Jesuit missionary Juan José Güica brought a painting of Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners from Italy to Mexico in 1720.
In a dream, the Virgin told Padre Güica to ask the Franciscans of Zacatecas to use and promote the image; they distributed over 150 copies, making this one of the most widespread Marian devotions in Mexico. In 1793 Franciscan friars came to the new settlement which would become Matamoros, renaming the area “Nuestra Señora del Refugio de los Esteros Hermosos” (Our Lady of the Refuge of the Lovely Marshes). The Cathedral of Our Lady of Refuge, built in 1832, displays an 1886 painting of her. Her fiesta, celebrated in many Mexican towns, commemorates the coronation of the original “Refugium Peccatori” in the Jesuit church of Frascati, Italy, July 4, 1717. (Picture of painting from Diócesis de Matamoros, www.diocesisdematamoros.org.)
Prayer to Mary, Refuge of Sinners
O most holy and pure virgin! O my mother! You who are the mother of my Lord, the queen of the world, the advocate and refuge of sinners! I, a most wretched sinner, now come to you. I honor you, great queen, and give you humble thanks for the many favors which have come to me in the past through your intercession. I love you, Lady most worthy of all love, and by the love which I bear you, I promise ever in the future to honor you, and to do what lies in me to win others to your love. Receive me as your servant, and cover me with the mantle of your protection, you who are the mother of mercy! And since you have so much power with God, implore him to deliver me from all temptations, and to give me the grace ever to overcome them. Pray for me that I may love Christ in this world as you love him, and intercede for me that I may have the grace of a good death. O my mother! by your love for God I beseech you to be at all times my helper, but above all at the last moment of my life. Cease not your supplications until you see me safe in heaven, there for countless ages to bless you and, your holy company, to worship and adore your son, for ever and ever.