July 2021 Newsletter: Exciting projects and forthcoming events
1. May Processions & Events
As Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP observed in the EWTN film about the Rosary Shrine, The Way of Beauty, our church was built for processions.
It is now a feature of the Rosary Shrine’s annual programme that candle-lit Rosary processions are held every Saturday in May and October, at 7pm. Despite the ongoing need for precautions because of Covid, we were able to have our processions this May, the month of Our Lady, praying for an end to the global pandemic.
We welcomed a Polish choir and a Filipino choir who sang motets and hymns in between each decade of the Rosary, and statues of Our Lady of the Rosary from Fatima and from the Philippines were taken in procession by the Dominican friars.Currently, these statues have been placed on a tea trolley appropriated for use as a wheeled platform (see photo above), but we have plans to improve and renovate this so that it is more fitting and dignified, and properly suited for processions of Our Lady and St Dominic, in the coming months. As ever, your contributions to the Rosary Shrine will help us fund such projects which we undertake for the glory of God.
Flowers of the Fairest
At the end of May, our Luminous Mysteries Rosary Garden took part in the National Garden Scheme’s Open Day and raised money for various charities nominated by the NGS; many volunteers came to help sell tickets, cakes, cups of tea and welcome visitors.
We welcomed over a hundred people to the garden and the church, and the day ended with a Mass celebrated by the Director of Radio Maria England and a Rosary procession in which the Diocese’s Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelisation took part. Beautiful rays of sunlight flooded the church during the procession, and it seemed as if Our Lady was smiling upon us.
We are grateful to all our benefactors who have contributed to the restoration of our apse and High Altar.
A team of dedicated craftsmen have worked for over six months on repairing and restoring the stonework and stained glass in the apse of the church, which is dedicated to the Fifth Glorious Mystery – The Coronation of Our Lady and the Glory of all the Saints.
The High Altar with its beautiful marble, mosaics, alabaster and metalwork has also been completely cleaned and restored.
Thanks to a generous benefaction, the walls of the apse have been completely re-gilded (see adjacent photo for condition prior to restoration).
High Altar Returned to Use
This work was completed shortly after Easter, and from 25 April, Masses at the beautifully cleaned and
gilded High Altar were resumed.
On Sundays both the 12 noon Solemn Mass (Ordinary Form) and the 6pm Dominican Rite Mass (Extraordinary Form) are now celebrated at the High Altar. We hope that this full and inclusive liturgical life, offering all that the Church’s rich Tradition allows, will be of service to the broad range of parishioners, pilgrims, and visitors who come to the Rosary Shrine and worship here.
Apse Windows & Stations of the Cross Restored
… and after cleaning!
Thanks to a benefaction from the ‘US Friends of the Rosary Shrine’, we have also completely restored and cleaned the 14 Stations of the Cross in the nave of the church.
These were painted by Nathaniel Westlake in 1887, and their bright colours and expressive faces can now be appreciated and seen more clearly, much to the delight of our parishioners.With your support, we hope to install lights that will subtly highlight these Stations of the Cross, and also bring some light to the aisles of the church which do not currently have any lighting.
New Chapel Lighting
The Rosary Chapels have also long suffered from poor lighting, and the carved stone sculptures of the mysteries of the Rosary were often unnoticed. A new spotlighting system, organised according to the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, was installed in May 2021.
The Rosary sculptures, which are a unique feature of this Rosary Shrine, can now be appreciated and enjoyed as an aid to prayer and greater devotion, and the new lights enhance the overall beauty of the church.
Renewed Shrines for Statues
Finally, the three wooden shrines housing the images of Our Lady of Manaoag, Our Lady of Fatima, and Our Lady of Walsingham, have been completely refurbished, as befits the Queen of Heaven.
We thank the benefactors of these and all our projects.
3. New Project: The Lost Angels of The Rosary Altar
The Rosary Altar is the main focus of this Rosary Shrine church, and it was beautifully restored in the 1990s. However, that restoration work has yet to be completed.
Historical photos (below) reveal that the altar was surmounted by four angels playing musical instruments, and moreover, two angels hung on either side of the altar carrying two sanctuary lamps that are a sign of our prayers in the presence of Our Lady. Sadly over the course of time, these angels were removed or went missing.
Four years ago we placed two candles in blue glass lamps on the Rosary Altar as the initial step to replacing the missing sanctuary lamps. These two candles burn perpetually before the image of Our Lady of the Rosary for the intentions of the members of the ‘Friends of the Rosary Shrine’, and for all the Benefactors of the Rosary Shrine.
A Birthday Present?
2021 is a significant year of great jubilees:
- 800th anniversary of the death of St Dominic;
- 800th anniversary of the arrival of the Dominican friars in England;
- 450th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto and the establishment of the feast of the Holy Rosary.
Consequently, we would like to commemorate these historic milestones by replacing the six missing angels and the two sanctuary lamps.
The angels will be hand-carved from oak, and we have found suitable sanctuary lamps to buy from Italy. The total cost of this project will be £25,000 ($35,000 US).
Could you help?
We would like to invite you to make a donation towards this project:
- Perhaps you’d like to donate one angel in memory of a loved one?
£3,000 each, six available ($4,200 US)
- Or, as a family, donate a hanging sanctuary lamp to adorn Our Lady’s altar?
UPDATE: NONE AVAILABLE – BOTH HAVE NOW BEEN SPONSORED.
- Or alternatively, just add your own generous gift of any amount to help us achieve our goal:
If you’d like to discuss how you can contribute towards this project, please contact Fr Lawrence Lew OP.
4. BENEFACTORS’ PLAQUES
From the very beginning, our Order and this church has relied on the generous gifts, both large and small, from a range of benefactors from around the world. We continue to seek your help in restoring and renovating Our Lady’s Rosary Shrine and especially her altar.
We are grateful for all the help we have received over the centuries, and the marble plaques in the Lady Chapel are inscribed with the names of benefactors beginning with Baroness Tasker who gave us the land on which our church and priory stands.
Some of the names on those plaques, which had merely been painted on the marble, have now faded. In the coming months, we want to put this right: a stonemason has been engaged to inscribe their names so that they can be specially remembered in our daily prayers at the Rosary Shrine.
As a mark of our gratitude, and only if you allow us, the names of those benefactors who make single gifts of over £3,000 (from January 2021) to the Rosary Shrine’s restoration works will be added to these marble plaques.
- Qualifying Gifts: You can make a gift of £3,000 or more to the ‘missing angels’ project (see above), or to any of the projects to restore and improve our church
- Memorial Giving. You can make ‘in memoriam’ gifts of £3,000 or more in the name of deceased loved ones: either specify the name on the online donation form, send a cheque with an accompanying note, or contact Fr Lawrence by email
- Gift Aid. UK taxpayers can boost the value of their gift by Gift-Aiding their donations, either in the online form when they donate, or by filling in a printed declaration.
5. UPCOMING EVENTS
Novena of Masses in honour of St Dominic:
30 July – 7 August at 6pm (except Sun 1 Aug at 12 noon), with guest Dominican celebrants and preachers, and a daily Rosary procession with the newly-restored statue of St Dominic on the newly-refurbished processional carriage.
Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, has kindly agreed to come to the Shrine on Rosary Sunday, 3 October 2021. He will celebrate the 12 noon Solemn Mass, bless and distribute roses as is our Dominican custom, and lead a Rosary procession.
Fr Lawrence Lew OP has prepared a book of Rosary reflections inspired by 20 of his photos of sacred art depicting the mysteries of the Rosary. The book is due to be published by the Catholic Truth Society, and there will be a book launch on 7 October. Details will be sent in a later newsletter.