As we come into the Cathedral through the right door, or the east side, the first chapel we find, as I mentioned in the article I posted yesterday here in the blog on the fourteen chapels, is the chapel devoted to Nuestras Señora de las Angustias de Granada, and although it is unfortunately a very dark chapel, it is not only a chapel of great beauty, but of unsolved mysteries.
First of all, the name of the chapel is difficult to translate into English. Literally, it is Our Lady of Anguish or more literally, Anguishes. Some give the Chapel the translation as Our Lady of Sorrows, but this is not really the same. I hear the Word "angustias" quite often in the vocabulary of my wife, when she tells me she is concerned about the safety about one of our children. To worry is one thing, to be concerned another, but to be anguished, or as they Spanish say, to be "angustiado" is much more extreme in emotion. Our Blessed Mother, under the Cross of Christ, must have felt that extreme degree of Anguish, that only a mother can comprehend. Our Lady of Sorrows is an Advocation of Our Blessed Mother popular in many churches and countries throughout the Catholic world, while Our Lady of the Anguishes is specifically a Spanish devotion, and more specifically, a devotion whose origin is in a miracle or legend in Granada, in Southern Spain.
The painting of Our Lady of the Anguishes,
In the Chapel of the same name in the Cathedral of Mexico,
copy of the miraculous portrait in the Cathedral of Granada.
In a chapel that was being decorated for Our Virgin of Sorrows in the Cathedral of Granada, a picture was being painted. The painter had started painting Jesus Christ laying lifeless, after His Crucifixion. One night a noblewoman came into the chapel, accompanied by two young men. The Chaplin in charge of the Chapel saw them come in, was impressed by the beauty of the woman's regal dress, whom he only saw from behind. The Chaplin stayed outside the door of the chapel and kept a close look at the door, but no one left. As it was closing time, the Chaplin came into the chapel to advise the Lady that is was time for her to leave. The Chaplin to his astonishment found no one in the Chapel, as he search for the party of three in every corner. At last, he looked up at the painting, and he saw the beautiful robe that the noblewoman wore as she entered into the chapel. The Noble Woman was none less than Our Blesssed Virgin, who had come into the chapel accompanied by two angels, and Our Blessed Virgin took Her place in the painting, carrying the lifeless body of Her Crucified Son.
A replica of the painting was made of this painting of Granada for the Cathedral of Mexico.
The mystery doesn't end here. If you take a close look at the painting, it seems like you can see a shadow, the shadow of what seems to be that of the Chaplin looking into the Chapel of Granada. It is difficult to observe. But it is worth the effort.
In the same chapel is a portrait of Tobias with the Angel. The picture is a masterpiece by the Flemish Painter Marten de Vos. Beautiful painting. But what is it doing here in this chapel? What could be the possible relationship between Our Lady of the Anguishes and Tobias in the Old Testament? I always assumed there was no relationship. But as with so many of my assumptions, they only reveal my ignorance. Who was Tobias? What was his story?
Let us take a look at the Book of Tobias, Chapter Four. Tobias gives this advice to his son, also whose name was Tobias. "3 When God shall take my soul, thou shalt bury my body: and thou shalt honour thy mother all the days of her life: 4 For thou must be mindful what and how great perils she suffered for thee in her womb. 5 And when she also shall have ended the time of her life, bury her by me." For Catholics, and those devoted to the Blessed Virgin, these words of advice apply not only to our relationship with our earthly mother, but with Mary, Our Heavenly Mother, and our duty to honor her in our prayers. Is this the reasoning behind having this painting of Tobias in the Virgins Chapel?