OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, MOTHER GODDESS TONANTZIN, AND DEMETER

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The place where the basilica now stands was a holy place long before the Spanish conquered Mexico. It is called the Hill of Tepeyac. At the site there was a temple devoted to the mother goddess called Tonantzin. Later, the Spanish destroyed the temple and built a nearby chapel. But the destruction of the temple couldn’t prevent the natives from pouring into the site.
Ten years after the Spanish conquered Mexico, a local peasant named Juan Diego, who had recently converted to Christianity, had a vision said to be Our Lady in the same area, who asked for a chapel to be built in the place. People from all over Mexico rallied to the chapel to worship the shrine, and it is reported that many miracles occurred. Nevertheless, the natives kept calling Our Lady by the name of Tonantzin, the ancient mother goddess revered by the native population. This gave rise to the doubts of the Franciscan friars, who were convinced that the veneration of the holy image was a pagan cult.
Something similar also happened in Enna. In  fact, Our Lady, who is the patron saint of Enna, replaced the ancient cult of Demeter, who was the town’s mother goddess. The celebration in honor of Our Lady happens on July second every year, the same time when the old pagan cult of Demeter was celebrated. People of Enna today still invoke the name Kore, who was Demeter’s daughter.
In my opinion, it doesn’t matter the name you give to God; what matters is the spiritual feeling that radiates from the worshipper. So you can call God Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva without losing the purity of your heart. Jesus and the Virgin Mary are beyond time, as they existed before time, long before coming into human history. They also existed in the pagan era and were worshipped differently.
The Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego in the form of a crossbreed maiden, and in the same place where the Spanish had destroyed the temple dedicated to the goddess Tonantzin. That means that nobody is allowed to destroy others’ temples, even if they are considered pagan. In fact, religion and spirituality are not related to a particular cult. Over the years people have given various names to God and worshiped Him in different ways, but it doesn’t entitle anybody to resort to violence to make one religion prevail over another.
As for the holy image imprinted on Juan Diego’s cloak, it was kept for some time by the Franciscan friars until it passed under the custody of the diocesan priests. With the passing of time, possibly in good faith, the original image was retouched in some spots. For instance, the crescent on which the Virgin Mary stands was painted with silver. Apparently, nowadays the retouches have discolored naturally, while the original image is still unaltered.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

TRAVELING FROM ENNA (SICILY) TO BANNEUX (BELGIUM)

 

our-lady-banneux-statue-source-inside-sanctuary-belgium-125672172[1]When we arrived in Banneux, the bus stopped next to a square. At the end of the square there was a street that led to the sanctuary. The atmosphere in Banneux was different from other Marian sanctuaries. It was much simpler and there weren’t many shops. We walked towards the chapel and found a water basin on the right, which was where little Mariette had dipped her hands. We too dipped our hands and drank some of the water.
After visiting the chapel, we walked through the woods that bound the water basin. While we were walking, I realized why Our Lady had called herself The Virgin of the Poor. We well-to-do people tend to underestimate the issue of poverty. It is one of the most serious social problems.

Here amid the woods of Banneux, in my mind I saw all the jobless, poor Sicilians that had migrated to Belgium to work in the coal mines after the end of the Second World War. Many of them died trapped underground, while those who survived contracted an illness called silicosis, which was a progressive disease caused by the inhalation of dust in mines. My mind went to the immigrants that try to reach the Sicilian coast packed in precarious boats, which sometimes wrecked, causing the deaths of hundreds of people, whose only fault is to be poor and searching for a better place to live.

I recalled a butcher in Enna who had a large family. My father used to go to his shop to buy lamb at Easter. Over time, many butcher shops sprang up in Enna, so that butcher couldn’t match the competition and became poor. He took on debts to feed his family, hoping he would be able to pay them, but things didn’t go well. He fell into despair and couldn’t find a way out. One night he left his home and told his wife that he had to cut a few lambs’ throats, but things went differently. He pulled down the shutters in his shop, and instead of cutting lambs’ throats, he cut his own. The following day his blood still leaked through the chink of the shutter, flowing into the street.
There are many tragedies caused by poverty that we don’t know about. Sometimes, even when we know about them we ignore them instead of doing something to try to overcome the scourge of poverty.
Here, where Our Lady of the Poor appeared, I saw in my mind’s eye how many conflicts were sparked off by poverty. Indigence gives rise to social malaise, and then to a Mafia, terrorism, and war. It is not by chance that terrorists and members of the Mafia are recruited from the poorest classes.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A JOURNEY FROM ENNA (SICILY) TO LOURDES (FRANCE)

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The cult of the Virgin of Lourdes is followed by many in Enna, and every year in May a train loaded with pilgrims, volunteers, and seriously ill people travels to Lourdes. It is called the White Train. Lourdes is a place for pilgrimages for Catholics from all over the world, and every year around five million visit the cave where the apparitions happened.

The journey from Enna to Lourdes takes forty-eight hours, as the White Train stops continuously to give precedence to regular trains. The volunteer’s main task is serving meals in the train and pushing the wheelchairs once arriving in Lourdes.

During my staying in Lourdes, I wanted to do my very best to serve the sick people that I looked after. One afternoon I took a sick lady from the hospital courtyard. She was around sixty years old and dressed in black.
“Where would you like me to take you?” I asked.
“I want to go shopping!” she answered.

The sick lady wanted to buy a small golden medal, so we went around many shops to find the item she liked. After two hours of shopping, she found the one she wanted. Afterwards, she wanted me to take her to the top of the hill, as she wanted to cover the Stations of the Cross. At last, after a long day of walking, I took her back to the hospital.
As soon as we arrived at the hospital courtyard, the sick lady got up from the wheelchair and walked at a brisk pace. I looked at her with a slight annoyance. Why had she asked me to carry her around when she was able to walk by herself? But suddenly the lady started crying out, “It is a miracle! A miracle! I couldn’t walk before. That volunteer can testify to it,” she said, pointing to me.
A few people gathered around me. “Is it true?” one of them asked.
“What?”
“It was really a miracle?” he insisted.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “I can only say that the lady was already sitting in the wheelchair when I took her out to the shops. Then I took her to the hill where the Stations of the Cross are, but I cannot say if she was able to walk before I met her.”
“Okay, thank you,” said the man who had questioned me, and soon the small crowd of onlookers dispersed.

Many years went by, and that episode seemed to have fallen into oblivion, but one day it came to mind for some reason. I wondered why that sick lady would have deceived me, pretending to have been miraculously cured when she was already in good health. What was the point?

I decided that there had to be a rational explanation. Maybe the old lady was lazy and didn’t want to walk by herself. Perhaps she took advantage of me to stroll around Lourdes while sitting comfortably in the wheelchair. Nevertheless, my conjecture collided with the fact that the lady had been admitted to the hospital in Lourdes.
If my memory serves me right, there were two hospitals for sick people at that time in Lourdes, one bigger and one smaller. Neither of them admitted patients that were not disabled. There should be medical records certifying her disability. Being wise after the event, at that time I was very shallow. I should have investigated the matter in depth.
However, if she is still in my mind after so many years, perhaps something supernatural really did happen that afternoon in Lourdes.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

OUR LADY OF TEARS OF SYRACUSE

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Tears kept flowing from the statue’s eyes for a few days and were seen by the people that flocked around Antonia’s house. Filmed sequences of the plaque showed the phenomenon. The tears were collected and sent to laboratory to be analyzed. The tests showed that they were human tears. The Catholic Church declared the lacrimation a miracle. Now a church has been built in the area, where more than sixty years ago there were an unsurfaced square and a cluster of low houses.
I remember as soon as we arrived in Syracuse and parked our car at the end of the square, there were so many people in the square and around the house where the miracle happened that it was impossible for us to move on. As I wanted to see what was going on, my father, who was taller than average, picked me up so that I could see the happenings. I noticed a line of detached one-story houses on the opposite side of the square and people standing and looking at those houses. Suddenly, I heard a voice that sounded like stammering.
“What happened?” I asked my father. “Why is that person stammering?”
“That man has been cured miraculously. He couldn’t walk, but now he has left his wheelchair and is walking.”
When I returned to the same place many years later, the square and the low houses didn’t exist anymore. The plaster plaque portraying Our Lady had been moved inside the new church to be exposed to the believers.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

LIFE IN SADHANA FOREST (INDIA)

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Next to Auroville is Sadhana Forest. The word sadhana means spiritual practice. According to the founder, who was an ex-philosophy professor from Israel, the forest should be a place where people spend their time in total contact with nature, far from everything that sounds modern, like electricity, running water, and stone houses.
There were almost 200 volunteers from all over the world in Sadhana Forest, who had come just to spend some time plunged into a primitive environment. Their task consisted of planting trees and preserving the forest from fires, which can break out due to the dryness of the area.
We arrived in the forest by bus in the afternoon. The Israeli professor gave a speech about life in the forest. He said that many families lived there. One of the visitors asked, “What about your children? Do they go to school? Who gives them an education?”
“Our children,” the professor answered, “have home schooling. Then, if they want to go to school they can, but if they don’t want to go we don’t force them to have compulsory education.”
The professor led us around the forest and their tiny village, which was built on pilings. The dormitories for the volunteers were just over the pilings. There was neither running water nor electricity, except in one or two pilings. They produced power by a bicycle and solar panels.
They offered us a vegan meal and showed a film about life in the forest. We also saw how mercilessly they grow chickens and pigs in developed countries, which are fed inside very narrow cages until they are killed.
In the evening, when we got off the bus, a young man gave us a flier. Once at home we read it. The young man complained about having been expelled unjustly from Sadhana. Apparently, despite human endeavors, it is not possible to create a perfect society where everybody can live happily and without conflict, even in the forest.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

VISITING RISHIKESH (INDIA)

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The weather in Rishikesh changed radically the following day. The sun was shining and it became much hotter. We walked along the same lane as the day before and arrived at a narrow bridge. Only pedestrians and motorbikes could use it. Monkeys stood along the handrails, hoping to get some food.
We crossed the bridge and walked along the other bank of the river, which was also full of shops and restaurants. While we walked on the bridge, I admired the river in all its majesty, and noticed that the olive-green color was constant, even in stretches where the banks were surrounded by houses, when the trees were far away and the sky was cloudy. Its wonderful green color remained even at twilight. Obviously, the constant hue depended on some phenomenon that I didn’t know about, but there had to be something mysterious in the amazing Ganges. It could be considered sacred not only by Hindus, but by everybody. It cannot be ruled out that God, who is the same for all people, regardless of the race, becomes manifest in different ways so that He can show Himself through those holy waters.
Cows wandered freely in the narrow streets, while donkeys and mules were used to carry river sand, gravel, and red bricks to building sites. I hadn’t seen this kind of transportation for at least seventy years, when long lines of donkeys, mules, and horses carried goods and people from the countryside into Enna.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo