Our Lady of Good Success

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The Madrid Statue of
Our Lady of Good Success

Marian T. Horvat

Many persons have asked me about the origins of the invocation Our Lady of Good Success. The curious wonder if this was a new title that Our Lady gave to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres when she appeared to her in the early 17th century asking her to make a statue under this name. The skeptical or bad-willed insists the title is something novel that only appeared in the 20th century.

Good Success Statue in Madrid

The first statue in Madrid: 20" in height
The title Our Lady of Good Success was not invented in Quito, but was already a popular invocation, as the Virgen de Candalaria or Our Lady of Good Success of the Purification, as women would invoke her to have 'good success' in their pregnancies.

Recently a reader in Madrid, Mr. B. A., wrote and told me that he often goes to Mass at the Church of El Buen Suceso, one of the city’s foremost parishes where another statue of Our Lady of Good Success, discovered miraculously in 1606, is venerated. It is a small statue, only 20 inches in height, different from the statue in Quito, which is 5 foot 9 inches. He was kind enough to send me a picture, which you can see at right.

He informed me that the Good Success Church has become the parish church of the Ukrainian Catholic Eastern-Rite community in Madrid, which is very numerous and extremely devout. As most Catholics know, the Ukrainian rite did not adopt the reforms of Vatican II because the Ukrainians are very attached to their own traditions. So far the Bugnini-style reform has not touched their rite.

The discovery of Our Lady of Good Success

The Madrid statue was found miraculously by two members of the Obregonians (a branch of the Franciscan Order founded by Ven. Bernardino Obregon (1540-1599)  to nurse the sick in the hospitals of Spain.

They were traveling to Rome to ask the Supreme Pontiff for the approval of their new  habit with the purple cross that distinguishes it. Along the way they were caught in a terrible hailstorm in the Triguera Mountains in the province of Castellón. Drawn by a glowing light, they took refuge in a cave in the hills. In it was a small, beautiful statue of the Holy Virgin holding the Christ Child in her left arm and carrying a scepter in her right hand.

Good Success statue in Quito

The statue in Quito stands 5'9"
After the storm passed, the two brothers made inquiries in the village but no one knew of the cave or their precious discovery, which they accepted as a sign of Our Lady’s blessing on their mission. When they were received by Pope Paul V, he marveled at the statue and titled her Nuestra Señora del Buen Suceso.

As Mr. B. A. pointed out, in Spanish a "suceso" is an event, an occurrence. So "buen suceso" in connection with the Feast of the Presentation and Purification of Our Lady on February 2, might be translated as "the happy event." Certainly, the gestation of Christ from Conception to Birth can be called a “happy event,” and it is in this sense that we should understand “good success.” I believe that this is the main reason why Our Lady appeared to a nun in a Conceptionist Order, which is especially dedicated to contemplating the mysteries related to her gestation.

The finding of the original statue in 1606 and the making and miraculous completion of the Quito statue in 1611 can also be called “happy events” – or good successes.

As Atila Guimaraes points out in his Introduction to my book Our Lady of Good Success: Prophecies for Our Times, for us the meaning of the name is also related to her prophecy predicting a crisis in the Church and her timely intercession and triumph - another “good success” that we await with great hope.

Our Lady came to “conceive” a new era for her glory, an era that would be born much later. The good success, therefore, would speak of the broad protection she will give to the Holy Church during this time and of the happy establishment of the new epoch in History. Thus we see that it is an invocation that also relates to the future.

Our Lady of Good Success in Madrid

After her discovery, Our Lady of Good Success became an inexhaustible source of graces and wonders, which were first experienced by the inhabitants of the city of Valencia, where the religious brothers took her.

Goya, Charge of Mamelukes

The dome of Good Success Church is in the background of Goya's Charge of the Mameluke Cavalry
Soon afterward the statue was transferred with solemn splendor to the recently completed Church of Buen Suceso in Madrid, which was connected to the hospital for the Royal Court. There Our Lady continued to intercede with miracles – spiritual and physical – for the people of Madrid as well as the patients of Buen Suceso Hospital.

The Spanish Conceptionist Mothers in Quito, who were in constant correspondence with Spain, most certainly heard the news of the finding of a miraculous statue and the miracles Our Lady was working in Madrid. Mother Mariana and her aunt were related to the King and would have a special interest in anything to do with the Spanish Court.

Therefore, when the Quito statue was made and consecrated in 1611 with the name Our Lady of Good Success, the invocation was already known and recognized in Spain, since the Madrid statue had been found five years earlier in 1606 and had been moved to the hospital and church attached to the Spanish Court.

Thus, Our Lady of Good Success chose to be known in both the Old and New World at approximately the same time.

A church razed and rebuilt twice

The dome of the old Church of El Buen Suceso in central Madrid can be seen in the background in the famous painting by Goya of the Charge of the Mameluke Cavalry of May 2, 1802.

Good Success Church in Madrid - 1850

Buen Suceso Church, above, in 1850; below in 1920. It was demolished in 1975 and replaced with the modern cement structure, far below

Good Success Church in Madrid - 1920

Good Success Church in Madird - 1990
On that date, the people of Madrid rose up against the occupation of the city by French troops. Goya depicts the beginning of the uprising when the mounted corps of Napoleon’s special regiment of Muslim Mamelukes charged the people in the streets. Instead of dispersing, the crowd turned on the attackers, resulting in a ferocious melee. This massacre of the civil population incited the Spanish rebellion against the French occupation.

The Church of Good Success suffered great damage in the brutal French repression that followed. Its exterior was damaged, its interior sacked, and its central altar destroyed. The statue of the Virgin of Good Success was saved, although no one knows the details.

Later, Bonaparte converted the church into a barracks and hospital for his troops, and the precious statue of Our Lady was moved to a nearby church of Carmel. She was there until 1813, when the French finally left Madrid.

In 1854, the damaged Church was razed during a reform of the central square. But Our Lady of Good Success found a new and fitting home at the newly-constructed Buen Suceso Church and hospital, designed by Agustin Ortiz de Villajos in the neo-classical style. Erected on Princesa street in the Argüelles district, it became an imposing landmark of the area.

In 1975, the Good Success Hospital was closed and demolished, and a massive complex of steel office buildings was erected on the site. Unhappily, the dignified old Good Success Church was declared structurally unsound and also slated for demolition “to make way for progress.” It was after Vatican II and the opening of the Catholic Church to the modern world: The new church would follow the modern style…

A cement-block structure was raised. Like so many contemporary churches, the new Buen Suceso Church is an extravagant construction, quite unfitting for a sacred building. Except for the bare white cross on the chimney-tower, it could easily be mistaken for a parking garage. This church is no longer the highest point in the neighborhood, a symbolic point of reference for the faithful. Instead, the new block structure is flattened and smashed.

In my opinion, the extravagant modern structure that replaced the stately old Church somehow confirms her prophecy to Mother Mariana of the great crisis that would befall the Church shortly after the middle of the 20th century. This new building is symbolic of the liturgical changes and opening of the Church to the modern styles, a fruit of Vatican II.

The remedy for the crisis

When Our Lady warned Mother Mariana that a great crisis in the Church would begin after the middle of the 20th century, she also told her that only then would this devotion become known because it would be the remedy for that crisis. She reserved this invocation and apparition for our times

By means of this devotion, she promised that Our Lord would grant great miracles, spiritual as well as material, for the devout faithful: “Above all for the faithful at the end of the 20th century, who would be the favored of His Heart, for in that period Hell would be unleashed and many souls would be lost.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted December 25, 2009

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