Bishop Alan has written to parishes across the Diocese ahead of the rededication of England as the ‘Dowry of Mary’ on 29 March 2020, encouraging them to pray the Angelus after parish Masses as preparation for the event.
England has been known as the ‘Dowry of Mary’ for up to 1,000 years, going back to the time of St Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), in whose reign the replica of the Holy House of Nazareth (where the Annunciation took place) was built at Walsingham. On the Feast of Corpus Christi, 1381, King Richard II dedicated England to Mary as ‘her dowry’. He went on pilgrimage to Walsingham two years later. So for 1,000 years, Walsingham has been the great shrine of prayer and pilgrimage for the people of this country in honour of Our Lady.
Says Bishop Alan: “On 29 March England will be rededicated as the ‘Dowry of Mary’. This will happen in Westminster Cathedral, in Walsingham, in every Catholic Cathedral, in every parish and in as many homes as possible. Mgr John Armitage, the Rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, has asked people to prepare spiritually for the rededication by praying the Angelus every day after our parish Masses. The Angelus is a most suitable prayer to prepare us spiritually for the rededication, recalling, as it does, ‘some essential moments in the History of Salvation, reminding us of Mary’s ‘yes’ to the Angel Gabriel, which undid Eve’s ‘no’ in the Garden of Eden’. We profess our faith in ‘The Word, who was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us’, and in his Death and Resurrection, the eternal destiny to which each of us is called in Christ.
“I hope that many parishes will respond to Mgr Armitage’s invitation to pray this beautiful prayer after our daily Masses, so that our hearts may be spiritually prepared for the rededication of England as the ‘Dowry of Mary’. Mary, Our Lady, welcomed the coming of Christ into the world and into our lives. She will help us to do the same.”
Bishop Alan will be celebrating Mass in the Cathedral at 11.30 a.m. on 29 March, the day of the rededication.
He is encouraging parishes to find out more and take part by going to https://www.behold2020.com/take-part
Parishes and churches which have already made plans include Harlow, Stansted, Basildon, Chelmsford, Eastwood, Southend, Colchester, Witham, Kelvedon, Leigh on Sea and Walsingham House at Abbotswick.
On Sunday 29 March, the rededication will take place throughout our country. People will respond to this invitation in two ways:
A Personal Promise
By praying The Angelus Promise, a prayer in which we say “yes” in union with Our Lady through the words of the Annunciation.
A Communal Entrustment
As the people, we will, once again, renew the vows of dedication made to Mary by King Richard II, praying together the Act of Entrustment.
These prayers may be celebrated communally in Church or at home or in hospital or prison, so that all may take part.
In Walsingham itself Mass will be celebrated at the Catholic National Shrine. It will be followed by a procession with the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and the new Dowry Painting of Our Lady to the site of the original Holy House in the Priory Grounds at Walsingham, where the rededication will take place. Those taking part will be joined by Anglican brothers and sisters processing from the Anglican Shrine to the Priory Grounds. The Dowry Painting, by Amanda de Pulford, was blessed by Pope Francis on 12 February. After the rededication it will begin a journey to every Catholic parish in England.
Read more about Walsingham – where Brentwood priest Mgr John Armitage succeeded our own Bishop Alan as Rector of the National Shrine – here: http://www.walsingham.org.uk/a-brief-history