July 18

marian calendar     july

Notre-Dame de Bonne Délivrance, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France

Since the 1000s, the Church of Saint-Etienne-des-Grès in the old Latin Quarter of Paris had a chapel to Our Lady of Good Deliverance, where, across the centuries, pilgrims sought the Virgin's help with all kinds of sufferings. During the Wars of Religion and counter-Reformation, her confraternity had 12,000 members, including the King and Queen of France. In 1587, young Francis de Sales, feeling himself damned, recovered confidence and joy after saying the prayer that had been pasted to a tablet before her statue: 

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

(This prayer, sometimes attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, probably had been recently excerpted from a longer prayer of the 1400s, and was later popularized by Fr. Claude Bernard of Paris as the Memorare.) 

In 1790, the revolutionary government closed the Church of Saint-Etienne-des-Grès. In 1791, when the church's furnishings were advertised for sale, a devoted countess, Madame de Carignan Saint Maurice, bought the statue of the Black Virgin and moved it to her lodgings in Paris. The following year, St.-Etienne's was destroyed. In 1793, the countess was sent to prison, where she met the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova. They all got out the next year, but when the government threatened to disband the Sisters, Mme de Carignan vowed to give them the statue if they were spared. In 1806, she fulfilled the vow. The image was installed in the Sisters' chapel in Paris, moving with them in 1908 to their present motherhouse in the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. 

On a pedestal above the altar, the life-size polychrome limestone statue dates from the 1300s: a classic Gothic standing mother and child, but both coal-black. The Black Virgin wears a white veil and dark blue mantle ornamented with fleurs-de-lys over a red robe. Every day, the Sisters gather in the chapel to pray on behalf of families, the sick, religious vocations, those who have entrusted themselves to the Virgin, and peace in the world.  

The feast of Our Lady of Good Deliverance, seldom celebrated, is set for July 18, the date when the Vatican officially approved the congregation of Soeurs de Saint Thomas de Villenueve in 1873. The May 1 procession formerly held by her confraternity has been revived in recent years by the Chapter of Our Lady of Good Deliverance, Neuilly's branch of Notre-Dame de Chrétienté, the group that makes the annual pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres at Pentecost.

Sources include:

Congrégation des Soeurs Hospitalières de Saint Thomas de Villeneuve, www.congregation-stv.org 
Istituto San Tommaso di Villanova, www.casasantommaso.it/origines.htm
"Samedi 1er mai," Pèlerinage de Chartres Pentecôte - Notre-Dame de Chrétienté, www.nd-chretiente.com (picture)

Also commemorated this date:

Notre-Dame de Lourdes, Chambretaud, Vendée, Pays de la Loire, France. Chapel inaugurated, 1876.
Santa Maria Greca, Corato, Bari, Puglia, Italy. Apparition, 1656; festa following Sunday.
St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Church, Muscat, Oman. Establishment Day. Orthodox parish founded by Indian metropolitan, 1980.
Matka Boża Bolesna, Obory, Kwidzyn, Pomerania, Poland (Sorrowful Mother of God). Pietà statue crowned, 1976.
Święta Pani Ziemi Żywieckiej, Rychwałd, Gilowice, Żywiec, Silesia, Poland (Holy Lady of Żywiec Land). Painting crowned, 1965.
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly