Our Lady of Good Success
Raises & Lowers Her Eyes
Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.
Raises & Lowers Her Eyes
Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.
On July 5, 1941, Peru invaded the borders of Ecuador – the western Province of El Oro and the Andean Province of Loja. Fierce fighting broke out, and Ecuador was facing superior forces and what appeared to be a long and bloody war. By mid-July many lives had been lost and it seemed there would be no immediate end to what today is called the War of ‘41.
In a plea to Heaven – since there seemed to be no recourse on earth – the Archbishop of Quito, Carlos María Javier de la Torre, ordered that a Triduum (1) of prayers be said in all the churches of Quito addressing the Blessed Virgin to implore her intercession before God to end the hostilities.
On July 24, the Triduum in honor of Our Lady of Good Success started in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Quito, across from the Government's Palace. The life size miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success, which usually sits in the Abbess’ seat in the upper choir, was brought down to reign above the main altar so that the faithful could join the cloistered Conceptionist nuns in asking her intercession.
On July 27, as the Triduum was coming to its close, Our Lady of Good Success worked a miracle for the Ecuadorian people, offering a great hope to a distressed population, a hope that was very quickly fulfilled.
Our Lady lowers & raises her eyes
It was around 9 a.m., various ladies were near the main altar praying to Our Lady when they observed that the Statue of the Virgin of Good Success opened her eyes wide, turned them downward at them with a look of great compassion and, then, raised them upward. This happened several times. Visibly moved by the miraculous event, they remained in prayer, several of them weeping, but they did not tell the others present in the church what they had witnessed.
Our Lady over the altar in the Conceptionist Church
Deeply moved but fearful that he was experiencing some optical illusion, he went to tell the ladies who were praying so fervently in the church what he had witnessed. They confirmed it, telling him that they had seen the same miracle only about an hour earlier. (2)
The news rapidly spread through the whole city. One person told another, “A miracle at the Church of the Conception!” “Hurry, Our Lady is moving her eyes at the Conceptionist Church!”
In a short time, it seemed that all the inhabitants of Quito, a city known for its piety and devotion to Our Lady, were heading toward that the Conceptionist Church with the hope to see for themselves the miracle, as the Statue continued to raise and lower her eyes at intervals throughout the day.
Learning of the prodigy, a reporter from the Quito daily El Commercio hurried to the crowded square to interview witnesses of the marvel. He spoke with the distinguished Señora Matilde Chiriboga de Salvador, who told him with great excitement: “I saw the Blessed Virgin open and close her eyes, just as thousands of persons have seen it today.” (3)
Many said that the Statue took on a rosy hue, illuminated with a heavenly light
Many witnesses said that the face of the image would take on a rosy color. Then, her eyelids, which are normally half-closed, would open wider and she would turn her gaze downward on the people. Afterwards, she would raise them to Heaven and, then, lower them to their natural position. Throughout the miracle, the Statue was permeated with a supernatural light, glowing with a heavenly aura. (5)
Almost all the persons who came to view the Statue – some believers, other not – saw the miraculous Virgin raise and lower her eyes. There were some few, however, who said that they could not see anything, notwithstanding their religious predisposition, even though all those around them – men, ladies and children – were witnessing the marvel.
For example, there was the curious case of two university students, one a devout Catholic youth and the other a socialist, who entered the church out of curiosity over the event that everyone was speaking about. The Catholic saw nothing, while the socialist saw the miracle. Filled with emotion, he fell to his knees, his face bathed in tears. (6)
On Our Lady’s Feast day of February 2, the people of Quito fill the Church to honor her
This marvelous maternal sign of Our Lady's concern for her people continued through the evening and night, only ending at around 3 in the morning of the next day. Thousands of persons witnessed the miracle.
Clearly, Our Lady had interceded for the Ecuador people, for on that day, Monday, July 28, it was reported that a ceasefire had been called. The war was over. On July 29, Peru and Ecuador signed the Rio Protocol and the Peruvian forces withdrew from Ecuadorian soil. There was no doubt in the minds of the faithful that this prodigious event was a sign that the Mother of God had heard their prayers and come to their aid in that time of dire distress.
News reports in Quito's daily El Commercio verify the miracle of '41
News Reports & Testimonies of Witnesses
Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.
In the last article, we saw that Our Lady of Good Success started to make herself better known in the middle of the 20th century, as she had promised she would, when she worked a miracle witnessed by thousands of Ecuadorians in the Conceptionist Church in Quito.
Above, Peruvian troopers invade Ecuador; below, its superior air force bombs the borderland
On Sunday, July 24, 1941, the last day of the Tridium, the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success raised and lowered her eyes numerous times. Believers and nonbelievers alike flocked to the church to witness this miracle that signaled the Queen of Heaven's intercession in that bitter war.
The miracle continued throughout the day and into the early hours of the next morning. Then, the statue returned to the upper choir, where she sits over the Abbess chair, governing her predilect Convent until the end of the world, another promise she made to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres in the 16th century.
The Ecuadorian people soon felt the effect of her intercession: By Monday afternoon, the daily newspapers were announcing that a ceasefire had been called. A truce was signed on July 29, and the Peruvian forces withdrew from Ecuador's soil.
Testimonies of witnesses
The facts of this stunning miracle were published in numerous papers throughout Ecuador. These news reports were collected by Fr. Benjamin Rafael Ayora y Cueva, a Doctor of Theology, in a booklet titled Our Lady of Good Success of Quito and the International Conflict with Peru in 1941. In his work, we find moving testimonies of witnesses of the miracle of 1941: (1)
Thousands witnessed the miracle of Our Lady moving her eyes
"One lady, pointing toward the statue, said between sobs and tears, 'Don't you see the great miracle the Virgin is working?' Then, I saw the Virgin open her eyes, turn them in the direction of the altar and, then, return them to their former position. It was something supernatural and I will never in my whole life forget it."
Another lady asserted that she, together with her husband, saw at the distance of about six feet the miracle. She explained that her husband was a retired military officer and a Freemason and that when he saw the statue's eyes move, he almost fainted because it proved something he had never believed. They were blessed, she affirmed, to be actual witnesses of this great event had contributed to the conversion of her husband.
"Upon returning to our home," she said, "he swore he would do all he could to convert his companions at the Lodge to the Catholic Religion. I asked him to pray with me, and he knelt and prayed with me."
Another witness, Señor Rafael Pérez, gave this testimony: "My whole life I have been an unbeliever. I never believed the miracles of the saints and always thought they were the inventions of priests to exploit the religious sentiment of the foolish believing people. But, what I saw on Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. changed me.
As Our Lady foretold, Masonry took charge in Ecuador, propelling revolutions against Spain & the Church
"'I arrived at the corner and saw that the crowd was milling around, trying to enter the Church of the Conception. A lady explained to me that inside the church the Statue of the Virgin of Good Success was working a miracle. In my eagerness to confirm the fact, I managed to get in the church, opening a way with great difficulty and situated myself as close as I could to the statue. There, I experienced a sensational surprise.
"'I observed the Virgin turn her eyes to Heaven and, then, lower them several times. It seemed to me it could just be an optical illusion so, rubbing my eyes, I fixed them again on those of the Virgin and the same thing took place again. After calmly observing the statue for one hour, I was convinced of the veracity of this great event and I left, musing that the national and international misfortunes of the time could well have caused the Virgin and God to have mercy on the Ecuadorian people, who at that moment were suffering one of the greatest misfortunes of their history."
Another reliable witness, Señora Isabel de Ramírez, affirmed that she also saw the miracle of Blessed Virgin of Good Success. On the night of Sunday, July 27, after hearing the news, she went to the Conceptionist Church with her sister, two of her sister's children and a servant. They entered the church and, after situating themselves very close to the sacred Statue, she experienced a strange sensation.
Our Lady over the main altar in the Conceptionist Church
Señora Isabel continued: "After some moments of devout observation, I noted with great astonishment that the pupils of her eyes as well as her eyelids returned to their natural position. This marvel repeated itself several times in intervals of some few minutes. I witnessed it. The same miracle was seen by all my family members who were present."
The report concludes: "This grand miracle was confirmed by many honorable matrons of our society, who also viewed it with great admiration and emotion. These ladies include Señoras Elvira Chiriboga de Salvador, Lola Lasso de Uríbe, María Lasso de Eastman Cox, Victoria Pérez de Quiñones, María Luisa Muñoz de Mancheno, Señorita Gangotena Jijón and many others.
"Other witnesses include Canons Ayora, Arcos and Andrade as well as a group of guards and military men." (2)
General acceptance of the miracle
A journal in Ibarra asked Fr. J. E. Vásquez, a Jesuit priest who lived in Quito, to confirm the reports of the miracle. Although he did not view the prodigy himself, the priest told the reporter that it was certainly worthy of belief, given the many credible witnesses of the miracle of Our Lady of Good Success. The interview follows: (3)
On April 20, 1906, the image of Our Lady of Sorrows worked a miracle in Quito
Fr. Vásquez: "I did not learn all the facts about it until the following day. Here in the house we heard news of what was taking place in the Conceptionist Church, but none of us could get into the Church when the doors opened that evening because the crowds were too large. The final word on this, as on any miracle or supernatural thing, falls strictly to the Ecclesiastical Authority and to us, according to the official ruling.
"But, in the meantime, we can certainly accept the testimony of so many persons of sound mind, good judgment and reliable faith who reported what they saw and persevere in their statements, notwithstanding some few differences in details, as has happened in so many other apparitions, since that of Our Lord Jesus Christ to St. Paul to the one of the Blessed Virgin in Lourdes and, even more recently, the miracle of our Sorrowful Mother at the Jesuit College.
"Similar manifestations prove that Mary, the August Mother of God, to whose Son's Sacred Heart our Republic is consecrated, has not abandoned us and that, thanks to her most powerful patronage, we should expect good success in our efforts and enterprises, in all that does not depart from the holy Law of God and the teachings of the Church."
In the next and final article we will look at the meaning of the miracle as interpreted in 1941, as well as its significance for our times.