Next year, 2020, England will be dedicated anew to Our Lady of Walsingham. It will happen on the Solemnity of the Annunciation at Walsingham, the ancient shrine that has been a place of pilgrimage for more than 1,000 years.
England was first dedicated to Our Lady in 1381 by King Richard II, at a time of division and unrest and at the initiative of the king. England became “Mary’s Dowry.” This is central to the nation’s story, and the dedication is shown in the famous Wilton Dyptych, which hangs in the National Gallery in London. In the image, the king kneels before Our Lady and presents the country to her.
The re-dedication in 2020, led by the bishops of England and Wales, comes as fresh challenges face the country. The re-dedication will be “the personal gift of the faith of the people of England to the Mother of God, to seek her help in building a strong spiritual foundation for the New Evangelization.”
The National Shrine at Walsingham explains the re-dedication: “We call upon Our Lady to guide and protect our country in the years to come, that the people of our country may work together to build a common good, as we seek to embrace the truth of the Gospel that inspires us to create a culture that respects life, embraces the great diversity of our people, and inspires all to a greatness of heart that will serve our community…”
The shrine is enjoying a great revival at the present time, with renewed pilgrimages, large summer events and youth gatherings. A re-dedication of England to Mary in this 21st century is a powerful thing.
A dowry was the portion of a husband's income given to his wife in case she was widowed; it meant she would not be destitute.
I was struck by the similarity of King Richard's times with our own, with the day of prayer next Saturday, and with the words received on our laying down of the Community because of what God is doing in His Church, widening the boundaries.