Monday, November 26, 2007

Our Lady Vulnerata

Our Lady Vulnerata

In the great reredos of the Chapel of the English College, Valladolid, is the statue of Our Lady Vulnerata. The story of this statue begins in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, in 1596. Spain had recovered from the defeat of the Invincible Armada and was gathering another fleet in the port of Cadiz, on the Atlantic coast of southern Spain. The Earl of Essex, one of England's most famous sea-dogs, together with Sir Walter Raleigh, led an English fleet into the harbour, destroyed the Spanish fleet and took possession of the city.

Some of the English troops ran riot and dragged a statue of the Virgin Mary and Child from a church to the market square where they desecrated it. They cut off both arms. All that remained of the Child were parts of his tiny feet on His Mother's knee.

The mutilated statue was given greater honour than ever and the Countess of Santa Gadea, wife of the Governor of Castilla, gave it place of honour in her chapel in Madrid.

The staff and students of the English College in Valladolid asked the Countess for the right to make reparation for the behaviour of their fellow countrymen who had desecrated the statue. Reluctantly she agreed and the statue was brought to Valladolid and installed with great solemnity in the College Chapel in 1600.

Queen Margaret of Austria, wife of King Philip III of Spain, who was present when the statue was installed, had asked for a novena in honour of Our Lady. On the last day of the novena the Bishop of Palencia gave the statue the title of Our Lady Vulnerata (which means wounded and insulted).

In 1979 it was renovated to mark its third centenary. More recently the facade was restored and the main doors renewed at the end of 1985; and the chapel was opened to the public.

Every week, to this day, special prayers are offered in reparation for the insults to Our Lady and the Child Jesus and to implore the intercession of Our Lady Vulnerata for the conversion of the people of England and Wales.

The story of the statue is depicted in eight paintings around the walls of the College chapel.

The Mass of Our Lady Vulnerata is celebrated in the College by special indult on the Sunday following the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In the year 2000, the 4th Centenary of the arrival of the statue of Our Lady Vulnerata, after further renovation of the College chapel, the statue was given a new crown, a gift from the old boys of the College, at a solemn ceremony on the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

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