On Saturday 8 July 2017, the Rosary Shrine was honoured to welcome the National Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The image, which had been crowned by Cardinal Nichols, was greeted in the traditional manner, with parishioners waving white handkerchiefs.
Fr Thomas Skeats OP, parish priest and Prior of St Dominic’s, then crowned the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
The day’s programme, which followed the format laid down by the World Apostolate of Fatima, continued with Holy Mass. On this occasion, High Mass in the ancient Dominican rite was celebrated. As it was a Saturday votive Mass of Our Lady this beautiful text was sung: “Hail O Queen of the heavens, mother of the King of Angels: O Mary, flower of virgins, you are like the rose, or the lily: pour forth prayers to your Son for the well-being of the faithful.” Fr David Rocks OP, Prior of Leicester, ministered as Deacon for the High Mass, and he preached on the Holy Rosary as a source of holiness and divine contemplation.
The Dominican rite is unique to the Order of Preachers. Efforts to redact a uniform Liturgy for the use of the nascent Order of itinerant Preachers is likely to have been started by Saint Dominic himself but something was produced by his successor Blessed Jordan of Saxony. In 1245, a commission of four friars, including one from the Province of England, undertook a revision of that first attempt, and they seemed to have moved away from the Parisian sources of the earliest version of the Dominican rite in order to make it more Roman. Their revision was finally redacted by Blessed Humbert of Romans, Fifth Master of the Order, and he authorised its use throughout the Order in 1256. The resulting Liturgy, the liturgist Archdale King says concerning the Dominican rite, “is more Roman in character than the actual Roman liturgy.”
Certain features of the Dominican rite that distinguish it from the ancient Roman rite include the preparation of the chalice after the first reading; the offering of the bread and wine together (with the paten balancing on the chalice); the outstretched arms after the Elevations in memory of the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Some of these gestures and postures are believed to come from the way St Dominic prayed the Mass.
The Mass was sponsored by the Latin Mass Society, and we are grateful to John Aron, a professional photographer supplied by the LMS, for these beautiful photographs. In addition, a quartet of singers conducted by Matthew Schellhorn sang the parts of the Mass in Dominican chant and polyphony, and servers from the LMS served the latter half of the day.
After a lunch break in St Dominic’s Parish Hall, the relics of the two newly-canonized Saints Jacinta and Francisco of Fatima were venerated. Then, people were enrolled in the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Rosary was prayed (led by two Dominican novices) while Confessions were heard. Fr Lawrence Lew OP then gave a talk on ‘Our Lady of Fatima and Holy Purity’.
The day’s programme concluded with the praying of Vespers (Evening Prayer), beautiful chanted in Gregorian chant, and then Solemn Benediction. The Blessed Sacrament was enthroned above the High Altar, a beautiful sign of the light and grace of Christ shining forth from this Rosary Shrine.
The day closed with Fr Thomas consecrating the parish to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart in these words first prayed by Cardinal Griffiths in 1948:
“Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Refuge of the Human Race, Mother of the Church, we turn to you, confident that we shall receive mercy, grace, assistance and protection, through the great goodness of your Maternal Heart.
To you and your Immaculate Heart, in this centenary year of the apparitions at Fatima, we re-consecrate ourselves in union not only with the Church, the Mystical Body of your Son, but also with the entire world.
May the sight of the widespread material and moral destruction, the sorrows and anguish of countless fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and innocent children, and the souls in danger of being lost eternally, move you to compassion.
O Mother of Mercy, Queen of Peace, through your intercession obtain peace for us from God through His grace; peace in truth, justice and charity, that the Kingdom of God may prevail.
Extend your protection to those who do not believe and do not find hope in God, and to all those still in the shadow of death; give them peace and grant that on them, too, may shine the sun of truth, that they may unite with us in proclaiming before the one and only Saviour of the world:”Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of good will.”
Give peace to those who have separated themselves from you; bring them back to the fold of Christ under the one true shepherd.
Obtain peace for the Holy Church of God; stop the spread of secularism and relativism; enkindle in the faithful the love of purity, the practice of Christian life, and an apostolic zeal, so that the servants of God may increase in merit and number.
We consecrate ourselves forever to you and to your Immaculate Heart, Our Mother and Queen: that your love and patronage may hasten the triumph of the Kingdom of God and that all nations, at peace with one another and with God, may proclaim you blessed and with you may raise their voices to sing the everlasting Magnificat of glory, love and gratitude to the Heart of Jesus, where alone they can find truth and peace.” Amen.
The next Dominican rite Mass will be sung at the Rosary Altar on Saturday 29 July, the feast of St Martha, at 11:30am. Do join us.