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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham comes to Shrewsbury Cathedral as part of national Dowry Tour


The Slipper Chapel statue of Our Lady of Walsingham has visited Shrewsbury Cathedral as part of a national tour in preparation of rededicating England as the “Dowry of Mary”.

The statue is being taken to every Catholic cathedral in England ahead of the rededication, which will take place on a Sunday close to the March 25 Solemnity of the Annunciation in 2020.

The title originates from the time of St Edward the Confessor, an 11th century Saxon king, and suggests that England is unique because the country has been “set apart” for the Blessed Virgin Mary and that she is the country’s protector.

It followed a message from the Mother of God that was given to Lady Richeldis in Walsingham in 1061 and which led to the Norfolk shrine becoming one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Medieval Europe.

Lady Richeldis prayed to Our Lady and asked if there was a way she could honour her and was led “in spirit” to the house of the Annunciation, where St Gabriel the Archangel greeted Mary, and was asked to build a replica in Walsingham.

The dedication of England to Mary was formally carried out by King Richard II in 1381 and has never been rescinded.

The shrine was destroyed in the Reformation but was re-established in the 19th century and has again become a popular pilgrimage destination.

Pope Leo XIII prophesied: “When England comes back to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.”

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said in a homily preached on December 1 in the presence of the Slipper Chapel statue that at the heart of the devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham “is the joy of the Annunciation, of the Word made flesh and dwelling amongst us”.

“This Holy House, built a thousand years ago, would be destroyed in some of the darkest chapters of our history,” he said during Mass at Shrewsbury Cathedral.

“Yet, across this land we glimpse how a place was made for another truly Holy House, that of the Holy Eucharist.

“This has been so treasured by the English people that it produced the very architecture which defines our country from the ancient cathedrals high on our horizons; the spires of medieval towns like Shrewsbury; to the village churches at the heart of the remotest of communities. Here our true home was found.”

Bishop Davies said: “Here in Shrewsbury, we want to keep the doors of this Cathedral Church open for as long as possible each day, thereby, allowing those who pass by to catch sight of Altar and Tabernacle, and to accept the invitation of the Psalmist: ‘Come in, let us bow and bend low, let us kneel before the God who made us’.

“In this encounter we hope all may discover the joy of the Annunciation, for such is the joy of this Blessed Sacrament in the continuity of the Incarnation.”

The Bishop added: “This ‘house’ has happily become a place of renewed hope and holiness by the daily celebration of Confession, Reconciliation, Penance, Conversion; it is the place where heed the words of the Gospel: ‘Watch yourselves or your hearts will be coarsened’.”

“And as light fades each evening, a light remains focused on the Tabernacle from nightfall to dawn making this a house where a light is symbolically left on for us pointing to the True Light that remains in the Blessed Sacrament night and day,” he continued.

“In all of these ways, the vision of Walsingham, that joy which came to the home of Nazareth, the indescribable joy of God assuming a human nature in His desire to be ‘at home’ with us, is wonderfully manifest.

“It is surely the joy which Heaven desired would be the hallmark of our land – the Dowry of Mary – a joy which must never be lost amongst us.  And so the mission Walsingham gives us, is to re-build the Holy House of the Church so ‘The great joy of the Angelic Salutation’ may be shared by all generations.”