Our Lady Of The Orphans
In one of Our Lady’s chapels in the grand cathedral of Burgos, the capital of Old Castile, there is a picture representing a beautiful waxen statue of the tender Mother of God clasping in her arms a dead little girl, barefooted and in tatters; while above, an ascending angel speeds heavenward bearing an unfolding lily – type of a pure child’s soul.
Wondrously beautiful and life-like is that waxen image robed according to the country’s custom, in real stuffs—a mantle of azure velvet printed on gold stars, like a summer-night sky; veil of white, cloud-fleecy gauze; the arms outstretched; the tinted face full of tenderness, the ruby lips full of sympathy.
In the darkest corner of a gypsy’s hut a little child lay weeping as only the motherless can weep. It was Christmas Eve—bells were calling to Midnight Mass. Suddenly the girl ceased to weep, or to fear the now sleeping gypsies. Praying to the Madonna she made her way to the church door. It was open (for in Spain the doors of all churches, like those of Mercy, stood open day and night.) The pitying old sacristan departed, and left the little wanderer kneeling before the fair Madonna, sobbing, “Mia Madre! Mia Madre!”
But on entering the church to light the candles for sunrise mass, he found no kneeling form where he had left one. “Gone back to the sorrowful world, poor weeper; may the Virgin’s care go with her!” And, so murmuring, he looked up—and behold, the miracle! Within her shadowed niche stood the same lovely, loving Mother; but, the arms were no longer outstretched. Closely, tenderly, they clasped the poor orphan; now smiling happily—hushed in the sleep that knows no waking.