Saturday, July 4, 2009

In Honor of La Conquistadora

Finally getting to my Novena posts from this year. This will serve as an Index to all my thoughts and reflections from this year's Novena. I have pictures up and will post reflections from the various days, if there was something profound to say.

Essentially, this Novena to the Blessed Mother is held every year, as a promise kept to Don Diego De Vargas who lead the reconquest of New Mexico in 1692 after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The statue of Mary that was brought here in 1625 is believed to be the oldest image of Our Lady in the US and she is thought to be over 600 years old. She was made in Spain of Willow wood and she truly is gorgeous. She's had various incarnations. First she was Our Lady of the Rosary but became La Conquistadora after the reconquest. In the early 90's I believe, "Our Lady of Peace" was added to her title and that is what my parish is named after. Holy Mary of Peace.

The statue is kept, now behind locked security gates, at the Cathedral Basilica, but for eight days she leaves her place in her chapel, (which is the only original part of the church left, it dates back to the early 1600's. The parish is roughly 400 years old, while the Cathedral is about 125 years old) and she is carried in procession from the Cathedral to the Rosario Chapel, which is in the where Catholic cemetery is as well. This was the place where the Spanish made their camp in the days they made their return. Don Diego prayed and asked for Our Lady's intercession to make it a peaceful reconquest and should it be successful, he would honor her every year with a novena.

This novena has been going on for nearly 300 years. Everyday a different parish sponsors a Mass, her clothing is changed. She has hundreds of outfits. The music is always traditional, Spanish hymns, we sing Mary's Magnificat in Latin, and recite a prayer in Spanish that was written for this novena. The Masses are beautiful. I can only imagine back in my mom's day, when they were probably High Latin Sung Masses. I'll write up more if anyone really wants to know about the history. There are plenty of links in the sidebar of this blog if you're curious to learn more on your own.

Because of Easter being late, the Novena this year started on Father's Day. Friday and Saturday before I attended a great Evangelization Conference for the archdiocese. I haven't posted about it but may still. I learned a lot, but it was nice to be among so many Catholics. We are a pretty cool group of people en masse. So, I had two days of spiritual recharging before the Novena actually started. The Novena comes at a time when I think I most need it. Christmas and Easter season are wonderfully fulfilling, but there is a definitely lull right after the end of Easter and as we transition into Ordinary Time.

At some point, I want to compile the hundreds of pictures I took and put them into a slide show, but for now, I'll share with you all a picture from each day, with thoughts, reflections and feelings about that day's Mass.

Mass One.

Mass Two.
Mass Three.
Mass Four.
Mass Five.
Mass Six.
Mass Seven
Return Procession.
Mass Nine.

As always, with any photos I post but most especially my own photographs, feel free to download and save the image, but if you re-post, please credit me and include a link back to my blog.

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