Over Memorial Day weekend I took Mom to Baltimore, Maryland. She recently had heard about a devotion to the Blessed Mother called ‘Our Lady of the Chain’. Mom booked a 1 night stay right in the heart of the city next to the Orioles stadium in the Hilton. Mom is really good with money (unlike me) and she managed to get the room for almost $200 less than what they normally charge. We ended up buying parking 8 blocks form the hotel because it was cheaper than what the Hilton charged for their parking garage. Granted, if we had to do it again, I’d happily pay the $65 for two days instead of hiking 8 blocks back and forth from the hotel. It was a really interesting time. I don’t think I have seen so many muslims in one place before. Seriously, I had no idea how much Baltimore had been taken over by the Islamic faith, perhaps there was a conference going on or something that had to do with islam and that is why there were so many muslims walking around with their wives in burka’s walking behind them. It was unbelievable, the only time that Mom and saw non islamic people was when the Orioles game let out. The gates opened up and tons of people were coming out and none of them were of the islamic faith, it was an eye opening experience.
Anyways, so on our last day there which was memorial day, I took Mom over to the St. Jude shrine which also houses the devotion to Our Lady of the Chain. By the time we made it in after parking the car, noon mass had already begun. The inside of the church was nice and the Priest was from India and a member of the Pallotine Order. I haven’t studied much on that order before and will probably be doing a little research on them later. After mass, Mom and I went over to the statue of our lady of the chain. The statue was beautiful as you can see in the image to the left.
So what is the devotion and where did it come from? After doing a little research and also grabbing a few pamphlets at the shrine, I found out the info below. I’ll also post the Novena which is beautiful.
Our Lady of the Chain Devotion
This devotion began in the 14th century in Palermo, Italy. Three young men were condemned to death by hanging. They were being led to the gallows under heavy guard when the skies grew dark and a terrible storm arose. The guards, the condemned men, and the people who had gathered to witness the execution sought shelter in the Church of St. Mary of the Port. The fierce storm continued, forcing the execution to be postponed.
The guards secured the condemned men with extra chains and secured the doors of the church. The guards eventually fell asleep. The condemned men found themselves in front of an image of Mary, and they prayed for deliverance. As they prayed, the chains they were bound with fell to the ground. The doors of the church opened by themselves, and the men heard words coming from Mary’s image: “Go, you are free, do not fear. The Divine Infant whom I hold in my arms has heard your prayers and has granted your freedom.”
When they awoke, the guards searched for and ultimately found the prisoners. The King heard about their experience in the church and granted the men their freedom, saying, “The Blessed Virgin Mary has set them free, so will I.”
News of the miracle spread throughout Italy, and the image became known as “Our Lady of the Chain”.
So dear was this devotion to the good people, that many of them, even though they had to leave their native shores to lend their strength and give their talents to this rising democracy, left everything behind them but their love for the Blessed Mother of Chain. And of all of the many immigrants, it was the people of Cefalu, Sicily, who brought with them their devotion to Baltimore, MD.
We hope and pray that many more, with the help of this story and novena prayer, will join in this rare and beautiful devotion which has brought spiritual, emotional and physical freedom to many. Devotion to our Lady of the Chain can be especially helpful for those struggling with the ‘chains’ of addiction. Whatever chains may bind us, freedom granted by our Lord Jesus can be possible through the intercession of His Mother, venerated under the title of “Our Lady of the Chain.
O Blessed Lady of the Chain, sweet hope, eternal comfort of those who with confidence call upon you; prostrate at your feet, I profess my misery and nothingness. You who are the Queen of Heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Savior, O you who are so powerful before the throne of God, please obtain for me this favor which I need so much.
May the many favors and graces which you obtain daily from Jesus for those who invoke you under the title of Mother of the Chain, encourage me to have recourse to you and present to your maternal heart all my afflictions. O powerful Virgin, break the chains of sin which hold me fast. Destroy the snares of my spiritual and temporal enemies, chain me close to you and to Jesus with a lively faith, a firm hope, and a burning charity.
Encircle me with your chains and thus unite me to your heart. United in such a way to you and to Jesus, I will fear nothing. There will be no doubt of my eternal salvation, no fear of not being granted all the temporal and spiritual blessings I need to lead a devout life.
Since I am in need of help in this present affliction, O loving Mother, I have recourse to you with childlike faith, and thus I hope to obtain the favor I am now asking. [Here make your petition] I am sure that you will grant me my request with that same love with which you did grant the request of the three prisoners. I am confident you will grant this favor through your merits and the merits of your Divine Son and allow me to return soon to render to you the homage of my praises and grateful thanksgivings. Amen (Hail Holy Queen …)
As I was leaving the shrine I spoke with the Priest and discussed a little bit of the struggles I was going through at the time. I told Father that I was a former religious novice for an order, at that, he grabbed me in a fraternal embrace and told me how much God loved me and had plans for my life. He was such a gentle Priest and I could see how much he loved God by the way he was treating me. He was ordained a Priest in India at the young age of 24 and had been in the states for 35 yrs. He gave me his blessing as I left. After I returned home I tried to say the novena everyday but lost track of time and then went through a really difficult time, in fact I am still really struggling right now. I had a goal of something that I really felt was going to go one way and it totally didn’t go as I expected it to and now I am feeling a bit lost. I stopped by Church on Tuesday evening for a visit and I went up and poured my heart out to God, I even asked Our Lady of the Chain if she would assist me and if I should pray the devotion. I got up to leave and genuflected and then began making my way to the back of the Church towards the doors. As I walked I heard a ‘fluttering’ noise that I couldn’t put my finger on until I looked around and saw the noise was coming from an open hymnal sitting on the last windowsill closest to the door. Below the window was an air vent and upwards motion of the air conditioning was making two of the open pages flap which caused the fluttering noise. Ok. So I stopped and looked at it. I thought to myself “I should just leave it there and go on home” but then I thought “Just go over there and put the book up”. I went over and picked up the book and saw that the page that was open was on the hymn ‘Ave Maris Stella’. As my eyes scanned down the hymn, I was surprised and then shocked to see the verse “Solve vincla reis, Loosen the chains of the guilty,”. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was just praying out the devotion to Our Lady of the Chain and then this happens. I had to smile as I closed the book and put it back in the pew. The way that God chooses to talk to us is so interesting. We humans pride ourselves on our technological advances in technology that helps is to communicate in so many different ways and yet God communicates to us in such simplicity, that we might miss it if we don’t look.
Starting Tuesday night I began saying the Novena to Our Lady of the Chain. I would encourage you as well to begin this devotion.