Newsletter of the District of Asia

 October 2007 - March 2008

Our Lady of Quito Queen of Ecuador
1906 – 2006

(First English translation, by Fr. Paul Kimball, SSPX, of
La Dolorosa de Quito, Reina del Ecuador,
with authorization of the publisher, Libreria Espiritual, Quito)


The Veneration of Our Lady of Quito

Veneration of Our Lady of Quito, which is more properly called the Sorrowful Heart of Mary (and so it is entitled within the movement directed to her Heart advanced by herself in the last times),[1] began immediately. On Sunday June 3, 1906, a great procession was already made, with more than 10,000 people attending besides some 35,000 spectators.

On July 2 the first great Novena of Our Lady of Quito began, which is repeated every year on April 11 so as to finish on the eve of the festive anniversary of the miracle, and has always gone on growing in fervor. Not content with the annual novena, the practice was established, in Quito and in other cities, of celebrating special devotions in honor of Our Lady of Quito on the 20th day of each month. And also in 1932 the Bulletin of Our Lady of Quito was founded, a monthly publication to propagate the devotion to her.

Particularly noteworthy were the honors given to Our Lady of Quito in 1931, the silver anniversary of the miracle, which shook the entire nation; and the first Ecuadorian Marian Congress was held. The chronicles of the celebration fill four volumes. In 1934 the picture went on pilgrimage to Riobamba and other cities for the first time, generating unusual enthusiasm and tremendous excitement. The pilgrimages have been repeated. Another pilgrimage was made to Riobamba in 1938, then to Guayaquil, and to the north, to Pasto (Columbia). In 1947 the picture went to Cuenca where it remained a whole month.

In 1956, the golden anniversary of the miracle, there was a Canonical Coronation of Our Lady of Quito. Pope Pius XII in the Brief of the Coronation said: “Having consulted the Sacred Congregation of Rites, we grant by our apostolic authority and in virtue of this brief to our beloved son, Carl María de la Torre, Cardinal Priest of the Holy Church, Archbishop of Quito, that he impose in our name and with our authority, a Crown of gold upon the image of the Most Holy Virgin, the Sorrowful Mother of the College, AS QUEEN OF THE CATHOLIC EDUCATION IN ECUADOR.” Dr. Camillus Ponce Enríquez, President of the Republic,[2] thanked God and Our Lady of Quito, in front of 40 diplomatic delegations, for his electoral victory.

In 1956 the golden anniversary of the miracle, there was a Canonical Coronation
by Carl Maria de la Torre on behalf of Pope Pius XII

1958. The relocation of the College of St. Gabriel to a new building was made. With the College the Picture of Our Lady of Quito will also be moved.

1978. On December 30 the National Shrine of the Sorrowful Mother is blessed and dedicated.

1981. This year marked the diamond anniversary of the miracle. In these seventy-five years, churches dedicated to our Queen and Mother have been built such as in Riobamba, Cotacachi and Ibarra. Colleges have been founded as in Loja and schools as in Llano Grande with her name. In other cities and parishes Congregations function in her honor as in Otavalo, to beg for the children and for the Ecuadorian youth.

“Once again the miraculous picture is traveling throughout the whole Republic, in towns, hospitals... The enormous interest and national fervor is impressive. Since the month of February, a program dedicated to the jubilee is transmitted daily by 46 radio transmitters and by television on Saturdays. Novenas, rosaries at dawn, and popular missions in preparation for the arrival of the Virgin take place, which increase the number of confessions and communions, with solemn Masses, in the stadiums, because the churches become too small.

One sign of the national response is the resolution of the Very Illustrious City of Ante. “Considering that it is the duty of the City to exteriorize the religious and Marian sentiment of the people that it represents, it is resolved:

  • To render homage of admiration and honor to the Sorrowful Mother of the College on the diamond anniversary of the miracle of the tears shed for the country.
  • To give the keys of the city as a symbol of respect and admiration to the Queen of Heaven.
  • To recommend to all the Christian people, and particularly to the youth, devotion and love to the Sorrowful Mother of the College.
  • To be officially present as a group at the solemn act of her reception.”

Favors of Our Lady of Quito

Our Mother is she who always begins to give us things, and to love us. “God hath first loved us” (I Jn. 4, 10), but when we come to Her, then she does her utmost, even with miracles. There would be no end in recounting all her gifts and favors. The vast majority we will know only in heaven. We are going to listen to some accounts.[3]

  • In the year 1917, in Ecuador, a young woman, Rose Ponce Ribadeneira was going with a group of people from Hacienda Capelo, in Sangolquí, to Santa Rosa, from the property of Mr. Jijón, when the horse on which she was riding slipped and fell to the ground, she remaining tangled in the stirrup. The horse was startled and bolted out of control, dragging along the body of the unfortunate young woman, amidst the screams of terror that the onlookers were making. One of them, Dr. Belisario Ponce, went quickly in pursuit inwardly convinced that he was not going to retrieve anything but the body of his niece in pieces; but what was his surprise when going around a curve, he noticed from afar a black shape rising up from the ground, he recognized that that it was his niece and he rushed towards her, who, as though she were insane, was muttering these words: “The Virgin has saved me. At the time I mounted I commended myself to the Sorrowful Mother of the College, and the whole way I was dragged I did not cease to cry out to the Sorrowful Mother. She has saved me.” The horse ran a distance of about three hundred yards from the place where it bolted to where the dragging ended, due to the fact that the girth came off and the saddle fell to the ground; and apart from Rose having her face completely covered with dirt and her clothes in tatters, she showed absolutely no sign of the dragging. She had no wounds, not even on her face or her head.
  • In 1927 a boy, Oswald Romero, was run over by the main part of a wagon full of rocks. When falling he remembered the Mother of Sorrows. That day, after fainting and vomiting blood, he stayed asleep and afterwards was healed without medicine. He later became a priest in the United States.
  • In England, where she is known under the name of “Our Lady of Quito,” her devotion grew greatly due to the innumerable favors that she worked during the World War, saving the houses that had her image, from the damage produced by the aerial bombardment. Even the Protestants themselves placed an image of the Sorrowful Mother in their houses and churches. Soldiers, marines and airmen carried with them small pictures so as to feel her maternal protection. Deeds such as the ones we transcribe below repeat themselves at each step.
  • An officer wrote to his wife, “I have just narrowly escaped death by a real miracle in North Africa. I was crossing our lines in my car in full battle. I had to travel some two miles on the open highway. A car in these circumstances is an easy target for the enemy air force. Indeed, soon after, out of some low clouds four aircraft emerged that immediately began to pursue me. They came flying at a low height behind me. At once I felt engulfed by a rain of artillery fire and machinegun fire. Suddenly, as the first result of the attack, a howitzer shell pierced the back part of the car, and after tearing my shirtsleeve and grazing my arm just below the shoulder, smashed the windshield and went on to kill a poor man who was trying to take refuge in a hole, about a hundred yards ahead. Another bullet pierced my cap, and a third snatched away from me my binoculars from my back. An artillery shot demolished one of the doors of the car, and finally it went into the ditch, pierced by six shots of artillery and riddled by gunshots; it stayed there like a sieve, but the driver and I were unhurt. Truly God has been good to me. Tell my mother that I was carrying the picture of Our Lady the Sorrow Mother of Quito in my pocket.
  • She is also known in Australia, where many hundreds of small pictures of the Sorrowful Mother of Quito have been distributed. There they have felt, just as in Ecuador, the compassionate hand of this Blessed Mother in the multitude of favors, such as the following, which occurred in Melbourne in 1948. A little girl fell from a balcony onto a cement floor. Having been taken to the hospital, her condition became serious. The father and mother of the girl prayed before the image of the Sorrowful Mother of Quito. She heard their prayers and in a short time the girl was completely cured.
  • And Mr. Ripalda likewise tells of a favor of the Virgin: “A contract with the Government of several million sucres[4] obliged me to rent an airplane from Ateca, in order to bring to Quito the commodity that had arrived from Guayaquil. Although it seemed imprudent to me to undertake the flight after six o’clock in the afternoon, because of the insistence of my friends I had to yield. When I crossed the mountains I saw that there was a torrential rain, which disturbed me; but my uneasiness was greater when I was informed in the cabin that the motors were failing and we were in serious danger. In order to save the plane, we thought of throwing the cargo to the ground, but the door did not open. I was thinking about the crash of the plane and about the ensuing death. Amidst the shadows of my distress, I placidly remembered the Sorrowful Mother of the College, to whom with the faith of a child I began to pray the Hail Holy Queen. Shortly after, a there was a tremendous jolt of the plane followed by groans of sorrow and cries of despair. I did not cease to beg the help of the Virgin, in the midst of the most complete darkness. I looked for the exit door, which gave way easily. This was the first miracle that I attributed to the Sorrowful Mother. But I believe I saw a deep abyss at my feet. Again I began to cry out to the Sorrowful Mother for help and protection. An immense wave entered into the plane, without me getting submerged within it. The plane had plunged into the Guayas River and was sinking slowly. I jumped into the water fully clothed, even wearing my hat. I thought that I was in the sea. A small boat that was providentially passing by the place of the accident saved me. By my directions the other passengers, although injured, were also rescued. The pilot and the manager of Ateca lost their lives. Days later, I thanked the Sorrowful Mother for this favor. Starting today,” I said, “I believe in the Catholic religion, I believe in miracles; I would like to do something for the Sorrowful Mother in the material order; I would like above all to be henceforth a practicing Catholic. I promise to confess and receive Communion.”
Our Lady of Quito stamp  
Our Lady of Quito stamp

Postage Stamps of Ecuador printed for the 50th and 100th anniversaries of the miracle

·      Better known, by the public narrations of the protagonist himself, was the following: on Thursday June 5, 1941 the North American Captain Burguess and the Ecuadorian officials Second Lieutenant Dávalos and Lieutenant Louis Arias departed from Esmeraldas for Salinas. This last man, even after very many years, remembers with all the details the tragedy while the students listen with growing emotion: “I asked the captain if they had loaded the gasoline. He assured me that even the auxiliary tanks had been filled. With this certainty I began the flight. It was four o’clock in the afternoon; we went into a storm so thick that the ends of the wings could not be seen. The motor started to stall. My fear was realized: there was no gasoline!

“Beneath my feet was the sea. The plane shook indecisively; it began to descend slowly, irremediably… I heard a hiss, a screech, a bang… We slid open the laminated windows, we took off our clothes, and put on the life jackets. The water was flooding the cabins, and so we had to abandon the plane. I found myself in the depths of the sea, surrounded by sharks and with my companions hanging on me because they did not know how to swim. The captain was driven insane out of terror, and he died at about ten o’clock. We both were perhaps hoping for the same thing.

“A splendid day dawned and it enabled me to realize that the coast was within sight. We swam with all our strength. Dávalos began to despair; finally he was silent; then, a gasp… He was dead! I clung with anxiety to the corpse. No one can imagine how useful the company of a human being is, even if it be a corpse.

“I continued like this. It was getting dark. I still kept up my morale, but my strength was diminishing. The sharks were hounding ahead threatening the corpse. Very soon a strong tug pulled us down… I could do no more… I let go of the corpse. I swam desperately; I was getting weak.

“But suddenly, as if to make my agony less painful, the picture of the Sorrowful Mother came to mind, the picture of the Virgin whom I loved so much in the College. And in the midst of the confusion I besought her; I begged God that He would not let me perish if I could still serve Him. I thought of my mother, of my brothers, and I turned to that which gives strength to a man: the faith.

“I found myself finally about 400 yards from the cliff of the coast. The undercurrent was pulling me, and after six hours of efforts, I did not succeed to get to the shore. One gigantic wave that carried me on its crest was going to break upon it. I felt that my feet were touching something; it was a rock. I grabbed on to it and left the water. My body exhausted, mangled, scorched, I did not resist any more: I fell down dismayed.

“Then another day dawned. A splash of water restored me to my senses, and I despaired. I could do no more. For a moment I was overcome by desperation. I reacted. I looked around and saw a fisherman. I wanted to shout, but my voice would not come out. The fisherman being suspicious was looking at me like a monster or a lunatic: naked, staggering, and desperate. Finally he came near. Another fisherman appeared. I was saved, thanks to the Sorrowful Mother of the College.

“Now in Quito, my only concern was to publish the miracle in which the Sorrowful Mother wished to make it evident that we have in her a true Mother.”


[1] See the booklet: Fatima. El Corazón de María, especially pp. 24 and following.

[2] He was the first conservative candidate elected to the presidency after 64 years of liberal government. He had studied in the College of St. Gabriel for his high school studies and was president of the Republic of Ecuador from 1956-1960.

[3] God wishes that His “feats” or extraordinary interventions be told (Cf. Is. 12; Ps. 9, 77, 85, 104, 117, 144 etc.) and this is an act of worship. There is no room for doubt that, like a good sermon, it makes an impression upon the faithful, it helps them to be better, and to go to God. That “superior” attitude that “disregards” miracles, by making them seem related to one’s inadequate education, is part of the global strategy of the prince of this world to hunt down such nuisances: by disparaging all that which is traditional, “gratifying the ears with novelties,” and desecrating and pernicious novelties at that, without Confession or Eucharistic life, nor penances, nor miracles, not consequently asking them from God.

[4] The currency of Ecuador was formerly in sucres.

Note: The three parts of the story of La Dolorosa de Quito which appeared in this Newsletter are now available in booklet form from the Asian District Office for USD $3, inclusive of postage.


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