When searching for images for our Year of Faith bulletin board in the school courtyard for the 2012/13 school year I came across the image of Madonna della Lettera and because the story had to do with faith and conversion I chose that for our board that year. The story of how our Blessed Mother sent a letter to the folks of Messina, Sicily is very lovely, and while the board has been changed we continue to honor her under this title. As the story goes St. Paul (San Paolo) came to preach the gospel in Sicily and found the people willing to listen and convert. When San Paolo was ready to return to Palestine some inhabitants of Messina asked to accompany him to know Our Lady. A delegation with a letter professing their faith and seeking her protection returned with San Paolo. Our Blessed Mother received them and sent a letter back to all of Messina. The ending of the letter Vos Et Ipsam Civitatem Benedicimus (We bless you and your city/Benediciamo voi e la vostra citta') is now in large block letters under the statue of Madonna della Lettera in the harbor of Messina. Her feast day as Madonna della Lettera is 3 June.
La Lettera in Italiano:
"Maria Virgine, figlia de Gioacchino, umilissima serva di Dio, Madre di Gesu' crocifisso, della tribu' di Giuda, della stripe di Davide, salute a tutti I Messinesi e benedizione di Dio Padre Onnipotent. Ci consta per pubblico strumento che voi tutti con fede grande avete a noi spedito legati e Ambasciatori confessando che il Nostro Figlio, generato da Dio sia Dio e uomo e che dopo la sua resurrezione sali al cielo: avendo voi conoscuita la via della verita' per mezzo della predicazione di Paolo apostolo eletto per la qual cosa Benediciamo Voi E La Vostra Citta' della quale noi vogliamo essere perpetua protettrice."
The Letter in English:
"I, Virgin Mary, daughter of Joachim, humble servant of God, Mother of Jesus crucified, of the tribe of Judah, the offspring of David, Health to all in Messina and the blessing of God, the Father Almightly. We know by what public means your great faith have been quickly accepted, and through the Ambassadors you have confessed that our Son, begotten of God, is God and man, and that after the Resurrection He ascended into heaven: You have the way of Truth through the preaching of Paul the Apostle elect, and for this reason I Bless You and Your City and I want to be your perpetual pretectoress."