As a kid I remember watching What’s My Line? where the celebrity panelists guessed one’s claim to fame. I was surprised how often folks struck by lightning were featured. Not just hit by lighting once, but multiple times. What part of come in out of the storm didn’t they understand?
Part of the fun of giving tours is it doesn’t matter if I’ve been in a church one thousand times, I still have folks from around the world point out new stuff to me. This week I was in the Chapel of Good Health on Plaza Civica when a lad noticed up by the rafters, in a dark corner, was a framed hat. The hat is black with a wide brim and what was once a flat top that had been blown to pieces.
Why is that hat there?
Here it was the hat of Jose Antonio, a local Otomi farmer,that he was wearing on May 14th, 1733 when struck by lightning and rushed to the Chapel of Good Health. Once at the temple, the priest prayed three Hail Marys over the prone, and presumed dead, body of Jose Antonio and he survived. Jose Antonio’s hat is framed and remains in the church for all to witness the power of prayer over the power of an electrical storm. Well, if you have the power to look up high enough!
This event was remembered over two centuries later and resulted in the construction of the Chapel of Three Hail Marys alongside the Chapel of Good Health back in 1960. Mary of Three Hail Marys is an image of Mary that told two German nuns if you say Three Hail Marys when you awake, and before going to bed, to think about your day some she’ll grant you certain graces including an easy death.
To the left of the image of Mary of Three Hail Marys is a statue of St. Matilda, one of the two German nuns who witnessed this image. St. Gertrude, the other nun, used to stand next to St. Matilda (like she did in real life) but during recent renovations she stepped out, apparently to go hat shopping, and has yet to return.