More than half a million people took part Sunday in the rededication of England to Our Lady Sunday, organizers have said.
The English bishops had originally asked Catholics to gather in churches and cathedrals for the rededication at noon March 29. They were forced to change their plans when the government imposed a lockdown across the country in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
They invited Catholics instead to follow the rededication ceremony live from their homes on the website of the Catholic National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady in Walsingham, Norfolk. So many logged on that the site crashed. Another website broadcasting the ceremony, churchservices.tv, also crashed. Organizers then asked viewers to follow the event on YouTube.
During the ceremony, Catholics recited an Act of Entrustment of England to Mary. The Act reaffirmed England’s status as the “Dowry of Mary”, a title dating back to at least the 14th century.
In a homily after the rededication, shrine rector Msgr John Armitage said: “When our bishops decided three years ago to undertake this rededication, they could never have foreseen the extent of our need at this time. Today we undertake this dedication in the ‘eye of the storm’.
“We have long pondered and treasured the words of Pope Leo XIII to an earlier generation of bishops: ‘When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.’ In the hour of our need Our Blessed Mother has indeed returned to England.”
In a message before the ceremony, Pope Francis said he prayed that the rededication would “inspire all to persevere in the urgent task of sharing the joy of the Gospel with the men and women of our times”.
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