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Our Lady of the Angels
(in 1935 this Costa Rican shrine was declared a Basilica by Pope Pius XI)
I think you misunderstood me. I didn’t say you shouldn’t believe in signs from God, I just said you need to be balanced in appraising what you think constitute such signs. God usually guides us gently and politely in quite normal, un-dramatic ways – like through your conscience, or through the teaching of the Church. Sometimes when you don’t like what God is saying through these normal channels, it can give rise to a penchant for finding special signs everywhere, signs that are really just an excuse to do what you want. So you need to examine your conscience first of all in order to find out if you are even willing to be able to recognize God’s voice. Only then should you try to interpret what appear to be extraordinary signs, which God does sometimes send, as he did on this day back in 1635, in a city in the middle of Costa Rica.
Juana Pereira was a poor mestizo woman searching for firewood. As she searched, she found something unexpected – a dark stone about five inches long lying on the side of the footpath. On the stone, carved in a simple, elegant manner, was an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary: a round, sweet face with slanted eyes and a delicately shaped mouth, holding the child Jesus on her arm. Juana could only see their faces, which were leaden in color, with golden sparkles mixed in here and there. The rest of their bodies were covered in a robe.
Juana took the image home with her, but the next day it was gone. She found it again later that day, lying beside the same footpath in the same spot. She removed it again, and again it somehow returned to the same spot, of its own will, it seemed. Five more times this happened, each time the figurine returning to its spot from different homes or from the parish building, from wherever Juana had taken it. Finally it dawned on someone that Our Lady was indicating that she wanted a shrine built on that mysterious spot.
The idea was taken up, a shrine was built, and it soon became a favorite place of pilgrimage for the poor and the destitute. The image, placed in a beautiful gold monstrance, was solemnly crowned in 1926 and the shrine named a Basilica by Pope Pius XI in 1935. The first time Juana found the stone was on August 2, which at that time was the date of the feast of the Holy Angels. Thus, this image is still known today as Our Lady of the Angels.
That, my precocious young niece, is a case of an authentic sign from God. Think about it. Pray about it. Ask Mary for some guidance and examine your conscience, and I am sure you will find your way safely through the fog that currently besets you.
Your loving uncle,