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My name is Maria Won, from the Yangjae-dong Parish in Seoul.  I have visited Naju many times for the past ten years, because I have had many things to pray for.  I came when my husband was faced with a default on a loan that he made to someone; I also came when a friend of my son’s died while playing with my son.  Also, my second daughter was experiencing excessive pains every month.  Once I had to call for an ambulance and take her to the emergency room, but the doctor did not find any serious problem.  She also expressed disbelief and animosity toward the Blessed Mother.  Sometimes she said that the Blessed Mother’s feet (on her statue) were ugly and criticized the Blessed Mother in other ways.  I realized that darkness was at work through my daughter and decided to take her on my pilgrimages to Naju.  She soon realized her fault and prayed for forgiveness on her knees before the Blessed Mother’s statue.  I became more elated and was about to begin working on the rest of the family. 

Then, in early 1998, my husband found an article in the Peace Weekly (one of the Catholic newspapers in Korea), which was reporting on the Kwangju Archbishop’s negative declaration on Naju.  He said to me, “Come and sit here for a minute.  From now on, if you go to Naju one more time, we will have a divorce.  Do you understand?”  That night, in my dream, I saw the Blessed Mother walking by me, weeping.  I woke up immediately and looked at the clock.  It was 3 a.m.  I could not sleep any more.  I went to work in our store, but my mind was filled with thoughts about the Blessed Mother of Naju.  I thought, “Every time I was in trouble, I asked the Blessed Mother for help and she helped me.  After receiving so many graces, can I now be a daughter who betrays her instead of consoling her?”  I looked at the clock; it was almost the time the pilgrimage bus would leave for Naju.  Without any preparation or any other thoughts, I ran to the bus and left for Naju. 

In the mean time, my husband found out about my absence in the store and called our daughters to see if I was at home.  Filled with anger, he said to them, “Tell your mother never to come home again!”  I called my husband, “Honey!  I am going to the Blessed Mother of Naju even if I have to sign the divorce papers.  Divorce or no divorce is your decision!” 

Despite many difficulties, I continued making pilgrimages to Naju, because I wanted to be a daughter of the Blessed Mother who consoles her with an unchanging love.  Gradually, the Blessed Mother poured many blessings on my family.  My husband got the money back that he thought was lost; our second daughter’s faith continued growing; and my first daughter, her husband, and their children have also experienced many miracles.  I was getting more allies.  Eventually, my husband, who was threatening me with divorce, changed greatly, even carrying water bottles to the bus and saying kindly, “Have a good pilgrimage!” 

Whenever I make the monthly pilgrimage to Naju, I become filled with joy.  When I miss one, thinking that the pilgrimage involves too much work and missing it once would not make too much difference, the whole month afterwards becomes a mess.  Everything seems to go wrong.  So, I have decided never to miss the pilgrimage.  After each pilgrimage, I am overjoyed with the thought that I have won a victory over the devil.

Now, when I am in Naju, I pray, “Blessed Mother, help me come back next month.”  At home in Seoul, for three days before each pilgrimage, I light a candle before the Blessed Mother’s statue and pray.  Because of the busy work in the store, I do not have much time to pray at work or at home.  So, while lighting the candle, I say, “Mother, even when I am not praying, my heart is always with you.”  She has answered all my prayers.  I hope that all of you brothers and sisters here (visiting Naju) will always unite your hearts with the Blessed Mother’s.  Then, I believe that she will certainly guide you in everything.  Thank you.

Maria Won
Sangil Plaza #107
837-26 Yuksam-dong, Kangnam-ku
August 4, 2002

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