Sunday, March 18, 2012

Our Lady of Victories

Pilgrimage at Stone
During her visit to Belgium in 1856, a magnificent carved oak statue of Our Lady of Victories, exhibited in the town-hall of Bruges, attracted her admiration, and, to use her own expression, she “ invited her to Stone,” though well aware that the cost of such a work of art was far beyond her means. Some years afterwards, however, this statue was brought to England, and, through the munificence of a generous benefactor, was presented to the Community. Mother Margaret s delight was absolutely childlike; Our Lady had accepted her invitation; and when the difficulty of locating so large a piece of carving in the church of Stone caused some to suggest its removal to Stoke, she answered decidedly,“ No, on no account ; it was to Stone I invited her, and to Stone she has come.” As it was found impossible to find a place for the image in the church, she began to pray, “that she might know where Our Lady would like to go.” She wished much to build a chapel for the purpose, and went about repeating to herself, “ Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn out seven pillars.” At last St Anne’s Chapel, in the garden, was assigned as the temporary resting-place of Our Lady of Victories, until such time as the contemplated sanctuary could be reared. The designs for this sanctuary, as they existed in her imagination, were superb indeed. All England was to come there in pilgrimage; it would be a great act of reparation for all the insults offered to the Mother of God.  This image now called Our Lady of Stone resides inside a great lantern on a small hill in the garden at Stone.  Pilgrimages in honor of Our Lady are made by local school children in May.

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 325.