We lived abroad in Europe for several years – France, Italy, and Poland – and the concrete experience of living and breathing Catholic culture made an imprint upon our souls. The architecture, the art, the small attention to detail that relayed the Christian story were awe-inspiring. There has truly been no institution, country, or empire that has been a stronger patron of the arts than the Catholic Church.
European Christmas markets, church décor, icons, and items of devotion, hand-fashioned by those who learned their craft through the generations, capture the Catholic faith in a tangible way that isn’t superficial or saccharine. Such treasures enrich one’s faith by bringing the spiritual to the level of the material, and back again.
Candles are something that people immediately feel this connection with—where the material opens the door to the spiritual—with the spark of a quiet flame. It beckons one to prayer, focuses one’s attention, and reminds us of the life of the Spirit.
Stella Maris is Latin for Star of the Sea, one of the oldest titles for the Virgin Mary dating back as early as the 3rd or 4th century. St. Bernard said of her, “If you hold fast to her, you will not fail,” a message echoed by many saints, and a sign of great hope for a weary world today.