THE IRISH MADONNA OF HUNGARY; GYOR, HUNGARY 1697
“The extraordinary miracle of the Irish Madonna of Hungary is not a legend, but a reality based on facts and the testimony of reliable witnesses.
OUR LADY OF GYOR
The picture was hanging in the Cathedral of Clonfert, in the diocese of Tuam, Ireland, when, in 1649, Oliver Cromwell invaded Ireland with 10,000 Englishmen. Among other objectives, his campaign was meant to eliminate papal influence and establish a Protestant interest in the country.
THE BEGINNING OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
When the religious persecution began, Bishop Walter Lynch of Clonfert and some of his priests were arrested. To prevent the Irish Madonna from falling into the hands of those who would destroy it, Bishop Lynch smuggled the picture out of Ireland and kept it in his possession. The bishop, together with some members of his group, escaped 1652 from the island known as Innisboffin, where they had been imprisoned. They dispersed to various countries, where they were warmly received.
OUR LADY HAD OTHER PLANS
Bishop Lynch and the portrait spent some time in Belgium and in Portugal. Later he travelled as far as Hungary. There he was joyously received by the Bishop of Gyor, who appointed him as his auxiliary. The Irish bishop learned the Hungarian language and worked 10 years among the faithful. Although he seemed content, he was nevertheless longing to return to his native country. When he learned that the persecution in Ireland had subsided, he prepared for the return journey. The picture was meant, of course, to return with him, but Our Lady had other plans.
THREATENING DISASTERS WERE AVERTED
Before the date of his departure, the Irish bishop became desperately ill. On his deathbed he bequeathed the picture to the Bishop of Gyor, who subsequently had the body of his Irish friend buried in the crypt of the cathedral.
The people of Gyor quickly adopted the picture of the Madonna. It was especially welcomed because the arrival of the portrait coincided with a series of victories over the Turks.
During the years many souls have come from throughout Hungary to pray before the Madonna for personal and national needs and to thank Our Lady for preventing, through her intercession, some disasters which had threatened.
The portrait of Our Lady and the Infant Christ is charming. The Child lies asleep on a pallet, His crowned head on a fluffy pillow, His two arms resting atop the fold of a covering. The Blessed Virgin also wears a crown and appears to be kneeling beside the Child. With her hands folded in prayer, Our Lady looks serenely down upon her slumbering Babe.
IRELAND IN TROUBLE
While the Hungarians enjoyed peace and plenty during the year 1697, the Irish were afflicted with great hardships and religious persecution. In that year the Parliament passed an edict that ordered the expulsion of all priests from the territory of Ireland and the British Isles. Churches were confiscated and all traces of the Catholic religion were to be eliminated. A national Irish church was established and only members of this church were permitted to serve as ministers at funerals.
OUR LADY CRIES FOR HER SUFFERING CHILDREN
On March 17 of that year, St Patrick’s Day, as thousands were attending Holy Mass in the Cathedral of Gyor, the eyes of the Madonna began to shed tears and blood which ran down the canvas to the image of the sleeping Jesus. The Irish Madonna was weeping for her suffering children. The people who had been attending the Holy Sacrifice, as well as those who were summoned to witness the miracle, took turns in gathering around the portrait while the priests repeatedly wiped the face of the Madonna with a linen cloth that is still preserved in the Cathedral.
To further examine the miracle and the possible source of the blood and tears, the portrait was taken down from the wall and removed from its frame. No explanation could be given for the phenomenon, which continued for more than three hours.
EVEN CALVINISTS, LUTHERANS AND JEWS TESTIFIED THAT THEY HAD SEEN THIS MIRACLE WITH THEIR OWN EYES
Before long not only Catholics, but also Protestants and Jews flocked to see the miracle. Thousands witnessed the event, and many of these gave testimony of what they saw. A document signed by a hundred people bears the signatures of the governor of the city, its mayor, all its councilmen, the bishop, priests, Calvinist and Lutheran ministers as well as a Jewish rabbi. All volunteered their signatures to the document stating that they had witnessed an undeniable miracle.
THE LINK BETWEEN TWO NATIONS
The miracle of Our Lady weeping blood and tears on St Patrick’s Day in 1697 for her suffering children in Ireland left a deep impression on the people of Hungary down to the present day. At all times, but especially in times of disaster, the people flock to her shrine in order to gain strength and hope in the midst of crisis. By virtue of this portrait, the Madonna has linked two nations whose people have suffered for their faith and freedom.
(From the book: Miraculous Images of Our Lady by Joan Carroll Cruz, published by Tan Books & Publishers in Rockford, Illinois, 1993)”
– This article was published in “Helping the missions side by side with St Therese” issue no 82. [Capital headings added afterwards.] Please support the Little Way Association if you can (one of the many current projects is the reconstruction of a well in the Indian Diocese of Jabalpur. Donations for the missions are sent without deduction for any expenses.) Please contact the Little Way Association to help in any way at this address: The Little Way Association, 119 Cedars Rd, Clapham Common, London SW4 0PR, United Kingdom. All Little Way benefactors share in a DAILY MASS offered for their intentions in the Missions.