Our Lady of Good Success
Quito, Ecuador is a city that is not well known as a Catholic pilgrimage destination. Yet, over the past 25 years or so a devotion that has it origins stretching back almost four centuries has been becoming more popular among devout Catholics. In 1576 five foundresses by the command of the King of Spain, Phillip II sailed across the Atlantic to found a Franciscan Conceptionist Convent in Quito. Along with the five nuns also sailed a young pious girl Maria de Jesus Torres who was the niece of one of the foundresses, Mother Maria de Jesus Taboada. From the very outset of their voyage miracles occurred showing Our Lord and His Mother’s generous protection for their endeavor. The entire life of Maria de Jesus Torres was filled with extraordinary visits from Our Lord, The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Saints and even the archangels. The messages and devotion given to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres are very unique in the life of the Church being that they not only were given for Mother Mariana’s own time, but many were especially given for a future age, especially that of our own.
At the young age of 13 Mother Mariana came to South America with a very special task at hand. She would be given the task overseeing the convent after her aunt would fall asleep in the Lord. Our Lord has especially ordained the establishment and future preservation of the Conceptionist convent under the protection of the Blessed Virgin of Good Success. The convent is important for several reasons. The first reason is for the salvation of souls in Ecuador and the salvation of the Conceptionist sisters in Ecuador. As we will see, their Franciscan spirit is uniquely Marian and is essential to the establishment and survival of the Catholic faith in Ecuador. There was also an immense punishment of the convent when it was separated from the Franciscan friars due to rebellious unobservant nuns. Our Lord however told Mother Mariana about the future of the convent which appeared to her, covered in Our Lord’s blood, “In this sea of my Heart’s blood I am ready to wash the guilt of those who, being repentant, have recourse to Me.”
Our Lady also preserves the convent for the salvation of souls across the globe, especially for the souls of our modern time, which face unique persecutions from the devil. The convent is directly tied to the devotion of Our Lady of Good Success, which Our Lady said would be a beacon for the survival of the Catholic faith in our age. Our Lady told Mother Mariana, “this convent is a fortress, and it will bring about salvation for so many souls, drawing them away from the abyss of sin which they find themselves.” It is for us today that Our Lady has come under this glorious title, ‘Good Success’. Mother Mariana was born in 1563 in Spain in the province of Vizcaya. In Spain there was an older devotion to Our Lady of Good Success, which began after a discovery of an illuminated statue of Our Lady found in a cave. This devotion however was primarily a local Spanish devotion, and it was not until Our Lady appeared to Mother Mariana in Quito, that this title would become more widely known to the rest of the world.
Quito was one of the first South American conquests of the Spanish conquistadors. Miraculously, two hundred Spanish soldiers defeated over ten thousand Incans aided by the eruption of the nearby volcano, Cotopaxi. On December 6th, 1534, Sebastian de Benalcazar marched into the city after defeating the army of Atahualpa. Unable to reach the city before the Incans set fire to the city center, the Spanish were greeted by a smoldering heap of ruin upon entry. The Spanish began to immediately reestablish the city in the framework of a Spanish settlement by working up a city grid outline and the city was immediately consecrated to Saint Francis of Assisi. The official name of the town was, San Francisco de Quito. So from the beginning of Catholic Quito, the Franciscan spirit was infused into the city’s ethos, replacing the pagan. Soon after the Franciscans established a monastery in 1535 the San Francisco de Quito convent, and from that monastery a large portion of the city flowered. The Franciscans established three churches four cloisters and a college early in the city’s development.
Soon the Catholic Spanish influence began to prosper and Catholic churches and religious houses began to rise on locations of the native sites. For example, the church El Sagrario was built where the Incan nobility had previously resided known as the Temple of the Sun. The Church today offers Eucharistic adoration daily, offering worship of the true Son. The city grew to a population of around 60,000 by the end of the sixteenth century. Until 1830 when the Republic of Ecuador was formed, there were three major cities that held power, Quito, Guaycaquil, and Cuenca. Later, as a result of the strong Catholic president, Gabriel Garcia Moreno, Quito saw vast improvements of infrastructure including schools, universities, an astronomical observatory, roads, and railways.
The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception to which Mother Mariana would be associated with would be founded in 1577, and would be the first monastery of nuns in Quito. Saint Beatriz of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God founded the order itself in Spain. It should be noted that in Spanish, convents are associated with the male orders and the monasteries are associated with the female orders. Hence we have the official name of Mother Mariana’s convent, The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception of Quito. The church and cloister although established in 1577 were not completed until 1625. Unfortunately the government in Ecuador has not always been favorable towards Holy Mother Church. The government has seized some parts of the convent over the years and the convent is in a state of constant struggle to retain its property.
From it’s founding there were miracles associated with the monastery setting it apart for the work of God and Our Lady. Even before the sisters arrived in Quito, they were attacked by Satan who appeared as a hideous monstrous serpent with 7 heads in the waves of the sea, which tried to sink the ship upon which they sailed. As the sisters prayed for deliverance, Our Lady appeared and confronted the beast. Satan angrily told the sisters that he would never allow the founding of the monastery. Our Lady answered his hollow threats by cutting him to pieces driving away the dark skies, which appeared over them upon his arrival. Soon after the sisters arrived in Ecuador Our Lady affirmed her desire for the establishment of the convent. On Jan 21st 1577 while praying in a small provisional chapel three lights shined in the chapel. One shined upon a statue of the Blessed Virgin, holding the Divine Infant in her arms. The second light shined on the altar itself and a third illuminating a star on the crucifix above the altar. All who were present heard a heavenly singing and the image of Our Lady itself was seen to be moving. Thus from the very start of this convent, Our Lady has miraculously claimed it as her own.