“The only worthwhile striving is after the highest ideals: If you aim for an easy target, your standard will inevitably decline, and no progress is ever made, except through real effort and real suffering.” - Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie                                                                                                                                                 "Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God" - Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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DECEMBER 2nd. FEAST OF OUR LADY OF LIESSE, "Causa Nostrae Laetitiae"

Memorial in the Missal of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order
of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta

In 1134 three Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem,
prisoners of the Muslims in Egypt,
miraculously found or received in their prison a statue of Our Lady,
which they named "Notre Dame de Liesse" [Our Lady of Joy in French].
In response to their prayers, a young Muslim princess, named Ismerie,
took an interest in the Knights and through the intercession of Our Lady
and the mercy of God the princess was converted.
The princess arranged the escape of the pious crusaders
and joined them on their journey to France.
They carried the statue with them, and in the region of Laon, about 35 miles northwest of Reims,
they founded a church as a resting place for the statue.
Through local devotion the church took on the name of the statue,
and gave that name to the whole region,
so that "Notre Dame de Liesse" came to mean both "Our Lady of Joy"
and "Our Lady of [the place called] Liesse".
The statue came to be venerated by many,
and "Our Lady of Liesse" became the Patroness of the Diocese of Soissons.
In 1620 the titular Bailiff of Armenia, Fra' Jacques Chenu de Bellay,
built a church to Our Lady of Liesse at Valletta in Malta.
It is today the chaplaincy church of the Port of Valetta.  The pediment is illustrated above.

The shrine statue in Malta (click photo to enlarge)
The original statue was destroyed during the French Revolution,
but the medieval basilica at Liesse remained a center of devotion to the Mother of God,
and a new statue was installed and crowned there in 1857.
It is still the focus of pilgrimage, especially on Whit Monday.

The Collect
O God, who brought joy to the world
by the incarnation of Christ your Son,
grant to us, who honour his Mother as Cause of our Joy,
the grace to follow your commandments
and to set our hearts on the true joy of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.