Should Our Lady of Good Success
Carry a Crosier?
This is a most curious statue. I wonder if you can explain it. Most striking in this piece on Our Lady of Good Success [click here] is the photo of Our Lady portrayed as a bishop, something condemned by the Church. Our Lady is not even a cleric, let alone a bishop. Not only that, but the crozier is being held in the right instead of the left hand, and facing completely the wrong way. There are only two ways in which a crozier can face; outward, to show ordinary jurisdiction; or inward, to indicate lack of ordinary jurisdiction, as in the case of bishops outside their dioceses. This crozier is pointed sideways.
Interestingly, the sudarium is wrapped around Our Lady's wrist (the wrong one). The sudarium was a towel or lavabo in the middle of the crozier in medieval times, for wiping sweat. Later on, it disappeared after it took on a more liturgical function and when bishops starting to wear gloves when pontificating. Abbots still retained them on their coat of arms.
1. Perhaps you are not familiar with the history of women’s orders in the Catholic Church. As a rule the Abbess carries the crosier in her right hand symbolizing her office and her rank. Please check the pictures below.
From the left, St. Hilda; Abbess of Whitby, northern England, 7th century; St. Walburga, Abbess of Ely at Exning, Suffolk, 7th century; St. Etheldreda, Abbess of the double monastery at Heidenheim, Germany, 8th century; St. Scholastica, Abbess of the first Benedictine community near Monte Casino. All carry the crosier in their right hands.
With the statue of Our Lady of Good Success the same custom was observed.
2. The staff of the crosier is turned outward because Our Lady told Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres that she wanted to indicate her authority over both the Convent and the city of Quito, representing the whole world. For more on this topic click here. If at times the crosier seems to set sideways, this position should be considered accidental.
3. Far from finding any of this strange, on February 2, 1611 the Bishop of the Spanish colony of Quito at that time, Bishop Salvador de Ribera, formally blessed the miraculous statue and he himself reverently placed the crosier in her right hand, saying, “My Lady, I deliver to thee the government of this Convent and of my flock in general.”
Since that time, devotion to Our Lady of Good Success has been approved by the Bishops of Quito up to our times, none of whom have found anything improper in the statue. In 1991 the Archdiocese of Quito petitioned Rome for a canonical coronation of Our Lady of Good Success as Queen of Quito, a recognition of her authority over the city. That ceremony took place on February 2, 1991.
4. The sudarium of which you speak, which in the Middle Ages was attached below the crook of the crosiers of Bishops and Abbots and was used to wipe the sweat from the face during ecclesiastical ceremonies, is pictured in the drawing at right.
It is quite different from the kind of red ribbon wrapped around the hand and through several fingers of Our Lady in the picture at left, to which you seem to refer when you accuse her of assuming the regalia of a Bishop.
It would seem that this discrete ribbon does not have any ceremonial function, but serves the practical purpose of securing the crosier more closely to the statue's hand.
Besides, draping statues with ribbons is a common practice in Catholic Countries throughout the world.
See, for example, Our Lady of Quinche of Quito at right. Like Our Lady of Good Success, in her right hand the Virgin holds the symbol of her authority, a scepter, and in her left arm she holds the Christ Child. This statue, beloved by the Indians, is decorated with various regalia and sashes for the celebration of her feast day on November 21.
We hope this eases your concerns regarding the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success.
TIA correspondence desk
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