On the first day of May, a beautiful image of the Immaculate Virgin began its journey through Spain. Thus began the pilgrimage "Mother Come" promoted by a group of lay people and priests that recalls the visit of the Virgin to the Apostle in the Pillar from Ephesus in the framework of the Compostelan Holy Year. On this occasion, Omnes has interviewed the priest Jaime Bertodano, Vicar of the Secular Apostolate of Getafe and coordinator of the "Mother Come" initiative.
How and why was the idea of Our Mother's pilgrimage through Spain born?
-Several lay people and priests received the initiative separately. "M for Marie" The first thing that a group of French lay people had started as a response to Our Lady after the fire at Notre Dame de Paris was that Our Lady touched their hearts. Are we not also in a situation of need? Why not do something similar in Spain?
This is how it came about to talk about it among several of us (5 or 6 people) and to give shape to the French idea to make it our own. The Jubilee of the Apostle St. James was presented as the occasion for our pilgrimage and the visit of the Virgin to the Apostle in the Pillar from Ephesus as the main axis of the idea. Mother come, how did you come to visit St. James?
Surprisingly, the Virgin began to gather people with the desire to take her on pilgrimage through Spain and in a few days two separate groups of friends were ready to take her. The idea had become a reality. From five people separately, it had multiplied to 30.
And we began to roll in concentric circles: a coordinating group of 6 people, a group of territorial volunteers and others for various matters (communication, volunteers, etc.). Our Lady was calling and choosing people to go on pilgrimage with her.
Why was this image of the Immaculate chosen when there are so many other Marian images in Spain?
-As we well know in this land, the Mother of God has an infinite number of titles, but the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of Spain. It is a doctrinal invocation that unites all the others. And the history of the dogma has a very close relationship with the history of Spain itself.
Going a step further, in order to choose this image of the Immaculate Conception we were looking for two criteria: one, that it be easily recognizable as Immaculate; two, that it could be related to the history of the Immaculate Conception and of Spain.
We went to visit the Archbishop of Toledo to present the project of "Mother Come" (Toledo is also in the Jubilee Year of Guadalupe). We had not yet chosen the image. After the meeting with him, we entered the Chapel of the Archbishop of Toledo, where there is perpetual adoration, we loved the image of the Immaculate that is there and we thought it could be that one. So, we decided to make a copy with the latest 3D technology that would be absolutely faithful to the original.
In order to choose the image of the Immaculate Conception we were looking for two criteria: that it be easily recognizable and that it be related to the history of the Immaculate Conception and of Spain.Jaime Bertodano. Mother Come" Coordinator
The name of this Marian journey is more an appeal, a plea than an "announcement of a visit" Why was this "Mother Come" chosen?
-Mother, come" is a litany of the heart. It is a simple way of invoking Mary, of claiming her maternal attention with childlike confidence. It is a request for help, a humble recognition that we cannot live the journey of life and the journey of faith alone, that we need to ask for God's help. It is therefore an invocation that opens the heart to grace.
What is the objective?
It is in your name: Mother, come. We understand that the Jacobean year is an opportunity to identify ourselves with the Apostle. But not as an abstract ideal. We really want to do it, in a real way. And it is easy to do so in the situation we find ourselves in. At the Pilar of Saragossa, Mary visited St. James. She filled him with consolation, hope and strength in Christ for evangelization. So we ask for the same graces that Our Lady brought to the Apostle James when he was tired and dejected. May we truly experience Mary's consolation. May her visit fill us with true hope.
We like to say, with humility, that we could not ask for more than these graces. And less than that would not help us to face the challenges we live. It is just what we need. No more, no less.
And where the Virgin is, there is fruitfulness. Whenever we turn our gaze to the Immaculate Conception, there will be fruit.
Spain has been described as the "land of Mary" because of the deep love and devotion to the Mother of God in Spain, manifested in so many Marian titles, how is it being received?
-We wanted to go precisely to the origin of this devotion. The history of Marian devotion in Spain begins at El Pilar. She was with St. John, brother of St. James, and came to his aid. It is a privilege that Mary visited us.
Since then, this is her land and here she has manifested her maternal love on numerous occasions. And this Marian love is in Spain, in its culture, in its people. It is inseparable. We are seeing it in the stages of the Way of St. James that she is already doing. This first part of the pilgrimage of "Madre ven" is being very local. It is the people of the villages who receive her, greet her, accompany her, pray with confidence and are moved to see that their Mother is coming to see her. It is the faith of the simple. And we are seeing how Mary is truly consoling. Our Lady passes by with her graces, in a humble way, without making noise. We see how many people open their hearts to her: the elderly, people who are in pain or in difficulty, children, etc. turn to her with great, great trust. This is precious.
Marian love is in Spain, in its culture, in its people. It is inseparable.Jaime Bertodano. Mother Come" Coordinator
How can the sick, the elderly or those who will have problems to travel to the places where this image will be, join the pilgrimage of this image?
-The Virgin will pass through many places in Spain. We want her to go to as many places as we can during her pilgrimage. And wherever she goes and finds willing hearts, she will touch them, even at a distance, with prayer. In some places we have planned to take her not only to shrines, but also to homes, hospitals and prisons. You can also follow the stages on our website (www.madreven.es) where we post photos of each day, or at the Youtube channel where there are some great video summaries.
The times we are going through can "wear us out" like Santiago: the pandemic, the lack of hope in many people, is this pilgrimage a new breath of the Blessed Mother?
-The pandemic has influenced our lives. It has touched us and changed things. In some cases, it has made us rethink important things. But, above all, it has brought to light many others: the fragility of modern man, his loneliness and his inner fragmentation. It seemed that the good life was well-being and the absence of suffering. Consumerism and technological progress had promised us this. The Catholic faith was a heresy for this "new religion". But the pandemic has partly stripped it of its mask. It has shown us that it has only a very short course, and that it only ends in loneliness. And perhaps Our Lady comes as a "Shepherdess" to recover those prodigal children of this land, who were perhaps a little lost. May it be so. We ask for it.
Fear, moreover, has left many people literally paralyzed. Our Lady's visit can be an opportunity to awaken from this deceitful illusion, to come out of the fears that grip us and to set out again on the road like Santiago with hope and courage, comforted and accompanied by our Mother.
On the other hand, this year providentially coincides with numerous jubilees besides the Compostela Jubilee: Guadalupe, Lepanto and Our Lady of the Rosary, the centenary of the death of St. Dominic of Guzman, the Conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Holy Chalice of Valencia...and I am leaving out a few more. It seems that the Lord is calling us to conversion and giving us concrete help!
The Marian journey
The Immaculate has already passed through places such as Zaragoza, Bilbao or San Sebastian and, in these days, will arrive in the diocese of Santander. A route that already looks to Santiago de Compostela, where it is expected around the feast of the Apostle and patron saint of Spain. It will arrive there after its passage, together with the Friends of the Way of St. James, through the dioceses of Santander, Oviedo, Mondoñedo-Ferrol and Santiago.
The arrival in Santiago, in fact, will mark the first part of this pilgrimage of Our Lady through Spain, the land of Mary. In the following months the image will travel throughout Spain by other means until next October 12, a Mass in the sanctuary of Cerro de los Angeles, under the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, will put an end to the pilgrimage of "Mother Come".