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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Irish Elk
Wednesday, May 07, 2003  
Madeleine Beard

Our Lady of the Ukraine

The Catholic artist Madeleine Beard, whose watercolor icons are displayed at her website, writes evocatively of the beauty of Catholic tradition, as in this article on the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, the church attended by Hilaire Belloc.

She certainly doesn't mince words. See this address, given last June at the Faith of Our Fathers conference at Westminster Central Hall, and printed in the Latin Mass Society's newsletter.

An excerpt:

I paint watercolour icons. During the Latin Mass Society pilgrimage to Rome in October 2000 I was asked by one of our priests, Dom Andrew Southwell, a Benedictine from the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, whose priests exclusively celebrate the traditional Roman Rite, to present a print of one of my watercolour paintings of Our Lady of Walsingham to His Eminence Cardinal Ratzinger. It was an extraordinary privilege. The day before the presentation, Dom Andrew asked me to address the Cardinal. I asked what I should say. Dom Andrew said: ‘Just lay it on with a trowel.’ So when the moment came to present the painting I reminded His Eminence of the long tradition of pilgrimages to Walsingham from all over Europe since the eleventh century; that Walsingham was as popular a place of pilgrimage as Rome, Santiago and Jerusalem. I told His Eminence of the little Slipper Chapel where nothing but the Mass has ever been celebrated, where pilgrims leave their shoes before walking barefoot on the final Holy Mile to the shrine. I told Cardinal Ratzinger that the Slipper Chapel at Walsingham is dedicated to St Catharine of Alexandria. I reminded Cardinal Ratzinger that St Catharine of Alexandria was cruelly dropped from the Calendar in 1969.

Why was it that the most powerful, the most revered, the most popular martyrs and saints, such as St Christopher, St Catharine and St Philomena, were dropped from the Calendar in 1969? And why was it that the statues of more recent and equally popular and powerful saints, the Curé d'Ars and St Thérèse of Lisieux, were discovered discarded and buried at the shrine of Our Lady of Consolation at West Grinstead in Sussex, a recently restored and resurrected shrine where that great defender of the Faith in this country, Hilaire Belloc, himself lies buried?

Under the guidance of Fr David Goddard, himself a convert from the Anglican heresy and now the priest custodian of the shrine (which I would urge every Catholic to visit), those beautiful buried statues have been repainted and restored and look towards the magnificent sanctuary where Solemn High Mass is now, every so often, celebrated. This shrine of Our Lady of Consolation is, for beleaguered and loyal Catholics today, an extraordinary testimony of how loyalty to the Holy See and leadership in a parish can transform a church and bring a congregation back. In this lovingly restored church the sanctuary lamp flickers in front of the tabernacle, beneath the rich warm colours of the crowned statue of Our Lady of Consolation, the first shrine in England dedicated to the Mother of God since the Reformation. In a church which, until a few years ago, was derelict and forlorn, thanks to the wise and practical decision-making of Fr Goddard both the church and the secret chapel in the very old Priest's house, have been cleaned and repainted. Light has been restored and the miraculous painting of Our Lady of Consolation, a copy of the fourth century icon in Turin, venerated then as a protection against the Arian heresy, venerated now as a protection against the Anglican heresy, has itself been made new again and its canopy restored. Because when a priest behaves like a Catholic, showing loyalty to the Holy Father and leadership within his own parish, he brings Catholics back into the Church.

As ever, like Fr Goddard, we must turn with gladness to our past for inspiration. We are not a Catholic country and as a nation our strong national leaders have not been Catholics. But if our leaders in the Church could show just a small amount of the strength in the face of adversity that those who have guided the nation in the past have shown, we would see the recovery in the Church we so desperately need. Winston Churchill himself recognised these qualities in his cousin, the ninth Duke of Marlborough, who was received into the Church in 1927 in the Archbishop's House at Westminster and who spent the last seven years of his life as a Catholic. If you visit Blenheim today no mention is made of this holy Duke, a Brother of the Little Oratory in London, who wanted to end his days as a Lay Brother in a Carmelite Priory in Spain. Churchill observed of his Catholic cousin: ‘The need for contact with the sublime and supernatural of which he was profoundly conscious, led him to the Church of Rome. He asked for sanctuary within that august and seemingly indestructible communion, against which his ancestor had warred with considerable strength.’


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