Mary, Our Guiding Star

In my research on the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I happened upon Golgotha Monastery, home of the Transalpine Redemptorists.  It is located in Papa Stronsay, an island in Orkney, north of Scotland.

On their website, they speak at length of the history of the Mother of God being referred to as Stella Maris, Star of the Sea, from St. Jerome in 400 A.D. to St. Bonaventure (d. 1274), who wrote:  “This name is most fitting for Mary, who is to us as a star above the sea….She guides to the landfall in Heaven those who navigate the sea of this world in the ship of innocence or penance. Well do we compare Mary to a star of the sea, because of her shining purity, her brightness, all that she does for us.”

They also speak of the beautiful hymn, Ave Maris Stella! (Hail, Star of the Sea!), as having been composed between 800 and 900 A.D., and tell us that the first monks on Papa Stronsay sung it in 900 A.D.  They go on to say:  “Papa Stronsay resounds with this hymn again every night as the Fathers and Brothers make their way to the chapel for Night Prayers.”

So here is the beautiful hymn, Ave Maris Stella, as performed by Ambrose Karels, on the CD entitled, “Star of the Sea” .  For the lyrics in Latin and English, you may go to the bottom of this page on the website of the Transalpine Redemptorists. 


10 thoughts on “Mary, Our Guiding Star

  1. I have always loved the comparison between Mary and star. It seems so fitting yet I had no idea it goes way back to the time of St. Jerome. Indeed, here in Ireland there are schools named after Mary in this way and not surprisingly I have heard of boats named either Star of the Sea, or in Irish, Realta na Mara, pronounced just as it’s written. I haven’t got round to listening to the recording yet, but something tells me I’m in for a treat. Thanks, Gabrielle.

  2. Hi, Ann. I apologize for my lengthy absence. I’ll be able to visit some friends tonight I think, but I have to leave now for the rest of the day. (I’d rather stay here and catch up with everybody though!). I hope you’ll be able to hear the recording alright. The website for the Golgotha Monastery is quite nice too – some wonderful pictures, if you scroll through the various things on their menu.

  3. Gabrielle, you’ve been away but you have not been idle! What a beautiful hymn! I would love to trace how you did your search, because I don’t think it could have been easy to find these things. You are perfecting your sleuthing talents, that’s for sure!

    Our church by the sea is named in honor of Maria, Stella del Mare. The outdoor altar, made of limestone, has a bas relief of her on one side next to the sea, which has a star above it.

  4. I love your pointing out the star on her veil….I didn’t see that, Gab.
    I don’t know if you have mentioned this already in another post, but Carmelites also believe that St Elijah’s small cloud (the size of a man’s hand) rising on the horizon over the sea symbolically stood for Mary coming to us.

  5. Pia, sometimes when I’m looking for something in particular I can never find it, but while roaming around I come across other things which intrigue and inspire me, and I end up posting something completely different than I had intended to! Also, I think I remember you posting pictures of your beautiful church by the sea on your old blog (last summer, I think?)

    teresa, I mentioned the star in an earlier post, but in reference to Mary being like the star of Bethlehem, pointing the way for us to Jesus. This picture with the arrow I took directly from the website I mention in my post, the Golgotha monastery website. It’s on the page with the Latin/English lyrics of the hymn. And no, I had never heard that about Elijah’s small cloud – that is really interesting, because then it makes me think of Mary and her relationship to the Holy Spirit.

  6. YES YES! It was pia’s blog that had the seaside masses. Thanks for recalling that, Gab. I was mentioning it the other day on the aeternus comments and couldn’t remember where I had seen those beautiful posts last year. I just revisited pia’s page and found them in the archives.
    Thanks pia and Gab!
    I don’t know if pia reads days old comments, but ,Pia,” I wonder if you have been enjoying those outdoor celebrations this summer??!”


  7. Well, under normal circumstances Pia probably reads “days old comments”, but after all, this week she is in “veg mode”!

  8. Kric, our Blessed Virgin Mary was/is not a goddess, but a created being, the most beautiful and perfect of God’s creatures. She is indeed our guiding Light throughout our journey here and helps to lead us to heaven. Her eight-pointed star may or may not have had its origins in the art/symbology of earlier cultures, but she is not representative of the goddess Ishtar-Inanna; what could be further from the truth in this particular comparison – our Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception herself, who experienced the Virgin Birth as she gave Jesus to the world, being compared to a goddess who apart from the mention of love and fertility, was honoured as a goddess of war and so-called “sacred prostitution”? While I do indeed love meditating on the divine feminine aspects of God and its mysteries which we have not come to fully understand, comparisons of The Blessed Virgin to goddesses of other cultures do not stand up to the revealed truth in our Catholic religion.

  9. ВТОРАЯ МЕССИЯ БОГА ЕЛЕНЕ SVE SEV Православная Девица с Востока через которую ВСЕМ ПРИШЛО СПАСЕНИЕ 21 июль 2012 ОТ Антихриста за 5 месяцев от Конца Света………………………………..

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