(On the origin of the devotion of "Our Lady of Good Success" section taken from Chiesa viva #413 "Our Lady Condemns Masonry")
The devotion of of Our Lady of Good Success
Mary of Good Success, Virgin of Good Success or Our Lady of Good Success was an invocation well known in Spain. The tracks of this invocation dates back to the time of wars of liberation from the Muslims. It is to the “Buen Suceso” that a magnificent altar was devoted by the victorious El Cid upon entering triumphant in the city of Almenara.
The meaning of the term “Buen Suceso” or “Good Success” is the miracle or supernatural intervention of the Mother of God calls in which She intercedes in favour of her children. It is the extraordinary event that converts an image of stone or wood, into a “door” to God or “gate of Heaven”.
The Virgin of Good Success was patroness of Sagunto-Valencia. It is a marble statue of 40 cm in height which is venerated in the Convent of the Religious (Servite) of the city. The legend says that the statue appeared floating on the waters of the sea, surrounded by 5 stars.
Over time, other invocations of Our Lady were transformed into that of “Good Success”: in the area of Traiguera-Castellon, the people were venerating, as patroness of those lands, the Virgin of the Source of Health, found, according to tradition, by the two pastors: Anastasio and Jaime Sorlì, in 1384.
This invocation had been changed into that of Our Lady of Good Success. In the area of Cabanes-Castellon, to the mother of a seriously sick child, Francisco Gavaldà – the future Bishop of Segorbe – one day, happened that, as she was praying before the Virgin of the Rosary, she saw that the statue begin to sweat. The mother wiped the perspiration of the statue with a cloth, then placed it under the pillow of her son. The next morning, the child woke up completely healed. This “Good Success”, first of many “Good successes” that followed, gave rise to the change of name of the sacred statue.
Most importantly, however, the authoritative seal, placed on the invocation of Our Lady of Good Success which has been crucial to the success of the promotion of her devotion, originated directly from the will of a Pope: Paul V (1065-1621).
Bernardino de Obregon (1540-1599) was a young Spaniard, rich and proud. One day in 1567, he was so taken by the humility of a poor passer-by, that he changed his life and decided to devote himself to serving the poor and the sick. With the approval of the Nuncio and the King Philip II of Spain, he founded, under the Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of Paola, the “Religious Congregation of Minims for assistance to the sick” (which served mainly in hospitals). The vows were to chastity, poverty, obedience and hospitality. In 1599, Obregon died and was buried in the General Hospital of Madrid, where his “Obregones” were working.
The successor, Brother Gabriel de Fontanet, along with Brother Guillermo de Rigosa, in 1606, went to Rome to ask the Pope for the approval for the extension of their jurisdiction from the city of Madrid to the entire country of Spain.
They made the journey on foot. As they have traveled past Valencia, near the border with Catalonia, crossing the sierra of Valdancha between Traiguera and Castellon, the two brothers lost their way and a terrible storm came upon them during the night. Praying to find a safe place to die as they both feared that storm’s fury would cause their death, they beheld a bright light, high in the mountain range. They decided to climb toward this light. Upon doing so, they not only beheld this beautiful light within a cave but a shrine to the Mother of God with fragrant flowers or rare beauty growing there. As they entered the cave, they discovered a statue of a smiling Virgin Mary with Child Jesus in the left arm, a scepter in his right hand and a wonderful crown encircled on her head.
The statue was rather small, only 53 cm high, with the Child Jesus of 11 cm tall. They both had brown hair, black eyes, flesh colored skin. The Statue was made of cypress wood. Not only was there something miraculous in this discovery, but the wonder of the two Brothers was that they could not be able to imagine who could sculpture a work of art of such beauty and perfection!
They placed the Statue in a basket and continued their journey to Rome.
Pope Paul V received the two Brothers and heard the story of the discovery of the Statue. Understanding the supernatural nature of the event, He knelt down, put his pectoral cross around the neck of the Statue, embraced and kissed Her and exclaimed:
«Look, She smiles! Why is She smiling? What a Good Success you have achieved with this trip! There is no doubt that Our Lady has decided to protect you and support you in your work. So I am not the one to go against Her. May your wishes have a Good Success!».
Then, Pope Paul V blessed the Statue, granted Her many indulgences, gave her the name of “Our Lady of Good Success” and commanded that Her devotion had to be promoted at once. In memory of the pectoral cross which Paul V had placed on Our Lady of Good Success, he authorized the Friars, of the Order to use a cloth cross on their black tunic.
At the end, Paul V decreed that the “Religious Congregation of Minims for assistance to the sick” was erected to Religious Order.
On their return journey, the two Brothers, arrived in Valencia, which was in the grip of the plague. They discovered that nine of their twelve brothers died by contagion. They continued for Madrid and placed the sacred Statue above the altar of the church of the General Hospital, until, in charge of the Royal Hospital care of the Court, at the “Puerta del Sol” in Madrid, replaced the Statue in its infirmary.
This hospital, founded by King Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile for the assistance and care of infected soldiers, was enlarged by the Emperor Charles V in 1529. King Philip II personally traced out the plan of its small church, and the Hospital and the church were declared Royal Patronage.
On June 6, 1611, King Philip II made the dedication of the new church and, in the presence of the Queen and the whole Court, placed the Statue of Our Lady of Good Success in the church, above the third chapel. Then, on September 19, 1641, with a solemn ceremony, the sacred Statue, which gave its name to the Hospital of the Court and to its church, was placed above the main altar.
The church received considerable privileges: it was made a parish, depending on the Patriarch of the Indies, as Major Chapel of the Kings and of the Vicar General of the armies and the Armed Forces. The Statue remained, in this church at the “Puerta del Sol” in Madrid, for about two hundred years.
It was moved during the horrors, the massacres and the destruction of the Spanish Succession War, when foreign armies invaded Spain and, in the courtyard of the Hospital, many heroes of Madrid were shot. Following the ruins caused by war, the sacred Statue was placed in a niche of the Church of the Good Success, until when, in 1832, was moved, first, to the Royal College of Our Lady of Loreto, then, in the Chapel of the Royal Palace.
The area of the Hospital of the Court and its church was assigned for other uses and so, over the years, in those places, new and magnificent buildings had risen.
There was a project to rebuild the church of the Hospital of Good Success in an area called Prado, before the Botanical Garden, but the idea was abandoned.
It was Queen Isabella II who insisted that the idea of rebuilding the church dedicated to the Good Success was not abandoned; so this was erected in the district of Pozas, in 1868, before the Hospital Central del Aire (the Military Hospital), even if not so large and magnificent as it was planned in the original draft of reconstruction.
King Philip III placed there the sacred Statue with a privilege unmatched in Spain and in the world: this was the only church in the world where the Mass was celebrated from 5 am until 2 pm. Even in Rome itself there was no church holding such a privilege!
The present day shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Good Success in Madrid, Spain in the Church of Good Success