The 8th of December 1955 was the Feast of The Immaculate Conception of Mary as traditionalized by the Roman Catholic Church. It was on this same day that the Euro Flag was officially adopted. The idea behind this design came from a Jew who was converted to Roman Catholicism. His name is Paul G. M. Levi.

The Euro flag's 12 stars were inspired by the halo of 12 stars which appear around the Madonna in the many Catholic pictures of her. Leon Marchal, a former secretary general of the Council of Europe, affirmed that the stars are those of "the woman of the Apocalypse". He added enthusiastically, "It's wonderful that we have gotten back to the Introit of the new Mass of the Assumption. It's the corona stellarum duodecim (the crown of twelve stars) of the woman of the Apocalypse" whom the Roman Catholic Church has always claimed to be the Virgin Mary "the mother of God".

Heitz, the artist of the flag, drew his inspiration from the traditional iconography of the image of the Immaculate Conception in which are the 12 stars in a circle on a blue background. According to a statement sent to the Vatican-based news agency (ZENIT) by Prof. Javier Paredes (of Contemporary History at the University of Alcala, Spain): "Heitz listens to God in his interior; in other words, he prays with his heart and his head. He says he is profoundly religious and devoted to the Virgin, to whom he never misses praying a daily Rosary, together with his wife. Because of this, he believes the inspiration came not only from his artistic talents, but from the silent voices that Heaven always speaks to men of good will, among whom Heitz can undoubtedly be numbered. He is an artist, who virtually at the end of his life and at the zenith of his career, can proclaim with the guarantee of authenticity that he recalls that moment, that he is interested in very few but very important things, that he regards himself as a man who loves the whole world, but especially the Blessed Virgin, who is our Mother."

Prof. Paredes admits that "neither the stars nor the blues of the flag are particularly religious symbols, thus respecting the conscience of all Europeans, regardless of their beliefs." The EU flag "is a shared flag, blue with 12 gold stars symbolizing completeness. The number will remain 12 no matter how many countries there are in the European Union" (quote from a leaflet "Building Europe Together"). "However," explained Pro. Paredes, "in Heitz's soul the words of the Apocalypse were very present: 'A great sign appeared in the Heavens: a Woman clothed with the sun and with the moon at her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.' And perhaps without realizing it, the delegates of the European Ministers officially adopted the design proposed by Heitz on the feast of Our Lady: December 8, 1955. That's a lot of coincidences, so henceforth it should not be difficult for us to discover in the folds of the Europeans' flag the smile and affection of Our Mother, the Queen of Europe, ready to lend a hand in that great challenge that St. Peter's successor has proposed to us: to re-Christianize the Old Continent with the example of our lives and the testimony of our words."

Dr. Otto von Habsburg, the chairman of the Pan-European Movement wants a conservative and Roman Catholic Europe as well as to have an elected Head of State, a man who is elected for life. In his book The Social Order of Tomorrow, he wrotes: "Now we do possess a European symbol which belongs to all nations equally. This is the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, which embodies the tradition of Charlemagne, the ruler of a united occident... the crown represents not merely the sovereignty of the monarch, but also the ties between the authority and the people. It should therefore be considered whether the European head of state, as the protector of European law and justice, should not also become the guardian of a symbol which, more than any other, represents the sovereignty of the European community."

Would there be such a man?

Note: On September 2, 1958 Archbishop Montini of Milan (the later Pope Pius XII) released on the mountain Serenissima a 20-meter high statue of Mary and called it "Our Beloved Lady, Ruler of Europe". Pope Pius XII called Mary "Mother of all Nations" and called on March 3, 1953 for a reunion of nations. Bishop Dr. Graber said on September 9, 1978: "I've asked for a Marian European International... We pray and ask in silence that the Western world one day will be as it was: an IMPERIUM MARIANUM."  

The European flag/Marian symbol appears on every license plate in the EU nations.

[Source: edited from periodical.

Twist of globalisation: All faiths come together

Lourdes (France), August 20: In an unexpected twist of globalisation, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and other pilgrims regularly worship at famous Roman Catholic shrines to the Virgin Mary such as Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal.


They drink the holy water, light votive candles and pray fervently to the Madonna for help with life's hardships. Many venerate her like one of their own goddesses, a view that would be a heresy if a Catholic theologian tried to defend it.

Rather than turned away, the newcomers are free to join the crowds from Ireland, Italy, Spain, and other traditionally Catholic countries who flock to Europe's most popular shrines.

In Fatima, the warm welcome they have received has caused an uproar among traditionalist Catholics.

No one can say how many non-Catholics worship at shrines where the Virgin is said to have appeared, but they have become a familiar minority there over the past five to 10 years.

"There are lots of them," Bishop Jacques Perrier of Lourdes told Reuters during Pope John Paul's visit to the southwestern French "miracle shrine" on August 14-15.

"Their numbers may be small as a percentage of the 6 million pilgrims here each year, but they're big in absolute terms."

The sight of some south Asian women in splendid saris mingling with the European pilgrims is the first hint that reverence for Mary has crossed religious borders.

Standing near the grotto where she was said to have appeared in 1858, two women wearing the Hindu red dot or "bindi" on their foreheads said they prayed daily to the Madonna.

"I come here for peace of mind and heart," said Buvaneswary Palani, a Hindu from southeastern India who now lives in southern France.

"Gods are the same everywhere," explained her mother Darmavady. "She is like our mother goddess Mariamman."


Catholics revere Mary and believe she can intervene with Jesus to help them, but they do not consider her divine.

Hindu or Buddhist pilgrims could be forgiven for thinking she is, though, when they see the faithful kneeling in silent prayer before her statue or admire the huge mosaic of her that looms over the altar at the Lourdes basilica.

The Virgin also resembles goddesses they venerated back home before moving to Europe.

Tamils in southeastern India and northern Sri Lanka worship a goddess Mariamman who protects villages and wards off disease.

Among the Buddhists of China, Vietnam and other Asian states, the "compassionate Saviouress" Kwan Yin offers the maternal love that Catholics find in Mary.

Although Islam teaches there is no god but Allah, folk traditions in some Muslim societies have smuggled in a devotion for saints much like that seen in other religions.

The Koran contains a whole chapter on Mary, far more than the Gospels have on her. In it, Maryam (her Arabic name) is a virgin and Jesus a great prophet but neither is divine.

With its mass pilgrimages, devotion to a mother figure and belief in water with miracle healing powers, Lourdes combines elements familiar to followers of several other faiths.

"In a globalised age, it's normal that Lourdes attracts them," said Patrick Theillier, a physician who heads the Medical Bureau which examines every claim of miracle healing at Lourdes. The bureau has certified only 66 healings as genuine miracles.


Perrier saw no theological problem with pilgrims of other faiths worshipping at a shrine central to Roman Catholicism.

"There are no religious services at the grotto," the bishop explained. "They have great respect for Mary. They come to drink the water and touch the rocks. But they don't attend mass here. That would have no meaning for them."

But the line between hospitality to outsiders and blurring of religious borders is close, as Portugal's Fatima shrine to the Virgin has learned.

Traditionalist Catholics are up in arms against the shrine's directors for allegedly being so open to Hindu pilgrims that they let them perform religious rites there.

"They have sinned against God and given scandal to the faithful," thundered the U.S. monthly Catholic Family News. "They allowed Mary to be worshipped as God by pagan apostates."

Fatima's director, Father Luciano Guerro, issued a statement in late June denying that a Hindu pilgrim group led by its own priest had somehow defiled the shrine during a visit in May.

"The priest sang a prayer which lasted a few minutes," he said. "No gesture was made, no rite was performed, on or off the altar." Guerro also denied charges that a new church now being built there would be open to rites from all faiths.


The blurring of religious borders that globalisation has brought to Marian shrines has also touched the higher levels of Catholic theology, causing deep concern at the Vatican.

Father Jacques Dupuis, an 80-year-old Belgian Jesuit who spent 20 years in India, has broken new ground in recent years by arguing that God works through many faiths to save all believers.

This contradicts the Catholic position that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and even other Christian churches are imperfect paths to that goal.

Challenging that view earned the respected theologian a secretive three-year investigation by the Vatican's stern doctrinal chief, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The issue calmed in 2001 when Dupuis, under heavy Vatican pressure, issued a statement saying his writings had contained some doctrinal ambiguities. But he has not changed his view.

"The Holy Spirit is present in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions," he said in a lecture in February. "The diverse paths are conducive to salvation because they have been placed by God Himself."