Joanna Bogle is Visiting Research Fellow at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London. She is the author of some twenty books, including several historical biographies and A Book of Seasons and Celebrations with information on traditions and customs marking the Church year. Her most recent book is John Paul II - Man of Prayer with colleague Clare Anderson, exploring the spiritual life of St. John Paul the Great. She broadcasts regularly with EWTN and has recently initiated popular Catholic History Walks around London. She blogs at “Auntie Joanna Writes” and EWTN’s “Catholic Journalist in London”.
Scotland has been consecrated to Our Lady, by the Scottish Bishops, with the full support of the Scottish Parliament. The consecration took place at the shrine of Our Lady at Carfin, in the Diocese of Motherwell, attended by a large crowd gathered from across Scotland.
This is an event unique in Scotland’s history, and comes at a time when there is a strong sense of honoring the nation’s history and identity.
A motion passed by the Scottish Parliament says:
That the Parliament recognises that Scotland’s Catholic bishops will consecrate the nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 3 September 2017; understands that the bishops will pray for Scotland at the Marian Shrine at the Carfin Grotto, near Motherwell, asking that Scotland be energised with a renewed desire to seek the truth, and understands that at the same time they will pray for all parliamentarians and government, so that they will play their part in building a true civilisation of love and strive to create a place where all people are valued, a place where poor, lonely and marginalised people are not forgotten, and a place where people are free to practise their faith.
Bishop John Keenan of Paisley said, “The Scottish Bishops are the successors of the Apostles in Scotland. Gathering as a College of Bishops in union with Peter, and in whom resides the spiritual authority over Scotland, they invoke this authority for our country to make recourse and intercession to our Mother Mary’s Heart, sure that she will not fail to come to our aid but will entrust us to the care of her beloved Son.”
The consecration is directly linked to Mary’s requests at Fatima. England — long honored as “Mary’s Dowry” following a dedication to her from pre-Reformation times — will be formally consecrated to her in two years’ time, and the English Bishops have proclaimed a period of prayer and preparation for this event.
The consecration prayer involved everyone, and addressed Mary under the title of her Immaculate Heart:
We consecrate Scotland to you, all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To you we give our minds and hearts, our bodies and souls. We willingly place at your service our homes and our families, our parishes and schools: we desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to you, O Mary, and may share in the benefits of your motherly care.
The shrine at Carfin is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, and was built in the 1920s, at a time of unemployment and poverty in this part of Scotland. Most of the work was done by men who were unemployed, and the project was begun by a local priest as a boost to morale and to local families. Known locally as “Carfin grotto,” it grew steadily in popularity throughout the following years and regularly sees large outdoor pilgrimages.
The consecration of Scotland to Mary comes at a time when issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion on demand have been taking center stage in Scottish politics. There has been much concern about the rights of those who disagree with the official promotion of same-sex marriage and abortion and who face discrimination at work or in holding public office.
Bishop Keenan said, “We must come to Mary and ask her to drive from our land the darnel that the Devil has sown amongst the good wheat of our Christian faith, to cast down the schemes of the enemies of religion, that Christian moral life may be restored, that freedom of conscience be respected and that Scottish Catholics may fearlessly resist error by witnessing courageously to the Faith.”