Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our Lady of the Mount Anjara, Jordan - New Icons of the Mysteries of the Rosary, and a Miraculous Weeping Statue

It is funny how one story leads to another, or in this case two others. On my blog, I recently posted an article about my visit to the seminary of the Argentinian order Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) in Washington, D.C. In response, I was contacted by English icon painter Ian Knowles, who told me that order that had commissioned him to paint icons of the Mysteries of the Rosary for a church which they run in Jordan, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Mount.

I thought that this might be of interest to NLM readers, so I asked him for pictures and started to dig around for information about the church. Then I found out that it is also that it is the site of a miracle, validated by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in which a statue of Our Lady wept tears of blood in 2010. In 2014, IVE presented fellow Argentinian Pope Francis with an image of Our Lady of Anjara when he visited the site of Our Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan.

The statue is perhaps 150-200 years old, and was purchased by the church shortly before the miracle occurred. Culture, beauty, prayer and devotion to Our Lady are all aspects of the charism of the order, (you can read about the IVE charism here), and somehow all of this is entwined in a dynamic mix for the mission of the Church in this one shrine in the Middle East.

As to the original thrust of the story, the icons: there are some photos below at the bottom of the blog post. Immediately below is artist Ian with one of the panels in progress. (Incidentally I met him several years ago when we both attended a class taught by Aidan Hart!) .

I am so heartened to hear of IVE wanting to encourage “eyes-open prayer” through the commission of these icons. It shows, in my opinion, a true understanding of the New Evangelization, since, regardless of the miracle, the simple beauty of each one of them in the church will surely encourage a deeper prayer that engages the whole person. This will facilitate a supernatural transformation of the person in Christ and lead, in turn, to the transformation of the culture as each person contributes to it, gracefully and beautifully, by simply going about their daily business.

The same can be said of the statue. For all the headlines in connection with the miracle, (which I very happily accept as real), it is the supernatural transformation of mankind in Christ, the partaking in the divine nature, that is the truly astounding fact of the Christian faith. This is an extraordinary privilege that is open to every single human person, and leads to a life of such joy. Sometimes, exceptional, headlining events such as miracles are needed to inspire the prayer that will engender what I think are the greater, yet so often neglected and misunderstood truths of the Faith.

The account of the miracle is here at the National Catholic Register, and an account of the Pope’s visit is on the IVE site, here. The order is devoted to Our Lady with a special devotion to the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Lujan, a South American holy image. This photo is taken from the order’s website.

What struck me in the account of the miracle is how the Argentinian priest of the order who is at the Shrine, Fr Nammat, says quite matter-of-factly that he doesn’t know why the miracle should have occurred, except to remark that the “Arab spring”, which has led to the persecution of so many Christians (and Muslims) in the region began shortly afterwards, and perhaps there is a connection.

Below: Ian’s Sorrowful Mysteries, with detail below that.

..and the Joyful Mysteries:

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