FROM THE DIRECTOR
I have the great honor to serve as chaplain to members of the Order of Malta, and my chaplaincy has introduced me to something of which I was formerly unaware - the representation you see to the right of this page, which shows Mary as Our Lady of Philermo.
The icon has a very interesting history. After their defeat at the Battle of Acre, in 1291, the Knights of St John of Jerusalem fled to Cyprus, where they remained until 1306. From there they succeeded in capturing Philermo, the mountain-top capital of Rhodes. Three years later, they completely controlled the island.
On Mt. Philermo they found the icon in a monastery. Legend says it was painted by St. Luke, believed to be the artist responsible for many representations of the Blessed Virgin. Another legend described the painting's miraculously making its way to Rhodes in the 8th Century. Still another said it arrived, in the hands of pilgrims, in the 10th. Whatever the case, when the painting came into the Knights' possession, they deemed it one of their greatest treasures.
When Moslem forces drove the Knights from Rhodes, they brought the painting to Malta, where they continued to venerate it until Napoleon defeated the Knights, in 1798. Napoleon allowed the Master of the Order to take the painting with him, into exile. The rest of the Order's treasures were loaded onto French ships, and I think we may enjoy the irony that these same ships were sunk - and their treasures lost - when the British defeated the French forces at the Battle of the Nile.
The icon was given to the Russian Czar, Paul I, who served, briefly, as Master of the Order of Malta. When he died, in 1801, the painting was sent to the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg, where it survived the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Devout members of the Russian imperial family guarded the painting, and, in 1941, entrusted it for safekeeping with the monks of an Orthodox monastery in Montenegro.
The icon then vanished, and was presumed a casualty of the communist upheavals after World War II. However, in 1993, after the fall of communism, monks of the Monastery of the Nativity brought the icon out of hiding. It now hangs in the National Museum of Montenegro.
A CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP
Your humble servant is approaching his seventieth birthday, the age when Western Dominicans may "retire" from their active ministries and embrace a more contemplative life. Our Dominican Provincial has agreed to relieve me of the Director's duties at the Rosary Center, so I shall no longer oversee the "business" operations of our ministry, although I shall continue - for the near future, at least - to contribute the reflections for Light and Life.
The new Director is Fr. Dismas Sayre, a Dominican ordained in 2008. He presently serves as Parochial Vicar at Holy Rosary Parish, the church across the street from the Rosary Center. He is quick to remark that his arrival on the scene marks a change in directors, not a change in direction. The Rosary Center will continue to preach the Good News by promoting devotion to Mary's Rosary, striving - especially in this Year of Mercy - to share Our Lady's prayer with those still longing for the saving touch of Christ's love.
A NEW SAINT OF THE ROSARY
Last spring our Holy Father canonized Blessed Marie-Alphonsine Ghattas, a member of the Sisters of the Rosary. This congregation was established in the Holy Land in the 19th Century, and embraced by the Dominican Third Order. Sr. Marie-Alphonsine shared the May 17th honors with another religious from the Holy Land, Sr. Marie of Jesus Crucified, and both were honored at a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Dominican School of Biblical Studies in Jerusalem.
I take great pleasure in announcing a booklet published by the Dominican nuns at Corpus Christi Monastery, in Menlo Park, California. Praying the Rosary for the World invites us to enter more deeply into the life of Jesus and His Mother, by directing our attention - and intentions - as we offer this sacred prayer. The booklet holds a special place in my heart because I am deeply fond of the Dominican Sister who was the unflagging Motive Force behind it. I offered some minor editing assistance, but that was nothing compared to the hard work - in the midst of their very busy prayer schedule - the sisters embraced to produce this volume, which celebrates the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Dominican Order. We are proud to offer the booklet for $2.50.
In our last issue of Light and Life we mentioned A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary: This is a fascinating biography of Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart, the only one of the three children who witnessed the miracles at Fatima to survive into adulthood. The book is available for $19.95.
A NOTE TO OUR CANADIAN FRIENDS
If you send your gift to the Rosary Center in Canadian funds, your generosity is considerably reduced by the time the bank makes adjustments for differences in exchange rates and - especially - levies a transaction fee to convert your gift into American funds. To protect the value of your gift, please use a credit card or International Money Order.
2 Novenas of Masses in honor of
The Rosary Center
PO Box 3617
Portland, OR 97208 USA