Lancashire: Shrine of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh survives fire

Our Lady of Fernyhalgh

Our Lady of Fernyhalgh

An ancient Marian Shrine near Preston in Lancashire survived a small fire on Monday.  The Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Michael Campbell said in a statement that just after 8am on Monday,  the Parish Priest of  St Mary’s, Fernyhalgh and Director of Ladyewell Shrine, Fr Tom Hoole, discovered a fire and called the fire brigade immediately.  

"Flames, smoke and heat spread from the fire  until the blaze was eventually brought under control.  An investigation is currently under way but the Fire Service has said that, at this stage, the cause was not thought to be arson," Bishop Campbell said.
That afternoon the Bishop visited the scene and discovered that the chapel and shop were almost completely destroyed. He said: "The rest of the house is intact but has suffered much smoke damage.  The relics and other religious artefacts  seem, on the whole, to be intact but have also suffered from the smoke.   The fire crews were able, on Father Tom Hoole’s instructions, to remove  the Blessed Sacrament before the chapel was almost completely consumed."

"Obviously, at this time, our support and prayers are with Father Tom  Hoole and his dedicated team. Ladyewell Shrine, along with the local  area, has suffered from much turbulence over the centuries and survived  and flourished.  It will do so again.

The Shrine's website says: 'Devotion to Our Lady of Fernyhalgh goes back to  the 11th century. Since the Reformation a devotion to Our Lady as Queen of Martyrs has developed, which is reflected at Ladyewell in the reliquary, the presence of the Burgess Altar and the chapel of the English Martyrs. There has never been an apparition of Our Blessed Lady at Fernyhalgh just continued prayer and petition over seven centuries. Even during penal times, apart from a period of five years, the shrine attracted pilgrims and was the focus of local Catholic prayer.  A secluded spot, only four miles from the centre of Preston and in close proximity to a very busy motorway, surrounded on three sides by ancient and protected woodland, Fernyhalgh has retained it tranquil and sylvan charm.'

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