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History of Our Lady of Europe

Charles Caruana
History of Our Lady of Europe
Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2009


A new book by Monsignor Charles Caruana, Bishop of Gibraltar, and published by the Vatican Press  as part of the events organised to commemorate 700 years of the devotion of Our Lady of Europe.

Devotion to Our Lady of Europe originated in 1309 in Gibraltar following the capture of Gibraltar by Ferdinand IV of Spain. Ferdinand succeeded in liberating Gibraltar from Moslem rule and gave thanks to the Almighty for this victory by dedicating the continent of Europe to the Mother of Christ, giving her the title of Our Lady of Europe. A mosque at the southernmost point of Gibraltar was converted into a Christian Shrine where a statue of Our Lady was worshiped.
Veneration to Our Lady soon spread throughout the Mediterranean and pilgrimages would be made to Gibraltar by devotees of Our Lady. Italians such as Prince Giovanni Andrea Doria, visited the Shrine in 1568, as did General Fabricio Colonna, who undertook a number of pilgrimages to the Shrine both on his behalf and on that of his relatives in Rome. Fabricio Colonna eventually died in Gibraltar. Records indicate that these pilgrims left solid silver lamps, with provision for oil, to be burnt before Our Lady. Pilgrims from Spain were varied but included visits from the Count of Santa Gadea, the General of the Spanish Fleet, Martin de Padilla, and the Duke of Fernandina and Marquis of Villafranca, Don Pedro de Toledo. Local devotees Luis and Miguel Bravo donated the silver sceptre and rich mantle of Our Lady.
It is clear that the veneration to Our Lady of Europe flourished but this was to change after 1704, following the desecration of both Shrine and statue by the Anglo Dutch forces who took Gibraltar. From that monument on the history of Shrine and statue is closely linked if not determined by the military rule that followed and by key historical events in Gibraltar. For a start, the Shrine was taken over for military use soon after 1704 and remained as such until 1961 when the Shrine was returned to the Church in a quiet private ceremony. Since then every effort has been made to ensure that the Shrine recover its age-old identity as a place of pilgrimage and to disseminate the fact that the Continent of Europe was consecrated to the Mother of Christ with the title of Our Lady of Europe.
The 1979 the then Bishop of Gibraltar, Bishop Rapallo, set out to expand the devotion to our Lady and to place this within the context of the ministry of the Church. Bishop Rapallo wanted the Shrine to be the source of all the apostolate. He also set about to formalise and establish Our Lady of Europe as the Principal Patroness of Gibraltar and for this purpose petitioned The Sacred Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples to obtain this favour from His Holiness. On the 31st May 1979 Pope John Paul II officially approved the Most Blessed Virgin Mary as the Principal Patroness of Gibraltar confirming the title ‘Our Lady of Europe’.
Bishop Rapallo appealed to Rome yet again. On this second occasion he requested that the feast day of Our Lady be changed to Europe Day which was celebrated every 5th May. By bringing together both celebrations and in anchoring the commemoration of Our Lady on the same day as Europe Day, the Church in Gibraltar brought to light the accepted relevance of Our Lady of Europe to modern times. Rome replied in the affirmative and since then the Feast of Our Lady of Europe has been solemnised on the 5th May.
Which bring us to the events taking place this May to commemorate 700 years of the devotion to Our Lady of Europe in Gibraltar. Bishop Caruana’s account offers a comprehensive history but he also extends this to include how devotion has spread throughout Spain and Europe, thus demonstrating that the veneration to Our Lady of Europe is strong and just as relevant today as it was 700 years ago.




TITOLO: History of Our Lady of Europe
CATEGORIA: INGLESE
RECENSORE: Gibraltar Chronicle
AGGIUNTO: 06/05/2012
LETTURE: 1046
PUNTEGGIO:Eccezionale
OPZIONI: INVIA AD UN AMICO  STAMPA QUESTA RECENSIONE
  

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