The Roman Catholic Community of Saint Thomas Aquinas & Holy Family. Two churches - Joining as ONE Family - Together in Love.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our Lady of El Cisne revisited

A couple of years ago we posted regarding Our Lady of El Cisne...And we would like to invite you to join in next weekend’s celebration of the Feast day of the Holy Virgin Mary, the Queen of El Cisne.

Our Blessed Mother is venerated under many different titles throughout the world. In all of her manifestations, she indicates that she is our Mother who loves and stands by us. You may wonder who is Our Lady of El Cisne?? Six years ago the Ecuadorian members of our parish arranged for Padre Herman to bring the image of Our Lady of El Cisne from Loja to our parish, she’s the image in the 4th Avenue shrine who has long curly hair and the wardrobe to die for. She is the patroness of the province of Loja, Ecuador and the patroness of all exiles.

In 1550 the Spanish arrived in Ecuador, and the Franciscan friars named a mountain parish “El Cisne” which means the Swan after the European mountain hermitages built and maintained by the Royal Order of the Knights of the Swan. -- a group that ties into the Authorian legends. The Bishop of Loja -- Luis Lopez de Solis wsa a member of the Royal Order of the Knights of the Swan in Spain.

The native Ecuadorians developed a devotion to the Blessed Mother and arrangements were made to carve a 6 ft Cedar statue in honor of the Virgin. This statue was placed in a small shrine and is still venerated almost 500 years later in the beautiful Cathedral of El Cisne.

In 1594 there was a terrible drought in the province of Loja. There was no rain, the ground was dry and dusty and everything was dying. To aggravate the situation, a plague of mice consumed any food that had survived the rays of the sun. There was no food and the people were starving. Due to their desperate situation the peasants of El Cisne came to the distressing conclusion in October of that year that they would have to abandon their town in order to survive. Prior to leaving the residents gathered to pray to Our Blessed Mother begging her assistance so they could stay in their homes and if they had to leave that she would watch over them while they were in exile. When they attempted to leave with the Statue of the Virgin and terrible wind storm occurred forcing them to return to their homes. Soon afterwards, the holy Virgin appeared to the village elders and told them not to leave. She would watch over her children and if they built a church and practiced their faith, they would never be hungry. On October 12th, 1594 dense clouds covered the horizon and the blessing of the rain fell upon the parched earth. Once again God reveals His love and protection by sending to his people his Mother as evidence that the power of faith connects us to God and his goodness. The people obeyed the Virgin and with great devotion built a church, a place where many miracles have occurred.
El Cisne is one of Ecuador’s major pilgrimage and tourist sites. Every year on August 15th, the celebration in honor of Our Lady of El Cisne begin and carried by over 20,000 devotees, she begins a 3 day trek to Loja, where she is received with civic, military & religious ceremonies. This is a time of prayer and celebration with processions, Masses, fiestas and fireworks, On November 1st, the Virgin and her followers begin their return pilgrimage to El Cisne.
So you ask, why should I participate in an Ecuadorian celebration however nice or historic?? And the answer is…. To give honor to our Blessed Mother who is pleased when we honor her under any and all of her special titles. Your Mother is calling you to participate in the celebration… Come and join in the Fun. There will be a Rosary on Friday, August 15th, at 7 p.m. Saturday will be our main celebrations with Mass in English celebrated by Msgr. White at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. A procession through the streets at 6:30 p.m. led by the "Ecuadorian Pearl Band”. Holy Mass in Spanish celebrated by Fr. Walter Lawson of Radio Maria at 7:30 p.m. For the 2nd year this mass will be broadcast over Radio Maria. There will be a fiesta in the auditorium after Mass with free food, and traditional Ecuadorian singers & dance groups performing.

People spend a lot of money to travel to South America to experience this celebration, and we are blessed that we can experience a piece of Ecuador right here in HF STA for free. We hope that you will join us in honoring the Blessed Mother. May Our Lady of El Cisne bless us all! Amen