There are many remedies that we need: those that cure our spiritual needs and also our material needs. Whatever they are, we have the help of the one who is Mother of God and our Mother, and who today, October 8th, is invoked under the title of Our Lady of Good Medicine.
Newsroom (09/10/2021 10:02, Gaudium Press) The devotion to Our Lady, under the title of the Good Remedy (or of the Remedies, of the Remedy), originated in the Order of the Holy Trinity, which was inherited from the Founder Saint John of Matha, who died in Rome on December 17, 1213.
His sons, because of the arduous and multiform works they would face, needed a powerful help that only the Heavenly Mother could grant.
Welcoming the precious inheritance, they embellished all their churches with pictures and altars in honor of the Mother of Good Medicine, and so spread the devotion that in the naval battle of Lepanto (1571), when the fate of the Church was saved from the fury and hatred of the Turks, the generalissimo Dom John of Austria wanted to entrust himself and the fleet to the protection of the Mother of Good Medicine, as attested in his bulls by Pope Saint Pius V – March 5, 1572 – and Pope Gregory XIII – December 3, 1575.
“The [Trinitarian] friars, in order to grow daily in sanctity and to produce more abundant fruits of apostolate, should nourish for the Virgin Mary sentiments of filial piety and true devotion, and should foster her worship, venerating her, according to the very ancient tradition of the Order, under the title of Blessed Virgin Mary of Good Remedy, principal patroness of our Order, reciting the rosary and celebrating the Sabbath, according to the rubrics, the votive Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.” (Constitutions of the Friars of the Order of the Holy Trinity No. 52).
Origin of the Invocation
According to tradition, the third minister general of the Trinitarian order, Friar William the Scotch (+1222), was the first to inculcate Marian devotion under this title, although some writers attribute the origin of such an invocation to the Founder of the Order of the Holy Trinity, Saint John of Matha.
“Of Remedy”, “of Rescue”, “of Liberation”
In medieval language, the verbs “redímere” and “remediare” and the nouns “redémptio” and “remédium” had a similar meaning: to redeem, to rescue; ransom, remedy (with the sense of salvation, liberation). This explains why, in the writings of the XVI-XVII centuries, the patron saint is given the three titles: “of Remedy”, “of Rescue”, “of Liberation”.
The oldest representation preserved today is a Romanesque image, which belonged to the first house of the Trinitarians in Marseille: the Virgin is seated, with the Child on her left arm and the bag of money on her right.
The purse alludes, as many biographers report, to the apparition and the help given by Our Lady to St. John of Matha when, in Tunis and Valencia (Spain), tormented by the Muslims who demanded the double price for slaves already ransomed, under threat of returning them to prison, having begged her fervently as Mother of Good Medicine, he was miraculously provided for by Her.
Patroness of the Order of Trinitarians
The General Chapter of the Trinitarian Order of 1230, celebrated in Cerfroid, ratified the veneration of the Virgin Mary as patroness of the Order. It is especially from the fifteenth century onward that growing attention to the Virgin of the Good Remedy (or of the Remedy) develops, to whose invocation churches, altars, confraternities, etc. are dedicated.
The General Chapter of 1688 ordered that the Virgin be venerated as patroness with the title “of the Remedy”, dedicating an altar to her in every convent and celebrating her feast day on October 7th with a sermon and particular solemnity. In 1921, Fr. Xavier of the Immaculate, Minister General of the Trinitarians, proclaimed the patronage of the Virgin of Good Medicine over the whole Trinitarian Order; and this fact was included in the Constitutions of the Order of 1933. With the Apostolic Letter “Sacrarium Trinitatis”, dated March 10, 1961, Pope John XXIII gave official status in the Church to this title and patronage.
Mary: Model, Guide, Mother
In the Trinitarian Family, Mary is seen, on the one hand, as the model and guide of a life totally consecrated to the Trinity; and, on the other hand, as the model, guide, and provident mother of an evangelical apostolate oriented toward the poor and persecuted Christians.
The Trinitarian contemplates and embraces her in her condition as a perfect “trinitarian” and “co-rendering” mother united to Christ. He entrusts himself to her maternal “mediation” in order to be configured with Christ the Trinitarian-Redeemer and to give himself to the poor and the oppressed with the spirit of the “Magnificat”.
St. Augustine: Helpful, Attentive
“St. Augustine says, that since the Virgin is holier than all the saints, she is also more helpful and more considerate than all of them in our trials.
So, you who have so many spiritual and temporal needs, at home and in your family, approach this Lady who is the Mother of Good Medicine and say to her: Lady, come to my aid; obtain the forgiveness of my sins, the increase of my virtues, health in sickness, medicine in the many needs I have in my earthly life and above all, Lady, I ask you, assure me of eternal salvation and that I may see you in heaven to love you more than I have loved you in this world.”
Our Lady of Good Medicine in Brazil
The Solemnity of Our Lady of Good Remedy, Mother and Patroness of the Trinitarian Family, is celebrated throughout the Order on October 8th.
In Brazil, Our Lady of Good Remedy is better known under the title of “Our Lady of Remedies”.
According to the book “Invocações da Virgem Maria no Brasil” by Nilza Botelho Megale, this invocation, with a typically colonial flavor, was very popular in old Lusitania, especially in the cities of Santarém and Lamego.
It was introduced in Portugal by French religious of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the redemption of captives, who were in Lisbon in the early 13th century.
The Order spread throughout Europe, especially in the Iberian Peninsula (part of which was occupied and dominated by the Muslims), and by the 18th century had freed 900,000 slaves.
The Trinitarian friars, with their Confraternities and the devout, were committed to spreading their specific devotions and thus brought to Brazil the cult of the Virgin of Remedies, in honor of whom they erected chapels in several provinces of the Northeast (Maranhão, Pernambuco and Bahia) and in the baroque regions of Minas Gerais .
Even today you can find chapels, churches, and parishes dedicated to Our Lady of Remedies.
However, the most famous sanctuaries in Brazil dedicated to this name were Paraty, São Paulo, and Fernando de Noronha.
In Paraty, its first church was built in 1646 on land donated by Maria Jácome de Melo, under the condition that it would be dedicated to the invocation of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, to whom she had a great devotion. At the end of the 18th century, another church was started, still unfinished today, as it does not have the two towers, but it contains valuables and images of great value, such as the ancient effigy of Senhora dos Remédios, considered miraculous.
It is said that the temple was built with pirates’ money, found on a remote beach in the town. When the treasure was exhausted, the works were paralyzed and the church remained as it is today.
In São Paulo, the Remedios church, with its tiled frontispiece and full of history, was located at João Mendes Square. It was the refuge of persecuted slaves and, in the last days of the Empire, the favorite haunt of abolitionists. In 1941 it was demolished for the enlargement of the square, formerly known as Largo dos Remédios.
Dedicated to Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, it is also the only existing church on the island of Fernando de Noronha, built-in Portuguese style in 1737, soon after the expulsion of the French who stayed there for a year. It is close to the government headquarters of Vila dos Remédios. (JSG)
– “Invocations of the Virgin Mary in Brazil” by Nilza Botelho Megale, 3rd Edition, Vozes,
– “Os Milagres de Nossa Senhora do Remédio” by Paulo Aznar, osst.)