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Our Lady of Navigators

Stella Maris, Marian holy cards collection, ML.031 Box 20, circa 1675 - 2018. Marian Library, University of Dayton Libraries, Dayton, Ohio.




The Marian image "Stella Maris" dates to the medieval ages when the crusaders headed towards Palestine to protect the pilgrims and the holy places from the “unfaithful.” Knowing the dangers these sailors were going to be facing, the uncertainties of the ocean, they would seek solace and protection praying to the Holy Virgin Mary under the name of Stella Maris, or “Star of the Sea.” Sailors thought that in answering their prayers, she would protect the them and show them the way to their destination. In the 12th century, Alfonso Henriques, the emperor of what is known today as Portugal, upon conquest of this territory consecrated this country to the Blessed Mother. Later during the Renaissance, the Holy Virgin Mary acquired a more dynamic role especially for the Spanish and Portuguese, who venerated her as Queen of the Seas. “As Virgen de los Mareantes, Virgin of the Sailors, she became their protectress during maritime crossings” (Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Małgorzata, 105). It is uncertain when exactly she received the title of “Star of the Sea,” but under these devotions sailors came to the discovery of Brazil the 22nd of April of 1500. 

The image of Our Lady of Navigators is closely related to the representation of the Immaculate Conception from the Baroque era. The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception was specially associated with the moon, the sky and the sea (Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Małgorzata, 105). Similarly, the Queen of the Sea is associated with the guiding stars that show sailors the way. In Brazilian religion Candomble, Iemanja is the goddess of the sea, and she is portrayed as a pale skin woman with siren features. In Afro-Brazilian syncretic religion, it became custom to intertwine some holiday traditions associated with orixas or goddesses equivalent to the Virgin Mary. This blend was such that it is commonly found that practitioners of Catomble religion see Iemanja like the Holy Virgin Mary. 

February 2nd is Our Lady of Navigators’ feast day, which in fact coincides with Iemanja’s feast day. Another event associated with February 2nd is also regarded as children’s day. Our Lady of Navigators is portrayed as the Blessed Mother carrying infant Jesus who is holding an anchor. A famous painting, "The Virgin of the Navigators," by Spanish artist Alejo Fernandez depicts the Holy Virgin Mary protecting the faithful under the folds of her mantel. The picture depicts the discovery of the Americas and among the explorers portrayed together we see Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and even one of the Pinzon Brothers, all of whom appear kneeling in reverence to the Blessed Mother. 

Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Małgorzata. The Black Madonna in Latin America and Europe: Tradition and Transformation. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007. Print.

Santoro, Nicholas J. Mary in Our Life: Atlas of the Names and Titles of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Their Place in Marian Devotion. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2011. Print.

Popular Devotions

Her feast day is February 2nd, religious processions take place in costal cities.

“Por eso tú permaneces con los discípulos como madre suya, como Madre de la esperanza. Santa María, Madre de Dios, Madre nuestra, enséñanos a creer, a esperar y a amar contigo. Indícanos el camino hacia el reino. Estrella del mar, brilla sobre nosotros y guíanos en nuestro camino”.

Nuestra Señora de los Navegantes, ¡ruega por nosotros!

Hail Mary

Ave-Maria, cheia de graça, o Senhor é convosco, bendita sois 
vós entre as mulheres a bendito é o fruto do vosso ventre, Jesus. 
Santa Maria, Mãe de Deus, rogai por nós, pecadores, 
agora e na hora da nossa morte.


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