People with a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe have fewer health issues related to stress, according to a University of Alabama study, The Catholic Herald reports.
“This drives home how important faith is. In the study results, I found that people who are exposed to stress – their wellbeing goes down over time. Those who were Guadalupan devotees broke that pattern,” said Rebecca Read-Wahidi, the study’s author.
According to its abstract, the study "considers how shared devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe among Mexican immigrants in rural Mississippi buffers the effects of immigration stress".
"Rural destinations lacking social services can quickly compound the already stressful experience of immigration. Guadalupe devotion provides a way of coping with the daily life stressors of immigration," the abstract states.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is more than just a mother figure to her people, she is their mother. Ms Read-Wahidi said most of the devotees she interviewed have conversations with her throughout the day.
Mary “listens to their worries,” said Sr Lourdes Gonzalez, a member of the Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, who helped with the study. “It’s a way to pray. People talk to her as if she is alive and in the room. She has a special place in the family.”
This connection to the poor may be why people see Mary as the perfect intercessor. “They may not feel comfortable talking to God — but they can speak to the Virgin. She is the mother figure. When they are so far from home, they need a mother figure,” Ms Read-Wahidi said.
She wrote in a journal article that immigrants place their stress in Mary’s hands: “When I asked what people petition the Virgin to help them with, they mentioned: finding work and keeping their jobs, not getting deported or arrested, the health of their family back in Mexico and here in the United States, the safety of family members who were making the journey across the border, and their own safe return back home.”
Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe lowers stress, study says (Catholic Herald)