This morning in mass, I flipped over the back of the bulletin, glancing over the feast days for the week. My eyes fixated on July the 4th: Our Lady of Refuge (Nuestra Señora del Refugio).
I was moved to my knees, crying.
Now, I’m not one to cry in mass. Isn’t that more of a Baptist thing, to get all carried away by emotion?
But, given the tension in my country surrounding immigration, this brought me to my knees.
My Other Lady of Refuge
For most of my life, I have always thought of another as Our Lady of Refuge.
Is it a coincidence that she also has a “feast day” on July 4th?
I don’t think so.
Sure, we often call her Lady Liberty, instead of Lady of Refuge. But the plaque on her base might have us think otherwise.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Then again, given the current mood on immigration, maybe it’s time to take down that plaque, as over half of us no longer believe in it anymore.
Researching this post, it turns out that Mexico is the only country that celebrates Nuestra Señora del Refugio on July 4th. But that’s weird, as July 4th, 1719 (exactly 58 years before the US’s declaration of independence) was the day that Pope Clement XI crowned Our Lady “Refuge of Sinners”.
So why does the rest of the world celebrate it on August 16th?
I have no idea.
If you do know, feel free to clue me in by leaving a comment below!
I’m not much of a Marianist, but this really hit home for me. Whether I continue to think of Our Lady of Refuge as this lady:
I don’t yet know.
For me, I think they’ll be forever intertwined.
“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”
(Yes, for those who are even less Marianist than me, I do realize that this verse is praising God–not Mary. But God was Mary’s refuge, too. You know, like when they were fleeing Israel for their lives, because Herod wanted to kill Jesus? Kind of like of Central American parents fleeing for their lives with their children because narcos want to kill them? Except in this instance, upon arrival in Egypt, Jesus would have been taken away from his parents and all of them would have hung out, indefinitely, in jail. It’s a real shame that the US–whose dominant history is based on immigration–is a great deal less welcoming to refugees and immigrants than ancient Egypt. But I guess that’s the way we want to be now.)
Well, maybe Our Lady of Refuge understands.
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