October 3


Our Lady of Willesden, London, England

In the summer of 1538, King Henry VIII's chief minister Thomas Cromwell ordered England's venerated images of Mary to be removed from their shrines -- along with, of course, any treasures found with them. Among them was the ancient black Virgin of Willesden, burned at the stake that fall. In 1892, Catholics had a new statue made from the wood of an oak tree growing in the cemetery of  the Anglican Church of St. Mary (right, from Standing on My Head, gkupsidedown.blogspot.com). Since 1903, the Catholic statue goes through the streets in an annual procession on the second Sunday in May. There is also a torchlight procession the second Sunday in October. In 1931, the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Willesden opened in the area, northwest of Charing Cross in outer London. On October 3, 1954, Cardinal Bernard Griffin crowned the "Black Madonna" at a Marian Pageant in Wembley Stadium. Eventually, the Anglicans of St. Mary's commissioned their own Black Virgin, dedicated in 1972 (left, from the church's site, stmarywillesden.org.uk). In 1998 they dedicated a new Holy Well on the grounds, renewing a tradition long associated with the Willesden pilgrimage. The Anglican procession takes place the first weekend of July. See also Our Lady of Willesden Church website, www.ourladyofwillesden.co.uk

Also commemorated this date:

Mariń Heimsuchung, Werneck, Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany, Eckartshausen district (Visitation of Mary). Candlelight procession.
Madonna della Ghianda, Somma Lombardo, Varese, Lombardy, Italy (Our Lady of the Acorn). Sanctuary dedicated, 1936.
Madonna delle Grazie, Gavignano, Roma, Latium, Italy. Plague ended, 1679. Festa with votive procession.
Niepokalana Wszechpośredniczka Łask, Teresin, Sochaczew, Masovia, Poland (Immaculate Mediatrix of All Grace). Church consecrated, 1954, at Niepokalanˇw monastery, founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe. Feast days Aug. 14-15 & December 8.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly