Our Lady of Light
Early in the 18th century, a Jesuit, Father John Genovesi, lived in Palermo, Italy. At the beginning of his missionary career, he placed the souls over which he would have charge under the protection of the Blessed Mother, deciding to take with him to each of his missions an image of Mary.
Not knowing which image of Our Lady to use, he consulted a pious visionary telling her to ask Our Lady what she desired. One day as this lady knelt in prayer, she beheld approaching her, the Queen of Heaven, surrounded by pomp, majesty and glory, surpassing anything else she had ever beheld in any of her visions. A torrent of light was shed from the body of the Virgin which was so clear, that in comparison with it, the sun seemed obscure. Yet, these rays were not painful to the sight; but seemed rather directed to the heart, which they instantly penetrated and filled with sweetness.
A group of Seraphs hovering in the air were suspended over their Empress and held a triple crown. The virginal body was clothed in a flowing robe, whiter than the snow and more brilliant than the sun. A belt inlaid with precious stones encircled Mary’s beautiful form, and from her graceful shoulders hung a mantle of azure hue. Countless angels surrounded their Queen, but what most enchanted the contemplative soul, was the untold sweetness and grace and benignity shown in the motherly face of Mary. She radiated clemency and love. Our Lady told the pious woman that she wished to be represented as she was now under the title of Most Holy Mother of Light, repeating the words three times.
The Jesuit hired laborers to begin the work on the picture of Our Lady of Light, however neither the pious lady nor the priest were able to direct it, and the result was that after completion, it did not answer Our Lady’s orders. Our Lady directed the woman to look at the image, and seeing the mistake, she again betook herself to prayer and asked Mary to help her. Mary appeared again, commanding the woman to supervise the work, giving directions, while Mary would aid in an invisible manner. Pleased by the finished work, Mary appeared over it, and blessed it with the sign of the cross.
This wonderful treasure is now in the city of Mexico in the cathedral of Leon, formerly known as the Jesuit Church. The back of the picture bears the authenticity and four signatures, including that of Father Genovesi, SJ. The painting was transferred from Palermo, Sicily, in 1702, and placed on the altar in Leon in 1732. The people of Leon have an innate devotion and great tenderness toward the Mother of God. In 1849 they solemnly promised before the picture to make Our Lady of Light the patroness of Leon. This promise was confirmed by Pope Pius IX; Leo XIII authenticated the crowning of the image of Our Lady of Light in 1902.