Thomas Lipartian – Worshiper of the Episcopal/Anglican Church:
Two years ago I first found out that the Virgin Mary of Montevergine is considered to be the protector of queer people and especially of same-sex couples. I remember, I was very interested in this fact and immediately thought that I would make sure that Georgian readers heard about it, because the reverence to St.Mary is quite rooted in the population of Georgia.
The village of Montevergine is located in the Campania region of Italy, which is one of the most important centers of pilgrimage for Italian believers (and not only them). A chapel dedicated to St. Mary was built on this site in the 7th century, and in 1119 a port was constructed here by a monk (later canonized) – St. William of Montevergine, who built a monastery in the nearby mountains.
Word of William’s holiness spread, which led many to join him in monastic life. In 1126 they built a church named after St. Mary, which is a favorite place of pilgrims today. There is the sanctuary of the icon of St. Mary, to which believers also attribute a special miraculous power.
The history of the church tells about a miracle that occurred in 1256, during which the Virgin of Montevergine rescued a gay couple from a homophobic mob, who were doomed to death. It all started like this:
The two young men fell in love with each other so strongly that it was impossible to hide their relationship and feelings from those around them. On a cold, gloomy day in the winter of 1256, as they were on their way to church to attend a service, they touched and kissed each other. Seeing this, an angry mob stripped them naked and beat them. The beaten lovers were taken to Mount Parthenia, where the chapel of the Virgin of Montevergine is located, where the couple were tied to a dried tree (according to some sources, they were buried in a mass of snow and ice). The mob then left in the hope that the loving couple would either be eaten by wolves or die of frostbite. Legend has it that this fact shook the Virgin Mary of Montevergine, so the brightness and warmth of the sun that she brought them melted the ice, warmed their frozen bodies, and they were miraculously freed from their shackles.
It turns out that the crowd amazed by this miracle no longer resisted the will of St. Mary and allowed the gay couple to express their love publicly. This miracle testifies to how the Virgin Mary saved a gay couple, and made the a homophobic crowd accepting.
On February 2, believers will hold a procession to the Virgin Mary of Montevergine, in which LGBTQ Christians will also participate. On this day of each year, Montevergine Monastery becomes a place where believers, regardless of their sexual orientation, celebrate together and remember the good miracle of the Virgin Mary, who not only saved gay couples from death, but also made homophobic people into tolerant and receptive. Which is something that our society still needs.
Prayer to the Virgin Mary of Montevergine:
Oh Mary, our mother. As you showed the boundlessness of love and help in Montevergine with your miracle, let it inspire people even now to forget hatred and learn to love everyone. Saint Mary, pray for us now and til the hour of our death. Amen