Every day in our morning prayers at the office, we invoke the intercession of Mary under the title Queen of Peace. This is especially fitting this week, as Pope Francis called for a day of prayer and fasting on Ash Wednesday for the situation in Ukraine.
The title of Mary as Our Lady of Peace can be traced back to 16th- and 17th-century France, as well as 17th-century El Salvador. Both regions at the time were experiencing conflict and believe Our Lady helped restore the peace. Her feast day under this title is celebrated on both January 24 and July 9, depending upon where you live. The statue of Our Lady of Peace shows her holding an olive branch – a symbol of peace – as well as carrying the Christ child, who is the ultimate Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
In addition, the Blessed Mother reportedly introduced herself to the visionaries of Medjugorje as the Queen of Peace. She has been known by this title in this region, and by believers all over the world, ever since.
Pilgrims who experience the peace of Medjugorje often come home renewed and refreshed in their faith, and with a desire to continue to live out the peaceful rhythm of prayer in which they have just been immersed. Often, this is accompanied by a resolve to continue to intercede for others in their lives. One of the greatest gifts a pilgrim can be given is to be entrusted with the intentions of their family members and friends while on pilgrimage and a fruit of this gift comes in continuing these prayers beyond the few days of pilgrimage.
Another way Our Lady as Queen of Peace blesses our pilgrims is with the connections they form with the people in the places they visit. We regularly hear from pilgrims to the Holy Land how they return feeling a sense of brotherhood with our fellow Christians in the area.
A recent pilgrim to the Holy Land shared, “Prior to going on this pilgrimage and experiencing life in the Holy Land, I did not realize how few Christians there are there and the persecution they face on a regular basis. I hope to be a better disciple and encourage others to follow in Jesus' footsteps. I also hope to raise awareness that we need to support our fellow Christians who live in the Holy Land.”
Hopefully everyone returns from a pilgrimage with a fervor to pray for others and live out their faith more vibrantly. We pray for Our Lady’s intercession daily for all our pilgrims and those who have asked for our prayers. While our focus may change to specific places or specific people, the prayer remains.
Whether it’s for the people in Ukraine, the Holy Land, our neighbors down the street, or for peace in our own hearts, let us all be united this Lent as we implore: Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.