Madonna of Capocroce
Towers are for two purposes, either strength and defense, or for beauty and ornament. In the next two titles of Our Lady’s Litany, towers are considered under these two aspects—and first in the primitive sense of the word, as a stronghold of defense and security in war. To address Our Lady as "Tower of David" really means, "Our Lady of Soldiers" or "Our Lady of Victories." This title is no doubt inspired by that text of the Canticle of Canticles: "Thy neck is as the tower of David; a thousand bucklers (small round shields) hang upon it, all the armor of valiant men. We do not need to be told what a great war it is, in which we need the defense of this strong tower, the Mother of God. It is the great battle between God and the Devil, between good and evil. This war concerns every one of us; whether we like it or not, we have all got to take part in it, to take sides, to fight, one way or the other. There is no such thing as remaining passive and neutral. Our Lord has said: "He that is not with Me, is against Me." What a terrible thing! To be against God! And this we shall be if we are indifferent in this great war.
Which side are you on? You may smile at the question, and reply that, of course, you are on the side of God. But are you a true and valiant soldier? Have you fought this day, are you fighting this hour, this minute? You know the three enemies that we Christians have to fight against all the days of our life—the Devil, the world, and the flesh. Are you really, consciously, actively struggling against these three enemies? Sometimes it seems a weary, hopeless, endless business. Do you not occasionally feel like throwing down your weapons and saying: "Oh, I can’t be good; it’s no use trying! I will give up!" It seems so dull, so boring to be good. You want to have "a good time," you say, like others do—to live, to get some enjoyment out of life. Well, you are not shut out from joy by being good—far from it. But no doubt one sometimes has to sacrifice pleasure and fun to duty, play to work.
Where are you going to get allies to join you in your fight against these rebellious feelings? We have the answer in this title, "Tower of David." In the Office of the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary there is the antiphon, Virgo potens, sicut Turris David, mille clypei pendent ex ea, omnis armatura fortium. It is the mighty Virgin, like the Tower of David; a thousand bucklers hang upon it, all the armor of valiant men. Here Mary is compared to a strong fortress, full of weapons, to which you can always fly for refuge in the fray, and where you will find fresh armor and strong weapons for the fight. This was what the Tower of David was—a fortress where weapons were kept. Our Lady likes us to fight bravely; She looks on approvingly and says: "Well done, good and faithful soldier." She is Our Lady of Victories, and without a fight there is no victory. Let us be brave in heart, and when beginning to get the worst of it, let us call upon Mary, the Tower of David. Oh, how willing we shall find Her to help us! Let us then remember, when life is hard, when things go wrong, when we have to bear failure and disappointment, and are cross and depressed, weary and hopeless, or inclined to let things slide and yield to our own selfish inclinations, when we have unpleasant work to do, or hard duties to perform, to overcome our temper, or sloth, or selfishness, or feelings of rebellion, let us call upon Mary, the Tower of David, and remember that in Her we shall ever find "all the armor of valiant men." Tower of David, pray for us. She is an ally who can never fail us. She will never desert us, or turn a deaf ear to our call for help. St. Paul said: "I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me;" so may we, children of Mary, say of our Mother, the Tower of David, "In Mary I can do all things."
Motto: "Come over to Me, all ye that desire Me, and be filled with My fruits."
Practice: In temptation call upon Mary.
Nestling cozily on the northern slope of the Alban Mountains, about fifteen miles from Rome, lies the quaint little town of Frascati, which has been privileged beyond most cities in the enjoyment of Our Lady’s special protection. The church bears engraved on its facade the appropriate motto: Tu nos ab hoste protege. Do Thou protect us from the enemy. The miraculous picture of Our Lady of Capocroce is Frascati’s greatest treasure, but the early history of this picture in unknown. It had been there as long as the oldest citizens could remember, when in 1527 it first attained celebrity.
The infuriated and licentious soldiers of Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, ravaged the Eternal City, and betook themselves to Frascati. Their approach was visible from afar to the inhabitants of this mountain city, and preparations were made for such defense as they could offer, while the women and children fled to the church to beg Our Lady’s help. But just as the army of mercenaries arrived within sight of the vineyard wall, whereon the picture at that time was, the lips of the painted Virgin opened, and a voice of irresistible majesty spoke: "Back, soldiers! This land is Mine!" The effect was instantaneous; the soldiers turned and fled in confusion, with frightened shrieks of "Back! Back!"
Frequently during succeeding centuries, Our Lady has shown Her maternal protection toward Frascati, and on one occasion the town was entirely preserved from the cholera which devastated the neighborhood. After the miraculous deliverance of 1527, a chapel was built, and the picture placed therein.
In 1611, a second miracle led to the building of a more magnificent church. A pious and wealthy Roman priest was celebrating Mass at the altar of the miraculous picture. Just after the Consecration the Host left his hands. Trembling with apprehension he examined his conscience, but finding nothing to reproach himself with, he turned to the picture, and besought Our Lady to aid him. He then heard a voice saying: "Jerome, you are rich in this world’s goods. Look at this lowly chapel. Is it worthy of the Queen of Heaven?" He at once made a vow to build a large and magnificent church. Then the Host returned to him. The present spacious church was consequently built. Many are the graces obtained there by Mary’s clients. Let us trust that at our last hour, if we have faithfully served Mary, in the final assault of Satan and his legions, we may see them routed by Our Mother’s command: "Back, demons! This soul is mine!"
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