Our Lady of Olives


In a pleasant valley of France there lies a little city where by the favor of God lightning never falls.  This favor, unique in the world, dates back to the time when the church of Murat (Cantal) was burned by lightning except for a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary.  In 1493, and ever since, the town has been named Our Lady of Olives.

Our Lady of Olives is to be situated within the larger context of the biblical symbolism of the Olive tree. In the Bible, but also in patristic and medieval writings, the olive tree -- together with the vine and wheat ears -- was considered a symbol of heavenly blessings, prosperity and fecundity in times of peace. The olive tree is also a symbol of spiritual excellence and distinction such as reconciliation with God, rectitude and innocence as well as fruitfulness of good works. This symbolism applied to Mary is a sign of faithful and loving dedication to the Lord but also a symbol of Mary's strength, intercessory power and mercy.

Originally borrowed from Sirach 24,19 (Vulgate, or v. 14) the expression "oliva speciosa" (fair olive tree) changes according to specific meanings: for example, "oliva fecunda" (fruitful olive), "oliva pinguissima" (fat, rich olive), "oliva mitis" (meek olive).

The use of this symbolism is widespread and multifaceted. We find sanctuaries of this title in this country and many others, for example, France, Italy and Spain. Here are some examples of the variety of meaning this symbolism has in Italy.

The following Italian sanctuaries make reference to olives:

  • Olio: Our Lady of Madonna dell'Olio in Blufi, in the diocese of Cefalu (Palermo). The name is related to a well which holds mineral oil reputed to be miraculous.

  • Olivella: S. Maria dell'Olivella, in S. Elia Fiumerapido, near Montecassino in the diocese of the same name. The reference to the olive tree indicates the place where the miraculous image, a statue of 15/16th c. was found.

  • Olivello: Madonna dell'Olivello near the city of Veroli in diocese of the same name. In 1722 the branch of an olive tree buds forth from the fissures in the small chapel or shrine wall. Here lies the origin of the title for this sanctuary.

  • Olivette: N.S. delle Olivette, in Arenzano (Genoa), dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation is situated in the midst of an olive grove, hence the name Olivette.

  • Olivo: N.S. dell'Olivo in Brugnato (La Spezia) where Mary appeared on the trunk of an olive tree. The image painted in ca. 1820 shows the Child holding an olive branch in his hand.

The medal of Our Lady of Olives is well-known throughout the Church and is of French origin. It takes its origin from a wooden statue of Our Lady which survived the destruction of the Church of Murat by lightning.  By virtue of the Medallion of Our Lady of Olives, the persons who carry it are preserved from lightning wherever they may be during a storm.  It is a privilege attached to the medallion which bears the unique name in the annals of the church, "Our Lady of Olives."  This marvelous way of being protected against lightning deserves to be known throughout the world and ought to be extended to the four corners of the universe.

The second privilege of the Medallion is to protect, in an unmistakable manner, women who are about to become mothers and to assist them in the hour of deliverance.  

Those who are afflicted with sickness, and who pray to the Divine Mother, are promptly relieved.

The Virgin was crowned June 18th, 1881, by an apostolic brief given by Leo XIII on the 10th day of May 1878.


Prayer to Our Lady of Olives

[Our Lady of Olives]

Our Lady of the Olives
Basilica of Our Lady of the Sea
Barcelona, Spain

Kneeling at thy feet, we pray thee Virgin Mary, that through thine intercession, there may be borne a new generation who will unite all hearts and souls in the same faith and the same charity.

We pray thee "Divine Olive of Peace," to implore God that harmony may reign between nations, that true liberty be given to all people, that heresies and all bad doctrines condemned by the Pope may disappear.

We pray that all the treasures of the Divine Heart be showered upon all men and that we be preserved from all harm.

Pray for us, help us and save us. Amen.




Source: JMJ Book Company Catalog, p. 158


Via Rosa Rosaries, Devotional Chaplets, Rosary Beads, and Catholic Gifts