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Thursday 03 December |
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The Blessed Virgin Mary: Our Lady of Refuge

Patron of California


The story

+ The title of “Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners” dates back to the 8th-century bishop Saint Germanus of Constantinople.

+ The title refers to Mary’s role as a patron and protector for all sinners and to her special work of healing the wounds caused by the sins of Adam and Eve.

+ The title Refugium Peccarotorum is one of four titles of Mary in the “Litany of Loreto” that refer to Mary’s special roles as a source of healing and reconciliation. The others are “Health of the Sick,” “Consoler of the Afflicted,” and “Help of Christians.”

+ The 18th-century Jesuit Blessed Antonio Baldinucci helped spread devotion to Mary under this title and the Jesuits introduced this devotion to Mexico. From there, Franciscan missionaries brought this devotion to California where Mary is widely honored with a special liturgical celebration on July 5. The feast of Our Lady of Refuge is celebrated in Mexico on July 4.

Worth Knowing

From 1664-1718, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared numerous times to Benoîte Rencurel at Saint-Étienne-le-Laus, France. The apparitions were approved by the Holy See in 2008 and “Our Lady of Laus” has often been called “Refuge of Sinners” because of her call for conversion during the apparitions.


“With so great a patroness and protectress, what can we not promise ourselves? What can be wanting and whom need we fear?”—Bishop Garcia Diego, first bishop of “Lower” and “Upper California” proclaiming “Our Lady of Refuge” as the patron of California on January 4, 1843.


O Almighty and merciful God, Who in the Blessed Virgin Mary hast given sinners a refuge and a help, grant us, who are protected by her, the forgiveness of all our sins and the blessings of Thy mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal, pro aliquibus locis [1962 edition])


Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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