A Statue of Mary for Belize

  In 1987 a statue of  Our Lady of Fatima was obtained with private funds.  With the people of Belize in mind, the consent of their bishop was sought, to give it to them:  to inspire devotion and to fulfill Mary's requests at Fatima.  Belize, the northernmost of the Central American countries, is located south of Mexico and east of Guatemala.  Its shoreline is washed by the waters of Caribbean. 
The statue was taken to Chicago where the bishop from another Central American country, Bishop Pablo Antonio Vega of Nicaragua spoke on March 14th.  Following his talk and a question-and-answer period, he blessed it, using flowers from one of the small bouquets by the statue.  If the Belizean bishop  consented, it was requested that he bless it as well,  and that when the Belizeans prayed in its presence, they would remember the spiritual well-being of the Nicaraguans and other Central Americans. 
      On  June 25th, 1987,  the Belizean bishop asked that the statue be sent to his country. 

    Before It Went to Belize
      Bishop Pablo Antonio Vega and Father Enrique Rueda are shown here with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima destined to go to Belize.   Father Rueda is a native of Cuba and an author.   Bishop Vega is from Nicaragua, one of the seven Central American countries which include Belize.  Vice President of the Nicaraguan Bishops Conference, he was expelled from Nicaragua on July 5, 1986.  Not only was he forced out, but six days before, the government barred the return from the U.S. of Rev. Bismarck Carballo,  an aide to Nicaraguan Cardinal Obando Y Bravo
.  The blessing was done in Chicago.

     Bishop Vega reaches for a flower to bless the statue.

     Using the flowers as a sprinkler, Bishop Vega blesses the statue of Mary.  The lady in the background is Dorie Gruss of Lombard, Illinois, 25 years Chicago Conference Chairman for the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation. 

     Bishop Vega with Serafina Gonzalez de Riedell, a native of Belize.  Serafina grew up in this northernmost country of Central America, when Belize was a colony known as British Honduras.  The lady behind Serafina is Eleanor Schlafly, President of the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, which promotes "faith, family and freedom, especially freedom from communist oppression."


                                                   The Statue in Belize
      In a home...   Here in the home  of Teresita Gonzalez (middle) who's with her sisters Carmita and Serafina (right).   The picture is of their grandmother Emilia, the daughter of a Confederate soldier and a a Mexican of Maya Indian background from the Yucatan.  It's curious how her reflection in the mirror  seems as if she's looking out at the camera, too,  and one might imagine her presence there with the granddaughters she never knew, gathered near  the statue of Mary, a spiritual mother to all generations.  Curious, too, is the way an oval of light, apparently cast by the mirror, falls upon the picture.   Emilia died young at the age of 33 when her son
Leonides  (their father) was just ten years old.   We can imagine the sadness that pierced his heart at losing her.   Long into his life he would remember  the song they sang at her funeral, Las Golondrinas (The Swallows) and he wanted it sung at his.  When he died blind at the age of 101,  his daughters sang it for him, as well as some Mexican nuns who sang it at the place his interment.  A tradition now begun, Serafina wants Las Golondrinas sung at hers.

      In another home, but after more than 20 years it's not remembered whose, but most likely in a village in northern Belize.  Besides holy cards, the children are  probably holding little plastic eggs, each with a Rosary inside.  In Spanish, which many speak in Belize, an egg is a "huevo" and a word for bird is "ave."  This could happily suggest, "huevos de ave," the eggs to hatch out Aves: the Ave Marias or Hail Marys of prayer.

      In a village church, perhaps in San Estevan...

     A touching devotion...

     A young Belizean crowning Mary's statue as Father Callistus Cayetano watches

      It's a little high and Father Cayetano helps out.

     Father celebrates Mass in the humble surroundings.  By now night has fallen.


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