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  • Writer's pictureDana Nygaard, LPC

Behold, your Mother: Our Lady of La Leche

On 11 October we celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of La Leche. Couples who desire to conceive will find a worthy intercessor in Maria Lactans, or the Nursing Madonna. Countless couples have obtained the grace to bear a child biologically or via adoption after praying at shrines of Our Lady of La Leche. After reading this article you may feel called to go on a pilgrimage to where Our Lady is honored under this title in the United States and the Holy Land.

The History of Our Lady of La Leche

Near Bethlehem, just a short distance from the Basilica of the Nativity, you can visit the Milk Grotto. At the top of the hill lies the sanctuary of the Grotta del Latte which has been hollowed out of soft white rock. The grotto is regarded as a site where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus hid from Herod’s soldiers following the nativity, and where Mary nursed her son, Jesus. It is believed that while nursing, a drop of The Virgin Mary’s milk fell upon a stone that turned white. In AD 385, the first structure was built over the grotto. Many European churches received fragments from the cave during the seventh century and Pope Gregory XI recognized the Milk Grotto in 1375. It was in 1876 that the Franciscans built a church around the Milk Grotto, and it was citizens from Bethlehem who decorated the exterior with mother-of-pearl etchings. A modern chapel opened in 2007 dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. The church and Milk Grotto are connected by a tunnel. The convent of the Sisters of Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament is next to the grotto.

Sojourners address their prayers to Our Lady of the Milk as they gaze upon the icon of Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus. In this image the Blessed Mother knows the joy of motherhood and intercedes for couples so that they too might know what it is to hold and nurse a baby. Some women mix the soft, white chalk into their food as they believe doing so will increase the quantity of their milk and enable them to conceive. The Milk Grotto has a collection of framed letters and pictures from families who testify to the miracles that come from the “milk powder prayers”. The only way to obtain the powder is at the site and from the Franciscan Monastery store.

Our Lady of La Leche Florida

The Diocese of St. Augustine claims that America’s oldest Marian shrine is Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine Florida. On 8 September 1565, Spanish soldiers sailed five ships into a small cove on the “La Florida” coastline. King Phillip II of Spain sent this expedition to the New World for the purposes of securing land to establish a colony and to convert the native American Indians to Catholicism. It was in 1565 that the first Mass was held at the site of the Nombre de Dios Mission and in 1587 the Franciscans founded the mission. The chapel was dedicated in 1609 to Our Lady of La Leche. In 2019, Bishop Felipe Estévez announced that the US Bishop’s Conference had elevated the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche to a national shrine. His excellency said, “Mary recognizes the living God who closes the door to the mighty of this world and raises up the little ones, the poor in spirit, who are blessed by God,” he said. “She praises God in his great mercy towards those who obey him and open their hearts to him.”

Maintain hope

Miracles cannot be guaranteed by praying these prayers; however, we can trust Our Lady as we remember the words in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.”

Let us pray…

Prayer for the gift of children

Lovely lady of La Leche, most loving mother the Child Jesus, and my Mother, listen to my humble prayer. Your motherly heart knows my every wish, my every need. To you only, His spotless Virgin Mother, has your Divine Son given to understand the sentiments which fill my soul. Yours was the sacred privilege of being the Mother of the Saviour. Intercede with Him now, my loving Mother, that, in accordance with His will, I may become the mother of other children of our heavenly Father. This I ask, O Lady of La Leche, in the Name of your Divine Son, My Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

Litany of Our Lady of La Leche

V. Lord, have mercy. R. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God, our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.

Chaste daughter of the Father, pray for us.

Chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.

Chaste mother of the Son of God, pray for us.

Vessel of election, pray for us.

Throne of the divine Majesty, pray for us.

Tabernacle of the Divine Word, pray for us.

Chalice of the Divine Life, pray for us.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

Holy Mother of the infant Christ, pray for us.

Consecration of womanhood, pray for us.

Hope of Christian womanhood, pray for us.

Model of all Christian mothers, pray for us.

Blessed in your motherhood, pray for us.

Inspiration of holy motherhood, pray for us.

Consolation of motherhood, pray for us.

Protector of motherhood, pray for us.

Blessing of all Christian motherhood, pray for us.

Exaltation of motherhood, pray for us.

Sanctification of motherhood, pray for us.

Queen of the most Holy Family, pray for us.

Queen of chaste family life, pray for us.

Queen of mothers, pray for us.

Mother of mothers, pray for us.

Mother of happy delivery, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Our Lady of La Leche.

R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

V. Let us pray.

Cherished Virgin, heaven’s Queen, chosen before all women to be the mother of the Son of God, Mary, my mother who in your maternity so sanctified the state of holy motherhood, imploringly I come to you; humbly I beseech you; confidently I trust in you. I know that, by your powerful intercession, you can help me in my need. In you I take refuge, dear Virgin. Poor and needy, I turn devoutly to you and place all my hopes confidently in your hands. Accept my humble trust, hear my petitions, and come to my aid, dear Mother of mothers. Amen.

V. Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.

R. Let it be done to me according to your Word.


Prayer Source HERE

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