Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral will join in a nationwide celebration on Sunday 29 March with a Mass in honour of the rededication of England as Mary’s Dowry.
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon will mark the rededication in the 11am Mass at the Cathedral and all are welcome to take part in a pledge which will take two forms: a personal promise – all Christians in England are encouraged to make a personal dedication to Our Lady – as well as a communal entrustment.
The first documented dedication was made by King Richard II in Westminster Abbey in 1381 as he sought the protection of Our Lady in face of political turmoil. England became known as ‘Mary’s Dowry’ – a gift for Our Lady under her guidance and protection – though this title is believed to have an earlier origin. The Marian shrine at Walsingham, founded in 1061, ranked with Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela as one of the most visited sites in Christendom prior to its destruction in the Reformation. Medieval pilgrim routes to Walsingham exist from Ely, Norwich and Kings Lynn, where pilgrims from Europe would disembark before travelling the 30 miles to Walsingham on foot.
Pope Francis made his own contribution to the rededication during his weekly audience on Wednesday 12 February when, at the request of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, he blessed a painting of Our Lady of Walsingham. The painting, by Amanda de Pulford, was subsequently taken back to the Norfolk shrine and following the rededication, it will begin a journey to every Catholic parish in England.
The Rector of the Catholic National Shrine in Walsingham, Mgr John Armitage, attended the blessing of the painting alongside Cardinal Nichols. He explained that it would ‘be commissioned in Walsingham on the day of the rededication by Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald on the site of the ancient Holy House’.
Organisers have invited churches, schools and institutions across the country to host a rededication for their communities, setting up a website – www.behold2020.com – for people to register and receive digital packs.
The website provides a map showing all the host venues across the country and it explains that the rededication entails first ‘praying The Angelus Promise, a prayer in which we say “yes” in union with Our Lady through the words of the Annunciation’. The second promise, the communal entrustment, involves renewing ‘the vows of dedication made to Mary by King Richard II, praying together the Act of Entrustment’. Organisers say that ‘these prayers may be celebrated communally in church or at home or in hospital or prison, so that all may take part.’