“Virgin Mary,” Joaquin Sorolla, 1887, WikiArt.

Part 1: Cloaked Visitor

Cold December Irish morn, first dawning
Light, cloaked visitor knocked at cottage
Door, breath steaming, face hood-concealed.
Before opening, I, Sister Muriel, felt emotions
Welling: love, grief, sorrows, sense of motherly
Reward, all conveyed by one word: Door.
As if unhinged from life’s tumult, opened by
Divine breeze, Mary, Holy Mother greeted
Me, as I did her, warm smile, open arms.
Why did I weep in her presence, kneel at
Her feet? Because she touched my heart,
Salve upon my soul, what Mary in life
Endured, my daily burdens lessened by
Her love, faith, and peace.

Yet this early morn, Holy Mother’s eyes
Were dark-tired, her hair first streaks of
Grey. “Sister, I am here for sanctuary and
For Christmas, but first must rest from
Burdens of earthly turmoil,” weary voice
She stated. Alas! I felt her needs, my cottage,
Bed I offered her, more wood on hearth fire.
Tea warming, bread and fish. “Perhaps visit
To Skellig Mhór?” I suggested, benefits of
Sea, monastery clifftop isolation. “Later, let’s
Take footpath around nearby lake.” Fatigue
Overtaken, few sips of willow bark tea, Mary
Slept, neither apparition nor dream, Christmas
Visitation by Holy Mother of Christ.

Never so humble-entrusted, riches beyond
Church silver or gold, Mary sleeping as if
Six hundred years past, breathing, living,
Mother’s devotion to her son. As fires to
Coals dimmed, evening candle-flame, divine
Light shown all round her, I felt weight of
Prayerful intersessions, thousand pleading
Voices, as many tongues from foreign lands.
Tender mercies, servants of the Lord, what
More could I do than hold her hand, blesséd
Peasant woman? Thus, I recited rosary prayers,
Simple knotted cord, like ancient desert
Hermits, their strength I sought, courage
Bolstered, so spiritually moved.

“Irish Landscape,” Richard Jack, WikiArt.

Voices desert-chanting, realization thunder-
Struck, in name of Christ I served farmers,
Shepherds, peasant villagers, poor in earthly
Riches, devout in faith of God, short growing
Seasons, in perpetual labours. Throughout
Night hours, I fire-tended, kindling divine
Within, scriptural verses whisper-recited,
Life of humility, door-guarding, smoke rising
To clear, cold winter skies, moon and radiant
Stars, restful silent evening, soul-calming,
Heavenly light shining over this cottage.
As Christmas week approached, I pondered
Mysteries revealed by morrow’s lake-shore
Walking with Mary, Holy Mother of Christ.

In this poem, Sister Muriel’s Marian apparition is more than in spiritual sense, as
Holy Mother Mary visits sister as living older woman, seeking solace and strength
of Irish lake country.  For more on Marian apparitions, see this link:

For more on Sister Muriel as historical-fiction poetic character, see this link:

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