It’s sad to think of Chinese-Americans feeling stigmatized as a result of the coronavirus. One survey shows a majority of Americans have lost respect and trust for China in recent months.
Of course Chinese Americans had nothing to do with the virus or its spread, and no one finds fault with individual Chinese people living in China. Any suppression of truth, ill intent, or distortion of facts came from the Chinese communist government. In fact, reports show that numerous Chinese scientists tried heroically to alert the world to the new virus but were shut down by their own government.
Could Our Lady of China help stem the anger, mistrust, and blame escalating between our countries? Maybe there are Chinese Catholics who are praying for her intercession now.
A Marian apparition little known to Americans took place in the village of Dong Lu, China in 1900 and again in 1995. The first time, Our Lady appeared in the sky surrounded by light during an attack by 10,000 soldiers. Dong Lu was a poor village founded by Vincentian priests and was home to about 800 Christians.
The Boxer rebellion spread across China, and the hamlet was attacked by rioting soldiers. Witnesses said a woman in white appeared in the sky, and rioters tried to shoot at her. With the apparition in the sky, the soldiers were suddenly scared off by a strange horseman, who some believe was St. Michael, and took off running, never to return.
The pastor, a Chinese priest, Father Wu, had prayed for the Blessed Mother’s intercession.
Afterward, grateful villagers built a new church on the site. Father Wu had a painter crate a picture of Our Lady dressed in the royal Chinese robes, holding the baby Jesus, for the main altar.
In 1924, the first national conference of Chinese bishops was held, and this image was named “Our Lady of China” or “Our Lady, Queen of China.” People began coming to the Church there, called the shrine to Our Lady of China. The bishops of China, including Archbishop Celso Costantini, apostolic delegate in China, dedicated the people to Our Lady of China, using the official image. In 1928, an officially sanctioned image of Our Lady of China was blessed and promulgated by Pope Pius XI, and in 1932, he named Our Lady of China as an official Marian shrine.
Our Lady of China was designated a feast day in 1941 by Pope Pius XII. The date was later moved to the day before Mother’s Day. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War, when it caught fire due to Japanese bombardment, and wasn’t rebuilt until 1992. It was the largest Church building in north China.
On May 24, 1995, over 30,000 Catholics from the unofficial Church had gathered for Mass at the Dong Lu shrine on the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady, Mary, Help of Christians. There were four bishops of the unofficial Church concelebrating the Mass and close to 100 unofficial priests outside in a field. Suddenly, during the opening prayer and again during the consecration, the people saw the sun spinning from right to left with rays of light of various shades emanating from the sky. During an apparition that lasted approximately 20 minutes, witnesses saw Our Lady of China and the Child Jesus in the sky as well as the Holy Family, the Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit.
After this event, the police prevented anyone from gathering in the area. The following April, 1996, the government announced that no one was allowed to visit the Dong Lu shrine. To ensure that the gathering and devotion were stopped, the government sent 5,000 troops, along with dozens of armored cars and helicopters, and demolished the Dong Lu shrine. The painting of Our Lady of China that the communists believed to be the only one was taken, and local priests were arrested.
The original picture of Our Lady of China still exists because only a copy had been hung in the church. The original was hidden in the wall and was recovered. It remains in the possession of Chinese priests.
While the Vatican has not issued an official judgment on the Dong Lu apparitions, Pope Pius XI’s establishment of the church as an official Marian shrine implied approval. In 1941, Pope Pius XII designated the feast day as an official feast of the Catholic liturgical calendar. Following the Second Vatican Council, the Chinese bishops’ conference, upon approval from the Holy See, placed the feast day on the day preceding of Mother’s Day, the second Sunday of May.
May we ask Our Lady of China to open the doors for the practice of authentic Catholic faith in that country, and to heal those afflicted with the coronavirus and relations between our countries.
Prayers to Our Lady of China
Hail, Holy Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Mother of all nations and all people.
You are the special heavenly Mother of the Chinese people.
Teach us your way of total obedience to God’s will.
Help us to live our lives true to our faith.
Fill our hearts with burning love for God and each other.
Stir up in our youth an unconditional giving of self to the service of God.
We call on your powerful intercession for peace, reconciliation and unity among believers
and the conversion of the unbelievers in China and throughout the world,
for God’s mercy is our only hope.
Our Lady of China, Mother of Jesus, hear our petitions and pray for us.
Imprimatur: Bishop William E. Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport Connecticut
Almighty and eternal God, Comforter of the afflicted, and Strength of the Suffering, grant that our brothers of China who share our faith, may obtain, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our Holy Martyrs, peace in Thy service, strength in time of trial, and grace to glorify Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Promoted by Cardinal Thomas Tien Keng-Hsin, S.V.D., the first Chinese Cardinal
Correction: The first Marian apparition occurred in Dong Lu in 1900, not 1990.
Patty Knap is a freelance writer from Long Island, a Catholic book hoarder, and the mom of two young adult sons.