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Our Lady of Refuge. 2011 by Stephen B Whatley

Today, December 8th, 2011, the Catholic Church celebrates The Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Divinely chosen to bear the Son of God, Mary is the first, the Queen of Saints and prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary are carried , through Her intercession, to her Son Jesus Christ.


Increasingly I have felt a deepening attachment to Mother Mary; praying the Rosary every day. The Hail Mary is the simplest but so powerful of prayers. There are many devotions to Mary and many miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary - as mother of all, calling for peace - that have been witnessed through the ages, worldwide.


Recently as I climbed the hill home, praying to Mary for the strength to carry our a portrait commission the following day ( my buildup before any painting is one of deep prayer; during my accumulation of nervous and emotional energy), I felt my heart ask how Mary would like me to interpret her - my Christian tributes are a visual extension of my prayer - and I 'heard' "Our Lady of Refuge".


I was aware of this American devotion to Mary and I knew I had to make this drawing; partly inspired by a painting by Mexican artist Joseph de Paez; from 1750.


Our Lady of Refuge is Patroness of California and parts of Mexico,. The bishop of Baja, California proclaimed Her as Patron in 1843, exclaiming, "...with so great a patroness and protectress what can we not promise ourselves? What can be wanting and whom need we fear?"


In 1981 the California Catholic Conference of Bishops petitioned the Vatican to officially observe the Feast Day of Our Lady of Refuge on July 5th; which was approved in 1982.


May there be miraculous healings, new strength and prosperity through prayers to the Mother of God, on this special day; and thereafter.


"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you"


Charcoal on paper

16.5 x 11.5in/42 x 30cm


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Taken on November 24, 2011