27th May : Our Lady Of Naples

Our Lady Of Naples

Country : Italy

Year : 1268

In Naples, Italy, Mary is venerated in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine under the title Santa Maria della Bruna—the “Brown One”, because of the brownish color of the image’s face.  The picture was brought to Naples about the middle of the twelfth century by some eastern monks migrating from Mt. Carmel in Palestine, and who settled outside the walls of Naples.  After 1268, Empress Elizabeth rebuilt the church on a magnificent scale to commemorate her son, Conradin, lawful heir of the throne.  He was beheaded by Charles of Anjou, when assuming the throne of the two Sicilies.  The “della Bruna” picture proved too small for the vast edifice and was put into a side chapel, where after two hundred years it fell into neglect in both the veneration and the affection of the people of Naples.

In the year 1500 a jubilee year, a number of pious Napolitans decided to go on a Pilgrimage to Rome.  Placing the trip under the patronage of the Mother of God, the people thought it fitting to carry at the head of the procession a picture of the Virgin; they persuaded the Carmelite Fathers to lend them their picture of the Madonna della Bruna, and started for Rome April 5, 1500.  A mile from Rome, a cripple, Thomas Saccone, lying by the roadside, was filled with desire to go along, which he knew was impossible, since he could not even stand.  He asked the Mother of God to do the “impossible”.  As the picture was passing he cried out for help, vowing, if he were cured, he would join the pilgrimage.  He was instantly cured, standing up, he found he could walk; rejoicing, he joined the procession.

Naturally, the story of his cure raced ahead of the procession, and as it progressed from village to village, it was found that the townspeople had carried forth their sick and infirm and had placed them alongside the highway, so all might ask Our Lady to help them when her image passed by.  Many were healed.

So it went until the ninth day, when the pilgrimage arrived at Rome.  The picture was placed in St. Peter’s; the Holy Father hearing of the many cures, came with Cardinals and clergy to where the people received it with great delight and manifested their sincere devotion.  When it came time to return to Naples, all the way back the procession encountered the same outpouring of people, all anxious to see the image and to pray to Our Lady.

The Carmelite Fathers with a great multitude met the pilgrims at Aversa, a town ten miles outside of Naples; with great rejoicing they welcomed their now famous Madonna.  It was restored to the original place over the high altar of their new church and great crowds came to ask the Virgin to help them in their trials and troubles.

Soon after this, an amazing thing happened.  Frederick II, King of Naples, decreed that all sick, deaf, blind, and lame be brought to Naples from all over his kingdom.  He prepared a hospital alongside the church of the Carmelites, and quartered the unfortunate ones therein.  When all had been collected, they were taken to the church on the appointed day.  A High mass was celebrated and at the “Gloria in Excelsis”, the image was unveiled.  At the same instant a ray of light appeared to descend from Heaven and shone brightly upon the face of the Madonna.  Then it seemed to reflect and scatter its brilliance over the assembled multitude and as it rested on them, they were forthwith cured.

From that day Santa Maria della Bruna, has been a great favorite of the people of Naples; numerous have been the favors and graces she bestowed upon her people.  The picture is painted on a tablet—it is now contained in a marble tabernacle, a precious work of the sixteenth century to Our Lady of Naples.

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