Mary’s Central ShrineTrish Shea
Mary's Central Shrine
The following is a reprint from the Miraculous Medal Shrine’s September 1963 issue of the Miraculous Medal Magazine (now The Message). It is a loving tribute to the birth of Mary’s Central Shrine and a legacy that has earned the Shrine basilica status.
HEART AND SOUL
With his usual precision, Fr. Joseph Skelly, CM, called [The Miraculous Medal Shrine] “the center and heart of the Association.”
Good ideas have good consequences. The idea that took root in Father Skelly’s mind of forming the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal was a good idea, and the consequences that have issued from it have, accordingly, been rich and beneficial.
One of the results is Mary’s Central Shrine. His Eminence, the late Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, dedicated the Shrine on September 8, 1927, in the thirteenth year of the “Central Association.” Ever since then, it has been the scene and the occasion of many manifestations of Mary’s loving power and of her children’s sterling devotion to her.
From the beginning, the exceptional beauty of the Shrine attracted many people to it, who came to admire and remained to pray. They came singularly and in groups; at times they came as pilgrims from afar; and we are confident that Our Lady always rewarded them generously for their visits.
And from the beginning Father Skelly organized four Solemn Novenas at the Shrine yearly: in February for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes; in May for the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians; in August for the feast of the Assumption; and in November for the feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
These devotions became so popular and so fruitful that the Director of the Association, after much prayer, came to a momentous and courageous decision. The Novena services should be held at the Shrine on every Monday throughout the year!
This was the origin of the Perpetual Novena in honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
On Monday evening, December 8, 1930, Father Skelly conducted the first service of the Perpetual Novena. This set-in motion a truly remarkable upsurge of devotion to the Mother of God; all this was a consequence of the original idea of founding the “Central Association.”
The growth of this form of devotion at the Shrine is too well known to need recounting here in detail. From one service in 1930 with about 200 people present, the Novena at its birthplace has mounted to twelve services a day with 10,000 in attendance. Through these services the grace of God has streamed into the souls of countless people, bringing them from infidelity to faith and from sin to divine friendship.
This same Novena devotion, in 1932, began to branch out from the Shrine to other churches and chapels. At present it is conducted weekly in more than 4,200 places in this country and beyond the seas, with an estimated attendance of over five million people.
What Our Blessed Lord does at the request of His Mother for these millions is of course beyond our power to measure. The written accounts of sovereign favors received run into vast figures and give a fair idea of what the total must be. The whole story of the tide of graces and favors flowing from these Novena devotions is a secret in the Hearts of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother.
Consequences indeed have followed in the wake of a good idea, consequences that no man could foresee. They were imbedded, though, in that idea of setting up the “Central Association.” And in God’s good time under the inspiration of His Immaculate Mother they made their appearance in many glorious ways.
We have been concerned here with just one series of consequences, that is, Mary’s Central Shrine and Novena devotions that originated there and that flowed out from there over the world. In the actual order of things, we may say that without the idea of the “Central Association” there would be no Shrine, there would have been no Perpetual Novena devotions, either at the Shrine or any other place.
What Our Lord might have done if events had taken a different turn, we do not know. What we do know is what has really taken place: the actual dependence of the Shrine and the Novena on the original mind of Father Skelly, the idea of establishing The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.
At this time, when sadly but proudly we review Father Skelly’s remarkable life and deeds, it is fitting to give thanks to God and to His Mother for the fruitful idea planted in them that has brought forth consequences so striking, thanks to the zeal of the Association’s Director.
The Divine Seed fell on good ground and yielded fruit a hundredfold!
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