Excerpted introduction to Miraculous Images of Our Lady
By Joan Carroll Cruz
Catholics do not adore statues or other representations of Our Lord, His Mother or the Saints, nor do we pray to these images. In early childhood, we are taught from our Catechism that "we do not pray to the crucifix or to the images of Christ and of the Saints, but to the persons of whom they remind us." Because they represent holy persons, images are treated with becoming reverence, even as the picture of one's mother would be.
This subject was clarified by the Council of Trent during its 25th session in December 1563:
'Moreover, [the faithful must be instructed] that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other Saints are to be placed and retained especially in the churches, and that due honor and veneration is to be given them ... because the honor which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which they represent, so that by means of the images which we kiss and before which we uncover the head and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ and venerate the Saints whose likeness they bear. That is what was defined by the decrees of the Councils, especially of the Second Council of Nicaea (787 A.D.) against the opponents of images.'
From the earliest days of the Church, images were painted on the walls of the catacombs as religious expressions of the faithful, as acts of veneration and as aids in visualizing Our Lord, His miracles and His Holy Mother. We are told by St. John of the Cross in Book III, Chapter 35 of The Ascent of Mount Carmel: "The Church established the use of statues (and images) for two principal reasons: the reverence given to the Saints through them and the motivation of the will and the awakening of devotion to the Saints by their means. Insofar as they serve this purpose their use is profitable and necessary." The Saint also tells us, "Since images serve as a motivating means toward invisible things, we should strive that the motivation, affection, and joy of will derived from them be directed toward the living object they represent."
Without question, the most popular image of a Saint found in churches throughout the world is that of the Queen of Saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary. One would be hard pressed to find a church, chapel or oratory that does not contain an image of the Mother of God.
Of these images of our Holy Mother, some have been identified as being miraculous. It is not that the statue or painting is miraculous of itself, but it does seem that Our Lady favors certain of her replicas and often honors the requests of those persons who visit them to express their needs and their love for her.
The purpose of this work is to identify these favored images and to chart their histories and the reasons for their designation as miraculous objects. It must be understood that the Blessed Virgin does not perform the miracles by herself. It is ultimately our Heavenly Father who performs the miracles according to His holy will at the request of Our Lady. For this reason, the Virgin Mary is known as the Mediatrix of All Graces who pleads our cause before God's holy throne....