Consecration of London parishes
Some historical background is given below with particular reference to the establishment of a new Guild.
THE GUILD OF OUR LADY OF WILLESDEN
At a ceremony of the annual procession of the famous 'Black Madonna' of Our Lady of Willesden on May 12, 2002 in Harlesden, North West London, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor announced the formation of The Guild Of Our Lady Of Willesden.
According, to legend. Our Lady has for centuries graced this ancient 'hill of springs’ (Willesden from the Anglo-Saxon Wiell-dun) with not only her presence. but a holy well, which has been deemed to possess miraculous properties. The origins of a holy well date back before the 939 A.D. Charter of King Athelstan granting the ten manors of Neasden cum Willesden to the Apostle St. Paul’s own monastery in the City of London. The first mention of the now famous statues of Our Lady in Willesden was the Visitation in 1249. The most famous of these statues 'The Black Madonna of Our Lady’ which was encrusted with gold, silver, and pearls and precious jewels was purportedly burnt by order of Thomas Cromwell, the Vicar General for ecclesiastical matters to King Henry VIII. enry VIIIX During these medieval times, pilgrims in their thousands journeyed to the Shrine to make their offerings and do penance.. The Shrine reached its zenith during the end of the fifteenth century until its destruction in 1535. It was frequented by Royalty, Saints and famous persons who petitioned the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Willesden.
According to documents of the time, Our Lady came to a prominent London devotee of the Blessed Virgin in a vision in 1537 and commanded him to serve her by preaching that she wished to be honoured at Willesden as she had been in old times. Due to opposition to his claim, the visionary, Dr. Crewkchorne did not carry out his charge and Our Lady disappeared from any further action.
For nearly 350 years the small remnant of Catholic faithful continued in the parish mostly in secret, until 1885 when the stirrings of thee Blessed Virgin began once again by the presence of a Catholic priest sent to establish yet again a parish in Willesden. From humble beginnings with 12 parishioners in 1885 the parish began to flourish and in 1931, a new large beautiful romanesque church was built not only as a parochial church but also as a 'National Shrine for the Catholics of England'. The Shrine reached its modern age zenith in 1954 with the coronation of Our Lady of Willesden in Wembley Stadium where 94,000 people prayed to the Mother Of God. A Pontifical Benediction was later given at the shrine. According to an Encyclical Letter, Fulgens Corona, (1953) Pope Pius XII noted that in nearly every diocese there is a special shrine at which the Virgin Mother receives fuller homage. Cardinal Griffin, the then Archbishop of Westminster, made Willesden the centre of the Archdiocese's celebration of the Marian Year of 1954. Some 60,000 pilgrims flocked to the ancient shrine in that year and once again Our Lady graced Willesden with her presence and many favours were received by the faithful according to manuscript accounts.
Over 1,00) years later. The Blessed Virgin of Willesden continues to call her children to prayer from her shrine on her 'hill of springs’ overlooking the City of London. The Guild of Our Lady of Willesden has assumed that ancient role of honouring The Mother Of God at her shrine in Willesden. The Guild, under the Presidency of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and John Rick Miller as First Master Of The Guild, has begun it's formation under a tripartite charter. The Guild will endeavor to restore the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden as a special place of pilgrimage where the faithful will come to ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Guild will establish a membership from all parishes within the City of London who will commit themselves to a daily devotion of prayer for the protection and evangelisation of the City of Loudon with the special patronage of The Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of ‘Our Lady of Willesden’. The membership also commits to sit before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration once per week for the Guild's intention In this way, the shrine will become a significant centre of prayer for those who remain committed to the Gospel and who recognize the urgent need to pray for the protection and conversion of the City of London. The Guild would work towards the reawakening of ‘The National Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden’ as the active Marian Shrine of London, where all principal Feasts and Solemnities of our Lady would be especially celebrated.
The Guild has as it's patrons Our Lady of Willesden together with St Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel, St.Edward the Confessor, The 27 Manors of London and the Guardian Angel of London.
(Bibliography: Nicholas Schofield's- Our Lady of Willesden, a brief history of the Shrine and Parish, privately printed, 2002)
CONSECRATION AND DEDICATION OF COUNTRIES TO OUR LADY
In 1656 Poland was dedicated to Our Lady by King John Casimir. Since 1920 this dedication has been renewed six times. The last four of these Solemn Consecrations (in 1956,1966,1971, and 1976) were done by Cardinal Stefan Wyszynsky (1901-1981) and the Hierarchy, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Two years later (1978) Pope John Paul was elected and took as his Motto, 'Totus Tuus'. "The Rosary is my favourite prayer" the Pope said in October 1978.
In September 1843, the first Missionary Bishop to modern Africa, Edward Barron, consecrated all of West Africa to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Later East Africa was also consecrated.
In June 1873, the Archdiocese of Westminster was consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In 1893, Pope Leo Xl1l requested Cardinal Vaughan to re-consecrate England and Wales to Our Lady.
Between 1916 and 1919, Cardinal Bourne three times re-consecrated our Nation to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. The final time was in thanksgiving for graces received. Since then, a number of different Dioceses in Belgium, France, Portugal and Canada, have been consecrated to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In June 1929, Our Lady of Fatima revealed (to Sr. Lucy) the importance of the Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart.
In 1931 and 1938 Portugal was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by all the Bishops.
In October 1942, Pope Pius X11 and the Bishop, consecrated the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In July 1948, following a National Pilgrimage of 'Prayer and Penance', Cardinal Griffin with the Hierarchy, re-consecrated England and Wales to Our Lady (this was the last time it was done).
In 1954, (The Marian Year) in his Encyclical, (Ad Coeli Reginam) Pope Pius XII asked that an act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary be made annually in every parish in the World on the feast of the Queenship of Our Lady (August 22nd). Our Lady of Walsingham was crowned in 1954 also.
In November 1964, during Vatican II, Mary is proclaimed 'Mother of the Church' by Pope Paul.
At Fatima, May 13th 1967, Pope Paul VI asked the Nations to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Encyclical Signum Magnum deals with the meaning and purpose of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
May 1982, Pope John Paul lI visited Fatima and consecrated the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
March 28th 1984, Pope John Paul consecrated the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in front of the Fatima Statue, at St Peter's Basilica, Rome. It was done in collegial union with all the Bishops of the Church. Sr Lucy said that this fulfulled Our Lady's reguest.
On 25th September 1994, at the end of a 'Marian Symposium' in Dublin, Bishop Magee (Cloyne) consecrated Ireland to the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary (three weeks later, on the great Fatima day, October 13th, the Loyalists finally joined the 'Peace Process').
Regarding preparations for the Jubilee Year 2000; Pope John Paul II says: "I entrust this responsibility of the whole Church to the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer. She will be for Christians on the way to the Great Jubilee of the 3rd Millennium, the Star which safely guides their steps to the Lord". Tertio Millennio Adveniente.