Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 30th: Wales - Our Lady of Cardigan

Our Lady of Cardigan can trace its origin to the middle ages. A beautiful legend tells us that by the side of the river TeIfi a statue was found of Mary, "and her sonne upon her lappe, and the... taper bernynge in her hande" It was brought to the church but would not remain there, returning three or four times to "the place where now is buyIded the church of our Lady". That church is called St. Mary's, and the visitor can still see at its east end a chantry built to hold the statue, where pilgrims came to make their devotions. A priest sang Mass there daily in honour of Our Lady.

St. Mary's dates from 1158. If it was built to accommodate the shrine then Our Lady of the Taper has an ancient history indeed. The statue was probably brought from Arras, where the devotion already existed, by Flemish wool merchants trading out of the port of Cardigan. ...

... In 1904 Breton monks, living in exile near Cardigan, revived the devotion. They named their abbey church Our Lady of Cardigan, and gave the same title to a little church they opened in the town in 1912. But they left some years later, and a generation passed before the name was heard again.

Martin Gillett, who later founded the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, alerted Bishop Petit to the fact that Cardigan had once been a famous place of pilgrimage. Once Bishop Petit had the bit between his teeth swift action followed. On 27th May 1956, a great concourse of people from all parts of Britain came to re establish the devotion in Cardigan. On 20th July 1970, Bishop Petit came with Bishop Fox to consecrate a new shrine church. Three days later a pilgrimage saw the statue carried from its former location to rest in the new church.
The National Shrine of Wales website is the main source of information on Our Lady of Cardigan, and there is a page about her at the site of the Diocese of Menevia. She is also known as Our Lady of the Taper and in Welsh as Mair o Aberteifi. The name Mair was reserved to Our Lady, and girls named after her were called Mari.

In 1988 the plaque below was placed in the courtyard of the Basilica of the Annunciation at Nazareth, among others from national shrines around the world. This page at the National Shrine website explains the symbolism relating to the Catholic history of Wales.

Practice your Welsh with the Our Father and Hail Mary. Here is a Welsh pronunciation guide.
Pilgrim's Prayer

My soul glorifies the Lord.
Henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name.

V Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R Be it done to me according to your word.

Let us pray,

Father, your Son Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the Light of the world.

May the same Spirit lead us to imitate Mary's faith, love and humility that, guided by her example, we may follow the light of her Son on our journey through life, and come at last to see you as you are, and praise you in the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
you offer your Son for our adoration,
May we too treasure his word in our hearts
and help bring his light to the world.

Our Lady of Cardigan, pray for Wales.
Our Lady of Cardigan, pray for us.

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