Lost and Found for Love

Before telling the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus warmed the hearts of his listeners with two shorter parables of mercy. One of those parables involved a woman and her lost coin. Jesus tells us upon realizing she had lost one of her ten coins this woman fervently searched every nook and cranny of her house until she found it. Upon finding it, she was filled with joy.

Although Jesus conceived this story as a parable, roughly seventeen centuries later it practically came to life.

In the little estancia of Mrs. Ana de Matos, near Buenos Aires, Argentina, a small but precious treasure was lost. The original statue of Our Lady of Lujan went missing on her first night in her new home.

The day before Our Lady’s disappearance, Ana de Matos had convinced Juan de Oramas to let the statue take up a new residence in her home. Our Lady’s stay in her home would only be temporary, until de Matos could have a fitting chapel built for her honor.

When Ana and her new treasure reached her house, she placed Our Lady in a special room prepared just for her. Content that Lujan’s motherly presence would grace her home until Our Lady’s new chapel could be built, Ana peacefully retired for the night. But the next morning, when Ana went to Our Lady’s room to say her morning prayers, she found the room empty. Our Lady was missing!

Quickly Ana searched every nook and cranny of her house, but Our Lady was nowhere to be found. Unlike the woman in the parable who was filled with joy because she found her lost coin, Ana was filled with sorrow, because her treasure remained lost to her.

As she wondered what to do next, a thought came to her, “Maybe the statue returned to its former residence.” Her idea was that, somehow, maybe Our Lady found her way back to her original estancia. Filled with hope, Ana rushed to the Oramas’ residence. As soon as she crossed the threshold of Our Lady’s first hermitage, sure enough, there she was!

Thinking that maybe Our Lady’s first move was not worthy enough for the Queen of Heaven, and so perhaps that’s why the statue returned to its first home, Ana de Matos organized a great procession for Our Lady’s second trip to the de Matos property. Not only did she give Our Lady a due procession, but Ana also organized her housemaids to keep vigil with Our Lady all night, so as to pray and to “keep an eye on her”, so to speak.

But during the second night, Our Lady disappeared again! And just like the first disappearance, again Our Lady was found in her original hermitage on the Oramas’ property.

Twice Our Lady disappeared and twice she was found. Although the statue of Our Lady would continue to make miraculous nightly visits, this would be the last time that it disappeared entirely from the de Matos property only to be found again at its original home.

So, what brought an end to the mysterious moves? Historians suggest that it was the presence of Our Lady’s humble slave of love.

Both times Our Lady’s statue was moved from the Oramas’ property to Ana’s house, a man by the name of Servant of God Manuel Costa de los Ríos was not there. Manuel, who was also fondly known as “Negro Manuel”, was one of the witnesses of Our Lady of Lujan’s first miracle.

This first miracle involved Our Lady’s making her image so heavy that the oxen pulling the cart carrying her would not budge. It wasn’t until the box carrying her statue was removed from the cart that the oxen would again be willing to move.

Certainly, more could be said about this first miracle—if you are interested in knowing more about it click here—but for the sake of this post, suffice it so say that it was this miracle that accounted for her presence near Buenos Aires along the Lujan River.

Nevertheless, tradition tells us that since the day of that first miracle, Negro Manuel was captivated by her grace. Considering himself dead to any other master he willed to “belong to Our Lady and no one else”. Thus, he became the first slave of love of Our Lady of Lujan. And so, looking back on the story of Our Lady’s being “lost and found”, we can say that what moved a lifeless terracotta statue, was Mary’s search for her first filial slave of love.

As we continue to pray, read, and reflect on how we can better marianize our lives, today, on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lujan, we should learn the lesson of captivating love. Marian slavery is a slavery of love. Like all things truly divine, love is its driving force.

It was Our Lady of Lujan’s love that captivated the hearts of Negro Manuel and Ana de Matos so much so, that they chose to become a gift of self to Mary in return. In doing so, they took concrete steps in translating their own responses of love into generous acts of true Marian devotion.

Seize the day and make it all Hers!


If you want to know more about Our Lady of Luján: https://virgendelujan.org/en/