The Portal December 2017 - Page 19

THE P RTAL December 2017 Page 19 The Shrine of Our Lady of Caversham A little known shrine of Our Lady is explored by Thomas Prince ‘ I have also pulled down the place where she stood in with all other ceremonies … and have defaced the same thoroughly as eschewing any further resort thither’ – Dr John London, 17 th September 1538. Familiar though similar accounts are, this letter was not sent from England’s Nazareth: that image of Our Lady had been languishing in Lambeth since July of the same year. This letter was sent from the town of Reading, and reports on the destruction of the far less famous shrine to Our Lady of Caversham, then an Oxfordshire village, now a suburb of Reading. The analogies, however, between the shrines run further than the tales of their destruction. Both shrines are ancient, and although there is no surviving story of the inception of Caversham’s shrine it may well have been established in the second half of the 11 th century. Both shrines were re-established in the twentieth century, though neither on their original sites, and in 2016 both sites were designated a ‘door of mercy’ in visited Caversham, but another to realise she went the year of the Extraordinary Jubilee. with the same intention as pilgrims to Caversham’s shrine today. I should not get too far ahead of myself however: even in the sixteenth century the status of the shrine As in other places, devotion to Our Lady of had waned and was certainly no rival to Walsingham. Caversham slept until the period following the The shrine’s heyday had come during the reign of establishment of Catholic parishes in the late 19 th Henry III who made considerable benefaction to the Century. Indeed, it was not until the Marian year of shrine, including the wood to establish a ferry across 1954-55 that the idea for a new shrine took shape. the Thames, a red velvet chasuble, and 1500 tapers Under the guidance of the parish priest, Fr William (Walsingham received 3000 tapers in that year). O’Malley, the shrine was opened officially in 1959 Since that time, the shrine dwindled in significance, by Archbishop Francis Grimshaw of Birmingham, although it was bequeathed a crown of gold weighing complete with a 500 year old wooden statue of Our twenty-five pounds by the countess of Warwick 1439. Lady carved from oak and believed to originate in Northern Europe, still resident in the shrine. In But the Caversham shrine has an important keeping with its medieval predecessor that statue was advantage to us over its Norfolk cousin; it might be crowned, with a crown of silver and gold, by the Papal called its ‘ridiculousness’. To Reading ( 2FV旦V2V6&6&6&&&&FbFFFRFVb( W"Gb6fW'6( 6VG20FFFR6&R6FVW2FWffRBWfV&W7FW&W22( W"Gb7vF( "( W"Gb7W&&F( vR&Rb6W'6RV6&R67W7FVBFR7BfWrF22&VVFR7V&V7Bb7V'7FFF&VFR"FW'v&Fǒ6&W3fFW&FW2&W7F&FB&VFV6&FVFW"FRF&V7F`g"V'FB2VBFBB6FVW2Fw&rwVFVWR"FVVBv6vGG&7Bw&2B&V֖BF6Rvf6BFBFP7V'W&&6&W2( 2WfVF6RB766FVBvF6VBFWfF2bFRVvƗ66W&6&RBǐfW7FF( 2&R6&W26W2vW&RVRF&RfVBG2&&W2B&fƲfvW2'WB7GVǒƗfRBffW"&&RVFFR6V7F6&RfVBW7BFvFR&B&WGvVVW&&'&FBG26VB7BgFW"@W"Gb6fW'6&f"W2গ2RFrFFFBVVV6FW&Rb&v