17th April : Our Lady Of Arabida

Our Lady Of Arabida

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The shrine of Our Lady of Arabida is popular with sailors and with all those who travel by water.  It owes its beginnings to a miraculous occurrence during the 16th century.

At some time during this century an English merchant was standing off the entrance to the Tague River when a great storm caught his ship and immediately plunged him into the dangerous waters at the mouth of the river.  The ship was in great danger and the merchant, being a pious Christian, knelt before a picture of Our Lady which he always kept on board.  Soon after this a bright light was shining through the darkness and the ship came to rest in calm waters.  When daylight came, it could be seen that the vessel was safely anchored at the foot of a very steep wooded mountain.

Since it had been from that direction of the mountain that he had seen the light the night before, the merchant went on land and climbed the steep trail to the top.  There, on the very top of the mountain, amid the dense woods, was his picture of Our Lady, before which he had prayed in his hour of need.  Greatly moved, the merchant finished his business as soon as possible in England and returned to Portugal.  He gave away his goods to the poor and settled down in a small hermitage at the top of the mountain, where the picture had indicated that our Lady wished a shrine to be.

The shrine is there today, and still popular with all who travel by water.  Numerous votive tablets surround the picture, testifying to miracles worked by Our Lady of Arabida for those who come to her in need.  Sailors going on a long voyage usually go for a farewell visit on departure and return to give thanks when they come back.

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