Pastoral Letter By: H.L. Bishop Edward Rapallo

It was on 5th October 1967 that the image of Our Lady of Europe, Our Patroness, was brought back to her Shrine after an exile of 267 years. Many of you may remember the occasion. It was a much dilapidated Shrine that had been given back to the Church a few years before, in 1961. But it was to be the beginning of its revival.

Since then, and especially after the return of the image to its home, thanks to the zealous and persevering efforts of its Directors and their willing and generous assistants, the Shrine has gradually been restored, embellished and extended so that today it is a worthy, however modest, home of our Patroness and the centre of Marian devotion in Gibraltar.

 

Next Sunday, again 5th of October, another memorable event in the Shrine’s chequered history will add a new and definitive significance to it: it will be solemnly consecrated to the greater glory of God and dedicated to the honour of our Patroness, Our Lady of Europe.

 

This is not the moment or the place to tell you all that has been done to prepare for next Sunday’s celebration, but I would like to take this opportunity of thanking one and all for making it possible. For the Shrine’s consecration will be a culminating point in the life of prayer and worship that was revived by their efforts. It is now our hope that next Sunday will also mark the beginning of a new era when our devotion to our Patroness not only will increase but also flow into the special apostolate that has been assigned to the Shrine in conformity with its history and character and inspired by the virtues and example of Blessed Mary, Queen of Apostles.

So hallowed by its consecration, the Shrine will no longer be merely a treasured and ancient monument of our history, it will also be a house of Prayer in which will be enshrined our own consecration and dedication to the service of God and man, and to the veneration and imitation of the Blessed Mother of God. It will stand as the sacred repository and reminder of our resolve to respond more fully to Christ’s call to his discipleship after the example of our Patroness, with her as our model and teacher, the Shrine will be the school where through prayer and reflection we shall learn the qualities and virtues demanded from a true disciple of Christ as exemplified in her life.