Tag Archives: mary

Alchemy in Catholicism and Mother Mary

--Informant Info--
Nationality: United States
Age: 71
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Phoenix
Date of Performance/Collection: 2/13/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

This conversation was held between the informant and myself. The informant shall be named GG and I will be MH. 

GG: So in catholicism there is a belief that if Our Mother [Mother Mary] blesses you, or God, your rosary bead chain will go from silver to gold. And in Medjugorje, in the Herzegovina area of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a hill where it is believed Mary will visit and deliver messages to a family that lives at the base of the hill and that those who pray there will have their prayers heard and where there are multiple accounts of the silver rosary chains turning gold. 

MH: When you went did your rosary beads change from silver to gold? 

GG: I wouldn’t know as mine had already turned gold long before I went there. 

MH: Wait, what?! 

GG: Yes. When Jennifer [the informant’s youngest daughter] died, she had this rosary on her. It was gifted to her by myself at Grace’s[the informant’s mother-in-law who is long passed] funeral because Jennifer had forgotten hers at home so I gave her the beads I had on me. After I received the phone call from the police that she had been brought to the hospital dead I went to go retrieve her belongings they had pulled from the crash. When I found the rosary in the bag of things, I saw it had turned gold. And in the worst moment of any parent’s life, there was this tiny moment where I knew Jennifer was with Grace in heaven and that it would be ok. 

Background: 

The informant is my grandmother, she is Italian Catholic and deeply spiritual. She was raised by only ever going to Catholic school and lives her daily life with religion and spirituality and God always in mind. She went to Medjugorje in 2018 on a pilgrimage to meet this woman who is believed to speak directly to Mary. 

Context: 

My grandmother and I were having a conversation about the paranormal in religion and how much of a role it plays in the modern world. It was a casual conversation over a glass of wine at her house. 

My thoughts: 

I don’t know where I stand in the belief of alchemy, silver turning to gold. But the fact that she experienced this phenomenon is intriguing to me. There are possibilities of debunking the myth such as many silver chains are actually made of brass and coated in silver so eventually the silver will wear off and leave a gold-ish brass, a person could also take the newly formed gold chain to the jeweler and have them inspect the quality of the gold to see if it is real. But there is also no way to say these paranormal and spiritual events aren’t real. 

Posadas

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican, American
Age: 20
Occupation: USC Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/18
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

I interviewed my informant, Brianna, in the study lounge of the band office. Because of her upbringing in Mexican culture, she was able and eager to share a lot of folklore and folk traditions. One thing she wanted me to document was Posadas, which she learned about from her grandmother and her mother. The following is the information she shared with me during the interview:

 

Posadas are special events leading up to Christmas. It’s a movement of the community or church that happened once a week a few weeks leading up Christmas day. The community members follow someone dressed as Mary and Joseph to someone’s home. The home welcomes them in, and they have a big party.

 

My informant made sure to note that in her mother’s village, they put the woman portraying Mary on a live donkey for added effect.

 

She used to do it in her neighborhood back home (San Siro, San Luis Potosi). Everyone was invited for food and a party. A portion of the people were invited early for food, usually close friends and family. Then the whole town is invited after the dinner for the party and music.

 

This all leads up to Christmas day. On Christmas, everyone celebrates at home — which is where everyone celebrates the birth of Jesus. A certain ritual also involves putting a doll figure of baby Jesus in a manger. My informant noted that her grandmothers was 10X bigger than the other dolls because it’s the most important thing in the display.

 

I asked my informant if she had any other thoughts, to which she responded: “The first time I did it, I was in Mexico, so it was pretty wild.”

 

Analysis

I have never heard of such extravagant pageantry to celebrate the Christmas season. This festival in particular is very important because it brings the community together and affirms their identity. It’s unclear whether everyone partakes in the celebration because they are Christian, or just because they are part of the community. Regardless, Posadas is obviously a very important annual event that encourages synthesis through performance.

 

Promise from Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Irish/Italian
Age: 85
Occupation: English Professor
Residence: Massachusetts
Date of Performance/Collection: March 13, 2012
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Italian, Spanish

My informant told me of an old Irish belief that he knew called the Promise from Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque:

“If you go to Mass and Communion on nine successive first Fridays of the month you will be allowed to repent your sins on your deathbed.”

My informant made a point of making sure that I knew that Margaret Mary was “Blessed” and not a “Saint”. He told me that he personally had never done what the belief said, but that he still has some time left to do so before he plans on dying.

Again, the connection between Irish superstitions/beliefs and religion is very clear. This, like many others, is also linked to fear. In this case it is the fear of dying and not being forgiven for your sins.

A version of a similar belief in which going to church nine fridays in a row will grant you the ability to repent your sins appears in authored literature in:

Kippley, John F. A Catholic Prayer Book. Lulu, 2005. Print.