“Beloved Lady of Luxembourg”
By “Awake!” correspondent in Luxembourg
HER face is oval, and rich tresses of hair fall to her shoulders. She has strings of pearls and other costly necklaces. Her robes surpass in splendor those kings and queens. Garments embroidered with gold and silver thread, and set with diamonds and precious stones, fill her wardrobe. Not one, but two scepters are at her disposal, and a choice of four pairs golden crowns are available for the adornment of herself and the child she carries.
Who is she? She is a costly figurine little more than thirty-seven inches in height. She is well known in Luxembourg, bearing the title “Beloved Lady of Luxembourg.”
She is formed out of wood of the lime tree, and has a heart of literal gold. Her right foot rests upon a moon with the face of a Turk, to commemorate, it is said, the victory of the papal, Spanish and Venetian fleets over the Turkish fleet at the battle of Lepanto in 1571 C.E. She carries, too, a golden key.
Even in this latter part of the twentieth century, homage and worship are offered to this patron saint of the City and State of Luxembourg. Pilgrimages and processions in her honor are numerous. People bow before her and pray to her. Multitudes believe that she has brought them comfort and miraculous healing of their ailments. To many, she is more than a mere graven thing—she is “queen of heaven.”
How It All Started
Superstitious stories about the power and efficacy of this figurine have passed from mouth to mouth, in the process gaining much from the vivid imaginations of the transmitters. The Jesuits procured for the figurine recognition by the official church authorities. in 1677 it was declared the patron saint and guardian of the whole country, and the following year the Holy See confirmed this choice.
The chapel built in honor of the image became a center of pilgrimage. One female official of Luxembourg is said to have been cured here of a paralyzing arthritic complaint that had laid her in bed for twelve years and robbed her of the power of speech. Devotees of Luxembourg’s “Beloved Lady” reportedly received visions. They called her “Mother of God” and “comforter of the afflicted.”
Viewed from the vantage point of our time, it appears that the promotion of Luxembourg’s “Beloved Lady” was, in fact, another facet of the counterreformation. As such it proved successful. Caught up in the worship of an image for which miraculous powers were claimed, most of the populace was held closely to the Roman Catholic Church throughout the period of the so-called Protestant Reformation, when priests such as Luther denounced the teachings of the Church and rebelled.
Facing the Facts Today
What about today? Can Luxembourg’s citizens properly continue their processions and professions of worship to this expensive figurine? Are there reasons for reexamining their position in relation to this image? There are certainly a number of indisputable facts that should be faced—facts that bear directly on this matter, and that involve the question of true worship.
Consider, for example, these words which form part of the 1943 Bible Encyclical of Pope Pius XII: “Under inspiration of divine spirit the holy writers composed the books that God in his fatherly goodness wanted to give to the human race ‘for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.’ In this heaven-given treasure, the church sees the most precious source and divine norm for its religious and moral code.”
If you are a member of the Roman Catholic Church, do you take seriously the words of this Encyclical? If the Holy Scriptures are the norm for religious and moral teachings, then no honest Catholic may safely shy away from examining them to see whether the festival of Luxembourg’s patron saint with its processions is in agreement with the divine will.
Turning to Exodus chapter 20, verses 4 and 5, in his own Bible (Catholic Douay Version) each Catholic will find these explicit words of God: “Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.”
Certainly Luxembourg’s “Holy Lady” is a graven thing, and it is adored and served with pomp and fervor as though it were a divine being. How does anyone, be he priest or bishop, ruler or subject, have the right to set aside and violate the plain command of God? Can he expect to go unpunished?
But there is more to consider. At Jeremiah chapter 10, verses 3 to 5, in the Douay Version Bible, these words can be found: “For the laws of the people are vain: for the works of the hand of the workman hath cut a tree out of the forest with an axe. He hath decked it with silver and gold: he hath put it together with nails and hammers, that it may not fall asunder. They are framed after the likeness of a palm tree [here the Catholic Aschaffenburger-Bibel says, “they are like a scarecrow in a cucumber field”], and shall not speak: they must be carried to be removed, because they cannot go. Therefore fear them not, for they can neither do evil nor good.”
In the case of this figurine, the workman cut down a lime tree and carved out of it the “Lady of Luxembourg,” which cannot speak, nor can it do either good or evil. True, superstitious forefathers were led to believe that this lifeless image could perform miracles. But what of enlightened, educated people today? Is it proper to perpetuate such a belief that is entirely contrary to the inspired Word of God?
The teachings of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, are very clear in this respect. For example, note these words spoken by his apostle Paul: “Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man.” (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 17, verse 29, Douay Version) And Jesus’ apostle John gave this clear warning: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”—1 John 5:21, Douay.
No “Queen of Heaven”
What about the titles “Queen of Heaven” and “Mother of God” that have been applied to this figurine?
It is interesting to note the mention of ‘queen of heaven’ in the Holy Scriptures at Jeremiah 7:18. There the Bible shows that the “queen of heaven” was a false goddess, and Almighty God was angered when his people turned to such false worship. The Bible account says: “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to offer libations to strange gods, and to provoke me to anger.” Should not people who claim to be “Christians” fear to provoke God to anger today with like pagan idolatry?
The title “Mother of God,” too, has long been connected with pagan worship. Not once is it mentioned in the Bible. Contrary to what many have been taught to believe, Jesus Christ gave no command to his followers that they should either adore or address their prayers to Mary, his earthly mother. Instead, Jesus plainly declared: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me. . . . Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name [not his mother’s name], that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:6, 13, Douay) And the apostle Paul speaks of no ‘mediatrix,’ but declares: “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”—1 Tim. 2:5, Douay.
What Will You Do?
It is true that others may continue paying homage to a lifeless image. But when one considers what Almighty God says in his Word the Bible, is it not obvious that to do this is displeasing to God? What will you do?
It would be wise to act in harmony with these very pointed expressions of God’s Word: “The idols of the Gentiles [non-Jewish peoples] are silver and gold, the works of the hands of men. They have mouths and speak not: they have eyes and see not. They have ears and hear not: they have noses and smell not. They have hands and feel not: they have feet and walk not: neither shall they cry out through their throat. Let them that make them become like unto them: and all such as trust in them.”—Ps. 113:4-8, Catholic Douay Version.
Certainly you do not want to become lifeless like a carved image that cannot speak, see, hear or walk. You do not wish to end up in the company of those graven things. God will soon put an end to all of them and all those that honor them. His Word very frankly says: “How puny, then, is man’s skill, how sorry a thing is the carver’s workmanship; after all his pains, only a lifeless counterfeit! Fond imaginations, fantastic figures, when the time comes for reckoning, they will be heard of no more.”—Jer. 10:14, 15, Catholic Monsignor Knox translation.
The time is here for all who would have God’s approval and blessing and genuine protection to give ear to the message of hope and peace that is found in the Holy Scriptures. That message Jehovah’s witnesses are freely extending to all in Luxembourg and in all other nations.