Posted by: Fr Chris | April 25, 2020

Let us ask Our Lady to repeat her past triumphs with this Coronavirus

“Those who pray do more for the world than those who fight. If the world is going from bad to worse, it is because there are more battles than prayers.” – Juan D. Cortes

There have been many seemingly hopeless occasions when prayer to the Mother of God led to surprising results. The President of Poland went to Czestochowa to implore the protection of the Mother of God for deliverance from the coronavirus pandemic. President Andrzej Duda donated a special rosary to the shrine and prayed in front of the icon in March. In doing so, he follows a long tradition of the Church. The oldest known prayer to Mary is the Sub Tuum Praesidium/ Under Your Protection, which late 1st-century Christians probably prayed for the intercession of their Savior’s Mother before His Throne.

The Black Madonna of Czestochowa

One of the most popular feasts of Our Lady in the Christian East is the Holy Protection, or Intercession, on October 1. The city of Constantinople was under siege and in danger of falling to a pagan army from Rus’. The patriarch led the Akathist in honor of the Mother of God in the Blachernae Church which was said to contain the belt of the Virgin Mary. Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ’s Sake, a Slav, and his Greek disciple Saint Epiphanius saw the Theotokos appear in the dome, surrounded by the heavenly court of saints and angels, and extending her veil over the congregation. At that moment, the city was saved.

In 1683, the largest Muslim army ever assembled marched across Europe to lay siege to Vienna. The Ottomans sent 200,000 troops on jihad, having conquered the Balkans, Hungary, and Transylvania. If the Austrian capital fell, the way would be clear to invade Germany, Bohemia, Slovakia, and Poland. The Viennese were starving, outmanned, outgunned, and the Turks were tunneling under their walls. Christians were butchered as the army had marched north and 30,000 captives were slain in the Turkish camp. The only hope for Vienna and Europe was the Polish and German army under King Jan III Sobieski. After sixty days of siege, the Viennese paraded the famous Weeping Icon of Our Lady of Mariapocs around the walls, and held non-stop prayer in the cathedral, petitioning Our Lady to save their city. On September 11, the prayers concluded. The allied army was camped on Kahlenberg hill, ready to strike, lighting fires to give the desperate Viennese hope.

Pötscher Madonna | (from Máriapócs in Hungary) | Walter A. Aue | Flickr
The Weeping Mother of God of Mariapocs in St Stephen Cathedral, Vienna

On September 12, 1683, the Turks struck. But having attended Mass, the allied army swept down with Poland’s famous winged hussars striking the Turkish forces. The Ottoman army was crushed, and the slow deliverance of occupied Europe began as the Turks were steadily pushed back by 1911. To this day the Viennese credit Our Lady with saving them, and the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary was established for September 12 by Pope Innocent IX.

Pilgrim Virgin Statue to be on display at local churches
Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima

In 1945 the Allies partitioned both Germany and Austria. Like Berlin, Vienna was partitioned. The Soviets held eastern Austria, which bordered West Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. They could easily have held onto Austria and eastern Vienna and created yet another “People’s Democracy” in the heart of Europe. But they didn’t. Why?

File:Austria Occupation Zones 1945-55.svg - Wikimedia Commons

After three years, the Austrians wanted the Soviets out. The eastern zone was the poorest, and also the most dangerous for anyone who was anti-communist. An Austrian priest, Petrus Pavlicek, was praying at the Marian shrine of Mariazell, when he heard a voice say, “Do as I say, and you will have peace.” In 1947 he began a Rosary Crusade, and asked that 10% of Austrians, or 700,000 people, sign up to pledge a daily Rosary for the Soviets to leave and for Austria to be restored. A pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima was carried to every town and village to encourage a perpetual recitation of the Rosary. Thousands went to Confession and received Holy Communion all over the country. Special events were held every year on September 12. The Prime Ministers attended every special Marian event asking Mary’s intercession for Austria’s freedom. On October 26, 1955, in the month of the Holy Rosary, the Soviets pulled out, leaving a united and neutral Austria behind. It is the only time that the USSR gave up territory peacefully and unilaterally.

Mary’s intercession has defeated armies. Devotion to her has brought about massive conversions and return to the sacraments. Here we are, starved of worshipping together, deprived of Holy Communion, and some of those dying from this coronavirus are not even anointed. Surely the Theotokos, the Holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, can intercede for us now in this crisis?


Pope Francis has composed this prayer to the Virgin Mary, and it concludes with the oldest known prayer to the Mother of God, the early second-century Sub Tuum Praesidium, We hasten to your protection.

O Mary, you always shine on our path as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need, and we are sure you will provide so that, as in Cana of Galilee, we may return to joy and to feasting after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus, who has taken upon himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Salus Populi Romani - Wikipedia
“Salvation of the Roman People”, the 6th century icon which Pope Francis prayed in front of for deliverance from the coronavirus

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