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Blessed Virgin Mary FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the Blessed Virgin Mary

Learn more about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mount St. Mary's University and the National Shrine Grotto.

Mount St. Mary’s University is home to many sacred spaces that serve as living examples of our commitment to our faith and as places for the Mount community to reflect and pray.

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Why are we called Mary's Holy Mount?

Rev. John DuBois oringinally built a church on the mountain and started a parish. The name of the mountain was St. Mary's Mountain, so it was only fitting that the parish have the same name. The story goes that one night, children were setting off Roman candles, one hit the church and it burnt down. The bell tower of the current IC Chapel stands in the place of this original church. Thus, the school was named Mount St. Mary's after the parish that had already been established.

What is the patronal feast of the university?

The Solemnity of the Immactulate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (celebrated each year on December 8), is not only the patronal feast of the university, but also of the entire United States. Next time you are seated in the IC Chapel, turn around to view the stunning stained glass portrayal of this solemnity above the choir loft.

Has Mary ever appeared on our mountain?

In the public sense, no. There are rumors of possible private encounters at the National Shrine Grotto, but none of these would be in the realm of the public.

Why are there so many titles for Mary?

Each of the titles of Mary is a different devotion rooted in history. Many of the titles were endorsed by the Church councils. They represent both theological and devotional aspects of the Catholic life, relating to many various apparitions. Some titles, such as Our Lady of Knox, are merely scriptural. Mariology is a fascinating topic to explore.

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Why do we say Mary Spes Nostra?

Mary, our hope. The saying is derived from the Hail Holy Queen prayer (Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy. Our life, our sweetness, and our hope). Both Rev. DuBois and Rev. Brute followed a very strong Marian tradition, so it would have been appropriate for them to invoke a Marian patronage on the school.

Who is Our Lady of Guadalupe?

Our Lady of Guadalupe, or the Virgen de Guadalupe, is the patron saint of Mexico. She is credited with bringing blessings and miracles to people around the world.

Can a non-Catholic go to the National Shrine Grotto and attend Mass on campus?

Non-Catholics are certainly welcome to attend Mass and visit the National Shrine Grotto. The serenity of peace and reassurance offered to visitors of the grotto can be very attractive for those of various faith backgrounds, including non-Christians. Through the consolation and beauty of the place, it draws many people closer to God. Monsignor Phillips had this intention in mind when he set out to restore the grotto, adding the statue of the Virgin Mary which we see today.

What is Mary the patron of in Cuba?

The Vatican named the Virgin of Charity the patroness of Cuba in 1916, in response to a petition from veterans of the struggle for independence.

How many Vatican approved apparitions are there?

Besides the eight approved apparitions, there have been 11 (out of the 386 apparitions) which have not been approved with a "supernatural character," but which have received a "yes" to indicate the local bishop's "approval of faith expression (prayer and devotion) at the site."

ns grotto with mary and rainbow

Why do the bells of the National Shrine Grotto ring every 15 minutes?

A tradition which started in Europe was the ringing of the church bells as a signal of what time it was. Many people did not have watches or ways to keep time, so they would rely on the ringing of the bells as their clock to know what time it was. This tradition continues at the National Shrine Grotto, with the ringing of the bells every 15 minutes.

How many dogmas of the Blessed Mother are there in the Church?

There are four dogmas stating important aspects of Mary's role in salvation and her personal relationship with God. The four Marian dogmas of Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, perpetual virginity, and Assumption form the basis of Mariology. However, several other Catholic doctrines about the Virgin Mary have been developed by reference to sacred scripture, theological reasoning and Church tradition.

What is the only Marian Apparition approved in the United States?

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help gained national recognition when the apparitions were approved, after a two-year investigation, by Bishop David Ricken on December 8, 2010, making it the first and only apparition approved by the Catholic Church in the United States.

Who is Our Lady of LaVang?

Our Lady of LaVang (Vietnamese: Đức Mẹ LaVang) refers to a reported Marian apparition at a time when Catholics were persecuted and killed in Vietnam. Fearing the spread of Catholicism, the Emperor Cảnh Thịnh restricted the practice of Catholicism in the country in 1798. Soon thereafter, the emperor issued an anti-Catholic edict and persecution ensued. Many people sought refuge in the rainforest of LaVang in Vietnam, and many became very ill.

While hiding in the jungle, the community gathered every night at the foot of a tree to pray the rosary. One night an apparition surprised them. In the branches of a tree a lady appeared, wearing the traditional Vietnamese áo dài dress and holding a child in her arms, with two angels beside her.

The people present interpreted the vision as the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus Christ. They said that Our Lady comforted them and told them to boil leaves from the trees for medicine to cure illness. Though there is no official Vatican recognition of this event as a Marian apparition, on June 19, 1998, Pope John Paul II publicly recognized the importance of Our Lady of LaVang and expressed a desire to rebuild the LaVang Basilica in commemeration of the 200th anniversary of the first vision.

Special thanks to Rev. Michael J. Roach for his contributions to the questions.