The painting above the main altar of the church of La Piedad has the most intriguing history—


The story of the Dominican convent of La Piedad dates back to 1595. The friars wanted a painting of Our Lady for their new convent so they sent a friar and a laybrother to Rome to commission an image of Our Lady holding her Crucified Son. Once in Rome, the two found a renowned painter who agreed to their terms; however, he couldn’t give them a completion date. “We have to return to Mexico in a month,” they told him. He merely shrugged. In fact, he didn’t seem particularly interested in the project at all!

When they went to collect the painting a month later the artist handed them a black and white sketch. “That’s the best I can do!” he said. “But we’re leaving tomorrow!” cried the friar. “Well, that’s too bad,” said the artist, none too concerned.

The heavy-hearted Mexicans had no choice. They carefully packed the “painting” in a wooden crate for the long journey home. During the voyage a fierce storm engulfed the ship. “Padre! We’ll all be drowned!” they terror. “Have confidence in Our Lady, Star of the Sea,” answered the priest. “She can calm the waters in a glance.” All on board prayed fervently to Our Lady of Piedad to save their lives. Sure enough, the sea became calm and the pair arrrived safely in Veracruz. As they travelled overland to Mexico City they became increasingly uneasy. “How disappointed they all will be!” murmured the friar.

After warmly welcoming the travellers home, the friars were anxious to see the painting. “Open the crate!” they shouted. “Let’s see the painting!” When they removed the wrappings from the container—the sketch was no longer a sketch! Instead, in its place, was a full-colour painting of immense beauty. Full of wonder, the amazed pair knelt before the painting and recounted the extraordinary tale.

The miraculous oil painting has been venerated for four centuries up to the present day where it hangs above the main altar of the church of La Piedad in central Mexico City. Its size is immense: 9 ft.(3m) in height by 8 ft.(2.5m) in width. The colours today are as vivid and bright as if they had been painted yesterday.

Countless miracles have been enacted through her intercession and many of these have been verified by formal ecclesiastical investigation. Numerous indulgences have been authorized to the church of La Piedad and it has  been elevated to the status of a Minor Basilica. The English name for La Piedad is Our Lady of Compassion.

Mary Hansen  





OUR LADY OF ARANZAZU – Guadalajara, Jalisco

It’s easy to overlook the chapel of Our Lady of Aranzazu. You could walk right by it and not even give it a second glance. The facade is austere, stark, and utterly unassuming. But step inside and you enter a different world: a masterpiece of golden Churrigueresque architecture with an “astonishingly ornate” interior. “Divine” say some. “Stunning,” say others. Continue reading

OUR LADY OF CUPILCO – Cupilco, Tabasco

Tourist books rave about the church of the Assumption of Our Lady of Cupilco. They call it “the most beautiful church in the state of Tabasco.” Words such as “stunning,” “exuberantly painted” and “a gem of Mexican folk-art” complete the picture. How could I resist such a place?

And they were right. It was glorious. Continue reading

OUR LADY OF IZAMAL Izamal, Yucatan

The Yucatan. To sun-starved northerners the very name conjures up images of Caribbean beaches, a turquoise sea and ancient Mayan ruins. Lots of them. The Yucatan Peninsula is reputed to have one of the richest stores of archeological treasures in the world. It is populated by the Maya, the most populous indigenous group in North America. Multitudes of Canadians and Americans visit every year. Continue reading

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe – MEXICO CITY

The year was 1531. And times were desperate indeed for the small group of Spaniards in New Spain (present-day Mexico). They were outnumbered 600 to one by the Aztecs and a massacre seemed imminent. Tensions were at a fever pitch because of the tyrannical behaviour of a few of the Spanish secular leaders. Franciscan Juan de Zumárraga, the first bishop of Mexico City, realized that only a miracle could save the perilous situation. Continue reading

Our Lady of the Rosary, Puebla, Puebla


Church of Santo Domingo, Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

In the Catholic world the month of October is dedicated to the Rosary. The feastday of the Rosary (October 7 th ) was instituted by Pope St. Pius V in 1571 to commemorate the victory of the Christian forces in the battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The Pope attributed this totally unexpected victory to the power of the Rosary. In a recent address at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, Pope Benedict XVl said that the Rosary “is not a pious practice banished to the past;” it is, instead, “experiencing a new Springtime.” Continue reading