England the ‘Dowry of Mary’
This year on Sunday 29th March, the Sunday following the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Bishops of England and Wales will re-dedicate our country as the ‘Dowry of Mary’. King Richard II, during a time of political unrest, sought Our Lady’s protection and guidance for our country and dedicated England as her ‘Dowry’ in Westminster Abbey in 1381. This means by an act of the Monarch, we have Our Lady as special protectress because we belong to her. This dedication has never been revoked. There was clearly a great devotion to Our Lady here during those times and there are strong signs that this has not been lost. Thousands go every year on pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima, and more locally to our national shrine at Walsingham, which is one of the oldest shrines to Our Lady. There is also Aylesford in Kent where Our Lady appeared to St Simon Stock in 1251 and gave him the Brown Scapular which to this day is worn with faith and devotion the world over.
We are very blessed in having our parish dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, and let us not forget we consecrated it to her Immaculate Heart in 2017, the centenary year of Fatima. Our Lady’s intercession is very powerful with God, and St Bernard (1090-1153) tells us that it is the will of God that everything comes to us through her hands. It was through her ‘fiat’, her ‘yes’ at the Annunciation that our Saviour was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born into this world. We want to imitate that ‘yes’ in our own personal lives for her guidance to her Son and our protection under her.
In the run up to this re-dedication, let us have great confidence in Our Lady and pray fervently to her for our own spiritual renewal, as well as for the conversion of our country back to the true Faith. How wonderful it would be if England were Catholic again! All things are possible with God. Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val (1865-1930), a priest of the Diocese of Westminster and close friend and Secretariat of State to the great Pope St Pius X (1903-14) composed the following prayer which many of you will know for this intention:
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy “Dowry” and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that JESUS our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross. O sorrowful Mother! intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us!
Fr Paul Gillham IC