When we Sisters of Providence re-open the National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence on Sunday, April 6, we honor an important tradition that dates back to Saint Mother Theodore Guerin—devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.
Mother Theodore seemed to entrust her fledging community to Mary’s protection every time they faced seemingly impossible circumstances. In those days that was a daily occurrence.
Devotion to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Providence, Queen of the Home, began in 1928 when a copy of the painting, “Mater Divinae Providentiae,” composed by Scipione Pulzoni in 1580, was installed in Foley Hall. In 1990 it was moved to Providence Center.
On Sunday, she will have a new home in the marble-lined vestibule of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, a space that seems to have been waiting for her presence and which will offer greater visibility and accessibility to visitors.
But now that we have refurbished this space, how we will renew this devotion? Can a woman from another time and another place have any significance for us today? At a time when the needs of families are so great, can Mary, the Queen of the Home, bring meaning or even healing to these situations?
A group of third graders from Pope John XXIII School in Evanston, Illinois, help me to answer these questions. Their art teacher, Mel Wolff, who is also a Providence Associate, provided them with background about Our Lady of Providence and assigned them the task of serving as models and photographers to replicate the image. According to Mel, the duos worked painstakingly to strike just the right pose. The girls tried to look like Mary. The boys, serving as photographers, encouraged and supported their efforts.
What did these children see when they looked at Mary that resulted in the baby being held so tenderly, attention riveted on this child in their arms. Will they remember this moment when they have their own children?
As you reflect on the pictures composed by these children, think about the areas of your own life that need tenderness and protection. Let the devotion live in you.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence will be blessed in its new location in the vestibule of the Church of the Immaculate Conception during a Vesper service at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 6. The public is welcome to attend the event.