The chronicles tell of an amazing miracle that took place in Madrid during the eleventh century. Tradition has it that when King Alphonse VI reconquered Madrid from the Moors, he immediately sought to purify the old church of Santa Maria, which they had desecrated (the Moors had probably turned it into a mosque).
The faithful were afflicted because they could not find the statue of the Virgin that had been there before the Moorish domination. It was a special statue that had been brought to Madrid by the Apostle Saint James. Thus, the people and clergy organized a procession around the city, in which they begged the Lord to find the statue.
The pious procession went around the city walls as people chanted and fervently recited prayers asking God in His Divine Mercy to show them where the statue was hidden. As the procession passed by a certain place, the desired miracle happened. Part of the wall collapsed, and they found the Virgin’s statue that had been hidden there for more than three hundred years. It was illuminated by the two lamps which past Christians had placed there before closing off the niche where it was hidden.
Hence the statue was given the name Our Lady of Almudena since almudena means market or barn. The miracle happened near the Moors’ market or grain silo.
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira makes the following commentary about this marvelous story:
The story is so clear and beautiful that it dispenses retelling. Our Lady wonderfully rewarded two things: first, the faith of those crusader warriors who found the statue. They made great efforts to find the statue by processing around the city. They confided in the value of prayer. Secondly, they understood the importance of returning the statue to her place to make proper reparation. The reason for the procession was to undo the Moors’ work, making reparation for the sin they had committed by their occupation.
Our Lady also marvelously rewarded the faith of those who had hidden her statue centuries before. They were Catholic Visigoths facing the approaching Moors. Realizing that escape with the statue was impossible, they walled her up. Then, the Moors at least could not defile the statue.
Notice how they put lighted lamps near the statue before walling her up. This gesture is very beautiful since it shows they did not want to wall up the statue without a tribute. Those lamps represented their hopes that the statue would be venerated once again. Thus, the walled-up place was like a little chapel.
A miracle confirmed their hopes. This most beautiful miracle of confidence consisted of the lamps that burned for 300 years. They continued to burn when the statue was found in the wall. It is a miracle as great as the multiplication of loaves in the Gospel. Its marvelous message is that one can expect such things from Our Lady. Although things may appear defeated and crushed, something irreversibly victorious remains in them.
These lamps represent confidence. Wherever confidence exists, expect the possibility of resurrection, restoration and new victories. Our Lady works miracles even in the most hostile circumstances. Nothing is impossible for those who confide in her.
This confidence is very important for the spiritual life. Those who confide against all hope can expect all things. There is reason to confide even when surrounded by the worst conditions that cause discouragement. Our Lady will reward this confidence. Ultimately, Our Lady never lets anyone down or breaks her word. She keeps the flames alive until it is time for her to give extraordinary graces.
This confidence must be maintained during all efforts for the cause of the Counter-Revolution. A phrase from Scripture says that “The remnant shall return.” It means that the remnant of faithful Catholics will return even after being utterly defeated and crushed. In trusting souls, two lamps must continuously burn next to this confidence. They are the lamps of the conviction of the irreversibility of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’s Reign. As she promised at Fatima, “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
The preceding article is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on May 19, 1967. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.