I know no countenance equal to this one. I have it right in front of me and, moved by an inveterate habit of observing and making everything explicit for my own purposes, I gaze at it attentively. And suddenly I perceive that I am entering it.
Indeed, this unique expression emanates from the face and especially from the eyes, enveloping me in the ambience it creates. At the same time, I feel invited to enter deep into her gaze.
What a gaze! No other is so calm, candid, pure, or welcoming. In no other can one penetrate with such ease. However, no other offers such unfathomable depths that they disappear on the distant horizons.
The further we venture into this gaze, the more it draws us to an indescribable summit, spiritual and sublime.
What summit? A state of soul I would be tempted to describe as filled with paradox, if the word paradox, so misused today, did not seem disrespectful.
Scholasticism says every perfection results from the balance of harmonious opposites. It is by no means a precarious balance between flagrant contradictions – and in saying this my thoughts turn to that poor, sclerotic and vacillating peace which the contemporary world seeks to preserve at the cost of so many concessions and so many disgraces – but rather a supreme harmony between every form of good.
In the depth of this gaze, I see arise precisely this peak where all perfections meet. It is a peak incomparably higher than the columns that support the firmament. It is a peak where a crystalline, categorical and irresistible rule excludes every form of evil, however slight or small.
One could spend a whole lifetime roaming within that gaze, without ever reaching the summit of that peak. Nevertheless, it would not be a futile endeavour. Within that gaze one does not take steps, but soars. One is not on a walk, but a pilgrimage.
Although the pilgrim does not reach the height of that sacred mountain, the sum of all created perfection, he sees it with ever increasing clarity the more he soars toward Her.
Throughout this pilgrimage of the soul, as it soars within this gaze, it is not only enveloped by it, but this gaze penetrates it. When the pilgrim closes his eyes, he sees, as it were with a light, into the deepest recesses of his own soul. I have the impression that if he remains faithful in this flight throughout his life, when he closes his eyes for good, this light will shine in the depths of his soul for all eternity.
The gaze is the soul of the physiognomy. What a physiognomy I have before me! To a fool it would seem inexpressive. To a keen observer it manifests a fullness of soul that is greater than history, because it touches on eternity. Greater than the universe, because it mirrors the infinite.
The forehead seems to harbour thoughts that, starting with a manger and ending with a Cross, embrace all human events.
The whole face, the nose, whose line possesses a charm “more beautiful than beauty,” according to the poet; the lips, silent but which say everything at every moment, seem to praise God in each creature according to the characteristics of each one; and to beseech God for every misery as if pitying the peculiarities of each one of them… Compared to the eloquence of these lips, that of Demosthenes or Cicero would be nothing but bluster. How can we describe the complexion: snow-white? The adjective says it all and says nothing. For, to describe it, one would have to imagine a snowiness that displayed in its depth, with infinite discretion, all the shades of the rainbow, and in this very way inspire in the soul of those who contemplate it all the charms of purity.
Yes, I went on pilgrimage within this gaze that is so full of surprises. And, unexpectedly, I realize that the gaze is at the same time on pilgrimage within me. It is a poor and merciful pilgrimage, not from splendour to splendour, but from want to want and from misery to misery. By my only opening myself to it, it offers me a remedy for every defect, a solution for every obstacle, and a hope for every affliction.
But, in the end, what do I have before me? A wooden statue like so many others, without any special artistic value.
Nevertheless, it is only by my looking at it that, without moving, without the slightest transformation, this statue begins to radiate all these splendours.
How? I do not know either. It is the statue of Our Lady of Fatima that shed tears in New Orleans1 over the sins of men and the punishments they are accumulating upon themselves.
Everywhere it goes, the statue attracts crowds. I insist, reader. If you believe in the description that I have made, I invite you in your turn to make this magnificent pilgrimage within the gaze of the Virgin.
Pray then for yourself. Pray for Holy Church, troubled and tormented as never before. And for this enormous Brazil that is Mary’s.
Taken from: Folha de São Paulo.
São Paulo. Year LVI. No.17.389
(Nov. 12, 1976); p.3
1 In July 1972, a pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima, sculpted under the guidance of Sister Lucia, seer of the apparitions, shed tears thirteen times in the city of New Orleans, in the United States. On the 21st of the same month, the Folha de São Paulo published an impressive photograph of the image in whose eyes one could clearly distinguish the tears, one of which was already hanging from the tip of her nose, about to fall. This was the beginning of Dr. Plinio’s intense relationship with this representation of Our Lady which, from that moment on, he would call the Sacred Image.