Over this past weekend, I spent three days in prayer, reflection, healing, and solitude at a Redemptorist retreat center north of Tucson, Arizona. After enduring some rather difficult weeks, it was advised that I should make a silent retreat. Although I was in solitude it wasn’t completely silent since there were other retreats happening at the same time I was there. However, the days away did help and provided me with some good prayer time and insight for the days and weeks ahead.
As I was there, one of the buildings that houses those on retreat is named – Our Lady of Solitude. Well you know where this is going. After doing some light research, I found this title and some of the traditions behind it. So for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, we are going to discuss quickly this title for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in some countries that speak Spanish is known as Nuestra Senora de la Soledad or Our Lady of Solitude. The devotion to Our Lady under this title was developed as she lay in wait beginning on Good Friday, continuing to Holy Saturday till the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.
In Oaxaca, Mexico, the tradition of this title began with processions honoring the regions patroness – La Virgen de Soledad or the Virgin of the Lonely, the last Sunday before Christmas. According to tradition, as a mule driver was leading his pack of burros in one of the processions, he realized he an extra mule with him who was carrying a heavy box. When the box was opened, the organizers of the procession found inside an image of the Blessed Virgin of Solitude. Because of the weight of the box, the mule died on that spot. In honor of Our Lady of Solitude, a church was built on the site. It dates back to 1692.
In the Philippines, in three different cities around the country, sits the icons of Our Lady of Solitude. Since Our Lady of Solitude is in mourning for the death of her Son, the icons depict Mary as wearing the traditional color of mourning, which is black. She is also kneeling before the tools of death that killed Jesus – the scourge, nails, hammer, rope, crown of thorns, spear, and the INRI sign placed above the head on the cross. There are angels on both sides of the icon separating the curtains to show Our Lady as the sorrowful Mother.
Along with these traditions, there are others out there as well.
Let us always keep in mind the grieving pain that Our Lady endured as she waited the three days for Jesus’ Resurrection. We must always remember, and it is difficult to remember, since nobody likes to suffer, that there is no Resurrection without the Cross. Even in our darkest nights, with Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother with us, there is always a glimmer of light that is ready to appear on the horizon before us. Go to them and they will bring you peace.
Our Lady of Solitude…Pray For Us.
The Marian Messenger Website – Philippines
University of Dayton Marian Website – Questions on Mary.