Our Lady of Refuge, Nuestra Señora del Refugio, is Patroness of California  and parts of Mexico.

This painting is from the hands of the artist, Joseph de Paez, 1750, Mexico.

      The Franciscan missionary Francisco Diego Garcia y Moreno was the first Bishop of Baja, California. He proclaimed Nuestra Señora del Refugio, as Patron on January 4, 1843, at Mission Santa Clara in Alta California. 

His proclamation included the following:

      The entire text of Bishop Garcia Diego's declaration is recorded in Mission Santa Clara's Libro de Patentes. After citing the early Fathers of the Church on the practice and spiritual benefits of naming patron Saints, the first bishop of the Californias stated: "We make known to you that we hereby name the great Mother of God in her most precious title, 'del Refugio, ' the principal patroness of our diocese . . . With so great a patroness and protectress, what can we not promise ourselves? What can be wanting and whom need we fear?"

 The Liturgical Feast

       In 1981 the California Catholic Conference of Bishops petitioned the Vatican Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship for authorization to observe the Feast of Our Lady of Refuge on July 5 as an obligatory memorial. This was approved by official document dated January 15, 1982, and signed by Archbishop Giuseppe Casoria.

    The diocese of Baja California celebrate this patronal Feast on July 4.

       Paintings of Our Lady of Refuge are, with few exceptions, quite similar in design and execution. The heads of the Infant Jesus and his Mother Mary lean together with no background between them. Both figures wear a crown. Mary’s eyes are turned toward the observer, while the gaze of the child seems to turn left of the viewer.

         In the Santa Clara Mission church the painting of Our Lady of Refuge is found above the larger picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in one of the side altar niches on the left as one nears the sanctuary. Another painting by Eulalio, a local Native American, is on display in Santa Clara University’s De Saisset Museum near the mission church.

The above image is darker than the Eulalio painting, which has a wood-tone background. The fower motif is almost the same; the two figuresare almost identical in both images.

I truly believe that Our Lady or my Guardian Angel led me to this image. While visiting in a locale of a historical Catholic Church [Traditional], to which is attached a modern wing, for the Novus Ordo rite, I decided to enter the new section, normally something I have no interest in doing, especially since I knew kneelers had been eliminated, etc. For some reason I felt a strong urge to go in. Immediately I thought there is an image waiting there and sure enough there was! This de Paez painting was on a small advertisement poster for an exhibit of the artist's works, covered with text. It had been left in the "free" basket. It took me a few hours to remove the text and restore the image to its orginal, thanks be to God! I was also able to remove the water spots. What an exquisite Madonna and Child!

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