Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, founder of the Society of the Atonement, in view of certain apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Graymoor, gave to her the title of Our Lady of the Atonement and placed her Feast Day on July 9. This was the day on which he had received the name for his Society (At-one-ment) and the Scripture text for it: "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." (Romans 5:11).
Our Lady of the Atonement — Blessed Virgin Mary
Father Paul said of Mary's part in the Atonement:
"She is necessarily "of the Atonement" since it was the will of God that she play a necessary part in the atonement or redemption. This is not to say that without her man would have remained unredeemed but that God's plan gave her a large share in the redemptive work…Mary, although her part is in no way similar in nature to that of her divine Son's, cooperated with Jesus Christ, as no other creature did, in his work of reconciling man with God. Her claim to this high title rests most solidly on the fact that she consented to become, and became the mother of the Redeemer; that she suffered with Jesus during the passion; and that all graces merited for mankind by Christ have come to us through Mary.
When we, therefore, give to our Blessed Mother the title of Our Lady of the Atonement we mean: Our Lady of Unity. As she sits enthroned, as the great wonder of heaven, wearing a crown of twelve stars, clothed with the sun, the moon her footstool, she presents to the universe the highest possible approach of a creature to intimate and exalted union with God.
She is at one and the same time the most perfect and the most beloved Daughter of God the Father; she is the Mother of God the Son, and she is the spouse of God the Holy Spirit."
[Fr. Paul Wattson, The Lamp Sept. 1932].
Fr. Paul pinpointed the moment when Mary became the mother of all the baptized"
|"Hear Jesus say to her, "woman, behold your Son!" and then to St. John, "Son, behold your mother!" In these words, the Lord of heaven and earth crowned Mary with the motherhood of all the elect, who should be redeemed by his precious atoning blood, and through St. John, he addresses himself to all the children of the atonement until the end of the world, saying, "Behold your mother.”|
Fr. Paul stressed that Mary is a real mother:
|We must understand by virtue of our new birth into the Kingdom of God that the Blessed Virgin is our real mother and not merely a mother that has just adopted us. By baptism we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ and by that process of incorporation we are also brought into relationship with the Blessed Virgin, which is intrinsically similar to the relationship which Christ has to the Blessed Virgin as his mother. The Blessed Virgin is not our stepmother. She is our real mother as far as are the Sons and Daughters of the Atonement and members of the Mystical Body of Christ.|
About the paintings:
There are two identical paintings of Our Lady of Atonement (above right), which were done by Mother Margaret Mary Nealis, RSCJ, (1876-1957). Her mother, an Anglican convert, had been a great friend of Graymoor. The first painting (above right), created in 1933, hangs in St. Francis Chapel. The second, completed in 1934, is in the Sisters' convent. These depict the Blessed Virgin garbed in a red mantle and surrounded by four angels holding the instruments of the passion and death of Jesus: a crown of thorns, pole with sponge, reed, lance, nails, pillar, whip, and a tablet with "INRI" inscribed on it. She holds in her hands the Christ child, who has a small cross in his right hand. Around her head are the twelve stars described by Father Paul above in reference to Revelation 12:1— "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." In the background is the inscription Domina Nostra Adunationis.
A Byzantine-style painting (above left) created by Giovanni Martini of Rome in 1929 at the request of Fr. Gabriel Diamante, SA was presented to Father Paul by the students of St. John's College. Now in what was formerly the Friars' novitiate at Graymoor, this also depicts Our Lady of the Atonement and the four Angels with the instruments of the passion and carries the same inscription: Domina Nostra Adunationis.