Monday, April 23, 2012

The Shrine of Torreciudad in Spain



The Marian Shrine of Torreciudad is located in the Aragon Pyrenees, in the North of Spain. Once lost in the mountains, today the shrine is easily accessible, where peace and silence are found in a setting of great natural beauty.Devotion to Our Lady of Torreciudad dates back to the 11th century. Spiritual activities at the shrine are entrusted to the Opus Dei prelature. In fact, the shrine's development was due to Josémaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei. He himself explained that one day, in 1904 when he was only 2 years old, he became so sick that doctors were sure he would not survive. His mother, therefore, began to pray intensely to Our Lady, and a few days latter, having discovered his surprising recovery, she brought him on a pilgrimage to the hermitage of Our Lady of Torreciudad, to give thanks to the Blessed Virgin.Josémaria Escriva de Balaguer: "When we talk about shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we say there are too many images of her -- I think there are too little. And now, with everyone's help, with everyone's prayer and sacrifice, we are rebuilding another shrine, which has existed since the 11th century."Before being transferred to the present shrine, the original image of Our Lady was kept in the hermitage; it is a Black Madonna statue that greatly resembles the one of Our Lady of Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain. There is a legend that Our Lady appeared to some woodcutters from Bolturina, a small village near Torreciudad, and told them that she wished to be venerated at that spot.In the crypt there are four separate chapels: they are dedicated to the Holy Family, Our Lady of Loreto (France), Our Lady of the Pilar (Saragossa, Spain) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico). The ceramic representations of the mysteries of the rosary, preserved along three archways, are by José Alzuet. One of the shrines' characteristic features is that it is a place for reconciliation with God through the sacraments. St. Josémaria hoped for "abundant spiritual fruits" from the Blessed Virgin Mary; and with this in mind, he asked for numerous confessional chapels to be built.Josémaria Escriva de Balaguer: "We ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to grant us many spiritual graces, those that are only known in heaven. People who visit Our Lady to show their love for her must naturally make commitments, and thus she will pour forth her Son's graces, especially through penance and the sacraments."This shrine is a very important place for families; its central event every year is held in honor of them. The shrine attracts 15,000 people every year. Families come to ask the Mother of God for help in their difficulties and to bless their marriage. The shrine is also part of the famous "Marian Route" that links the shrines of Montserrat, El Pilar, Torreciudad and Lourdes.Another of the shrine's salient traits is the hall dedicated to Marian invocations from other shrines. It was created in 1984 for the 9th centenary of the Shrine of Torreciudad. At that time, the faithful from other Marian shrines were invited to come on a pilgrimage to Torreciudad, and to offer statues of Our Lady as a memorial of the event. That is why today we can admire almost 200 images of Our Lady at the shrine. However, the hall is not a museum, rather an expression of the numerous heartfelt testimonies of love to the Blessed Virgin that were left in Torreciudad. For many, coming back every year to venerate the statues that they had left, to relive past experiences and to sing the local hymns has become a tradition. And so this "Marian fire", born from the woodcutters' shrine, has spread throughout the entire world.Prayer Holy Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Torreciudad, for nine centuries you have watched over these mountains, which reflect the ancient hermitage and the new tower, which unite yesterday's faith with ours today.We come here looking for your shadow, to receive the Body of Your Son and His forgiveness, to pray in silence, and so be able to tell the world of your purity -- and the purity that you, in your love, offer to your children. Mary of Nazareth

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