Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Memorial in Chelsea to the Marian Shrines Destroyed in the English Reformation

I wanted to follow up my post below about Fr. Finigan's day trip to Walsingham by giving The Art and Reconciliation project he mentioned a post of its own. The following is from The Art and Reconciliation Trust website:

Four years ago, a group of us from different Christian denominations visited most of the Marian shrines across England and Wales which had been desecrated at the time of the Reformation. We felt that it was important that we should visit these destroyed shrines to pray and make reparation, asking God to forgive this terrible offence against Him and His holy Mother. Where we could we had a Mass said and where we couldn’t we said the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and a prayer that was written especially for the occasion.

In 2005, at the conclusion of the ‘Reparation Pilgrimages’, it was decided that we would erect a beautiful statue of Our Lady on a site in Chelsea as an act of atonement as close as possible to where Her statues were burnt.

In 1536 Chelsea Manor, former residence of Sir Thomas More was in the ownership of the Crown. In 1538 a plague raged in central London. To escape the pestilence, King Henry VIII offered the use of the house to the Lord Privy Seal, Sir Thomas Cromwell, who, following Henry’s break with Rome, had masterminded the dissolution of the monasteries and the destruction of the monastic churches and shrines.

It was during that summer, that Cromwell ordered the statues stripped from the despoiled monastic shrines to be brought to Chelsea, so he could witness their being burnt, personally. Three were particularly important: Our Lady of Walsingham, taken from the shrine that ranked fourth after Jerusalem, Compostela and Rome and the only one of the four to be dedicated specifically to the Blessed Virgin; The Black Madonna of Willesden, from the shrine which included among its devotees Henry VIII’s mother Elizabeth of York and Sir Thomas More, who visited the shrine two weeks before his arrest and imprisonment in the Tower of London and Our Lady of Grace of Ipswich, ranking second in England and also famous across Europe.


We have founded “The Art and Reconciliation Trust” to promote the project and the Trust is being registered with the Charity Commission. To design the memorial, we have commissioned the brilliant young English sculptor Paul Day who, together with our architect Tony Dyson of Donald Insall Associates, was responsible for the acclaimed Battle of Britain Monument on London’s Victoria Embankment. Both Paul and Tony have recently been selected as part of the team working on the final design for the National Memorial to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

In order that we can start our planning consent negotiations, Paul Day has produced a working maquette in terracotta, to give an idea of the form that the sculptural element might take. This will change as the design develops but at this stage, it is proposed that the sculpture will be in the form of a triptych, with the left hand panel depicting the burning of the statues in Chelsea and the right hand panel showing the stripping of the monastic churches, prior to their demolition.. In the centre, against the background of Walsingham Priory, Our Lady of the Cloak will be depicted, with Her children gathered beneath, expressing Mary’s Motherhood to all Mankind. The sculpture will be cast in bronze around the base bronze plaques, highlighted in enamel, will depict eleven scenes from the life of Our Lady and give the historical background to the memorial and the site. The words “Mary Most Holy” will be written in a number of languages, for those from other cultures and faiths.

We are hoping that the memorial will be ready for unveiling in 2009, on or near the feast of St Thomas More. It is intended that the memorial be not only a commemoration of an historical event which took place in Chelsea but a spiritual act of reparation for the desecration that took place over 450 years ago.

(emphasis added)
A great and long overdue idea. Let us pray that the Trust is successful in getting this memorial erected.

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At 10/18/2007 9:34 AM, Blogger Darwin said...

What a beautiful thing to do...


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