|This year I was able to be in Quito on February 2, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Good Success. I had never been in that colorful and beautiful city before. I arrived on February 1st and left on the 7th. From February 1st to the 3rd, when the Statue returned to her cloistered place in the Convent’s upper choir, I tried to stay with her as much as I could, which translates into about four or five hours every day.
Although photos with flash were not allowed in the Church and my camera is not a professional one, I took many pictures on those days, some of which I will share with my readers.
Upon entering the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which is majestic and very dignified – but not as rich as the Cathedral or the Church of San Francisco – one needs some time to adapt his spirit to that baroque atmosphere of old Quito. While this adaptation takes place, the eyes are drawn to the main Statue on the central altar, which replaces Christ Crucified during those days. There was the Statue of Our Lady of Good Success.
She reigns from her niche not only as the Abbess of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception but as the Empress of the world. The way she holds her staff gives the impression that she is ready to take some steps and descend in order to exert her dominion over all her subjects. I don’t know of any picture of Louis XIV in all his pomp that has more majesty than Our Lady in that Statue.
Her majesty, however, was not of an Empress who is being applauded by her subjects. It appeared to me to be rather the majesty of a Queen who is being rejected. She seems to be closed in her own dignity as if she were saying: “I continue to be myself in all my majesty, even when no one or just a few are open to me.”
She has something of the rejected majesty that can be seen in the Holy Shroud of Turin. God Incarnate was rejected, condemned for the good He did and crucified between thieves. His Sacred Face is the paradigm of majesty rejected: it is the Divine Majesty rejected. In my opinion, Our Lady of Good Success’ Statue revealed something similar on those days that she descended from her Abbess’ chair in the upper choir to be with the people of Quito.
The expression of the Sacred Statue did not soften during the two next days. On the afternoon of February 3, she was brought from the central altar to a place on an andor near the Communion rail, as an intermediary site before she would return to the cloister.
It was good for the faithful present who could see her more closely. But, viewing the sacred image closer, it seemed to me her sadness was still more pungent. She appeared to be on the verge of weeping, as the photos show.
Now, why was the Statue so sad? Are there reasons for this apogee of grievance?
I believe there are many reasons for that sadness. I list just a few.
- Her Statue had to bear many Novus Ordo Masses said at her feet;
- The Convent nuns themselves do not have access to a Tridentine Mass and, when some good Catholics bring a priest to say one inside the Convent, the Superiors complain and prefer the New Mass in the vernacular;
- The New Mass is said for the nuns by two Franciscan priests. On February 3, one of these priests was denounced by the parents of two girls, then arrested and jailed for sexually abusing their daughters. This news was in the headlines of the local newspapers and the topic was still making front page news on February 6.
- The Archbishop of Quito, Fausto Trávez Trávez forbade the group of good Catholic men who for two decades have been bringing the Statue from the choir to the Church from carrying out this work. He also prohibited them to organize the Procession of the Dawn, a solemn procession carrying a smaller statue of Our Lady through the streets of the city in the dawn hours of her feast day, February 2.
- He passed these charges to the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), who overnight entered the picture and took over. The reason for this sudden complacence of the Archbishop with a group that says the Latin Mass, which he forbids in his whole Archdiocese, seem to be some rare exchange of favors on both parts.
Indeed, the common talk in Quito was that the Archbishop had been pressured by creditors to pay the huge debt he had assumed during Pope Francis’ visit to Quito in 2015 and was unable to pay. It was being said everywhere that the SSPX advanced the needed amount of money in exchange for the Prelate’s pledge to replace that group of good Catholics who traditionally oversaw the descent of the Statue and organized the Procession of the Dawn.
- I also heard from well-informed persons that, when the SSPX priests tried to lift the Statue from the choir to bring her down to the Church, the Statue became so heavy that they were unable to do so. By the way, it is known that this is a common way for the Statue to show her displeasure: the Statue becomes so heavy that it cannot be transported even by a group of strong men.
According to these trustworthy sources, the situation was so embarrassing that the nuns did not know what to do. The Archbishop was called and he decided that the Franciscans should carry it down. The Statue allowed herself to be transported by the Franciscans, but they could not move the Child Jesus, who in turn became insurmountably heavy. So, for that first night the Statue remained in the Church without the Christ Child in her arm. The next morning the Mother Superior could easily pick up the Child and place Him in the arm of His Mother.