Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Success
By Kathleen Marie. Heckenkamp
“They will have recourse to me under this invocation of Our Lady of Good Success and I now ask and command that you have a statue made for the consolation and preservation of my convent and for those faithful souls of that epoch during which there will be a great devotion to me for I am Queen of Heaven under many invocations” (Our Lady of Good Success; Prophecies for Our Times, pg.47)
This [quote of Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana on January 21, 1610] seemed a fitting introduction to our article here on the events that occurred during the first organized Traditional pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Success. This pilgrimage sponsored by the Apostolate of Our Lady of Good Success in which twelve Catholics from the United States met in Quito, Ecuador to pay homage to their Queen took place during the time of the Novena (Jan 24-Feb 2). It is important to note that the purpose for going at this time of year is due to the fact that other than the nine days previous to her feast on Feb 2 and during the months of May and October, the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success is hidden from the world in the cloistered Conceptionist convent.
For those of you who are new to Our Lady of Good Success, I want to encourage you to read the wonderful books written by Dr. Marian Horvat, “Our Lady of Good Success; Prophecies for Our Times” and “Stories and Miracles of Our Lady of Good Success” and the “Novena and Prayer Booklet of Our Lady of Good Success”. Dr. Horvat is one of the first to introduce the English-speaking world to Our Lady of Good Success. She gives a detailed account on the apparitions that a Conceptionist sister in Quito, Ecuador received from the Blessed Mother. The Blessed Mother appeared to Mother Mariana prophesying that the 20th century would be a time of great upheaval in the Church causing many faithful to fall away for the Catholic Faith. Our Lady asked Mother Mariana to be a victim soul for these times so that the Restoration of the Church could be effected. She accepted. These apparitions and devotions have been approved by the Church since the early 1600’s.
Our Pilgrimage was to acknowledge the importance of these apparitions, prophecies, and devotions by giving honor to the Blessed Mother under this beautiful invocation as Our Lady of Good Success.
Quito, Ecuador has been titled the “Sanctuary of Miracles in South America”. It has been rightly named for rarely will you see such a mystical region as this city. Every church has its miracles. Most of them are attributed to the invocation of our Blessed Mother. It is believed that when the Catholic religious came to Ecuador in the 1500’s they founded their institutions on pagan ritual sites. The Blessed Mother desiring to aid in the evangelization of these indigenous people and encourage those who performed this arduous work of proselytizing, manifested her powerful intercession in various ways--- Sometimes through a miraculous statue or picture—sometimes through apparitions or visions. To this day, despite the universal changes in the Church since Vatican II, the faith of the Catholics in Ecuador is edifying to observe. It is understandable why Our Lady came so often to Quito to help and encourage such a faithful and docile race.
This pilgrimage started on January 27th and ended on February 3, 2004. Twelve pilgrims from the USA met in Quito, Ecuador carrying with them their “spiritual baggage” and those of hundreds of others. These pilgrims were intent on unburdening themselves before the feet of Our Lady of Good Success. It was a time of intense Catholic spiritual renewal for all of those present along with all of the others who had entrusted their cares and troubles to this group of pilgrims-those who journeyed with us in their hearts and souls as they joined us in praying the Novena to Our Lady of Good Success. Though this trip was a first of its kind, the pilgrims were optimistic that they would meet with “good success” on this pilgrimage…you will soon find out that they were not at all disappointed.
Father Jean Michel Morel was the Pilgrimage chaplain. He provided us with the spiritual food we needed by way of offering daily Latin Tridentine Mass, the sacraments and leading the Novena to Our Lady of Good Success and the daily rosary.
Our Tour Director was Mathieu C. Guillory. Mr. Guillory is an American who has lived in Quito, Ecuador since 2001. He has been the Apostolate’s South American Advisor since its conception. Using his knowledge of historic Colonial Quito and his love for Our Lady of Good Success, Mr. Guillory was able to blend the spiritual side of life with some of the finer pleasures such as flavoring our afternoons and evenings with quality dining excursions and live music.
On first day of the pilgrimage, we visited Our Lady of Good Success. During the time of the Novena, this life size statue is venerated in the Conceptionist Church. It is placed high above the altar for all to see. Despite the fact that this Church is sadly in need of repair and renovation, when Our Lady of Good Success is present for veneration, this church is by far the most beautiful in all of Quito. The good Conceptionist sisters adorn this statue with the most exquisite of gowns. On that particular day, looking as if she was resting on a pink cloud in a garden of roses, Our Lady was a vision of elegance and grace.
Our first Mass in Quito was appropriately offered, as mentioned before, at the feet of Our Lady of Good Success. For all of us on this pilgrimage it was an extremely emotional experience to witness the return, if ever so briefly, of the Latin Tridentine Mass before the throne of Our Queen of Good Success. Many of us shed tears of joy, love, and petition that first afternoon in Quito.
In the heart of Colonial Quito is a square called the Plaza Grande. It is here where we most often met to begin the day’s tour. From this location one could see the Church of the Conceptionist convent, and the Presidential Palace where Garcia Moreno was brutally and mortally wounded. This spot is highly venerated by the devotees of Our Lady of Good Success for Our Lady prophesied that a future Ecuadorian president would consecrate Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and would die a martyr’s death at the hands of the enemies of the Church-the Masons. This is what happened on August 6, 1875. After being stabbed Garcia Moreno dragged his torn and bloodied body to the Cathedral across the Plaza where he expired at the feet of Our Lady of Sorrows of which he was known to have a great devotion. His last words were, “God does not die!” He is buried there at the feet of Our Lady of Sorrows in the Cathedral.
We had the good fortune to visit the Monastery of Carmen Alto -the former home of St. Mariana de Jesus. .In the history of Quito during the Colonial era, two “Mariana’s” were important to the Catholic Church—One Mariana was hidden until the 20th Century. She is the one which devotees of Our Lady of Good Success, know as Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. The other Mariana is St. Mariana de Jesus Flores or “The Lily of Quito”. The Lily of Quito offered her life to Almighty God for her city when an epidemic threatened to destroy it. God accepted her offering on May 26, 1645. In 1946, she was named the National Heroine of Ecuador by the government for her heroic action.
We had gained permission from the Mother Abbess of this Carmelite Monastery to have Mass in the Church of Carmen Alto. Later, we were told that these nuns felt extremely blessed to have this Latin Mass. Many cried throughout the Mass. They begged to be taught Latin and for Father to return. As a result of our visit, the Carmelite sisters are now receiving Latin Classes. They have begun to recite the rosary in Latin and look forward the return of the Latin Mass again in the future.
On February 2, 1610, Our Lady of Good Success remarked,
“There will be many who will not believe and will claim that this devotion is not pleasing to God…. A simple humble faith in the truth of my apparitions to you, my favored child, will be reserved for the humble and fervent souls docile to the inspirations of grace, for Our Heavenly Father communicates His secrets to the simple of Heart and not to those whose hearts are inflated with pride , pretending to know what they do not, self-satisfied with empty knowledge.” (Our Lady of Good Success; Prophecies for Our Times, pg 48)
On Friday morning, we all headed off to the monastery with cameras in hand. Arriving at the Monastery, we waited for the Mother Abbess. She greeted us with the customary bell in hand. She rang it as she led us through the cloister to the Choir Loft. This was to let the other sisters know that strangers were coming through the cloister and to stay away!
Upon entering the Upper Choir Loft where Our Lady of Good Success had first appeared to Mother Mariana, the Mother Abbess graciously showed us around the room pointing out and describing the various artifacts treasured by this convent. Strangely enough, many of our cameras stopped working in this room (all flashing the battery sign) within a few minutes of each other.
After the tour, Father Morel offered Mass on the tomb of Mother Mariana within the walls of the cloister. We decided to videotape the Mass as a special remembrance of this holy event. At the moment of consecration the video camera went out.
Was God was speaking to us, emphasizing the sacredness of the moment of consecration when God humbles himself to enter the host that He might unite himself with us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist? Here in this tiny alcove of a tomb, in which the mortal remains of Mother Mariana and the founding sisters rested, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, chose to show His Almighty Power. How quietly He spoke to us, “Look at this moment in time! Adore your God who has chosen to come to this lowly tomb as I did once before in the manger at Bethlehem and again as I did when I rose from the dead on Easter Sunday…”
After Mass, we lingered awhile enveloped in the mystical presence there. As we were all kneeling in thanksgiving before the tomb of Mother Mariana, one of the pilgrims exclaims—“I smell roses!” Being a bit of a “Doubting Thomas”, I edged to the tomb. I smelled it too! It certainly was not the regular type of “rose” smell but an exquisite floral fragrance I had never smelt before. We told Father. He admitted to first smelling it at the time of the Elevation of the Host. Were we favored with a miracle that day? We would like to think so. Later the Mother Abbess, when confronted, admitted that this does happen on occasion at Mother Mariana’s tomb.
Was all of this a coincidence? You make your own conclusions. However, those present were profoundly impressed. Oh and by the way, all of the cameras resumed normal activity after we left the Conceptionist convent.
We then traveled south of Quito for about 2 hours, arriving at an enchanting Ecuadorian ranch called “La Cienega”. This ranch could be described as a South American plantation of sorts. It looked as if it could have been a stage set right out of “Gone with the Wind. It was a paradise in the Andean mountains! We all breathed a huge sigh of relief to be here in this respite for a couple of days.
Well that thought did not last too very long for that evening we looked at the chapel we were to have Mass in the next day, a 17th Century Chapel with most everything from that century intact. However, the years and the elements had done a little “work” on this place. We said the novena in the chapel that night and realized we had done a little unexpected dusting with our good clothes on the kneelers and the benches. It needed a good overhaul before Mass could be offered tomorrow. We spent most of Saturday preparing the chapel for Mass.
On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, our Latin Mass was yet another time of spiritual adoration and reflection. Perhaps it was the intimacy we shared with each other and Our Lord expressed through the long day’s preparation for Mass…. Or perhaps because a truly special moment in the history of the Apostolate took place when the miniature replica of Our Patroness, Our Lady of Good Success graced the altar for the first time! Or perhaps it was due to the fact that Garcia Moreno, the martyred Ecuadorian President, was married here in this chapel on the Hacienda. Or maybe just a combination of the three. Nevertheless, this Mass was one of the most beautiful Masses we had on the pilgrimage.
The faith of the Ecuadorean people was remarikable to behold. It stands as a testimony of hope in this world that is so quickly witnessing the demise of the Catholic Church. One such example was the faith of a little Indian man at the Hacienda. His name was Geronimo. He is a spry 82yrs. old. He had worked on this Hacienda for 65 years. He was somewhat of a caretaker and sacristan of the rickety old chapel. He told us that a visiting priest would come once every 2 months or so to offer Mass. This dear little Indian was so excited that Father was offering Mass at this chapel. When he discovered we were going to have Benediction, there also he pleaded for Father to use what he called “La Santissima” This was his endearing term for the monstrance there in the chapel. He told Father that the local priest had wanted to throw “La Santissima” in the garbage but he had begged him not to do so. Many of us were so impressed by the devotion with which this old man knelt on the uneven ground. He resembled an adoring angel before the Sacred Species. With such humility and piety, he recited his Latin responses, as he must have done so many years ago. We knew his thoughts that day. How blessed he felt to see his “La Santissima” once more high up on the altar with his Lord and Creator regally displayed. Before we left, he begged us all to pray for his holy death—with teary eyes, we agreed and said farewell to this little kindred spirit.
We traveled back to Quito, awaiting the climax of our pilgrimage, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Good Success or more commonly known as The Feast of the Purification or Candlemas Day.
We rose early, 3:30 AM, for the “Rosary of the Dawn Procession” on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Good Success. Doors were opening to the Church at 4:30AM. I did not want to miss one moment! Bleary eyed, we staggered through the darkened streets of old Quito. Reaching the doorway of the Conceptionist Church, we quickly shook off our sleepiness in the magnificent presence of Our Lady of Good Success. There she stood a wonder of exquisite beauty, adorned in a soft sky blue gown falling in cascades toward the altar below, glowing and ever so lifelike in the midst of all of the gold and light surrounding her, . It was not so difficult to imagine what Mother Mariana saw in the Choir Loft 400 years before on this very day! Still in awe, I glanced around and realized that the church was half-full already with hordes of people filing in behind me. In the end, I was told two thousand participated in this event. A small 2 foot replica of Our Lady of Good Success was carried through the streets of Colonial Quito by strong young men.. The rosary was begun within the confines of the church with the men heartily leading the “Ave Maria” and the women responding with | “Santa Maria”. Many of us throughout the week took particular notice on how these Ecuadorians seem to chant everything they say---throughout the markets their voices can be heard conversing in a melodic, rhythmic manner. It was the same during the rosary.
People might ask if I saw a miracle that day. Well, I would have to say, yes, I did in a manner of speaking. For what I found to be a miracle was the fact that throughout this whole procession which lasted at least an hour down the main thoroughfares of Colonial Quito, no one came from their living quarters complaining to us to “shut up”—not a dog barked—not one rotten tomato was thrown. All was calm and serene in Quito except for the two thousand people reciting the rosary along these streets. Could one ever imagine such an event ever occurring in the USA?
Even, Nature, itself, esteemed the event that morning, bowing to Our Lady of Good Success as she passed. In her honor, the wind was still and the sky was clear. A single star lit the sky. A native woman whispered ever so sweetly in Spanish to us as she pointed to that star, “Look! There is the Virgin!” Then pointing to the delicate glowing beads of wax dripping softly down our candles, she said, “These are her tears!” I was touched to the depths of my soul that day. Our Lady had stolen yet another piece of my heart—there it remains in that Church in Quito. As we passed through the Plaza Grande past the spot where Garcia Moreno gave his life for the Church and Ecuador, I too wept silently with Our Lady thanking her for the great grace of allowing me to participate in this experience. It was the very first time I had ever been blessed to be on a pilgrimage. What a pilgrimage it was!
The Faith is still alive in Ecuador! Our Lady lives amongst her people there. So much of what I felt cannot be sufficiently put down on paper here. It truly must be experienced in order to be understood. This poor writer’s intention is to give you just a glimpse of what she, herself, saw and experienced.
So begins the journey of Tradition back to Ecuador. Let us pray that this spark of Tradition ignites a fire in the faithful souls of all of Ecuador once again as it did in the soul of our little Indian friend, Geronimo. This is a country that despite its humble appearance seems destined to aid the Catholic Church back to Tradition through this lovely devotion to Our Lady of Good Success.