"La leche" is Spanish for "milk." The shrine houses a statue of Mary nursing the infant Jesus at her breast. Mary, under the title of "Our Lady of La Leche," has been invoked for centuries by couples who wish to conceive a child or are experiencing troubled pregnancies –or by women who simply desire to be good holy mothers.
Reflecting on my visit to that shrine has made me think of the countless titles that have been given to Mary over the centuries. Some of the titles of Mary are geographic – like "Our Lady of Fatima" recalling our Blessed Mother's appearance to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal (the 100th anniversary of that appearance is this year on May 13).
Other titles of Mary are dogmatic. They reflect truths that we learn through Church doctrine –like "Immaculate Conception" which teaches us that Mary was conceived without original sin. Some titles reflect aspects of Mary's life – like "Our Lady of Sorrows" which focuses on the acute suffering that Mary endured.
Still other titles honor a particular virtue or attribute of Mary, like "Mother, Most Pure" or "Our Lady of Peace." Some titles for Mary, such as "Morning Star" or "Star of the Sea," have a more poetic or symbolic significance.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote that we "serve a Mother who seems to grow more beautiful as new generations rise up and call her blessed." It is true that every new generation highlights a new aspect of Mary to admire and another reason to give devotion to her.
As we enter into the month of May, the month dedicated to our Blessed Mother, it might be fun and a good spiritual exercise to come up with your own personal title for Mary. What does she mean to you? What has she done for you?
I often pray the rosary in the morning. Maybe Mary is my "First Glimmer of the New Dawn" (Who can help me with Latin? Is that "Prima Aurora Lumen"? That's lovely!). Sometimes I pray with Mary when I'm especially restless or agitated. She is then my "Sedatis Mater Mea" or my "My Soothing Mother."
Again, don't trust my Latin. It's the tenderness of devotion that counts. Try it for yourself. Mary will be there to teach and help you. Blessed month of May!