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The Miracle of ‘41 – Part III

A Prophetic Sermon & a Strange Order

Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.

To conclude this series (here and here) on Our Lady of Good Success and the Miracle of 1941, let us review the ill-boding situation that Ecuador found itself in July of 1941. Their dire situation received little attention from the Western world, embroiled in the Second World War.

peruvian partrooper

Peruvian paratroopers made
the first combat airdrop on Ecuador
An undeclared war had begun on July 5, 1941, when Peruvian armed forces crossed the borders and entered Ecuadorian territory, occupying a large salient of land along Peru's northern border. Ecuador, poorly armed and without resources, was no match for Peru's much larger and better equipped military, which brushed aside its tiny and lightly armed defense forces. Within days, Peru's military had seized the Ecuadorian provinces of El Oro and Loja.

Ecuador's land forces consisted of poorly equipped infantry, para-military police, and irregulars armed with antique Mauser rifles and Czech light machine guns. Peru, on the other hand, had the advantage of numbers - outnumbering Ecuador's army roughly four to one - and far superior weapons. It had acquired two dozen state-of-the-art Czech LTL light tanks, seven American-made P-64 fighters converted into light bombers and a battalion of highly trained marines and paratroopers. The latter units would make the first ever combat airdrop in a war in the Western Hemisphere. (1)

On the 24th Ecuador suffered a major loss in the Battle of Chacras/Zarumilla, where the Peruvians defeated the Ecuadorean forces, using air and artillery bombardments. More than 500 Ecuadorian soldiers were killed.

The capital Quito was in great consternation and confusion. But the besieged country rallied in both the temporal and spiritual spheres. Patriotic demonstrations were held and a call to service issued by the government: Thousands of citizens enrolled to defend the very life of the country.

In the spiritual terrain, the Archbishop of Quito, Card. Carlos María Javier de la Torre, ordered that special Masses and prayers should be said for three days before statues of the Virgin in all the churches of Quito from July 24 to the 26, imploring her intercession that God should deign to end the hostilities and spare more loss of lives.

The Convent's chaplain delivers a prophetic sermon

On the third day of the Triduum, July 26, 1941, the chaplain of the Conceptionist Convent and Canon of the Cathedral of Loja delivered the sermon at the Mass. Canon Benjamin Rafael Ayora y Cueva had become a great devotee of Our Lady of Good Success and Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres.

canon

A great devotee of Our Lady of Good Success, Canon Cueva asked Our Lady to 'turn her gaze on us and then toward Heaven'
In the Conceptionist archives he had found the manuscript of Fr. Manuel Sousa Pereira and become convinced of the sanctity of Mother Mariana and of the truth of the prophecies. Thus he strove to make the devotion of Our Lady of Good Success better known. Doing this, he played a part in the fulfillment of one of the prophecies: that God would save this devotion for the 20th century when the world and the Church would be suffering from a great crisis.

Perhaps it was some unknown prophecy of Our Lady – who predicted so precisely every important event inside the Convent – that inspired the words of his sermon on the last day of the Triduum. For, today as we read them, the words of her sermon certainly seem to be an anticipation of the miracle that occurred:

"War is a frightful and bloody scourge that Our Lord uses to punish a Nation," he preached, "an infernal monster with gaping jaws that engulfs men by the thousands and drinks torrents of human blood." (2)

The Canon pointed to the true cause for why God permits war: Sin. "He is chastising Ecuador for its sins that have provoked the divine ire," he declared and listed the principal three.
  • The first was the religious indifferentism that "has filtered like smoke into all the spheres and sectors of our social body, especially among the youth of both sexes.

  • The second cause was the obscene and immodest styles "that violate Christian customs, paganize women and provoke the anger of God.

  • The third cause was the "greed and avarice of the rich and opulent," who ignored the plight of the less fortunate in their constant pursuit of pleasures.
"From this just punishment," he affirmed, "only Mary Most Holy can save us. The gaze of Mary, the eyes of Mary turn toward us, full of mercy to see our miseries, and then turn toward Heaven, shedding tears, to implore pardon and blot out our crimes and sins. Illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. (Turn thy merciful eyes toward us.)"

Miracle of the Virgin of Good Success

That morning of July 27, the day after that portentous sermon, the Virgin of Good Success did exactly what the Canon had predicted: Her face took on life, and she turned her eyes first on the people, then raised them upward toward Heaven.

lowers eyes

Thousands witnessed the miracle of Our Lady lowering & raising her eyes for many hours

lift eyes
Some persons reported seeing her weep, others saw a luminous glow around her face. Her eyes moved downward and upward repeatedly from around 9 o'clock in the morning until 3 a.m. the following day.

Crowds eager to witness the miracle filled the streets adjacent to the Conceptionist Church, making it difficult to walk through those streets. The intervention of the police was necessary to avoid accidents. The newspapers estimated that 30,000 persons entered the Church to witness the miracle; trustworthy locals estimated twice or even thrice that number.

That this great miracle was a direct intervention of Our Lady of Good Success became clear the next day, July 28. Peru unexpectedly stopped the invasion and began its retreat. Hostilities ended and negotiations began: An accord was signed by February of the next year.

For those with eyes of faith, it was clear that Our Lady of Good Success had intervened before God and saved Ecuador.

Unanswered questions

There is one question that stands out clamorously in face of this great miracle: Why was the statue removed from the main altar where the public could view her and returned to the upper choir where it could only be seen by the Conceptionist nuns who were cloistered there?

archbishop Torres

Why did Card. de la Torre give the order
to stop the miracle?
During that short period – from 8 a.m. Sunday morning to 3 a.m. Monday – thousands of persons witnessed the miracle: the faithful found their faith strengthened and many of the faithless were converted. Who knows how many more persons might have witnessed the miracle and received such favors and benefits had she been allowed to remain?

Why, then, when Our Lady of Good Success was doing so much good and attracting so many people, was she withdrawn even while the miracle continued to take place?

Most news reports of the time say it was an order of the Archbishop that closed the Church and sent the statue back up the winding stairs to the upper choir, under the pretext that the nuns needed to return to their daily routine of recitation of the Divine Office. (3)

It is a weak and implausible excuse. The nuns, cloistered behind the grilled doors separating the Church from the Convent grounds, could easily have continued their devotions in the upper choir. The conversions and good coming from that great miracle far outweighed any internal inconveniences the crowds might cause.

Was the order indeed from Archbishop de la Torre? It was at his command that the Triduum was called. The momentous response of the people to the miracle would only combat the religious indifference and waning morality that the Prelate often warned against. (4)

It seems more likely it was an order imposed upon the Cardinal by the Liberal government headed by the Masonic and leftist President, Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Rio. The religious resurgence the miracle could bring – already several Freemasons had converted – would not further the interests of the anticlerical regime.

But how was Card. de la Torre pressured to accept that order? This is a question that still needs more study. At any rate, the Cardinal gave the command and the miraculous statue returned to the cloisters.

our lady good success

Many saw Our Lady's visage take on a lifelike color
& glow with a supernatural light
Another question: Why did the news of this great miracle witnessed by so many persons dissolve after a short time like a morning mist? The "portentous event" was reported in many organs of the Ecuadorian press; those articles were duly compiled in the cited booklet of Canon Ayora y Cueva. Devotion to Our Lady of Good Success received a great boost in Quito of course, but also many others cities.

Notwithstanding this period of enthusiasm in Ecuador, the miracle had almost no international impact. It was unreported and unnoticed in the Western world, even in the Catholic media. The mysterious veil that had fallen over the apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success for 300 years seemed to drop suddenly on this great miracle.

Today the veil is beginning to lift. Perhaps this great miracle that saved Ecuador from domination by a more powerful neighbor has a messages for countries – as for example, Ukraine – facing a similar fate. The message is this: Turn to Our Lady of Good Success and ask for her assistance. She will turn her merciful gaze on you and come to your aid.

1."Ecuadorian-Peruvian War of 1941," June 27,2019, Military History Now online,
2. "Sermon for the third day of the solemn Triduum," in Fr. Benjamin Rafael Ayora y Cueva, 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"], published with ecclesiastical approval, (Quito, Editorial Ecuatoriana, 1946) n. XII, pp. 87-110.
3. Fr. Benjamin Rafael Ayora y Cueva, Nuestra Señora de 'El Buen Suceso' y el Conflicto Internacional con el Peru en 1941, pp 117-118.
4. "Gonzalo Ortiz publishes biography of Cardinal De la Torre," Casa de la Cultura online, February 8, 2019,
Posted April 20, 2022

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