How Mary prepared us for today’s crisis 400 years ago

Many are aware that Our Lady appeared in Quito, Ecuador, around the turn of the seventeenth century under the title of “Our Lady of Good Success”. Less well-known, however, is the particular request that Our Lady made in these apparitions: that the seer and the nuns of her convent pray and offer themselves as a holocaust specifically for the people of the twentieth century and thereafter. It was a “good event” — buen suceso — not only in its reference to the Purification of Mary and Presentation of Jesus, on which feast several of these apparitions occurred, but most significantly, for us and our purification at this critical moment in history. When we consider the devastating state of the world and the Church today, which appears to be sinking only more deeply into chaos, we must recall the group of nuns four hundred years ago, through whose sacrifices and penances we can receive the graces we need today and may yet be spared ruin.

Mariana Francisca de Jesús Torres was born in Biscaya, Spain in 1563. At the age of nine, after her First Holy Communion, she had her first vision, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary asked her to enter the Order of the Immaculate Conception (the Conceptionists), a strictly cloistered community of Franciscan nuns dedicated to contemplative prayer.

In 1577, she arrived in Quito with the Conceptionists in order to found a new convent, and it was there that she made her first vows.

The Virgin appeared in the convent chapel between the years 1594 and 1634, presenting herself as “Our Lady of Good Success”, under which title the Church, through the bishops of Quito, approved her veneration. This devotion of the Ecuadorean people, uninterrupted for 400 years, led the Holy See to approve the canonical coronation of Our Lady of Good Success in the Archdiocese of Quito in 1991.

On 8 August 1986, the cause for beatification of Mother Mariana, whose body had been found intact and incorrupt on 8 February 1906, was opened. Reconstructing the story centred on the visions of Mother Mariana, two near-death experiences of the mystic have been described:

“Her first death occurred in 1582. Standing before a tribunal, she underwent a trial at the end of [her life] and she was offered a choice: to be admitted immediately in heavenly glory or to return to earth and suffer, as an oblation, for the sins of the twentieth century. She chose the second option. Her second death occurred on Good Friday of the year 1588, following an apparition in which she was shown the horrible abuses and heresies that would be perpetrated in the Church today. She awoke two days later, on the morning of Easter Sunday.”

In the morning of 2 February 1594, the young abbess of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in the city of Quito went down to pray in the choir of the chapel. At a certain point she had the sensation that someone was present and was calling her name. A beautiful Lady appeared before her, dressed as a nun and surrounded by glory and splendour. She held a child of celestial beauty on her left arm, while in her right hand she clutched an abbey crosier of burnished gold, studded with precious stones.

The astonished Abbess contemplated this Lady of unearthly beauty and, when she was able to speak, asked her who she was. The Lady answered:

“I am Mary of Good Success, the Queen of Heaven and earth. As His Mother, I carry [the Child Jesus] here, in my left arm, so that together we might restrain the hand of divine justice, which is always so ready to chastise this unfortunate and criminal world. In my right hand, I carry the crosier that you see, for I desire to govern this convent as Abbess and Mother… Satan will begin to try to destroy this work of God … But he will not succeed, because I am the Queen of Victories and the Mother of Good Success, and it is under this invocation I desire to be known throughout all time…”

The Blessed Virgin Mary placed the child in the arms of Mother Mariana, instilling in her a strong desire to suffer as a victim soul. Importantly, Our Lady declared that she was “Queen of the earth”, thus opening the series of apparitions in which she foretold the crisis which would befall the incredulous world and the Church centuries later, in our own times.

On 21 January 1610, over a hundred years before the formal birth of Freemasonry on 24 June 1717, Our Lady predicted that moral corruption would spread: “for Satan will reign almost completely by means of the Masonic Sects. They will focus principally on the children in order to sustain this general corruption. Woe to the children of these times!”

“…As for the sacrament of matrimony, which symbolises the union of Christ with His Church, it will be attacked and deeply profaned. Freemasonry, which will then be in power, will enact iniquitous laws with the aim of doing away with this sacrament, making it easy for everyone to live in sin and encouraging the procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church. The Catholic spirit will rapidly decay; the precious light of faith will gradually be extinguished until there will be an almost total and general corruption of customs.

“…in these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury which will ensnare the rest into sin and conquer innumerable frivolous souls, who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women.”

On 2 February 1610, Our Lady confirmed that the Church would be attacked by “terrible hordes”, and that moral corruption and secular education would wreak untold destruction on her children. 

On the night of 2 February 1634, while the abbess was praying in the choir of the chapel, the tabernacle light went out, leaving the sacred place in darkness. The abbess was about to go and relight it, but felt as if she were being prevented by an unknown force, and so she waited. Suddenly Our Lady appeared, overcoming the darkness with her splendour and illuminating the chapel as if it were broad daylight. The Lady of Quito explained that the extinguishing of the lamp burning before the divine Prisoner of love had several meanings:

“The first significance is that at the end of the nineteenth century, and throughout a great part of the twentieth century, various heresies will be propagated… As these heresies spread and dominate, the precious light of faith will be extinguished in souls by the almost total corruption of customs. During this period, there will be great physical and moral calamities, both public and private.

Another reason why the sanctuary lamp was extinguished was “that the spirit of impurity will saturate the atmosphere in those times”. 

“Like a filthy ocean, it will inundate the streets, squares and public places with an astonishing liberty. There will be almost no virgin souls in the world. The delicate flower of virginity would be threatened by complete annihilation… Without virginity, fire from heaven will be needed to purify these lands.”

A further meaning, as Our Lady explained, was that the powerful sects would infiltrate families, corrupting the innocence in the hearts of children, and thus also extinguishing priestly vocations:

“Sects, having permeated all social classes, will find ways of introducing themselves into the very heart of homes to corrupt the innocence of children. The children’s hearts will be dainty morsels to regale the devil. In these unfortunate times, childlike innocence will barely be found. In this way, vocations to the priesthood will be lost, resulting in a true calamity.”

Again in this apparition, the Blessed Virgin said: 

“During this unfortunate epoch, injustice will even enter here, my closed garden. Disguised under the name of false charity, it will wreak havoc in souls. The spiteful demon will try to sow discord, making use of putrid members, who, masked by the appearance of virtue, will be like decaying sepulchres emanating the pestilence of putrefaction, causing moral deaths in some and lukewarmness in others.”

In November 1634, Our Lord Himself explained that devotion to the Passion, to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady protect the religious communities and shield the prevaricating world from divine justice, preventing the release of the formidable punishment which it deserves.

“Know, moreover, that divine justice releases terrible chastisements on entire nations, not only for the sins of the people, but for those of priests and religious persons. For the latter are called, by the perfection of their state, to be the salt of the earth, the masters of truth, and the deflectors of divine wrath. Straying from their divine mission, they degrade themselves in such a way that, before the eyes of God, they quicken the rigour of the punishments. Because, by separating from me, they end up living only a superficial life of the soul, and keeping themselves distant from me is not worthy of my ministers. With their coldness and lack of trust they act as if I were a stranger to them.” 

Today also, when we see earthquakes, floods and wars devastating entire nations — reflecting the spiritual earthquakes and other calamities in the ecclesiastical world — we must be instructed by the nuns of Quito who offered their lives in reparation for the sins of the twentieth century.

“Pray insistently, without tiring, and weep with bitter tears in the secrecy of your heart, imploring our celestial Father that, for love of the Eucharistic Heart of my most holy Son and His precious Blood shed with such generosity and by the profound bitterness and sufferings of His cruel Passion and Death, He might take pity on His ministers and quickly bring to an end those ominous times.”

“This, then, will mark the arrival of my hour, when I, in a marvellous way, will dethrone the proud and cursed Satan, trampling him under My feet and fettering him in the infernal abyss. Thus the Church and country will finally be free of his cruel tyranny.”

We find these messages echoed in Fatima in 1917, where three little children were asked to make sacrifices for the great sins of the world. This confirms how much Our Lady grieves the loss of innocence and purity in souls — that she seeks the sacrifices of the innocent for our urgent purification. Purity is the flower of innocence, but once lost, it can also be regained, both personally and socially — personally, through penance and socially through chastisement. This spirit of sacrifice, above all, is the response to the ills which smother the world and the Church today. Our Lady said to the little shepherds in Fatima, “Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God” — thus preparing for the grace of her great promise of victory: “In the end my Immaculate Heart will Triumph.”

Let us then thank the Conceptionists of Quito, the children of Fatima and so many others from whose sacrifices we benefit today at the hour on need. This is the mystical Body of Christ which sustains its members throughout the centuries, giving all generations the consolation of never suffering alone and urging us to offer our own sacrifices for the Church.