The Quito Apparition
In a very remote country never mentioned in the news, Our Lady appeared centuries ago to a humble convent. Naturally speaking, there is nothing which would prompt anyone to take off the heavy dust covering the story of its events. And, yet, they made their way into the Consecration sermon of Archbishop Lefebvre. It certainly has the hallmark of a genuine apparition with true prophecies dealing with our own day. This is certainly the reason why lately, there has been an accrued recognition of these events and what they portend in our traditional circles.
The Consecration Sermon
On June 30, 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre, as he was making his apologia for the Consecration which he called “Operation Survival of Tradition,” made reference to several private apparitions, Leo XIII’s vision which prompted his exorcism, La Salette’s warning of an eclipse, and also a long reference to Our Lady of Quito. Here are his own words:
“It was not only the good Pope Leo XIII who said these things, but Our Lady prophesied them as well. Just recently, the priest who takes care of the priory of Bogota, Colombia, brought me a book concerning the apparition of Our Lady of Good Success—Buen Suceso—of Quito, Ecuador, to a nun shortly after the Council of Trent, so you see, quite a few centuries ago... And Our Lady prophesied, saying explicitly that during the 19th century and most of the 20th century, errors would become more and more widespread in Holy Mother Church, placing her in a catastrophic situation. Morals would become corrupt and the Faith would disappear. It seems impossible not to see it happening today. I apologize for continuing this account of the apparition but she speaks of a prelate who will absolutely oppose this wave of apostasy and impiety—saving the priesthood by forming good priests. I do not say that prophecy refers to me; you may draw your own conclusions. I was stupefied when reading these lines but I cannot deny them, since they are recorded and deposited in the archives of this apparition.”
The History Behind
In the early 17th century, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on several occasions to a Spanish Conceptionist sister, Mother Marianna de Jesus Torres, at the convent in Quito, Ecuador. On her first visit (January 16, 1599), Our Lady directed Mother Marianna to commission a life-sized statue of herself holding the Infant Jesus under the title “Maria of Buen Suceso of the Purification.” The title of Our Lady of Good Success is certainly the name with which most faithful are familiar. Given the growing popularity of the devotion, the Franciscan Conceptionist Sisters of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception have issued a clarification of this name requesting faithful and pious apostolates to refer to her as Maria of Buen Suceso of the Purification. This is done to keep the emphasis on the Purification and to avoid the idea that good success is similar to good luck as the Spanish clearly does not translate in this sense.
The statue was begun by a local sculptor, but was miraculously completed in 1611 by St. Francis of Assisi and the entire celestial court. Our Lady also prophesied about many important matters that pertain explicitly to our modern times. Our Lady revealed much to Mother Marianna about our current situation, including:
Our Lady said that the message of the apparitions would only become widely known in our days. And she linked the spread of this devotion in our times to her miraculous intervention for the restoration of the Catholic Church, precisely “when almost all would seem lost and paralyzed.” Thus, even though Our Lady’s message is severe, it is also one of great hope. For she promised to succor those who invoke her under this name during these turbulent times.
The revelations of Maria of Buen Suceso and devotion to her miraculous statue were approved by Bishop Salvador de Ribera in 1611 and subsequent bishops up to our times. In 1906, while remodeling the convent, Mother Marianna’s sarcophagus was opened and her body was discovered whole and incorrupt. On February 2, 1991, with approval from Rome, the Archdiocese of Quito performed a canonical coronation of Maria of Buen Suceso of the Purification as “Queen of Quito.”
In the year 1941, Peru had invaded Ecuadorian territory. In the face of this emergency, the Archbishop of Quito ordered triduums, or three days of prayers, in different churches, to be prayed in honor of various titles of the Blessed Virgin, imploring the cessation of hostilities.
On July 24, the triduum in honor of Maria of Buen Suceso began in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Three days later, on Sunday, July 27, 1941, from six o’clock in the morning until three o’clock in the afternoon of July 28, that is, during a 20 hour span, the statue of Our Lady of Buen Suceso moved its eyes. This miracle was observed by approximately 30,000 people, who poured into the church to contemplate the wonder. Her face changed alternately from a reddish tone to another tone similar to marble. Her eyes, which normally look downwards, rose up little by little during the miracle until they remained looking towards Heaven in a posture of supplication; then they lowered towards the faithful, and alternated in this way. That same afternoon of July 27, the daily newspapers announced the cessation of hostilities with Peru. The newspapers of the following day described the miracle on the front page, pushing the international events of World War II and the Peruvian invasion into the background.
A Pilgrim’s Narration
After months of planning, reading and anticipation, you have finally arrived in Ecuador. Historic Quito is barely visible in the late night arrival, but you feel the tranquility wrap around you. A serenity settles over you like a warm shawl. The cares of the world melt away. You are finally free to focus on Her and absorb Her messages.
I arose at four-thirty in the morning, quickly dress and slip out the hotel by five o’clock. I don’t know exactly where I’m going, but was told by our host “just head up the hill; you’ll find the church.” The church is unassuming—yet magnificent. There were images on both sides of the nave all the way to the altar. So much to absorb at first glance. And next to the communion rail was “the” statue of Our Lady of Buen Suceso of the Purification. Little did I realize that this was one of only three times each year that the statue is so close you can almost touch it. The remainder of the year it resides in the cloistered convent chapel.
Then the banners came out. Four volunteers were chosen to carry the litter with the smaller replica statue, and we were ready to start our morning procession. It’s still dark and Quito is sleeping. A group of strangers assembled to unite in prayer. Quito is at almost 10,000 ft. above sea level and the city is quite hilly. This first day, the morning rosary procession was deceivingly easy. It was only a short path to another nearby church. By the end of the rosary we were back at the church of the Immaculate Conception. The procession each morning to a different church or convent increased in difficulty. We were not only pushing our physical stamina up the steep inclines, but also our motor skills by singing our morning rosary while balancing our pilgrimage prayer guides, rosary, and lit candles. Nevertheless, every day brought its own reward with the visit to another stunning church or the warm welcome of a humble group of sisters anxiously awaiting our arrival in their convent courtyard. I suspected the sisters were welcoming Her statue more than us pilgrims. Mass was at 8 o’clock, so if I hurried back to the hotel I could sneak in a quick nap. This was my routine for nine mornings.
Following Mass and breakfast, we met for a city tour at ten o’clock. Every day unfolds another piece of Quito’s rich history. Afternoons were on our own to explore, shop and enjoy the local ambiance. At the height of the Catholic age, the colonial city of Quito boasted over 200 churches. In 1978, UNESCO declared the city a World Heritage Site and brought in financial funding to restore the major churches. The gold leaf is copious and true to original design; original artwork and statues are abundant. Entering a restored church is a time travel back to the 16th and 17th centuries when Catholic fervor was well-reflected in art. Outside, vendors and poverty were everywhere. Walking the cobbled streets with a priest in cassock brought those seeking a blessing and alms.
There was an interior peace at Quito due to the leaving behind of the daily news, personal struggles and anxieties. The world melted away from consciousness. Every day had a rhythm and a focus outside of oneself. Being in the chapel where Our Blessed Mother appeared to Mother Marianna was humbling. Her messages for the 20th century rattled your bones and you could see it all unfolding as foretold. The fact that Her messages are for our generation made them more poignant and personal. The evening talks given by our priest were illuminating and thoughtful.
The final morning of the pilgrimage, February 2, was the Her long-anticipated feast day of the Purification. The procession swelled to over 2,000 people with their own banners, songs and even police mounted on horseback. Our group blended into the sea of pilgrims proclaiming our Faith. It was a glorious procession of confidence and adoration!
After visiting other sites of Marian apparitions, this pilgrimage would remain as one of the most spiritually invigorating. Joining with a group of like-minded Catholics, and led by a priest of the SSPX, I gained a spiritual calm that carried me for weeks. There were several priests and religious of various orders that were available for casual discussion and confession. This pilgrimage was longer than a typical “visit” to a Marian site. There was time to disconnect from the world, absorb, reflect and connect Her messages to our times. Every day was a spiritual renewal and a history lesson. Every day had structure and free time to pursue personal interests. Evenings brought an inspirational talk and camaraderie. What more could anyone ask?
As it is now drawing to a year since my pilgrimage last January, I am digging deep into my memories to draw upon the peace and serenity that She imparted to me. Mary our Mother always looks out for us and only wants the best for us. She wants us to join her in Heaven. She gave us messages for our present times. She foresaw our foibles 400 years ago. Her messages were unimaginable at the time, but so real today.
If you are so moved and have the opportunity, I highly recommend this pilgrimage. It’s like nothing else you might experience. It is a meditative retreat without imposed silence and set in the preserved historical backdrop of the time of the apparitions. The immense spirituality of the experience settles into your very being, and you appreciate the fullness of your Catholic heritage. It’s a lesson in history, contemporary life struggles, and the love of Our Mother for our salvation.