The Dominican Priory church of Our Lady of the Rosary and St Dominic in Southampton Road, Kentish Town, North London was overflowing with roses last Sunday for the rededication of the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. There was a procession and roses were blessed at the special Mass to celebrate the newly-decorated shrine. The original chapel was built at St Dominic more than a hundred years ago by Thomas Walmsley from Tunbridge Wells. He told the Dominicans he wanted to build the chapel in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes: "to mark the gratitude of Catholics of the United Kingdom for the many graces and blessing received through Our Lady of Lourdes." The final replica of the grotto at Lourdes was not completed until 1914 with money donated by the Belton family. For several years, the chapel became a centre for pilgrimage, but time took its toll and, in recent times, it was beginning to get quite dilapidated. A restoration fund was set up and by 1997 there was enough money in the bank to start work. Parish priest Fr Dermot Morrin said: "I'm sure many people wondered if it would ever happen - restoration of Victorian chapels isn't exactly on the curriculum at our training house." However, by February this year, experts had been found and the delicate work of cleaning, regilding and repainting began. The work was completed in time for Rosary Sunday - the day Pope John Paul dedicated the world to Our Lady. Fr Dermot said: "This is a happy day for St Dominic's. The combined efforts of so many people have given us back the beauty of our Lourdes chapel. In the years to come may it be a constant reminder to us what we as a parish can do together."
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