Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Surface and Rise

"I carry my depression like a millstone around my neck." ~Elizabeth Esther

The above quote makes perfect sense to me; I know that depression drags a person down until they feel as if they are drowning in sorrow. My Catholic faith sends me to the saints for relief, but somehow, St. Dymphna as the patron saint for those suffering from mental illness just never did anything for me, I couldn't relate to the dramatic story of that young girl fleeing from her murderously lustful father as a source of comfort in my ordinary sorrow. But today I came across a lovely article from Zenit (which follows) that cast a new light on the Blessed Mother and her intercession in helping those who are washed over in the depths of despair. In Our Lady of the Well I've found another reason to fly to the arms of the Blessed Mother, for in her I am given hope that no matter how low I may feel, I will always surface and rise to joy once again.

Patroness of Depressed Enthroned in Argentina

LOS CARDALES, Argentina, OCT. 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the depressed was enthroned in a parish in Argentina.

Bishop Oscar Sarlinga of Zarate-Campana on Saturday enthroned Mary in her manifestation as Our Lady of the Well (Madonna del Pozzo).

In 2006, the bishop established this devotion to Our Lady as a recourse for the depressed, due to the tradition surrounding the image.

This dedication dates to the year 1256. The original image of Our Lady of the Well, painted on a stone tile, is in the church of Santa Maria in Via in Rome.

One account relates that in the 13th century, a servant at a Roman cardinal's house flung the heavy stone into a well, perhaps out of contempt, anger or hatred. Tradition holds, however, that it remained miraculously floating on the waters. Another version states that the well overflowed, and the image was found floating on the water.

The people of Rome and the Pope himself believed that the Virgin wished to show that despite our being submerged by those who hate us or do not know us, or are wounded and seek to wound us, we can always surface and rise, even against the physical laws of nature and the psyche.

Pope Honorius honored the image in 1256 carrying it in procession through the city of Rome.

Now this Virgin suggests to many faithful the possibility of being able to rise, to surface from the depths of distress, sadness and sorrow.

Christian joy

Bishop Sarlinga acknowledged the "pastoral need to address with faith and hope the realm of anxiety and depression in which not a few of our brothers and sisters live."

In a letter addressed in 2007 to people suffering from depression, anxiety and situations of great need, the bishop reminded that Christian joy "stems from hope that cannot disappoint, from that 'already but not yet,' which is the anticipation of the glory of heaven."

According to the prelate, "depression is a particularly complex ailment present in our contemporary age that is characterized -- as in no other age -- by progress in scientific knowledge and man's control over the planet, but also marked by abandonment, loneliness, uncertainty and the myriad possibilities of frustration, so often originating in the senselessness of life, that is, in which human life seems for many to have no meaning, or otherwise originating from external factors, such as grave inflicted injustices, unjust poverty, disappointments, calumnies, frauds, tragic loss of loved ones, loss of faith and hope because of scandal or laziness or the malevolence of those who should help."

He encouraged the depressed to accept their suffering as a way of participating in the Passion of Christ, and to pray and have frequent recourse to the sacraments.

"A spiritual recovery will be invaluable help for those suffering from anxiety, depression and states of urgent need," the bishop said, "because they will be helped to love themselves more, to appreciate themselves more and to recover the sense of a just struggle, of hope, and of a way out from the darkness of despair."


  1. Thank you, Anne, for posting this. I know so many people suffering from depression and anxiety (including myself on and off over the years)and I will ask for Our Lady of the Well's intercession for us. This article was very interesting. God bless you, my friend.

    (And thank you for your good wishes for my stinky puppy! Lol!)

  2. Anne, the day you said you were praying for me last week, was a very good learning day for me, as far as learning from the Holy Spirit. Thank you for praying for me. I was thinking after reading about the Pope's Prayer Group, on top of everything else you do, how radically aligned your time is with your faith. If there is ever a doubt that you are an inspiration, in the many ways you serve Christ from wife and mother, to your job which lets you practice charity, to all the side commitments you have that have faith and discipleship written all over them. You are fighting a good fight against depression to get out and act on your love for God in so many ways.