The name and worship of Our Lady of the Divine Providence originated in Italy in the thirteenth century. It was a very popular devotion which later passed to Spain, where a shrine was built in Tarragona, Catalonia.
When Gil Esteve Tomas, a Catalan, was named bishop of Puerto Rico, he brought with him this devotion which he had become acquainted with during his seminary years.
The bishop had to place his diocese in the hands of Divine Providence, for he found the cathedral nearly in ruins and the finances of the diocese in similar condition. The bishop's trust and work bore fruit quickly; in less than five years the cathedral church had been restored, and immediately worship of the Virgin of Providence was established there.
The original image, venerated by the Servants of Mary, and other Italian religious orders and saints, was a beautiful oil painting in which the Virgin is shown with the Divine Child sleeping peacefully in her arms. The title "Of Divine Providence" has been attributed to St. Philip Benicio, fifth superior of the Servants of Mary. On a day when his friars had nothing to eat, having invoked the help of the Virgin, he found, at the door of the convent, two baskets full of food whose origin could not be found.
The image that Don Gil Esteve ordered was carved in Barcelona according to the prevailing taste. It is a handsome seated figure, made to be dressed, and it was in the cathedral sixty-seven years, until 1920 when it was replaced by a magnificent all wood carving, which is the image of Our Lady of Divine Providence most familiar and best known to the Puerto Rican communities.
Mary leans over the Child, who in an attitude of complete trust sleeps peacefully on her lap. The Virgin's hands are folded in prayer while she gently supports her Son's left hand. The whole carving suggests tenderness, abandonment, devotion and peace.
Pope Paul VI, by a decree signed on November 19, 1969, declared Our Lady Mother of Divine Providence principal patroness of the island of Puerto Rico. In this document it was also decreed that the Virgin's solemnity be transferred from January 2 to November 19, the day that the island was discovered. The intention was to join together the two great loves of the Puerto Ricans: love of their gorgeous island and love for the Mother of God.
The oldest carving, which dates from 1853, was the one chosen to be solemnly crowned during the meeting of the Latin American Bishops Council (CELAM), that took place in San Juan de Puerto Rico on November 5, 1976. On the eve of this event, the image was vilely burnt in the Parish of Little St. Therese in Santurce. And in this condition, the image was crowned amid the emotion and tears of thousands of her children and in the presence of cardinals, archbishops and bishops from all Latin America.
The burnt statue was sent to Spain to be restored and is presently awaiting the construction of the projected grand national sanctuary, where it will be placed.
Prayer To Our Lady of Providence
Litany of Our Lady of Providence
God the Creator of heaven and earth, have mercy on us.
God the son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Most Holy Trinity, Divine Providence, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Providence, mother of grace and mercy, pray for us.
Our Lady of Providence, help of the sick, pray for us.
Our Lady of Providence, hope of the oppressed, pray for us.
Our Lady of Providence, star of the sea, pray for us.
Our Lady of Providence, tower of David, pray for us.
Our Lady of Providence, queen of the home, pray for us.
Our Lady of Providence, model of disciples, pray for us.
Our Lady of Providence, mother of the Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, hear us O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Pray for us, Our lady of Providence, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
O God, whose ever-watchful Providence rules all things,
Adapted for a novena prior to the Feast of Our Lady of Providence