Our Lady of Good Success

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The Miracle of ‘41 – Part I

Our Lady of Good Success
Raises & Lowers Her Eyes

Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.

On July 5, 1941, Peru invaded the borders of Ecuador – the western Province of El Oro and the Andean Province of Loja. Fierce fighting broke out, and Ecuador was facing superior forces and entering what appeared to be a long and bloody war. By mid-July many lives had been lost and it seemed there would be no immediate end to what today is called the War of ‘41.

Conceptionist church

The Conceptionist Church, center, next to the Government Palace in the main square of old Quito
In a plea to Heaven – since there seemed to be no recourse on earth – the Archbishop of Quito, Carlos María Javier de la Torre, ordered that a Triduum (1) of prayers be said in all the churches of Quito addressing the Blessed Virgin to implore her intercession before God to end the hostilities.

On July 24, the Triduum in honor of Our Lady of Good Success started in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Quito, across from the Government's Palace. The life-size miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success, which usually sits in the Abbess’ seat in the upper choir, was brought down to reign above the main altar so that the faithful could join the cloistered Conceptionist nuns in asking her intercession.

On July 27, as the Triduum was coming to its close, Our Lady of Good Success worked a miracle for the Ecuadorian people, offering a great hope to a distressed population, a hope that was very quickly fulfilled.

Our Lady lowers & raises her eyes

It was around 9 a.m., various ladies were near the main altar praying to Our Lady when they observed that the Statue of the Virgin of Good Success opened her eyes wide, turned them downward at them with a look of great compassion and, then, raised them upward. This happened several times. Visibly moved by the miraculous event, they remained in prayer, several of them weeping, but they did not tell the others present in the church what they had witnessed.

altar conceptionist church quito

Our Lady over the altar in the Conceptionist Church
At around 10 a.m., Fr. Benjamin Rafael Ayora y Cueva, the Chaplain of the Conceptionist Covent and a Canon of Theology in Loja, arrived to vest for Mass. Fr. Cueva, who had a deep devotion to Our Lady of Good Success, went first to the altar to recommend himself to the Virgin, before the Mass. As he turned toward her Statue, he witnessed the same miracle.

Deeply moved but fearful that he was experiencing some optical illusion, he went to tell the ladies who were praying so fervently in the church what he had witnessed. They confirmed his experience; they told him that they had seen the same miracle only about an hour earlier. (2)

The news rapidly spread through the whole city. One person told another, “A miracle at the Church of the Conception!” “Hurry, Our Lady is moving her eyes at the Conceptionist Church!”

In a short time, it seemed that all the inhabitants of Quito, a city known for its piety and devotion to Our Lady, were heading toward the Conceptionist Church with the hope to see for themselves the miracle, as the Statue continued to raise and lower her eyes at intervals throughout the day.

Learning of the prodigy, a reporter from the Quito daily El Comercio hurried to the crowded square to interview witnesses of the marvel. He spoke with the distinguished Señora Matilde Chiriboga de Salvador, who told him with great excitement: “I saw the Blessed Virgin open and close her eyes, just as thousands of persons have seen it today.” (3)

Our Lady of Good Success

Many said that the Statue took on a rosy hue, illuminated with a heavenly light
Señor Hugo Argüello Yépes heard about the miracle from a friend and immediately went to the Conceptionist Church. Breaking through the enormous crowd, he made his way to the foot of the altar. He stated that he contemplated the Statue for a space of 10 minutes and, along with many others who filled the Church, also witnessed the Statue moving her eyes. (4)

Many witnesses said that the face of the image would take on a rosy color. Then, her eyelids, which are normally half-closed, would open wider and she would turn her gaze downward on the people. Afterwards, she would raise them to Heaven and, then, lower them to their natural position. Throughout the miracle, the Statue was permeated with a supernatural light, glowing with a heavenly aura. (5)

Almost all the persons who came to view the Statue – some believers, others not – saw the miraculous statue of the Virgin raise and lower her eyes. There were some few, however, who said that they could not see anything, notwithstanding their religious predisposition, even though all those around them – men, ladies and children – were witnessing the marvel.

For example, there was the curious case of two university students, one a devout Catholic youth and the other a socialist, who entered the church out of curiosity over the event that everyone was talking about. The Catholic saw nothing, while the socialist saw the miracle. Filled with emotion, he fell to his knees, his face bathed in tears. (6)


On Our Lady’s Feast day of February 2, the people of Quito fill the Church to honor her
When the bell tolled for the 7 p.m. evening Mass and final prayers of the Triduum, several thousand of the faithful were milling about in front of the church trying to enter in order to verify for themselves whether the Virgin of Good Success was moving her eyelids. The police was called to keep order and prevent the impatient people from damaging the doors of the Conceptionist church. (7)

This marvelous maternal sign of Our Lady's concern for her people continued through the evening and night, only ending at around 3 in the morning of the next day. Thousands of persons witnessed the miracle.

Clearly, Our Lady had interceded for the Ecuador people, for on that day, Monday, July 28, it was reported that a ceasefire had been called. The war was over. On July 29, Peru and Ecuador signed the Rio Protocol and the Peruvian forces withdrew from Ecuadorian soil. There was no doubt in the minds of the faithful that this prodigious event was a sign that the Mother of God had heard their prayers and come to their aid in that time of dire distress.

commercio miracle of 41

News reports in Quito's daily El Comercio verify the miracle of '41

1. A Triduum is three days of prayers before some important Feast Days in the Church calendar to honor Our Lord, Our Lady or some Saint. When it is a simple Triduum of petition, like the one ordered by the Archbishop of Quito, it normally begins with liturgy on Thursday and ends with evening prayer on Sunday.
2. These details come from the first media account of the miracle published one day after its occurrence in the July 28, 1941, edition of El Commercio, the Quito daily newspaper (n. 13.002). The long headline read "The Statue of the Virgin of Good Success moved her eyelids yesterday various times. This was affirmed by numerous persons who witnessed this extraordinary event. Thousands of the faithful enter the church to ascertain the truth of the portentous event."
This article along with numerous other media documents were collected and published in a work by Fr. Benjamin Rafael Ayora y Cueva, the Convent Chaplain and one of the first witnesses of the miracle. In the first part of the book he made a compilation of the many articles published throughout Ecuador reporting the Miracle of ‘41; these included articles from the following newspapers: El Comercio of Quito, July 28-29 and August 3, 1941, Últimas Noticias, July 28, 1941, El Telégrafo of Guayaquil, July 28, 1941, El Universo of Guayaquil, July 28, 1941, El Debate, July 27-28-29, 1941, La Sociedad, August 3, 1941, La Corona de Maria, n. 505, February of 1943, La Voz Católica de Loja, October 5 & 12, 1941, La Voz Obrera, August 10, 1941, as well as press pamphlets that circulated in the city of Quito.
The second part of his work records sermons on the miracle preached by various clergy in the city.
The work is titled Nuestra Señora de 'El Buen Suceso' y el Conflicto Internacional con el Peru en 1941 [Our Lady of Good Success of Quito and the International Conflict with Peru in 1941] and was published with ecclesiastical approval (Quito, Editorial Ecuatoriana, 1946) n. IV, pp. 17-19. I thank Mr. Mathieu Charles Gillory, Director of Excelsior Tours, who provided me with a copy of this book.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. La Sociedad, n. 193, August 3, 1941, in ibid., n. X, pp. 26-28.
6. Ibid.
7. El Universo of Guayaquil, July 28, 1941, in Ibid., pp. 26-27.

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Posted April 27, 2016

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