Our Lady of Divine Love

Nestled in Rome among the 700+ chapels and churches found there is the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love. Like so many of the religious places in the city, its history reflects the abundant graces which come to us through the intercession of the Blessed Mother.  In 1570 a painted image of the “Mother of Divine Love” was given to a charitable organization and was positioned on a gate tower of the Castel di Leva on the outskirts of town.  Two centuries later, a solitary pilgrim was walking on the Appian Way toward Rome and lost his way. He spotted some farm buildings in the distance and began to make his way in that direction when suddenly a pack of wild sheepdogs saw him and bolted towards him. He began to run but was about to be overcome by the vicious dogs when he saw the image of Our Lady on the gate tower. “Madonna, help me!” he cried out in panic.  Instantly, the dogs halted as though held by an invisible force. They soon calmed down and peacefully retreated. This was the first of many miraculous interventions by the Madonna of Divine Love.  In 1745, a church was erected to enshrine this miraculous image in honor of Our Lady under this title. Popularity of the Shrine began to grow and the Blessed Mother was beseeched under the title of Our Lady of Divine Love by countless numbers of pilgrims and Italians.  And miracles continued to be recorded; here are two from contemporary times:

In 1935, 3,000 Italian soldiers leaving for the Ethiopian War entrusted themselves to Our Lady under this title at the Shrine. All 3,000 of them returned home unharmed in spite of the tremendous casualties that war produced.

During WWII, the city of Rome was in grave danger of destruction. Pope Pius XII ordered that the Image of the Mother of Divine Love be moved into the city and carried in pilgrimage to various churches. On June 4, 1944, the people of Rome converged at the Church of St. Ignatius and prayed to Our Lady under this title begging her to deliver their city and to keep them safe. They promised to erect a new shrine as a sign of their gratitude should their prayer be answered. It was. Rome was spared.  On June 11, just one week later, the Holy Father made pilgrimage to the Shrine and conferred on Our Lady the title of “Savior of the City,” adding it to her title of Mother of Divine Love. The new shrine was completed in 1991.  Like the lone pilgrim who traveled the Appian Way, we too, have need of Our Lady’s intercession as we journey in this alien land. May his cry never be far from our own lips, “Madonna, help me!”

For Reflection: 

On May 1, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love. He said, “Today too, there is a need to convert to God, to God who is Love, so that the world may be freed from war and terrorism…Dear brothers and sisters, from this Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, I therefore renew the invitation I expressed in the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”: “To practice love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world” (No. 39). Amen!  Today, how is God asking me to be His light in the world? Beseech Our Lady under her title of Mother of Divine Love to show you the way in which you should go.

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