringing love mixed with hope, and the crowds never let up! His trip to the land of his birth was all they needed! It lifted their spirits and helped to re-ignite the flame in their hearts, which now refused to be snuffed out, because of the calm assurance of their son, Pope John Paul, II, they were not alone and forgotten. Now, having carried this as only an impossible dream, they had the courage to welcome the birth of the Solidarity movement in 1980. With this seed of hope, they carried on, peacefully until the dream fully became a reality!
And so they came to him by the millions, sleeping in their buses, (at times, the cost of rooms too prohibitive), picnicking in the pasture made available for those who could not afford restaurants. But they were happy! Our Pope told them “to be good, not to compromise themselves, that God is the only source of goodness, the only standard of conduct!” He stressed “they could not be saved by a formula but by a Person.” “Be not afraid,” he cried out! A response resounded through the air, building, building, building, as if the Choirs of Angels in Heaven themselves were joining in, as the millions chanted, “We want God! We want God! We want God!”
What you have read is a short excerpt from Bob and Penny’s new book, Heroes – Popes in Hard Times. For ordering information, go to page 18
Affirming with deepest love for our new Pope during this most extraordinary holy hour for this United States of America and the world...
Our Heavenly Father guiding us... throughout the love of His Son Jesus, The Holy Spirit and His sweet mother Mary, the Communion of Saints and the entire court and Dominion of Angels are with us all!
This is the year of faith giving birth to a “new spring time upon us”!
May be Glorified in and through all things...
All for Jesus through Mary...Peace, Blessings and Love to ALL! :~)))+++
May we ask in Jesus’ name that our new Shepherd serves the church well and guide us with righteous direction for we are merely his flock. Amen.
Hi Bob and Penny, I always looked forward watching your show at EWTN I liked it very much because it makes me aware of all the miracle places that we all need to know, keep up the good work, God bless and be with you always.
Lovely greetings, Bob and Penny Lord. It’s a great joy for me to keep in Touch with you. Hope you are all doing fine. Near the Holy Shrine of our Lady of Fatima I do assured you of my prayers for the success of your mission in life. All the best and blessed Sunday.
Hi Bob and Penny, and I am also Catholic doing for best development of our community, because our catholic communities are so poor here, pray for our struggle and share with me your working experience it would be helpful for my work. Thank you. Take care
Dearest Mr. and Mrs. Lord:
I wanted to write you and to let you know how very much I enjoy your shows on EWTN. My life has changed over the past two years and I find you both to be the most inspirational people.
I wrote a note to you that was not the kindest note when I had bought a DVD off Ebay on St. Bernadette. I said something like “you are not actors” - I want to apologize to you for this. I have changed and have given my life over to Our Lord and just felt the need to apologize to you.
I am very ill and on Disability (age 56) and have been disabled since I was 42 years old. I have so many diagnoses I couldn’t mention them all on this note. It begins with Type I diabetes for 34 years. I now have a small tumor in the top right of my head and seizures. I cannot digest or absorb any nutrients and I know I am still here by the grace of God.
I think you are great. I also caught the end of a show one day and you were talking about the loss of your child. I didn’t hear what happened.
I love you both and you are in my prayers.
May God bless and keep you safe.
Yours in Christ,
C. A. M. Louisville, KY
Hello Mrs. Lord - I just wanted to tell you that I enjoy watching your show “Super Saints’ . I live in Canada. I was raised as a Catholic but now follow the teachings from my Native heritage. I still enjoy reading about Saints and I must say that I felt a very strong fondness for you when I saw your show.
My mother and grandmother have both passed awhile back and I have never felt much of a connection with any “mother Figures”, but I feel that you are such a kind soul, I wish I knew you personally.
I enjoy watching the show to see you, and like to learn about the lives of saints. I hope I do not offend you in any way with these comments. I just wanted to tell you that I feel so strongly that you are a truly good soul. Take care
T. R. Canada
Dear Bob and Penny:
To my regret, I have never written to tell you both how much I treasure your contributions to EWTN. Your programming is so enriching. Tonight, as EWTN was remembering Deacon Bill, a caller called in and shared her pain about the loss of her child.
She referenced the two of you and your family's loss, which I did not know about. It was an unexpected and deeply touching moment, and I want to extend my prayers, my gratitude and my encouragement for you both and your witness to Our Lord's unceasing love for us throughout the heartaches of this world.
Truly, there are now words of comfort, I can give. Please just know of my gratitude for you both and of your unique ministry.
After every one of your episodes, Penny always says, "we love you." I confess I am a cynic in so many areas, but when Penny says "we love you" I believe it, and please know that we the viewers love you back.
God bless you both, and let us pray that we will all be together in Heaven one day with our loved ones, and savoring the light of God together.
With much respect and admiration for your love and work for the Kingdom.
Our Lady of the Rosary Our Lady of Peace
If there was ever a time for us to be aware of Our Lady with us, it’s now beyond a shadow of a doubt. We have written of Our Lady, under the title Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, being declared in 1846, Patroness of the United States. Now we would like to share Her presence, here in our country, under the title La Conquistadora, for almost 400 years! We are not alone! She is with us!
My brothers and sisters, we want to share with you a gift we were given, a witness to a love and devotion to Our Lady. We were able to be part of a people, even for a short time, who, from generation to generation, have kept alive a powerful love and devotion to Our Lady; and it is right here in our own country. We have been to Shrines around the world. But we have never seen any tribute paid to Our Lady in the world surpassing the one we experienced in New Mexico, when we visited the city of Santa Fe (Holy Faith), nestled against the Sierra de la Sangre de Cristo (Mountains of the Blood of Christ). In the Cathedral of St. Francis, there is a statue of Our Lady, called La Conquistadora, which has captured the hearts and souls of the people there for almost 400 years. She has been venerated longer than any other image of Our Lady in the United States. We would like to include this editorial from the Albuquerque Journal, dated July 14, 1992:
“A Newer, Truer Name
“In more than 350 years of residency in Santa Fe, she has been known by several names - Our Lady of the Assumption, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary and La Conquistadora.
“In this 500th year since Columbus planted the Spanish flag in the Americas, the icon of the Virgin Mary and relic of Spanish Catholicism has a new and truer name: Our Lady of Peace.
“It is said that `La Conquistadora’ never held any connotation of force. The wooden statue, carried into retreat during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 and back across the Jornada del Muerto (Day of the Dead) in 1692, was no battering ram for the one true Faith and the rest of a conquering culture. Instead she was a symbol of the power of Christian love to conquer the souls of unbelievers.”
We were asked by the Archdiocese to go to Santa Fe to make a television program on the annual procession in honor of Our Lady, which takes place the second Sunday after the Feast of Corpus Christi in June. We had been trying to go to Santa Fe for years, actually since 1997. Usually, we’re working on television programs in Europe towards the end of June, but this year, the Lord adjusted our itinerary, allowing us to go to Santa Fe for this most magnificent tribute to Our Lady. We want to share that gift with you, but as usual, we’re so excited we got ahead of ourselves. We cannot adequately describe the awe and wonder that is alive in Santa Fe, without first relating the story of the miraculous statue of La Conquistadora.
Our Lady comes to America
Our Lady’s voyage to the New World began somewhere around 1600. Actually, it’s possible she came even before that. Researchers have said the actual where and when the statue was made was in the 1400’s in Spain. To the best of our knowledge, it was most likely brought over to Mexico by the Spanish Franciscans, or the Spanish Conquistadors around the end of the Sixteenth Century. Before departing from Mexico City, Our Lady’s retinue of Conquistadors and Franciscan Friars knelt before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (who had appeared to St. Juan Diego, an Indian in 1531), and asked Her to bless their voyage and new evangelization to the north. The statue of Our Lady was brought to Santa Fe, New Mexico by a Franciscan Priest, Fr. Alonso de Benavides in 1625, to be placed in the first parish church in New Mexico. As the little wooden carved statue resembled Our Lady of the Assumption, it was named appropriately, Our Lady of the Assumption. Now, there was already a Confraternity to Our Lady in place, as Spanish settlers had arrived earlier in 1600, and so devotion began immediately upon the arrival of the statue into the new Parish Church.
Things went well for the little community for a time. The local people loved their Lady of the Assumption. Even the Indians held a great respect for the devotion to Our Lady, with wild Apache chieftains, trading with the Spaniards, entering the Chapel to see the statue, often resulting in them inquiring about the Faith. But while the Church and the devotion to the Lady were strong, settlers in the territory of New Mexico and Santa Fe had become victims of absentee management. The government seats were in Mexico City, or Spain. The outlying territories, of which Santa Fe was one, were left to the mercy of appointed Governors, and there was not a lot of mercy going around from them.
The Governors were not all committed to building a community, and/or promulgating the Faith, as were the original Spanish settlers of the territory. Evil and greed reared its ugly face, and the Indians felt the sting worse than anyone else. Father Benavides wrote that a decadent Governor rounded up some rival Indians and commissioned them to kill those chieftains who, upon viewing the statue of Our Lady, had become attracted to the Faith. Not only that, to give you some idea of where their hearts and souls were, another Governor falsely accused a man of sedition and had him hung, all because he had devoted too much time with the Sodality and the Church. This man is just one of the many martyrs, who died for the Faith that we might have a Church here in the United States.
Just as you would think things could not get any worse, with one evil Governor being replaced with one even more evil, Santa Fe was bombarded by enemy tribes, attacking the Spanish settlers and the Pueblo Indians, who had converted. But they never gave up hope that Our Lady would see them through. This never-ending love went from father to son and mother to daughter, and down the line. A new generation grew up, with them carrying on the ongoing faithful devotion, of the former generation, to Our Lady. Only they now renamed the Parish Church, formerly Our Lady of the Assumption, Our Lady of the Conception, meaning the Immaculate Conception. As there was a great belief in Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception in Spain, all the faithful Spanish Catholics of New Mexico embraced the new title.
Our Lady’s statue gets a new look
It is little known, in our country, but it was the early Spaniards, who settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who founded the first Sodality to Our Blessed Mother in the United States. We can be sure, when She arrived in 1625, in the image of Our Lady of the Assumption, they welcomed Her with open arms and hearts. A beautiful and lasting love affair began in the wilds of New Mexico, and its heart has never stopped beating. Children grew into adults and change came about, good change. In 1656-59, the Sodality to Our Lady decided to rename the Sodality, Our Lady of the Rosary. It stands to reason, the statue would be given a new title. Consequently, in 1684, along with the Sodality, the faithful, still living, began calling the statue of Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Rosary, La Conquistadora.
Now, Our Lady’s statue was originally called Our Lady of the Assumption. But with her new name, there had to be a change in her attire. As all the statues of Our Lord and Our Lady in Spain wore regal robes, the statue had to be altered in order to dress her as a Queen. And the faithful lovingly dressed the statue of Our Lady and Her Baby Jesus in the finest brocades, and silks. As befits a Queen, atop her delicate and lace mantle, they placed a silver crown.
Over the almost 400 years, as love and devotion has grown, weathering the ravages of time, so have the gifts to Our Lady’s statue. When we made the documentary on Our Lady, La Conquistadora, we had the privilege of videotaping Our Lady’s statue being dressed for the yearly procession in Her honor; and at that time, we were able to videotape Her extensive wardrobe (almost 300 dresses). As Imelda Martinez, the Sacristana, was lovingly dressing Our Lady’s statue, with faithful Caballeros standing guard, Mary Dean, the former Sacristana was kind enough to show us the many dresses donated down through the years. It was a closet filled with gowns, which would make a lesser woman die of envy, had they not been in honor of Our Lady. There were dresses made from wedding gowns, from First Holy Communion dresses, an Indian dress, and so many others. One of their pride and joys is the one donated by Fray Angelico Chavez, who wrote a fine book, which has provided us with much invaluable information.
The Pueblo Indians revolt
Enough is enough! After years of mistreatment at the hands of various unscrupulous Governors, the Pueblo Indians revolted in August, 1680. On the 10th of that month, an organized attack was made on the city of Santa Fe and outlying ranches. Trying to wipe out any vestige of all that represented the Spaniards in their midst, they wildly attacked anyone in their path. No one was spared! Twenty one Franciscan Priests were martyred throughout the territory, and are today honored at Martyr’s Hill in Santa Fe. Other people were killed as well, and the rest fled the city. The Church of the Assumption was burned down by the Indians, but not before the faithful risked their lives saving the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. The people just took what they could, in most instances very little, just the clothes on their backs, and fled until they finally found refuge in El Paso, Texas, some three hundred miles away. There they met up with other refugees from the ranches around Santa Fe. They didn’t have much; but they had their lives and they had their Lady.
These dear people were in exile for thirteen long years, from 1680 to 1693. They were the ones who kept the Faith, and kept the morale of the community going. Old people died and children were born during that time. They still held on to the devotion to their Lady, their Conquistadora. She had conquered their hearts and their souls. They had been faithful to Her; She would take care of them. And She did. There were times during those hard years when Our Lord Jesus and their Conquistadora were all they had to hold on to. But they did hold on.
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Family, we are so excited about all that Our Lady, La Conquistadora has done for us that we have written this special article to share them with you. We made the television program on her in 2005, which is shown every year on her Anniversary in June on EWTN. We included the amazing account of her history in our book, Many Faces of Mary, Book II.
The Lord, or Our Lady, La Conquistadora, called us back to New Mexico last year, only this time it was for the installation of a Monsignor, who was one of our spiritual children. We were happy to return, although the event was in Albuquerque. But the day after the ceremony, we made a side trip back to Santa Fe to visit La Conquistadora. Now, during the last two years, a dear friend, a young man, was stricken with Leukemia. We all prayed non-stop for a healing from this dreaded Cancer of the bones. And it seemed to be doing well. He responded to treatment, and every three months he went to Texas to a Cancer institute to have his condition checked. As it turned out, he was in Texas for his quarterly exam while we were in New Mexico. We used to call him once or twice a week to check on his progress. And on the day we went to visit La Conquistadora, we called his cell phone. He answered that he was having a problem. He was running an extremely high fever, and nothing they did could bring it down. We were in the Cathedral of Santa Fe, where La Conquistadora reigns. We immediately went to the gift shop and bought a candle which we placed on her altar, praying for the fever to go down. Penny went to the visitor’s book, and asked for Our Lady’s intercession to reduce the fever which was threatening our friend. We prayed at her chapel for a while, and were getting ready to leave the Cathedral when our friend’s wife called back. The fever had broken, while we were praying in the Church. We went to the gift shop and bought a little statue of La Conquistadora, which we sent to our friend. From the time he received it, he and his family would pray every day in thanksgiving to Our Lady.
But that’s not the end of the story!
About six months later, our friend, who is now cancer-free, but still prays to Our Lady La Conquistadora every day, called us, asking for prayers for his nephew, who had Cystic Fibrosis. He said the young man, about fifteen, was running an extremely high fever, which could not be controlled. We told him to take the statue of La Conquistadora to his brother’s house, and have the family pray for her intercession for his nephew. He thought it was a good idea, but qualified that it would only be on loan, because he and his family did not want to stop their daily prayers of thanksgiving. The brother and his family began a novena to Our Lady La Conquistadora, and within two days, the boy’s fever went down. He was out of serious condition. Now they are praying for a healing from the Cystic Fibrosis.
In the meantime, Penny missed having the statue of La Conquistadora in our home. We had had it for a few days before we sent it to our friend who had Leukemia. We were not anticipating a trip to Santa Fe in the foreseeable future, and so she yearned to have that little image in our home. We called the gift shop at the Cathedral, but they told us that they didn’t ship that statue as it might break. What to do? Our Lady answered us in the form of the son of one of our benefactors at the Holy Family Mission. In casual conversation, he mentioned he and his boys were going to Santa Fe to go skiing. He had no intention of visiting the Cathedral, but when we asked him to make a stop there, visit Our Lady, and get a little statue from the gift shop there, he gladly agreed. Bottom line, we now have our own La Conquistadora in the foyer of our home, alongside Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Alt Otting, and Our Lady of Einsiedeln. What is the moral of this story? There is great power in prayer. Our Lady is a powerful intercessor.