During the course of 2018 to 2020 the statue of Our Lady from the Slipper Chapel at the Catholic National Shrine in Walsingham will be taken to each Cathedral in England for a three-day triduum of prayer, as part of the preparation for the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary in 2020. Each visit will take place between a Thursday and Saturday.
“A moment of great promise …. for the Church in this country and for our mission.” Cardinal Vincent Nichols
“Be England Thy Dowry” ~ The Dowry of Mary Tour Comes to St Marie’s Cathedral, Sheffield
“Share my joy that my Son has redeemed you.” Mary’s words at Walsingham have inspired Mgr John Armitage, rector of the RC National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham, and his team, to make the “Dowry of Mary” tour to every Catholic cathedral in the country by 2020, when the Bishops will rededicate England as Mary’s Dowry.
From Thursday, 22 to Saturday, 24 November the tour visited the Cathedral of St Marie, Sheffield. The historic statue of Our Lady of Walsingham from the National Shrine’s Slipper Chapel was set up, surrounded by a small replica of a house, in St Joseph’s Chapel. A copy of this statue is kept in the Parish Room in St Marie’s. An exhibition around the cathedral told the story of Walsingham from the 11th century to the present day. There was a prayerful, joyful atmosphere. Masses and prayers and devotions to Our Lady continued throughout the visit.
On the first evening Mgr Armitage talked about Walsingham and about the historic title of England as Mary’s Dowry. Numerous churches in England are dedicated to Mary. The word “dowry” usually means a sum of money, or goods brought by a wife to a marriage. Another meaning is that it is something set apart by a husband for his wife. Thus, England is “set apart” and dedicated to Mary. Consequently, this country is the only one that includes the “Hail Mary” in the Prayers of the Faithful during Mass. Many dowry paintings exist, including the famous Wilton diptych, in the National Portrait Gallery, which shows Richard II, his patron St John the Baptist, St Edward the Confessor and the martyr St Edmund. Richard kneels before the Virgin and Child, as he dedicates England to her, as her dowry. The rededication will not give England to Mary. It is already hers. Rather, it will be a dedication of our faith.
In 1061, Our Lady appeared to Richeldis de Faverches and asked her to build a replica of the Holy House of Nazareth, in Walsingham. The Norfolk village, “England’s Nazareth”, became a popular place of pilgrimage, until the dissolution of the monasteries. Pilgrimages resumed in the 1930s and the village is again a centre of Christian devotion. It has a strong ecumenical spirit, with Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican shrines.
The Walsingham Association encourages devotion to Our Lady and promotes the Shrine. The Sheffield branch is very active. We make an annual pilgrimage to Walsingham on a Marian feast. Please join us for our fundraising light lunches, in St Marie’s Parish Room, after the 12.45pm Mass, on the second and fourth Tuesdays of most months. All are welcome to become members. Those who cannot be active can help by their prayers. Contact Francesca Flynn, on 0114 2686247, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The visit of the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to St Marie’s Cathedral was warmly received by parishioners from all over the Hallam Diocese.”