There can be no doubt that traditional Catholics find immeasurable strength and consolation in the apparitions of the Queen of Heaven over the past two centuries. In her messages at Fatima, Lourdes, Rue du Bac, and La Salette especially, we find loving and urgent pleas with strong, even apocalyptical, overtones. Many, however, may be surprised to learn that Our Lady’s active solicitude for the souls living in these perilous times stretches back far before any of these apparitions. About 400 years ago, as early as 1610, the Blessed Virgin appeared to a humble nun in Quito, Equador, foretelling to her that in these times the light of the Faith would be all but destroyed and that society would be almost totally corrupt. Yet, as at Fatima, Our Lady’s message at Quito was also one of hope and confidence.
It was to Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635), a Conceptionist nun of the Royal Convent of the Immaculate Conception, that the Mother of God appeared under the title of Our Lady of Good Success, predicting also that these revelations would not be made known to the world until the end of the 20th century. And so it came to pass. The story of this apparition was virtually unknown outside of Equador until 1999, when a small book was published entitled Our Lady of Good Success — Prophecies for Our Times.1 Since then, the devotion has been spreading steadily.
The revelations of Our Lady of Good Success were first approved by the Catholic Church in the early 17th century shortly after the statue bearing this title was sculpted at the command of the Blessed Virgin herself. The Bishop of Quito at the time, Salvador de Ribera, went so far as to issue official documents attesting that the statue was miraculously completed and transformed by St. Francis of Assisi and the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. This took place during the early morning hours of January 16, 1611, and was witnessed by Mother Mariana, who then saw the Blessed Virgin enter into the statue “like the rays of the sun penetrate beautiful crystals.”2 A few weeks later, on February 2, Bishop de Ribera solemnly anointed and consecrated the image. Since then, the devotion has continued to enjoy the approval and support of the Church.
Many of the prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success have already come true. She foretold that Equador would become a republic, and that a truly Catholic president of this country would be elected in the 19th century who would consecrate it to the Sacred Heart. She also predicted that the dogmas of Papal Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception would be proclaimed in that century. The object of this article, however, is not so much to give a detailed account of these revelations as to show their importance in our times and how they parallel the Fatima message. It is clear that our Blessed Mother had a reason for revealing these matters to Mother Mariana in the 1600’s and only allowing them to come to light recently. In fact, she predicted that the spread of the devotion to Our Lady of Good Success would bring about a miraculous restoration of the Church at a time when the situation would seem nearly hopeless. Our Lady promised to give her special assistance — her good success — to those who would invoke her under this title during these days of darkness.
In 1610, over the course of several apparitions, Our Lady ordered Mother Mariana to have a life-size statue made in the exact form that she appeared: with a crozier and the keys to the cloister in her right hand, and the Infant Jesus on her left arm. She explained that this was “so that men will understand how powerful I am in placating the Divine Justice and in obtaining mercy and pardon for every sinner who comes to me with a contrite heart, for I am the Mother of Mercy and in me there is only goodness and love. Let them come to me, for I will lead them to Him.”3
These ideas are replicated in the words of Sister Lucia in an interview with Father Fuentes in 1957, in which she speaks of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
“…[D]evotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our Most Holy Mother, consists in considering Her as the seat of mercy, of goodness and of pardon, and as the sure door by which we are to enter Heaven.”4 One fact that stands out clearly both at Quito and at Fatima, as well as in many of the other recent Marian apparitions, is the necessity of a very special devotion to the Blessed Virgin in these times, for only her grace and mercy will be able to sustain the faithful amidst such great trials and temptations.
Although many of the revelations Our Lady made to Mother Mariana referred specifically to Equador, it is quite evident that the “almost total corruption” she predicted would be worldwide. When she first appeared to the nun, our Blessed Mother showed herself as the Sorrowful Virgin, weeping as Christ suffered His death agony on the cross. She made known that this anguish was “for the criminal world”5 — specifically for the heresy, blasphemy and impurity of the 20th century. The Holy Virgin asked Mother Mariana if she was willing to sacrifice herself for the people who would live during this time, and the holy nun agreed.
We see here an echo of Our Lady of Fatima’s words to the three children, “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the suffering that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?” “Yes, we do,” Lucia answered in the name of all three. It is also significant, as Sister Lucia explained in an interview with Father Fuentes, that this eagerness for sacrifice was motivated by the children’s compassion for Our Lady’s great sadness:
“Tell them also, Father, that my cousins Francisco and Jacinta sacrificed themselves because in all the apparitions of the Most Holy Virgin, they always saw her very sad. She never smiled at us. This sadness, this anguish which we noted in her, penetrated our souls. This sadness is caused by the offenses against God and the punishments which menace sinners. And so we children did not know what to think except to invent various means of praying and making sacrifices.”6
A recurrent theme in the revelations of Our Lady of Good Success is the terrible trial which would afflict the Church in the 20th century, a crisis which would affect the sacraments, the clergy, and society in general:
“...at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century, various heresies will be propagated... As these heresies spread, the precious light of Faith will be extinguished in souls by the almost total corruption of morals... The small number of souls, who hidden, will preserve the treasure of the Faith and suffer a cruel, unspeakable and prolonged martyrdom....”7
The Fatima message contains the same warnings, but not as explicitly, although it is nearly certain that the Third Secret of Fatima predicts today’s global crisis in faith. At Quito Our Lady warned that in these times the sacraments would be attacked, abused and neglected. Laws would be passed undermining marriage so that many people will live in sin. “In these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury that will conquer innumerable frivolous souls who will be lost. Innocence will be almost no longer found in children, nor modesty in women. In this supreme moment of need in the Church, those who should speak will fall silent.”8 The spirit of impurity “will permeate the atmosphere during these times. Like a filthy ocean, it will run through the streets, squares and public places with an astonishing liberty,” to the point that “[t]here will be almost no virgin souls in the world.”9
These ideas are suggested in the words of the youngest Fatima seer, Jacinta Marto, during her stay in Lisbon, where Our Lady appeared to her and made known to her many things both present and future. For example, she told Jacinta that more souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason, that fashions will be introduced that will offend God very much, that many marriages are displeasing to Our Lord and are not of God.
At Quito, Our Lady also foretold widespread corruption of the clergy; secular priests, especially, will become lax and worldly. “How the Church will suffer during this dark night!,” she continued. “Lacking a prelate and father to guide them with paternal love, gentleness, strength, wisdom and prudence, many priests will lose their spirit, placing their souls in great danger.”10 Horrendous scandals will take place, so that the actions of depraved priests will incite “the hatred of the bad Christians and the enemies of the Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church to fall upon all priests.”11 This seems to be a prediction of today’s widespread outrage over the numerous and unspeakable cases of clergy abuse. Fatima, too, may have held forebodings of this shameful scandal. Again, it is Jacinta’s words that draw our attention: “Pray much for priests and religious. Priests must be pure, very pure!”
The Blessed Virgin assured Mother Mariana that despite widespread betrayal and ingratitude among consecrated souls, there will always be some good religious who by their lives of holy virginity will avert the divine wrath, and holy priests who will carry on the work of the Church. In Mother Mariana’s convent, there will always be at least one faithful soul to appease divine justice. “...[W]ithout virginity,” Our Lady told her, “it would be necessary for fire from heaven to rain down upon these lands in order to purify them.”12 Our Lord also appeared to Mother Mariana, affirming the great responsibility of religious for souls as well as the power of their supplications: “Know that the prayers of religious souls penetrate the Heart of God, and they obtain what the world is powerless to attain.”13 For this reason, the forces of hell launch ceaseless attacks to tempt them to fall or to slacken their efforts. Thus Our Lord revealed that He is greatly pleased by those who pray and sacrifice for priests and religious, and promises them special glory in Heaven.
Sister Lucia also spoke to Fr. Fuentes of the attacks of the devil on consecrated souls: “Father, the devil is engaged in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. He knows what it is that offends God the most, and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way he will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them... He employs all tricks, even going so far as to suggest the delay of entrance into religious life.”14
To Mother Mariana, Our Lady revealed that one of these diabolical tactics would be the introduction of injustice and iniquity into religious houses in the form of “false charity, wreaking havoc in souls.”15 What comes to mind here is the severe, even Jansenistic, spirit of some religious in the years before Vatican II. Emphasizing the letter of the law to the detriment of its spirit, these religious spoke often enough of charity and the love of God, but their practical application of it was harsh, intolerant, and devoid of genuine understanding and compassion. Thus they unwittingly sowed bitterness, rebellion, and distaste for the Faith among those with whom they came into contact. It is easy to see how this unChristlike attitude “wreaks havoc,” for young, impressionable, or weak souls would unconsciously conclude that if consecrated souls are so unjust, cold and merciless, then God Himself must also be. Sadly, too, this concept of charity exists to some extent among traditional Catholics today.
This absence of virtue was also mentioned by our Divine Lord to Mother Mariana: “The times will come when doctrine will be commonly known among the learned and the ignorant. ...Many religious books will be written, but the practice of the virtues and of these doctrines will be found in only a few souls; for this reason, saints will become rare.”16 Because of the crisis in the Church today, lay people as well as priests have plunged into the study of difficult theological matters that in normal times would only be examined by theologians, spawning numerous books, articles and web sites. While traditional Catholics all agree that there are serious problems afflicting the Church, there are varying opinions of what to do about it. With no definite means to resolve these differences, the resulting division and lack of charity among the various camps of traditional Catholics is destructive to souls and must deeply wound the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
To address this matter, the author of the two books on Our Lady of Good Success, Marian T. Horvat, devotes the entire last chapter of her second book on the account of the scandal caused by a bitter conflict between two prominent families in Quito in which Mother Mariana mediated.17 The story contains several valuable lessons for traditional Catholics today, for it clearly illustrates how demons incite and perpetuate conflicts and divisions among good people in order to distract them from battling evil. It also demonstrates the efficacy of sacrifice and prayer and the power of the Blessed Virgin, who will crush the head of the proud serpent at the very moment “when the evil will appear triumphant.”18 The confidence of the just will be sorely tried, but our Mother and Queen assures us of her victory. This is but another affirmation of what Our Lady told us at Fatima: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
The message of Our Lady of Good Success, is, then, one of great hope. Let us then, ask her for the courage and confidence to remain faithful in all the trials that may come in the days ahead. Above all, let us pray for the hastening of the day when she will triumph over the forces of evil and bring about the “happy restoration” of the Church and society.
Footnotes1Our Lady of Good Success, Prophecies for Our Times, Marian T. Horvat, Los Angeles: TIA, Inc., 1999.
2Stories and Miracles of Our Lady of Good Success, Marian T. Horvat, Los Angeles: TIA, Inc., 2002, p. 56.
3Horvat, 2002, p. 13.
4“Silencing of the Messengers, Father Fuentes (1959-1965),” Interview with Sister Lucia, http://www.fatima.org/essentials/opposed/frfuentes.asp
5Horvat, 1999, p. 27.
6“Silencing of the Messengers, Father Fuentes (1959-1965),” Interview with Sister Lucia, http://www.fatima.org/essentials/opposed/frfuentes.asp
7Horvat, 1999, p. 55.
8“Our Lady of Good Success and Our Lady of Fatima: Prophecies for Our Times,” Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D., http://www.traditioninaction.org/OLGS/A001olgs%20fat.htm
9Horvat, 1999, p. 56.
10Horvat, 1999, p. 57.
11Horvat, 1999, p. 56.
12“Our Lady of Good Success and Our Lady of Fatima: Prophecies for Our Times,” Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D., http://www.traditioninaction.org/OLGS/A001olgs%20fat.htm
13Horvat, 2002, p. 52
14“Silencing of the Messengers, Father Fuentes (1959-1965),” Interview with Sister Lucia, http://www.fatima.org/essentials/opposed/frfuentes.asp
15“Our Lady of Good Success and Our Lady of Fatima: Prophecies for Our Times,” Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D., http://www.traditioninaction.org/OLGS/A001olgs%20fat.htm
16Horvat, 1999, p. 63.
17Horvat, 2002, p. 79-95.
18Horvat, 1999, p. 18.