Mother’s devotion to Our Lady of Providence lives on
My Irish mother introduced me to devotion to Jesus’ mother Mary the day I was born by naming me Marie Louise. [Note: Sister Ann Paula entered the Sisters of Providence in the time when sisters took a new name. Her name was changed to Sister Ann Paula at that time.] My mother had a great and lifelong devotion to Mary and was happy when our teachers, the Sisters of Providence, referred to her as Our Lady of Providence.
There were eight children in our family. Many nights we would put the newest baby in the middle of the bed and kneel around saying the rosary for many special intentions but always to watch over our family. By reflecting on Mary’s quiet ways of dealing with everyday ups and downs of her family, she taught us that loving her Son included actions as well as words.
Later as a teenager I always chose blue for my clothes when I could buy something new. Unbeknownst to me my mother revealed that she had promised Mary that if I, her first born, was healthy she would call me Mary and would dress me in blue. Since it was during the great depression she was not always able to fulfill the latter promise.
Some days Mother would take care of our cousins. It was not uncommon for them to come running to the bedroom where they knew she would be putting the baby down for a nap while saying the rosary. One such day it was, “Aunt Weez, Bud fell in the lake and he would be dead if you weren’t saying your rosary.”
Small May altars at home were a continuance of what the sisters taught us. I can still smell the peonies and Lily of the Valley and the candle burning while we said our night prayer.
In 2006, while going to the Rome to the canonization of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, I managed to research and find the original picture of Our Lady of Providence in a small church. The original work, “Mater Divinae Providentiae,” was painted by Scipione Pulzone around 1580. In 1664, the painting became the possession of the Barnabite Fathers who placed the art piece in a small chapel in the rear of the church of San Carlo ai Catinari in Rome where it draws many faithful visitors. In 1925, her altar at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods was dedicated as our National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence.
At their weddings, each of my seven brothers and sisters received a framed picture of Our Lady of Providence to keep watch over their new homes. Most of my nephews and nieces have also received this picture for their weddings. Thus the lifelong devotion my mother had to Mary, Our Lady of Providence, still continues in my family.