Her great longing was to visit some of the shrines of Mary. She had heard of these from people who had talked with her; and once a pilgrim, passing through that village, had told the orphan girl of the little house in which the Holy Family had lived on earth - of its band of pilgrims and the costly gifts they made, of the waxen lights and brilliant jewels round the golden shrine. Then the little girl confided her trouble to the pilgrim - that she could not see that Holy Mother; that she could not even linger in the old church in the valley, because it was so far away; and the old man, as he listened, smiled upon her and gave her an image of the Blessed Virgin and Child.
"See, my daughter," he said, "I will fix this for you in the trunk of this old tree. This must be your shrine, and here you can pray to your Holy Mother."
The little maiden was delighted, and it became her daily care to deck the image gaily. True, she had no offerings of gold and gems; but she found the fairest flowers of the meadows, and briar roses of pure pale tint from the hedgerows, to twine around the humble shrine of her Queen; and even in winter she could make it wreaths of evergreen and holly.
this girl had neither parents or friends, and so she made a little humble cot under the spreading branches of the old oak; and here she dwelt, in poverty and want, un-thought of, uncared for, but by God.
At length the priest from the distant village was summoned to the dwelling of the shepherd maiden, for the people found her ill and near death. But when he reached the door he paused in silent wonder, for a lady stood by the lonely bedside, fair, majestic, with a band of costly gems round her forehead and a blue mantle covering her figure. With the gentle care of a mother she bent over the girl, wiping the dew of death from her forehead; pressing her lips on the cold thin cheek; speaking to her in words whose sweet tone the priest had never heard or imagined before.
"See, my child," said this lovely visitor, "the priest is here, bringing thy Jesus to thee. he will bear thee safely home."
Then the priest entered the hut. Trembling and on his knees he heard the last confession of the dying girl, and the lady raised her in her arms. while sweet strains of angel music filled the humble dwelling, because the Lord of Heaven had entered there. He has come to His suffering child, He rests in her heart, and the angel music sinks into faint sighing whispers. One glance of unspeakable love, of unimaginable longing, and the spirit of the shepherd-girl has fled.
The good priest is kneeling there all alone now, the radiant queenly form is not longer by the bedside, and yet the angel voices are singing, and yet a sweet fragrance lingers round the straw pallet. Then a soft voice whispered: "Tell this vision which you have seen. Tell it, that men's hearts may be moved to love. Say that none who call upon Mary shall die unaided. Say that she is a mother who will be always with her children in their need." So the good Father told his story for many a mile round; and the faith and love of the people caused them to build a little chapel on the consecrated spot, within which, for many a year, an oak tree might be seen with an image of Our lady in its hollow trunk wreathed with flowers and green leaves.
Source: Legends of the Saints, 1876
A coloring picture of our Lady can be found below.