There is credible historical belief that sometime before Christopher Columbus set sail for a new land across the Atlantic, he journeyed to find the maps that Saint Brendan of Ireland left behind. Allegedly, Saint Brendan had already set foot approximately one thousand years before Columbus on North American soil and had charts to prove it. In Ireland, Brendan (484-577) was a skilled sailor and was known as Brendan the Navigator, Brendan the Voyager, and Brendan the Bold. He was also an ordained priest at the age of 26, and is affectionately known as one of the 12 apostles of Ireland. What is a possible ethnic tale of folklore with a proud people honoring one of their own we may never really know.
Brendan’s maps and charts had allegedly shown Columbus that prevailing winds would carry him in the direction he wished to sail to find new trade routes for Spain. After securing insurance for his small fleet of three ships, and money from Queen Isabella of Spain to find a new land, Columbus set sail, proving to the world the earth was not flat. It was the year 1492, and it would be an event that would change civilization in ways few others in all of recorded history have ever done.
With the crews of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, came explorers who actually had no idea what they would find or where they were really going. It was a risk of monumental proportions to set sail on an open ocean with limited provisions for the men making the journey. Originally seeking a trade route to East Asia, Columbus after ten long weeks at sea stumbled on the Bahamian Islands on October 12, 1492. A New World was found that would forever change every aspect of civilization.
Directly from the book of Genesis, from the very beginning the dual natures of man were evident in the battle between the conquest for souls or treasure. There were those looking for riches, and those wishing to bring the gospel.
First came those looking for tradable commodities to bring back home and make new fortunes. Soon they found the indigenous people used gold and silver for ornamentation and other uses of their own. The race was on, as these metals had value back in Spain and Portugal. The Conquistadors came in rapid succession to plunder all they could find. In total, Christopher Columbus made four trips—in 1492, 1493, 1498, and 1502. A new world had been found: two continents connected from what is now the southern tip of Argentina all the way to northern Canada. With the material equivalent of Moses finding a land of milk and honey, the new world was abundant in verdant fertile pastures of commodities of every kind imaginable.
The Spanish tongue, the language of Columbus and his sailors, would in time become the native tongue for hundreds of millions of people. Based upon a voyage of an explorer going on a semi-educated hunch looking for Asia, but finding America, the Spanish colonization of the Americas was on its way. The early settlements in time became countries. Chile, Peru, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Caribbean Islands were settled fairly early. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunities of the new world, the government of Portugal financed explorers and ships to colonize the Americas as well. Virgin territories with endless bounty welcomed those risking the hardship of voyage.
Second after the merchant class came, those to proclaim the gospel arrived following The Great Commission of Jesus found in several of the gospel narratives. “Go out into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to all the nations of the world” (Matt. 10, Matt. 28:16-20). The Jesuits, the Franciscans, and the Dominicans at that time were in various stages of growth and formation, and they came by the hundreds and soon thousands. Missionaries soon founded settlements to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in this new land throughout every locale from the jungles to the coasts.
The battle would soon evolve into a new civilization where on a day-to-day basis those seeking riches would be in close proximity to a missionary wishing to win a soul to Christ and His Kingdom. The age-old conflict of a divided kingdom between the two internal tugs of man’s soul would play out in the new world and continue to this present day.
To get a perspective on how undeveloped and primitive, in many ways, the world was around the time of Mother Mariana de Torres, the mystic involved with Our lady of Good Success, listed below are a few of the major events that occurred over a two- hundred-year period.
Selected World Events in the 1500s
1500 – Brazil is conquered by the Portuguese Crown. Portugal then has a dominant role charting new lands with adventurous sailors like Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and Cabral among many other explorers who found the world was bigger than previously thought.
1501 – First black slaves in America brought to the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo.
1506 – Saint Peter’s Church is started in Rome. It is not completed until 1626.
1513 – The Spanish explorer and sailor Balboa becomes the first person to encounter the Pacific Ocean.
1519 – Ulrich Zwingli begins the Reformation in Switzerland. Hernando Cortez, a conquistador, conquers the Aztec Empire for Spain.
1531 – The Blessed Mother appears to a peasant farmer by the name of Juan Diego in Mexico. Over 9 million Indians are converted and human sacrifice is greatly halted. Mexico is changed forever, and the influence of this event is incalculable. At Guadalupe, a Church approved event, the impact this has had on the Americas becoming more receptive to Catholicism is enormous.
1535 – The Reformation begins in England as Henry VIII makes himself head of the English Church after being excommunicated by the Pope. King Henry executes St. Thomas More as a traitor for refusing to acknowledge the King’s unlawful marriage. Henry murders several of his wives.
1535 – Jacques Cartier sails up the St. Lawrence River giving the French a basis to claim Canada as a colony.
1553 – Catholicism is restored to England by Queen Mary.
1568 – Protestant Netherlands revolts against Catholic Spain. Independence will be acknowledged by Spain in 1648.
1588 – The defeat of the Spanish Armada by England.
The Changing World of the 1600s
Readers often don’t look at history correctly when they fail to look back on the sociological, agricultural, economic, spiritual, and political environment of the day, and the era they are reading about. Until the late 18th and 19th Century anesthesia had been opium, herbs, potions, elixirs and other inadequate pharmacological substitutes. People chose death over having serious operations. A tooth ache could prove fatal. Even up until the U.S. Civil War, a leg or limb would be removed with a hack saw and no anesthetic. There were little and big illnesses and both could kill you. Life was difficult for all people. Those that risked life and limb to bring the gospel to indigenous people endured hardships of unimaginable proportions by today’s standards of living, that are difficult to identify with in any milieu in which we are living today.
Life in the 17th Century
People were burned at the stake if they were found to be a heretic.
1605 – Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha becomes the first modern novel.
1607 – Jamestown, Virginia became the first permanent English colony. Nearly all died in the first year from starvation or illness.
1609 – Samuel de Champlain establishes the French colony of Quebec. The Relation, the first newspaper, debuts in Germany.
1609 – The Dutch sail into what is now New York Harbor naming it New Amsterdam.
1619 – The Dutch bring the first African slaves to British North America.
1620 – Following a three-month voyage on the Mayflower, the pilgrims after being blown off course in high winds land at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts.
1630 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony is established. British systems of governance are set up under William Bradford. In his diary, which was published under the title, On Plymouth Plantation, on page one paragraph one, he says the English fled England and Europe to get away from “Popery.”
1634 – The Ark and the Dove, two ships with Roman Catholics leave England on the feast of Saint Clement, the patron Saint of mariners on a voyage to America. Father Andrew White, SJ lands in what is now St. Mary’s County, Maryland. The first Roman Catholic Mass in all of the 13 English speaking colonies is said on St. Clement’s Island on March 25, 1634.
1661 – Louis XIV is established in France as absolute monarch and starts building Versailles.
1682 – Pennsylvania is founded by William Penn.
1689 – Peter the Great becomes Czar of Russia and attempts to westernize Russia and build it into a military power.
The world was rapidly evolving once the risk and peril of being lost at sea diminished for people in Europe to travel to the new world. New opportunities of land ownership and self-rule absent a monarch led many people to risk coming to the new world. It was the brave, the confident, the faith filled, and the self-reliant who came first. It was a time few of us can remotely understand. The hardships and deprivations of voyage and establishing oneself in a new territory absent amenities of any kind was the norm.
Sister Mariana Francisca de Jesus Torres y Berriochoa (1563-1635)
With the orders of male clergy, the female orders soon arrived from Europe to teach, care for the sick, and perform corporal works of mercy to the new world. It had only been 84 years since Columbus made his maiden voyage when a brave order of nuns settled in Quito, Ecuador to establish a physical presence of sisters. A brave, faith filled young girl of just 13 years old originally from the Basque area of Spain traveled to Quito, Ecuador, with the five founding members of a religious order called The Royal Convent of the Immaculate Conception. They became known as the Conceptionist Sisters.
The young Mariana had made her First Holy Communion at age seven on December 8, 1572 and accepted her vocation. The contemporaneous events listed above is the world that Mariana entered a new continent, much more primitive than any of those in old Europe. It was a civilization being birthed and times were difficult for everyone. The young Mariana became a solemn professed nun at the age of 16 on October 4, 1579, amidst circumstances and times foreign to us today.
Over the last sixteen years Signs and Wonders for Our Times has written four installments on this Church approved apparition, albeit this is a more dense article than previous ones. Being reinvigorated with the truth is always a worthwhile exercise. Historical truth from the past validates the Blessed Mother’s activity today. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
With each article we find more validation of Mother Mariana’s prophecies, proving them to be more relevant and stunningly accurate. It was prophesied that Our Lady of Good Success would become more known in the latter half of the twentieth century. It is another indication that when the Blessed Mother speaks at Church approved apparition sites, the people of God should take notice. Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, Rue du Bac, La Salette, Pontmain, Akita, and others are just a few sites of Heaven’s fidelity to their people. The Blessed Mother is like a modern-day epistle providing guidance to her people.
A Young Girl is Chosen by Heaven for a Task in the New World
Throughout history, Heaven has chosen souls for specific tasks that it wants accomplished. There are people like Moses, Joshua, the prophets, writers of the Old and New Testaments, St. Thomas More, and St. Joan of Arc to mention just a few. These men and women of God are given the graces and they acted upon them. The charisms equal to the task are discernable for all to see.
There have been people like St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) who had her first vision of Jesus at the age of six which shaped her entire life afterwards, and was even given an invisible mystical wedding ring by Jesus. Catherine of Siena was made a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and was made a Patron Saint of Europe in 1999. Saint Pio (Padre Pio) also started speaking to and seeing Jesus at about the same age and found out later that not everyone had similar circumstances. The young Francesco Forgione from Pietrelcina thought these events were normal to everyone. For 50 years he bore the wounds of Jesus called the stigmata, with some of the most incredulous mystical gifts than nearly anyone in history.
Sister Mariana had similar mystical experiences at a very young age. Often, she would be found prostrate in front of the Tabernacle in Adoration. She didn’t participate in the games of youth and only had the Divine on her mind from as long as her parents could remember. God had chosen Mariana to fulfill His Divine Plan, and as the Blessed Mother had done—she said YES to God’s plan for her life. Her family endured extreme hardship. First, a fire destroyed their local parish church due to a careless sacristan. The family home being next to the church was also badly damaged reducing them to migrants as they fled to Santiago in Galicia in western Spain to continue their lives.
From the port of Galicia at the unimaginable age of 13, Mariana left home for Quito, Ecuador boarding a ship with her aunt, the Abbess, Mother Maria de Jesus Taboada, age 33 a Conceptionist nun. All five professed nuns that founded the convent in Quito were on that ship. The first convent of the Conceptionist Sisters was formally established in the city’s main square in 1577. Due to her age, for several years she was under the care of her aunt doing simple manual chores while living the monastic life. Here is where she began to grow in sanctity and devotion to the will of God in her life. The mystical became normal with visions and words of knowledge.
Before departing her parents, the Lord gave her signal graces of assurance that her task was of Divine origin. After Communion, in her soul she saw the Divine Jesus and He said to her, “My spouse, the time has already arrived for you to bid an eternal farewell to your motherland and to your paternal home. Eagerly coveting your beauty, I bring you to My house, where, behind strong walls, you will live far from flesh and blood, hidden and forgotten by all human creatures. For your inheritance and patrimony, you will have, in imitation of Me, the cross and great suffferings. Strength and courage will not be lacking to you. I desire only that your will be always prepared to do Mine.”
Little would be known of this remarkable woman had it not been for a man seeking a military career who then became a priest due to her intercession. A man by the name of Manuel Sousa Pereira was born in 1751 in Portugal. Mother Mariana appeared to him in his barracks while he was still in Portugal. She told him to “leave this earthly army and enlist in the army of the Seraphim of Assisi (Saint Francis) to find a better army under his banner.” Leaving the military, he then became a Franciscan priest and traveled to Quito. In 1790 he wrote a 571 page biography of her life and the other founding nuns. However, much of Father Pereira’s work had come from a work by Father Francis de Anquita, her spiritual director and confessor who also wrote a book on her life in 1650, fifteen years after her death. Much of the information for this article is from his translation of her life.
In 1582, and only eighteen years of age, the Blessed Mother appeared to the young Mariana and asked if she would be willing to offer her life for the sins of the 20th Century, in particular for the sins of heresy, blasphemy, and impurity. She complied, and as the Lord told her upon departure to the New World, she would have sufferings. Mother Mariana suffered as a victim soul, as many others prior to and after her time, for the expiation of sin, or the conversion of another.
On February 2, 1594 as Mariana was praying to the Blessed Mother under this title of Good Success, she was granted the singular privilege of an apparition and Our Lady of Good Success said:
“I am Mary of Good Success, whom you have invoked with such tender affection, your prayer has pleased me very much. Your faith has brought me here. Your love has invited me to visit you…”
Our Lady told Mother Mariana of the terrible times in the future—that in the Twentieth Century where many prophecies would take place. These prophecies spoke of the corruption, oppression, and unavailability of the sacraments. She spoke of the crisis in the Church, particularly in the clergy.
On January 16, 1599, Our Lady of Good Success requested a statue to be made of her likeness stating:
“…now I ask and command you to have a statue to be made for the consolation and preservation of my convent and for those faithful souls of that epoch during which there will be a great devotion to me, for I am the Queen of Heaven under many invocations … With the making of this statue I will favor not only my convent, but also the people of Quito— and all the people throughout the centuries.”
There were many difficulties getting the statue made, and in the end, it was angels who completed the work as requested by Heaven.
Our Lady of Good Success also told Sister Mariana that this statue was to be made for these reasons:
“First, so that men in the future might realize how powerful I am in placating Divine Justice and obtaining mercy and pardon for every sinner who comes to me with a contrite heart. For I am the Mother of Mercy and in me there is only goodness and love. And second…when tribulations of spirit and sufferings of the body oppress them and they seem to be drowning in this bottomless sea let them gaze at my holy image and I will always be there ready to listen to their cries and soothe their pain. Tell them that they should always run to their Mother with confidence and love….”
It was also during this time Mother Mariana took on the sins of another nun in the house who was referred to as La Capitana (the captain). Over the next five years with only the knowledge of her spiritual director, she suffered as a victim soul for this troublemaker who came to the convent. In time, the nun did see her evil ways, and converted, largely through Sister Mariana offering up her sufferings for this lost soul. It was another instance where Sister Mariana was told by the Lord early in her journey she would have many personal sufferings living the Lord’s will in her life.