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Toledo, Spain (660)


Traditionally Approved

40 - 999 1400 - 1499
1000 - 1099 1500 - 1599
1100 - 1199 1600 - 1699
1200 - 1299 1700 - 1799
1300 - 1399 1800 - 1899

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Ildefonso, Archbishop of Toledo (657-667), had a strong Marian devotion and was a staunch defender of the true Christian faith. On the feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in the early morning Ildefonso came in with some priests in the Cathedral of Toledo, and found it was, surprisingly, lit up. On the gate of the chapel, Mary praised the religious fervor of the bishop and handed him a valuable garment as a symbol of his protection. For a long time in the diocese of Toledo a special celebration was held to commemorate this apparition.

Idelfonso was a musician and writer .Indeed, he wrote, besides a treatise on the Virgin Mary, including "The ways of the desert", "On the perpetual virginity against three infidels," "Lives of Illustrious Men."

About the visionary St. Ildefonso

His family already powerful under the Romans, the Visigoths remains one below, and prepare an appropriate career. But Ildefonso ran away from home, taking refuge in the monastery of Saints Cosmas and Damian, near Toledo. He had no career in mind. He became a monk, came to the diaconate and then stopped. But the brothers also elected him the abbot in their community, because he possessed everything: piety, culture, energy, speaking attractive. He was also a writer of great effectiveness.

But about fifty years he must leave the monastery: Eugene II died, the bishop of Toledo, and in its place they wanted him, Ildefonso. He went to convince the Visigoth king in person, Recesvinto. Thus, in 657, he was bishop of that time is the capital of the kingdom. Now was not much time to devote to books, busy trying to write many letters, that were not exactly pleasant. We have pages of him distressed by the scandals of some influential Christians and false, harsh conflict with the king, who also admires him, and too many clergymen who meddle in the affairs of state.

It was really better than the monastery to pray with others, to study, write ... Ildefonso has left us works of doctrine and morals, treated on the Mother of Jesus, liturgical hymns. It also wrote the popular De viris illustribus ("Of the famous men") that is a bit of a continuation of the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville (ca. 570-636), the great "encyclopedia" of all the High Middle Ages. Ildefonso can not live without teaching, he also believed (as St. Braulio, bishop of Zaragoza) that knowledge "is a common gift, not private," and therefore must be distributed to all.

His faithful devotion to Mary affected him, even stories of accomplishing prodigious deeds. As if, when a solemn, in church, Our Lady appeared, handing Ildefonso vestments for the rite.

After his death, his body was buried in Toledo, then, with the Arab invasion, was transferred to Zamora in Castile. The faithful have "cried holy" now, but connect his name with that of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And ten centuries after his death will remain so, in the paintings of the masters of the Golden Age (the "golden age" of Spanish) El Greco, Velázquez, Murillo, Zurbaran (its the detail of the painting reproduced here next ), with many others across Europe, will continue to represent the bishop of Toledo, next to the Mother of Jesus. Just like Guido Reni in the same period, with the frescoes in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Great art reflected the moods so popular, expressed in worship to spontaneously bestowed Ildefonso, by the faithful and his successor Julian, who wrote his life.

Author: Dominic Agassi


Our Lady of Toledo, Spain (657)

Saint Ildephonsus was a Visigoth born into a noble family, but the date of his birth in about 607 is not known for certain. He was tutored by Saint Isidore of Seville, and then became a Benedictine monk against the wishes of his father while at a young age. He was ordained a deacon in about 630, and in 657 was called to the archiepiscopal throne in Toledo, the Visigothic capital of Spain.

One day in that same year of 657, while Saint Ildephonsus, now the Archbishop of Toledo, was saying matins, Our Lady appeared to him accompanied by a great number of the blessed. She was holding in her hand the book on the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary which Ildephonsus had composed in her honor. She thanked him for it, and out of gratitude gave him a golden chasuble that had specifically been woven from him in heaven. (The chasuble is the outer garment worn by a priest when celebrating Mass).

Tradition claims that Ildephonsus’s successor, Siagrius, tried to use the alb, but died in the act of putting it on. The garment is said to have been seen and touched by Herbert Losinga, Bishop of Norwich, as late as the eleventh century.

There are those who say the present location of this chasuble of Saint Ildephonsus is not known, or that the story is only legend, but neither of these assertions is correct. This celestial gift is still preserved and is now kept at Oviedo. Alphonsus, the chaste King of Castile, transferred it to the church of Saint Savior which he had built. It, along with the Sudarium of Jesus Christ, and many other relics, is contained in the Holy Chest of Oviedo. The Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz, better known the Cid, was a living witness when the chest was opened in his presence.

Chasuble of Saint Ildephonsus

*from The Woman in Orbit and other sources



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