St Frances Xavier Cabrini and Mary’s Dowry

On 29th March 2020 the re-dedication of England as Our Lady’s Dowry took place. Although timely in our present crisis, this was first discussed by the Bishops of England and Wales in 2017.
On 12th February 2020 Pope Francis blessed the painting of Our Lady of Walsingham, commissioned to mark the re-dedication.

Read the news HERE.

The medieval Wilton Diptych (c1395-99) portrays the original dedication by King Richard II, in 1381 and shows Our Lady surrounded by angels.

For those familiar with Mother Cabrini’s Travel Letters, the Diptych and re-dedication bring to mind the sight which greeted her, as her train approached Victoria Station, London, on     4th August 1902.[1] She described it as follows in her Travel Letter of August 1902:

It was a splendid day but more splendid was the picture which presented itself to my sight, on our arrival, as the sun was setting. A spectacle never represented before appeared playfully in the sky. Some richly gilded clouds formed a glorious throne, from the centre of which surged an extraordinary light surrounded by twelve shining stars which all sent forth sparkling rays: it seemed to be the throne of the Queen of the Angels. Then I saw the Most Holy Madonna, with a beautiful diadem and with the Child, seated on her knees, who stretched out his arms in the act of protecting us.[2]

Mother Cabrini went on to refers to the sight as, ‘but the playful movement of the clouds at the setting of the sun’. She nevertheless chose to mention it in the Travel Letter which she knew would be published and widely read. She also described the scene in a private letter to her trusted confidante, the Superior of Codogno, Mother Maddalena Savaré, on 7th August.[3]  She noted that Mother Flora and Mother Albertina, her companions, also saw it. Our Lady of the Angels was on her mind as two days before, on the 2nd August, she had celebrated the feast.[4] It was then that she had decided to dedicate the English house, she was due to found in Brockley, to Our Lady of the Angels. Another reason is evident in the Travel Letter, from her previous visit to England in 1898:

I left secretly imploring blessings on this country (England) which I should love, if possible, to call again soon ‘the land of the Angels’. [5]

Mother Cabrini first called England ‘the Land of the Angels’ in her Travel Letter of 1895.[6] She based the term on words attributed to Pope Gregory the Great, on seeing Anglo-Saxon slaves in a Roman market in the late sixth century.[7] He observed that if they became Christians they would be ‘Non angli, sed angeli’ (‘not Angles but angels’). He sent Saint Augustine of Canterbury with forty fellow Italian Benedictines to evangelise the English in 596. Mother Cabrini and her sisters planned to contribute to the contemporary re-evangelisation of England, actively encouraged by her friend and supporter Leo XIII. Although Mother Cabrini did not use the term ‘Mary’s Dowry’, Pope Leo did. In his address to a group of English pilgrims led by the Duke of Norfolk in February 1893 he referred to England’s ‘singular title of Mary’s Dowry’. [8] Pope Leo also called for the re-establishment of the medieval shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and provided the shrine statue of Our Lady in 1897.[9] He observed that ‘When England comes back to Walsingham, Our Lady will come back to England.’

The forthcoming re-dedication of England as Our Lady’s Dowry will be in two parts: a personal dedication with the Angelus Promise and a communal entrustment. This is an opportunity to dedicate ourselves and our work to Our Lady as Mother Cabrini did over 100 years ago. In her letter to Mother Maddalena she wrote, ‘I hope that the Queen of the Angels will enable us to see miracles in this country’.
During the COVID-19 pandemic our hope is also that she will intercede for miracles for her children in England and throughout the world.

The Angelus Promise and Act of Entrustment are included on the pages which follow.

More details are available at: https://www.behold2020.com/


~ Maria Patricia Williams PhD, 26th March 2020

Note: translations from Italian are my own.

Sr Patricia at Walsingham 9th July 2016.
This is the site of the original shrine destroyed during the Reformation.



The Angelus Promise

The Angelus Promise is a spiritual exercise created to assist you to embrace the message of Our Lady, as expressed in the Angelus. It invites you to “share in the joy of the Annunciation” by following Mary’s openness to God’s call, through her faith-filled “yes”. Through your own faith-filled “yes”, the Lord will work wonders in your life.

R: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary

V: And she conceived by the Holy Spirit

As God once chose Mary to become the Mother of His Son through the message of an angel, so He chooses me this day, and invites me through the ministry of the Church or the example of another,  to seek and do His Will at this moment in my life.

Hail Mary full of Grace…

R: Behold the handmaid of the Lord

V: Be it be done unto me according to thy Word

Mary’s response to her invitation, “let it be done to me according to your Word”, opened her heart to God’s grace and all things became possible. Let my “yes” today take away fear, as I embrace God’s Will, and like Mary “ponder these things in my heart”.

Hail Mary full of Grace…

R: And the Word became flesh (Bow or genuflect)

 V: And dwelt among us

At a moment in history, Mary’s faith-filled “yes” conceived Him, first in her heart, which then led to the birth of our Saviour. Through accepting Him in my heart, enable me to recognise my role in bringing Christ to my sisters and brothers today. Hail Mary full of Grace…

R: Pray for us most holy Mother of God

V: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

Let us pray: O Holy Mother of God, pray for us, and assist us as we dedicate ourselves this day. Your Yes at the Annunciation brought our Saviour Jesus into the world, and you invite us to contemplate the great mystery of the Incarnation, sharing your joy in announcing that “the Word was made flesh and lived among us.” May our yes, this day, open our hearts to serve our sisters and brothers in this your Dowry, that they too may share our joy in the Good News that God walks among us. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

                     Act of Entrustment of England to Our Lady

Based on Prayer of Erasmus 1532, Dedication of England to the Mother of God 1893, Prayer for England, Cardinal Griffin’s Act of Consecration 1948, Act of Consecration St John Paul 1982

Prayer

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy “Dowry” and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee.

Response

We your faithful people assembled here offer you this country in which we live. Once it was yours, all its children were your children and you were honoured throughout England as its Protectress and its Queen. Again, do we consecrate it as your Dowry, and entrust it to your maternal care.

Prayer

 By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. 

Response

To you we entrust the Church, which invokes you as Mother. On earth you preceded her in the pilgrimage of faith. Comfort her in her difficulties and trials. Make her always the sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race. To you, Mother of the human family, and of the nations, we confidently entrust the whole of humanity with its hopes and fears. Let it not lack the light of true wisdom. Guide it to seek freedom and justice for all. Direct its steps in the ways of peace. Enable all to meet Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Prayer

Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. 

Response

Pray, O Holy Mother of God, for the conversion of heart of the people of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the troubled, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed. Queen of Peace pray for us and give to the world the peace for which all peoples are longing, peace in the truth, justice and charity of Christ. Give peace to the nations and to the souls of all, that in peace, the Kingdom of God may prevail.

Prayer

Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. 

Response

May your prayers bring back this country to the fullness of its ancient faith. May your intercession lead us to a closer union with your divine Son. We offer you all the people of this land, especially those who know you so little or not at all. May all in our country know Christ, the light of the world and its only Saviour.

Prayer

Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. 

Response May we who follow your Son, be  fruitful in the good work of building a culture of life in our world, where all human life is treasured and the gift of God’s creation is respected and cared for, so that all may share the fruits of Gods generous love.

V: Pray for us O Holy Mother of God

R: That we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world; and he has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O sorrowful Mother, intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.

 

The wonderful filial love which burnt within the hearts of your forefathers towards the great Mother of God, Christ’s happy minister in our salvation, to whose service they consecrated themselves with such abundant proofs of devotion, that the Kingdom itself acquired the singular title of Mary’s Dowry

(Pope Leo XIII, 1893) [10]


 

[1] The letter, written at the end of August on route from Liverpool to New York, says 5th August but it would have been 4th as she wrote a letter to Mother Gesuina Diotti MSC dated 5th August saying that she had arrived the day before. Cipolla,I MSC & Canale,Maria Regina MSC ed (2002) Epistolario di Santa Francesca Saverio Cabrini 4 (Rome: Tipografia Miligraf), p.47.  

[2] Cipolla,Imelda MSC.ed.(2012) Tra Un’onda e l’altra. Viaggi di Santa Francesca Saverio Cabrini  (Rome: Centro Cabriniana), p.462.

[3] Cipolla et Canale, Epistolario 4, p.48-9.

[4] It is a major Franciscan celebration and Mother Cabrini was a Franciscan tertiary.

[5] Ibd., 394.

[6] Ibid., 202.

[7] An incident made popular by the Venerable Bede (672/3-735).

[8] Cited in Bridgett CSSR, T.E. (1894) England’s Title: Our Lady’s Dowry: Its History and Meaning, in Ed. Smith SJ, Sydney F. Historical Papers (London: CTS), p.157.

[9] This was in King’s Lynn.

[10] Cited in Bridgett CSSR, T.E. (1894) England’s Title: Our Lady’s Dowry: Its History and Meaning, in Ed. Smith SJ, Sydney F. Historical Papers (London: CTS), p.157.

 

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