Proposed a series of 'spiritual pilgrimages' to historic sites of Marian devotion in England (my post, here). Today, it is Our Lady of Oxford; when I was looking about for information about the devotion, I re-discovered Once I Was A Clever Boy, where the writer is very much on top of Fr Hunwicke's list of shrines etc: here and here about the undertaking in general, here about yesterday's Our Lady of Muswell, and about Our Lady of Oxford, from some time ago. In future, we will read at One I Was A Clever Boy but for today:
... In mediaeval Oxford there were many well-known images of Our Lady, including the one before which St Edmund of Abingdon made his vow of perpetual virginity, at the age of twelve, placing a gold ring on the statue's finger. Tragically, this and other signs of devotion to the Mother of God were destroyed by a later age and it was not until the nineteenth century, at the time of the 'Second Spring', that Our Lady of Oxford was to return. Hartwell de la Garde Grissell was an Oxford convert who became a Private Chamberlain and personal friend of Blessed Pope Pius IX. The Pope granted him indulgences for a painting of Our Lady as "Mother of Mercy". This picture, together with a large collection of relics and other treasures were installed in a private chapel, dedicated to Our Lady, on the High Street.
The devotion to the Mother of Mercy has its origins with the Order of Mercy (the Mercerdarians), who were founded in the thirteenth century for the special purpose of redeeming captives in the Holy Land. Mercerdarians and others would offer themselves as substitutes for those who were imprisoned. In England this work proved especially popular, and Mary was invoked under the title of "Our Lady of Ransom". Today, Our Lady of Ransom is still the patroness of our country, and is particularly associated with conversions to the Faith. The second line of the Salve Regina addresses Our Lady as the Mother of Mercy, reminding us that she is the Mother of all Christians, one to whom we may turn without fear in all our difficulties.
After Grissell's death in June 1907, he left his collection, with Our Lady of Oxford as the centrepiece, to St Aloysius' Church, on condition that a suitable chapel should be built. This relic chapel is where the image is venerated today, amid the bones of the martyrs who hid in the Roman catacombs and laid down their lives for Christ and His Church....
I grew up in a town called Oxford, a university is there, and while there are no Isis (I didn't know that that is the Thames until a decade ago) or Cherwell there is Four Mile Creek and... I'm sure there's another water I could add but am not recalling any other names at the moment.
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