In 1998, during a pilgrimage to venerate the Holy Shroud in Turin, Italy, our pilgrimage also went to Milan. Among the sites we visited was the Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Bambina – the miraculous Holy Baby Mary — about which I knew nothing. I celebrated Mass right below the scene of her in a crib surrounded by choirs of angels contemplating her.
Her little smiling holy face looking at me and reached my heart immediately. I was smitten by her and, yes, I fell in love with Maria Bambina.
Eventually I came across a smaller version of her and acquired it for our diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope — Our Lady of South Carolina. Whenever I look at her, it is as though for the first time.
Then hearing of some extremely difficult situations that pro-life witnesses face at abortion sites, the idea of entrusting the pro-life activities to the Immaculate Heart of the Holy Baby Mary came to my mind. Cathy Bell, the pilgrimage director at the Shrine was very disturbed by the emails she received from her friends about how the pro-abortion protestors were behaving toward the 40 Days for Life prayer warriors at the abortion facility in Greenville, South Carolina and across the country.
As she prayed at the Shrine for the diocesan pro-life activities, she kept looking at our little shrine to Maria Bambina (Baby Mary) who she felt needed to be part of something bigger than our Blessed Mother’s Shrine could offer. She told me about this at Mass that day. As a result, I developed the “Act of Entrustment of the Pro-Life Activities in the Diocese of Charleston to the Holy Baby Mary.” This is in accord with the mission of this Shrine as indicated in the official prayer to Our Lady of Joyful Hope — Our Lady of South Carolina by Bishop Robert J. Baker, “help our unborn to be rescued by your love for them, reaching out through us.”
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An Act of Entrustment of the Pro-Life Activities in the Diocese of Charleston to the Holy Baby Mary
O Mary, you are the Immaculate Conception, signifying the sacredness of human life at its very beginning. Being sinless from conception, you were full of grace. When contemplating your Nativity, the Church invokes you as “the hope and the daybreak of salvation of the world.” (Mass of the Nativity of Mary — Sept. 8)
With this in mind, we entrust the Pro-Life Activities of the Diocese of Charleston to your Immaculate Heart in the mystery of your holy infancy, venerated in a special way at the diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope – Our Lady of South Carolina.
Your life was formed and directed from infancy by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Enlighten and guide us with the wisdom to value life in all its stages, Counsel us to direct all human life on its natural and supernatural levels according to the benevolent laws of God. Arm us with the fortitude to resist and combat the errors which are contrary to divine truth. Enliven our hearts with the awe and piety that flow from the knowledge that, through your divine Son, Jesus Christ, we are to be children of God throughout eternity.
Have mercy on those who resist God’s truth about human life. Bring them to the realization of their own unique destiny of magnifying God the Father in the new creation restored by your union with your Son, the Savior of the world.
We thank you for accepting this entrustment which gives us confidence to continue our pro-life activities and assures us of ultimate victory with that of your Immaculate Heart. Amen.
Significance of the Images of Mary, Patroness of the Pro-Life Movement
There are two well-known images of Our Lady related to the pro-life movement. First is the international patroness, Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Undefeated Victory. Her scarred face signifies the multiple wounds afflicting motherhood through decades of worldwide abortions.
An Act of Entrusting the Protection of the Civilization of Life and Love into the Hands of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was made in 2012 at her Polish Shrine. A replica of the original Icon made an Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life, travelling 43,000 miles to 26 countries, including the United States and Canada in 2013, and then to South America.
Secondly, there is our national patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe, promoted especially by the Human Life International office in Virginia. The Divine Child she bears is God Incarnate. Abortion, on the other hand, willfully desecrates and destroys the child created in the image of God. And now the Diocese of Charleston has its local patroness, the Holy Baby Mary. Her holy infancy signifies the supernatural life and destiny of each child to a blissful eternity with the Most Holy Trinity and the saints. Abortion denies the child of its rightful development of this relationship with God. Therefore, it is appropriate to emphasize these spiritual truths by a permanent commemoration in our diocesan Marian Shrine.
The Immaculate Mysteries of the Rosary
The Rosary is known to be a victorious weapon in the history of the Church. Remember Lepanto. And there is the unique event of Our Lord’s appearing in 2014 to a Nigerian bishop handing him a sword, which then turned into a rosary. The country was menaced by terrorists called Boko Haram. As he handed the bishop the sword-turned-rosary, Christ said three times, “Boko Haram is gone!” The bishop began a Rosary campaign and the terrorism in his diocese has greatly abated. In his document on the Rosary, St. John Paul II states that Our Lady desires “that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power”. With this divinely blessed and proven experience why not trust in the power of the Rosary, especially the Immaculate Mysteries, so that “Abortion is no more!”
In 1Corinthians 1:24, St. Paul declares that Christ is the power and wisdom of God. From this we can deduce that each mystery in the life of Christ participates in, contains wisdom and power. That the mysteries of Our Lady participate in this is shown by their liturgical celebration, also by her private revelations, such as the Miraculous Medal, originally known as the medal of the Immaculate Conception.
I had often wondered why the Immaculate Conception was not included in the Rosary. There were a few religious orders who did so. Then in 1976 the USCCB published Behold Your Mother in which the bishops encouraged using other mysteries for Rosary meditation. I took that opportunity to formulate the Immaculate Mysteries.
Various stages of her childhood are already celebrated liturgically. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated on Dec. 8; the Holy Nativity of Mary on Sept. 8; the Presentation of Mary on Nov. 21; the Holy Virginity of Mary is recalled throughout the liturgy; the Holy Espousals of Mary and Joseph is celebrated in certain parts of the Church on Jan. 23. Obviously, these mysteries pertain explicitly to the preparation of Our Lady for her awesome vocation as the Mother of God and for her unique mission as the New Eve. With the addition of these mysteries, the Rosary then commemorates the entire life of Mary, from her Conception to Coronation.
Around 1980, they were approved for private recitation by Archbishop John F. Whealon of Hartford, Connecticut.
Permission for the Entrustment with the public recitation of the Immaculate Mysteries at the Shrine, Pro-Life activities and other appropriate occasions, such as the feasts of those mysteries, was granted by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston on Dec. 3, 2019.
The Entrustment was celebrated on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 9, 2019 at the Shrine.
Immaculate Mysteries Meditations
The Immaculate Conception:
- The Lord God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he shall crush your head and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
- I rejoice heartedly in the Lord, for he has robed me with a robe of salvation. (Mass, Immaculate Conception, antiphon)
- O God, you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son. (Mass, Immaculate Conception, Collect)
- She was to bring forth a Son, the innocent Lamb who would wipe away our offenses. (Mass, Immaculate Conception, Preface)
- Father, all powerful and ever-living God, you made Mary the first fruits of your new people. (Mass, Holy Mary, New Eve, Preface)
- She is indeed the new woman. (Mass, Holy Mary, New Eve, Preface)
- She is the first disciple of the New Law. (Mass, Holy Mary, New Eve, Preface)
- Lord, Holy Father, you placed her above all others to be for your people an advocate of grace. (Mass, Immaculate Conception, Preface)
- So, through her intercession, we may be delivered from all our faults. (Mass, Immaculate Conception, Prayer Over the Offerings)
- So, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted into your presence. (Mass, Immaculate Conception, Collect)
The Nativity of Mary:
- Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God. (Mass, Nativity of BVM, antiphon)
- Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, by the Lord Most High, above all the women on earth. (Mass, Holy Name of Mary, antiphon)
- For he has so exalted your name that your praise shall be undying on our lips. (Mass, Holy Name of Mary, antiphon)
- Lord our God, to fulfill the promises you made of old, you chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, the noble daughter of Zion. (Mass, BVM Chosen Daughter of Israel, Collect)
- Father, you chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to reveal to all peoples that salvation is born from Israel. (Mass, Holy Name of Mary, Preface)
- She is by nature the daughter of Adam; she is by faith the true child of Abraham. (Mass, Holy Name of Mary, Preface)
- She is the virgin who unseals the fountain of ever — flowing grace. (Mass of BVM, Gate of Heaven, Preface)
- Who is this who looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners. (Song of Solomon 6:10)
- Blessed are you, Virgin Mary, resplendent gate of light. (Mass of BVM, Gate of Heaven, Communion Antiphon)
- She is the humble virgin, whose faith opened the gate of eternal life. (Mass of BVM, Gate of Heaven, Preface)
The Presentation of Mary:
- Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it. (Luke 11:28)
- Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2.19)
- Lord, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, you have shown us the example of a disciple. (Mass, Holy Mary, Disciple of the Lord, Opening Prayer)
- Who is faithful to the words of life. (Mass, Holy Mary, Disciple of the Lord, Opening Prayer)
- She eagerly sought to know your will. (Mass, Holy Mary, Disciple of the Lord, Preface)
- And faithfully carried it out. (Mass, Holy Mary, Disciple of the Lord, Preface)
- She is the model of all who live by the spirit of the Gospel. (Mass, BVM Fountain of Salvation, Preface)
- We learn from her mind to love you above all things. (Mass, BVM Fountain of Salvation, Preface)
- And from her heart to serve the needs of others. (Mass, BVM Fountain of Salvation, Preface)
- Come to me, children, and listen: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34:12)
The Holy Virginity of Mary:
- There are those who make themselves eunuchs (unmarried in the service of a monarch) for the sake of the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19.1)
- Mary said to the Angel “How shall this be done, because I know not man.” (Luke 1.34)
- Blessed ever virginal and immaculate Mary. (Lateran Synod 649)
- We believe that God was born of a virgin. (Jerome 383)
- Even after childbirth she remained always and forever an immaculate virgin. (Didymus 386)
- A virgin, conceiving, a virgin bearing, a virgin bringing forth, a virgin perpetual. (Augustine 411)
- As a virginal husband, St Joseph guarded his virginal wife. (St. Albert the Great)
- Just as Mary was virginally the wife, so was Joseph virginally the husband. (St. Augustine)
- Just as Mary was virginally the mother, so was St. Joseph virginally the father. (St. Augustine)
- St. Joseph’s virginity was a faithful mirror of the virginity of Mary. (St. John Henry Newman)
The Holy Marriage of Mary and Joseph:
- O God of our fathers you made Adam and gave him Eve his wife as a helper and support. (Tobit 8.6)
- Father, you have forged the covenant of marriage as a sweet yoke of harmony, (Mass, Marriage, Preface)
- And an unbreakable bond of peace. (Mass, Marriage, Preface)
- May the Lord mercifully pour out the blessing of his grace, (Mass, Marriage, Nuptial Blessing)
- And make them of one heart in love. (Mass, Marriage, Nuptial Blessing)
- And now, O Lord, I am not taking this woman because of lust but with sincerity. (Tobit 8.7)
- The Angel of the Lord announced to St. Joseph, “Do not fear to take Mary, your wife. (Matthew 1:20)
- For she conceived by the Holy Spirit and will bear a son. (Matthew 1:20)
- You shall name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1.21)
- Joseph did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife. (Matthew 1.24)
Father Smolenski is the director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope in Kingstree, South Carolina.