Monday, August 24, 2015

OREMUS: Our Lady of Walsingham

Oremus, the monthly magazine of Westminster Cathedral, features a story about the restoration of the cathedral's statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. Her feast is on September 24:

This statue of Our Lady of Walsingham has a particularly beautiful face, which radiates contemplative beauty, sorrow, strength, compassion and solace. Just to kneel before this statue is to experience the peace and fragrance of the Virgin.

The child Jesus sits in majesty and communion with his Mother. A sense of the future silent, suffering, interior martyrdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary pervades, indicative of the fertile soil which enabled Mary to stand with Jesus at Calvary, the moment when Jesus bestowed upon her, for all generations, her motherhood of us all.

Our Lady is the Seat of Wisdom and therefore Our Lady of Walsingham sits upon a throne. She is amidst two pillars which represent the Church as the gate of Heaven. The seven rings on these pillars signify the seven Sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The arched back of the throne represents the rainbow, the sign of the Covenant between God and his people. Our Lady points to Jesus, the Word made Flesh, while the three fold lily symbolises virginity, purity, sovereignty, and is a sign of resplendent beauty – testifying that Our Lady remained a Virgin before, during and after the birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. A toadstone, symbolising evil, is beneath her feet – showing that she crushes Satan. And, finally, she wears a Saxon crown, representing her Queenship. For Mary is Queen of Heaven and, as Our Lady of Walsingham, a heavenly Queen of England. Her divine Son, Jesus, extends his arm in a double gesture of blessing and protection of his Mother. Jesus Christ, Saviour and Redeemer, the Word, holds the scriptures and wears a crown representing his Kingship and sovereignty. This statue, so rich in symbolism, speaks to us at many levels, indicative of our English heritage and of the scriptural, historical, theological and mystical roots of our Catholic faith.

If one wished to start a novena to Our Lady of Walsingham, the day to start would be on September 15, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. This site has prayers suitable for such a novena: Mark your calendars now!

When Pope Leo XIII gave permission for a new shrine to be dedicated--the first was destroyed during Henry VIII's reign of course--at Walsingham in 1897, he proclaimed: "When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England."

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