“A hopeful moment and an important opportunity for evangelisation”– this is how cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Primate of England and Wales, defined the decision to re-dedicate the country to the Virgin, as “the dowry of Mary”, just as it happened in the Middle Ages.
The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, the most important shrine in the UK, will go on a tour of all Catholic cathedrals and will reach the London one, in Westminster, the mother church of English Catholicism, in 2020.
The initiative is coordinated by monsignor John Armitage, rector of the Marian shrine of Walsingham, in Norfolk, a two hours’ drive from London. “While in the Middle Ages it was King Richard II who gave our country to the Virgin, now it will be the devotees who will rediscover what England being the dowry of Mary means”, he explains. “We beg the Virgin to guide and protect our country, so that our people can join forces in building the common good”.
The tour of the statue, a copy of the original, which was burnt and thrown into the Thames at the time of Henry VIII’s Reformation, will start from Liverpool cathedral on the 21st June.
Richeldis de Faverches, a noblewoman from Walsingham, circa 1000 AD, had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who asked her to build a house like Nazareth’s. The shrine was destroyed at the time of Henry VIII’s Reformation and was not rebuilt until the late 19th century, when Catholics regained their civil rights.