St Josemaria and St Thomas More at the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden
July 1, 2006
In spite of torrential downpours, which caused major traffic jams and diversions, a large crowd gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden, Nicoll Road, London, for the Mass of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the faithful of London on June 13, 2006. This year’s Consecration Mass of the Guild of Our Lady of Willesden included a very special blessing for the church’s new titleboard.
The sign, facing onto the street, depicts Our Lady of Willesden with the two Saints who went on pilgrimage to her shrine: St Thomas More in the 16th century and St Josemaria Escriva, Opus Dei founder, in the 20th century. It was blessed by the Rector of the Shrine, Fr Stephen Willis, together with representatives of Opus Dei led by Msgr Nicholas Morrish and representatives of The Guild of Our Lady of Willesden led by the Master of The Guild, John Rick Miller.
The image is one of the first public images of St Josemaria in England. It was in this place that St Josemaria renewed the consecration of Opus Dei to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on August 15, 1958.
Four centuries earlier St Thomas More came here to pray frequently. His last visit was in July 1584, a month before his arrest, imprisonment and subsequent martyrdom. For many years after that the Shrine was silent, but Our Lady of Willesden’s, which has been designated as a National Shrine, is now once again welcoming pilgrims as the Marian Shrine of London, a sanctuary for Marian devotion, as the Blessed Virgin Mary leads all of her children of London through her Immaculate Heart into the Sacred Heart of her Son.
First, two ‘pilgrim statues’ of Our Lady of Willesden and Our Lady of Fatima were carried in procession by the Guild of Our Lady of Willesden and the Heralds of the Gospel, around the outside of the church to the new titleboard for the solemn blessing.
Then all joined in the solemn consecration of the parish, its families, and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, echoing the words of Pope John Paul II, and praying for the conversion of London under the protection of Our Lady of Willesden.
The homily of the Mass encouraged everyone present to imitate our Lady as St Thomas More and St Josemaria did in their own lives, especially in her love, her faithful obedience to the Will of God, and her orientation to Christ.
Finally the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Willesden was entrusted to one of the families of the parish to take home. It will go from one family to another over the next few months, spreading devotion to our Lady and prayer for all Londoners.
Source: Independent Catholic News