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Friday, December 9, 2016
Procession for Our Lady of Willesden
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 Around 900 people took part in the 100th May Day Procession for Our Lady of Willesden in North London yesterday afternoon. Braving some patchy showers, the crowd sang hymns and prayed the Rosary as they walked from the Church of Our Lady of Willesden, to the Convent of Jesus and Mary. There were blessings along the way for several small shrines in house windows and an Anglican shrine to Our Lady - one of several in the area. The day ended with an open-air healing service and Benediction, presided over by Abbot Francis Rossiter OSB from Ealing Abbey. During his homily Fr Francis praised the long and sacred devotion to Our Lady which began in Willesden many centuries ago. He said the shrines testified to the love of God and a deep devotion to his mother. The number of different nationalities taking part in the procession showed the real 'catholicity' of the community, he said. Fr Francis also praised the parish for setting up the Guild of Our Lady of Willesden - a group committed to daily prayer and weekly Adoration for the protection and evangelisation of London. Willesden is one of the oldest Marian shrines in the country. A Holy Well and church there was first mentioned in a royal charter in 939. During mediaeval times it was a popular place of pilgrimage, and was often visited by St Thomas More. It was destroyed during the Reformation together with many other sacred places around the country. In 1538 the statue of Our Lady of Willesden was burnt, together statues from several other shrines to Our Lady, at Thomas Cromwell's house in Chelsea. The shrine of Our Lady of Willesden was renewed and restored in 1895. (For more information about Our Lady of Willesden search for earlier stories on ICN.)
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