Meet the woman who is busy "raising Christians."
As a mother, I don’t need science to tell me that the mother-child relationship is an incredibly strong bond on multiple levels. But science has, over the last few years, put forth research giving further insight into why the maternal connection is so strong. One reason is called microchimerism. That’s a complicated way of saying that cells are exchanged: While the baby is in utero, some of her cells, containing her DNA, enter the mother and continue to live on in her after the baby is born. There is also evidence that cells from the mother are transferred to the child. This might not explain everything regarding the relationship between mother and child, but it is certainly a strong reminder of just how connected they are.
Ascension Thursday: Lovemaking with the lights on
And that’s the relationship Our Lady had with Jesus and, in a different, mystical, but no less real way, the relationship she has with each of us.
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen died before microchimerism research began, but he communicated the same significance on a spiritual level: “Can you not see that if Christ himself willed to be physically formed in her for nine months and then be spiritually formed by her for thirty years, it is to her that we must go to learn how to have Christ formed in us? Only she who raised Christ can raise a Christian” (Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons from Cana and Calvary).
More marvelous than all the miracles and apparitions put together is the simple reality that Mary is our mother, and takes part in raising us in our faith.
Mary, in her appearance as Our Lady of Andacollo, has been actively raising Christians in Chile and beyond for almost 500 years.
Here is her story:
In the second half of the 16th century, an indigenous copper miner saw a ball of light in one of the mine openings, and heard Our Lady’s voice directing him to a place where he would find “wealth,” which led to him unearthing a wooden statue of Mary, presumably left behind by Spanish soldiers fleeing the region during an attack on the city in 1549.
The name of the town, Andacollo, is most likely a derivative of Anta-Goya, a term in the Quechua language meaning “copper queen,” referring to the copious amount of the metal found in the region. An alternative tradition, however, suggests that the name is actually reminiscent of Our Lady’s appearance, in which she called the miner by name and sent him forth: “Anda, Collo.”
Whether or not the town was named in her honor, Our Lady had arrived and was there to stay. The most renowned of countless miracles attributed to her intercession includes her delivery of the town from a smallpox epidemic in 1871 and, more recently, in 2010, miraculously aiding in the rescue of 33 trapped miners.
The image in the Basilica of Our Lady of Andacollo is a copy of the original image, which mysteriously disappeared in the 17th century. The replica has resided in a number of churches; the current basilica was inaugurated in 1893, and the statue was pontifically crowned in 1901. Our Lady continues to attract thousands upon thousands of pilgrims to Andacollo each year, particularly during the great feast of Our Lady of Andacollo, which lasts five days, beginning on December 23.
Our Lady of Andacollo, pray for us.
Aleteia is bringing you an introduction to some of the titles under which Mary is honored as patroness in Latin America. See here:
From El Salvador, Our Lady of Peace of San Miguel: Mary will find her way into your life with creativity and persistence
From Ecuador, Our Lady of Quinche: When God brought a child back to life through the prayers of His Mother
From Paraguay, Our Lady of Miracles of Caacupé: No two stories of Our Lady are ever the same: A mother’s individualized love
Our Lady of Charity, from Cuba: In the face of evacuation from Irma, turn to Our Lady of Charity
Our Lady of Aparecida, from Brazil: Pope Francis recalls the joy of entrusting his pontificate to Our Lady of Aparecida