The following story is taken from A Spanish Mystic in Quito: Sor Mariana de Jesus Torres by Msgr. Luis E. Cadena y Almeida. It relates the story of Sister Mariana Torres who experienced visions of Our Lady of Good Success. This article tells of her first term as abbess. –Ed.
Mother Mariana was elected and installed as abbess in 1593 at the age of thirty. Her capacity and performance as spiritual leader progressed normally and successfully. Although the young abbess could be well pleased with the spiritual progress taking place within the convent, she had no lack of financial difficulties to worry her. Added to the inadequacy of proper support was the threat of separation from the direction of the Franciscans. To preserve the spirit of union and concord that then existed and to prevent the more mundane preoccupations from entering the hallowed cloister, the young abbess knew of no better recourse than the tabernacle of Our Lord. There at the divine resting place, which always attracted her irresistibly, she felt very much at home.
Our Lady of Good Success Appears for the First Time
On February 2 of the following year, Mariana, prostrated with her forehead touching the ground, was praying in the upper choir at one o’clock in the morning. She was beseeching God, through the intercession of His Blessed Mother, to put an end to the privations of her beloved convent and, above all, to mercifully forgive mankind so deeply engrossed in sin and so far astray from the path of His commandments.
Preceding this prayer, she had engaged in a prolonged exercise of penance. Continuing to pray with ever-increasing fervor, she suddenly felt the presence of someone else. Her heart quivered, but then she heard her name being sweetly called. Quickly rising, she found herself before a very beautiful lady bathed in a sea of glory and splendor. This Lady was clad in the white tunic and blue cape of the Conceptionist habit and held in her left arm a child of indescribable beauty while in her right hand she carried the staff of an abbess, made of polished gold and set with precious stones.
According to the account she later gave to her confessor, her soul was flooded with a holy and ineffable joy and an intense love for her Lord and God which reached such heights that, had it not been for special protection, she would have expired then and there. While in a transport of joy, she found the courage to ask, “Beautiful Lady, who art thou and what dost thou wish? Dost thou not know that I am only a poor nun who loves God and is extremely afflicted with His bitter suffering?”
Our Lady’s First Prophesies
The Lady answered, “I am Mary of Good Success, Queen of heaven and earth. It is precisely because you are a religious soul who loves God and your Mother that I now speak to you. I have come from heaven to console your afflicted heart. Your prayers, tears and penances are very pleasing to our heavenly Father, who imbues you with His consoling Spirit. God the Father, Who is the support of the just in their tribulations, has formed from three drops of blood from my heart the most beautiful child of man, whom I carried for nine months in my most pure womb. Giving birth to Him in the stable of Bethlehem, I laid Him on the cold straw and remained a virgin and Mother of God. As a Mother, I carry Him in my left arm, and in so doing, I may hold back the arm of divine justice which is ready to unleash punishment upon this ungrateful and guilty world.
“In my right hand, I carry the crosier that you see because I wish to govern this convent myself as its abbess and Mother. The Friars Minor are about to withdraw their participation in its guidance, so my support and protection could not be more opportune than in this hard trial that will last some centuries. By this separation and by using my ungrateful daughters, Satan is planning to destroy the work of God. But he will not succeed because I am the Queen of Victories and the Mother of Good Success, and under this invocation I wish to work prodigies throughout time for the preservation of my convent and its inhabitants.
“In all times until the end of the world, I will have holy daughters, heroic souls who in the hidden life of their convent will suffer persecution and calumnies from their community. They will be the object of the loving attention of God and of His Mother. I shall personally console them, for they are destined to receive the privilege of many apparitions from me. Like strong and stout columns, they will sustain the community in troubled times. Their life of prayer, self-denial and penance will be most needed during each period. After having lived on this earth unknown, they will go to heaven to occupy a prominent throne of glory and receive the palm and crown of virgins and martyrs as a reward for their penance and love of God.
The Importance of Courage In the Faces of Suffering
“Now I want to give you strength and encouragement; do not allow suffering to discourage you. Yours will be a long life for the glory of God and for your Mother who speaks to you. My most holy Son will grant to you a gift of sufferings of all kinds. In order that you may receive the necessary strength, take Him from my arms and embrace Him in yours, press Him against your so feeble and imperfect heart.” As soon as the holy Virgin had placed the Divine Child in the arms of this fortunate nun, she pressed Him close to her and covered Him with caresses, feeling from then on great strength and a desire to suffer.
The Apparition Ends, and a Newborn Fervor Begins
This encounter with the Queen of Heaven lasted until three o’clock in the morning when the heavenly vision ceased. During the apparition she felt herself flooded with indescribable splendors. However, when the vision disappeared, she found herself in the darkness of the morning of a new and routine day. Arising from the place where she had been praying, she walked the few steps from the grille of the upper choir to the right of the church, where she took her seat in the abbess’ chair. There she awaited her sisters, who were already entering the choir to begin their daily activities.
One can easily imagine the admiration of the sisters on beholding the radiant face of their abbess, similar, no doubt, to the experience of the Israelites when they beheld the shining face of Moses after he had talked with God. Without knowing why, the nuns’ hearts were filled with an extraordinary love for God and His Blessed Mother, causing them to recite their morning prayer with unusual fervor.