At 30 yrs of age, Mariana became the Mother Abbess (and for the sake of less confusion, let it be noted we will now refer to her as “Mother Mariana”). At this time the convent along with many religious orders in Quito were experiencing a relaxation of the Rule. This was due to the fact that Spain was sending “undisciplined and disruptive” religious to the Colony. They refused to follow the Rules of their order.
In the case of the Conceptionist convent, a small group of rebellious sisters were working to undermine those faithful to the Rule of the Order. One way of accomplishing this was to sever the ties of the Seraphic Order of St. Francis. The Franciscans were the Conceptionist’s spiritual 13 directors. It was the evil plan of these sisters to incite the Bishop of Quito to abolish their spiritual relationship with the Franciscans so that they could achieve the relaxation of the Rule. It was during this period of terrible trials that the Blessed Mother appeared to Mother Mariana for the first time under the title of “Good Success.”
It was February 2, 1594, when the Blessed Virgin greeted her in this way:
“I am Mary of Good Success, the Queen of Heaven and Earth….I have come from Heaven to console your afflicted heart….it is under this invocation that I desire to be known throughout time for the preservation of my convent….”
Our Lady spoke to Mother Mariana about the need for penances and suffering, prayer and self-denial at all times for not only was it most pleasing to God but it is with these tools that the Convent would be able to sustain itself, the Church and the world. She told her that her Divine Son desired to give her “every type of suffering” in order to save souls. Our Lady then handed the Child Jesus to her. At once she was filled with strong desire to suffer and received such encouragement and consolation that she felt “invigorated and inflamed with the love of God.”
Our Lady of Good Success was to appear to her many more times in the next 40 years. These visits were meant to instruct, guide and encourage Mother Mariana in her mission.
Soon the predictions of Our Lady came to pass. After her abbacy was over, the Franciscans left as their spiritual directors. Mother Mariana, noticing the laxity in the rule, informed the new Mother Abbess. As a result, she was imprisoned and suffered many humiliations. The Spanish founding mothers could not bear to see Mother Mariana suffer alone. They joined their fellow sister. Others ended up joining as well. In the end, a total of 25 sisters were with Mariana in the prison.
It was on one of these imprisonments (for she was imprisoned many times due to the unobservant sisters) that Our Lady of Good Success appeared to her again. The date was January 16, 1599. Once again brilliant and blinding as millions of sparkling diamonds flash in the sunlight, she appeared with the Infant Christ.
On this occasion she shared the future with Mother Mariana:
- “The country in which you live will cease to be a Colony and will become a free Republic. Then, known by the name of Ecuador, it will need heroic souls to sustain it in face of so many public and private calamities”
- “In the 19th Century, a truly Christian president will come, a man of character whom God Our Lord will give the palm of martyrdom on the square adjoining this Convent of mine.”
- “He will consecrate the Republic to the Sacred Heart of my Most Holy Son and this consecration will sustain the Catholic Religion in the years that will follow, which will be ill-fated ones for the Church.”
- “Masonry will take control of the civil government, [Ecuador] will see a cruel persecution of all religious communities and it will also strike out violently against this one of mine [Conceptionist convent]”
- “The separation of the Friars Minor has taken place by divine permission… But after some centuries, they will return to govern…”
- “A ‘golden era’ will come for this my convent. Then a Prelado [prelate], my most beloved son, blessed and prized before God, will understand by divine light the necessity for the daughters of the Immaculate Conception to subject themselves in exact obedience to the Friars Minor for their sanctification and perfection. This Prelate will ask the Vicar of my most Holy Son here on Earth to restore the jurisdiction over this Convent to the Friars Minor.”
- “…it is the wish of my Most Holy Son that you command a statue of me to be made, just as you see me now and that you place it upon the Abbess’ chair so that I may govern my Convent. In my right hand, place the crosier and the keys to the cloister as a sign of my proprietorship and authority.
- In my left arm, place my Divine Child: first so that men understand how powerful I am in placating the Divine Justice and 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…”
Mother Mariana did not believe it possible that any human hands could 16 render a worthy likeness of Our Lady due to her exquisite beauty and asked her if the Seraphic Father, St Francis, and the Angels could not assist in the making of the statue. The Blessed Mother agreed to this request. She asked Mother Mariana to measure her height by taking the cord of her habit. Our Lady took one end and touched it to her forehead and Mother Mariana touched it to her feet thus getting the exact height for the statue. She then told Mother Mariana to have a sculptor, a good and upright man, by the name of Francisco del Castillo begin work on the initial stages of carving the statue, and she would see to the rest.
Over the course of ten years Mother Mariana struggled with the issue of the making of the statue. Many obstacles prevented the sculpting of it. One obstacle was a fear of idolatry on the part of the native people in Quito. Another was Mother Mariana’s personal fear of not being believed and putting the convent in jeopardy. There was already an upheaval in the convent caused by an unfaithful and rebellious sister who incited some of sisters against Mother Mariana and sisters who were faithful to the rule of their order. This sister was known as “La Capitana” (the Captain).
This sister, because of her evil ways, was headed straight for hell. Mother Mariana was mystically informed of the horrible eternal plight of this sister. She desired to save this soul from eternal damnation—the only solution given to Mother Mariana was that she, herself, was to take on the suffering and punishments of hell that this sister would have had to endure for eternity had she not been spared by Mother Mariana. This infernal penance she was to bear for five long years. Mother Mariana agreed to this sentence. She was the picture of virtue during this time and no one but her confessor knew of the tormented life she led. As a result of Mother Mariana’s years of suffering, “La Capitana” converted. This once rebellious sister lived the rest of her days in repentance for the sins she had committed.
After having completed her sentence of hellfire for “La Capitana”, Mother Mariana was more angelic than ever before. It is written that her soul “had reached the heights of sanctity and heroism on this earth.”