Ora pro nobis, Olga Brajnović

Center window of the apse behind the altar, de...

Center window of the apse behind the altar, depicting the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (left), Saint Joseph (right), and an angel presenting a scroll with the inscription Ora pro nobis sanctus dei genetrix (translated: Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God). According to an inscription at the bottom the stained glass was erected by the Ladies Altar Society. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chapel was luminous and beautiful. It had a sculpture of Our Lady with the Baby Jesus and St. Joseph and colored windows. I liked to go there to pray as a child my little prayers. I used the balcony when some girls from other classes where occupying the chapel so nobody would see me. I preferred to pray alone and talk to the Baby Jesus like a little friend as my mother taught me.

I have been sick and I have been absent for several weeks. Back at school I rushed to the chapel to say hello to the Baby Jesus from the balcony when a class of girls older than me were reciting the rosary in Latin. We pray the rosary at home in Croatian, I have never heard it in Latin. When they reached to the litanies my heart sank. I couldn’t  believe my ears. I was hearing the girl conducting the prayer saying something and everybody answering in a chaotic chorus something that I only could understand as my name badly pronounced as it was usually in Spain: Olga Brajnović, without the “J” and  the accent in the “no” of Brajnović. So it was:

– blah, blah, blah

and everybody:

-Olga Brajnović

– blah, blah, blah

-Olga Brajnović

– blah, blah, blah

-Olga Brajnović

I jumped on my feet terrified. What could possibly mean that public proclaiming of my name in the chapel? Did I do something wrong everybody knew about? It was a public account of my wrongdoings in school which I was sure were a lot? Were there all praying for me because I was such a disaster there was no other way to make me good?

Thank God a good nun entered the balcony at the moment I jumped and began to cry with my eyes widened and my mouth opened in astonishment. She asked me what was the matter. I asked her why everybody down in the chapel was saying my name in a prayer over and over again. At first she didn’t understand. Then when I told her  to listen at the girls repeating my name, she began to laugh.

– Oh my dear, they are not saying Olga Brajnović, they are saying Ora pro Nobis, which means Pray for Us in Latin.

So my terror and astonishment vanished and a big embarrassment appeared.  How could I possibly thought that everybody would say my name publicly in a prayer in school? How could I have been so self-centered?. Thank God the nun was discreet and never told the story in school, so my confusion Olga Brajnović, Ora pro Nobis was our little secret until today. I still praying the rosary every day, but sometimes when I pray the litanies I switch from the Croatian “moli za nas” to Latin and I remember with a smile my first troubled encounter with the sweet Ora pro Nobis.

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