Tag Archives: ancient Marian devotions



From the England of today there also comes the story of the famous roses of Stockport. 


On the first Sunday of May, 1947, five-year-old Pauline Byrne placed a crown of roses on the statue of our Lady in St Mary’s Church, Stockport, England. The incident was similar to hundreds of May crownings taking place throughout the world.


Rev. James Turner, D. D., pastor of St Mary’s, says that 1947 was the golden jubilee of his church. When ordering the crown for the statue, he asked the florist to choose yellow tea roses, as being the colour nearest to gold.


“When I received the crown on Saturday evening,” Father Turner says, “it looked lovely but terribly frail. I did not think it would remain presentable till the next day.

“Towards the middle of May I was surprised to see the roses in the crown still intact and beautiful; in all previous years the roses had fallen out after a week or ten days.

“At the end of the month I always took the statue back to my bedroom, although the people always begged me to leave the statue in the sanctuary because they loved it so much. But I was always adamant and said that June is the month of the Sacred Heart and our Blessed Mother must give in to her divine Son.

“At the end of May the roses were still intact and beautiful. I said to my parishioners: ‘Well, you have always asked me to leave the statue in the sanctuary. I will do so as long as the roses remain intact.’ Half jokingly, I added, ‘If our Lady wants to stay in her place of honour, well, it’s up to her to keep the roses as they are.’


“Really, I do believe that our Blessed Mother took up the challenge, because month succeeded month, and there was still no change in the roses.”

In October, a reporter heard about the roses, and the story went all over the world. Visitors came by the hundreds.

The following year, the same May queen deposited a second crown of 17 golden ophelias on top of the first. This crown also failed to fade. In May, 1949, seven-year-old Anne Carley placed a third crown on the statue.

“To this day,” says Father Turner, “there has not fallen a single petal from any one of the 50 roses.


“Personally I look upon the three crowns as being beautifully symbolic of our Blessed Mother being crowned by the Eternal Father as His Beloved Daughter, by the Eternal Son as His cherished Mother, and by the Holy Ghost as His chaste spouse. Again I look upon the 50 roses as symbolising the 50 Hail Marys of the Rosary.


“For these reasons I did not wish to superimpose a fourth crown on our Lady of the Roses, and so I decided to place a crown on Our Lady of Lourdes. To our amazement, this crown is following the example of the crowns on Our Lady of Roses.


A woman reporter examined this fourth crown in June, 1950, when it was more than six weeks old. She rubbed the petals and the delicate ferns between her fingers. They were completely dry, completely dehydrated; but they retained their original shape and form and virtually their original colour. They looked like living roses and living ferns, but they were not. From their dryness, one would have expected them to fall to the floor, but they did not.

The reporter could not feel the first three crowns, because they were too high. From their appearance, however, she judged them to be in the same condition.

The Church has not pronounced upon the roses of Stockport, so we do not know whether they can be considered miraculous. If the Church does declare that a miracle has taken place, England, and the entire world, will have cause for great rejoicing.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954


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Our Lady of Consolation

“Our Blessed Mother has been invoked under the beautiful title of Our Lady of Consolation since the fourth century – and probably for even longer than that. History records that St Eusebius of Vercelli, who was a heroic defender of the doctrine of Christ’s Divinity in an age when Arianism was gaining influential followers, brought back an icon of Our Lady of Consolation from Egypt in 363 when he was returning from exile.


This icon was presented to the city of Turin. Later St Maximus, Bishop of Turin 380 – 420, established a small Shrine to house the icon in a church dedicated to St Andrew. Here it became a popular centre of Marian devotion in the city. However, the following years brought a cycle of destruction, then restoration, followed by neglect, then revival.

During these troubled times a new shrine was built, only to be destroyed again during an invasion of the Barbarians. In 1104 the icon was found buried unharmed beneath some ruins and once again the faithful of Turin could honour Our Lady of Consolation in her shrine. Many miracles were attributed to her intercession and over the succeeding centuries the church in which the icon now is displayed has been reconstructed, embellished and added to, and has been elevated to the status of a minor basilica. The devotion to Our Lady of Consolation became widespread in Europe.

West Grinstead

The English Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead, Sussex is officially affiliated to the Turin Shrine. Although the church itself was built comparatively recently, it stands in a rural area which is steeped in Church history.

After the Reformation, the local major landowners, the Caryll family, were secret Catholics and welcomed priests who came disguised, at the risk of their lives, to minister to them and to the faithful throughout England.

The Priest’s House, with hiding places to shelter the priest if any investigating authorities were in the area, was originally a tiny cottage. There was also a hidden chapel intended to provide temporary safety for worshippers.

Eventually the government policy towards Catholics changed and instead of the risk of the death penalty, financial sanctions were imposed. The Caryll family remained faithful to the Church and eventually followed the Stuart Royal family to France, where they had an honoured place at the Court in Exile.

Monsignor Denis

When the Caryll estate in Sussex was sold in 1754, the Priest’s House at West Grinstead was given to the Church to ensure that a Catholic presence would continue there. Strange to say, the historical situation was soon reversed, as French Catholic priests fled to England to escape the French Revolution, and some found refuge at West Grinstead.

It was difficult for French speaking priests to minister to a rural English congregation and sadly local fervour declined. Eventually, however, following the establishment of a Catholic Diocese of Southwark (which included Sussex) a priest from Brittany, Mgr Jean Marie Denis, was appointed to West Grinstead and, encouraged by the Bishop, worked hard to revitalise the parish.

A new place of pilgrimage

It was Mgr Denis’s inspiration to establish the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation at West Grinstead in 1876. He chose this title because the Shrine at Turin was an ancient one and was blessed with special privileges and Indulgences. Through affiliation, the Shrine at West Grinstead shares those privileges.

The combination of history enshrined in the Priest’s House and devotion to Our Blessed Lady under the ancient title Our Lady of Consolation excited wide interest and pilgrims began to visit and pray there and they continue to do so today.

Developments in Turin

Whilst the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead, in England was developing and attracting pilgrims, there had been developments at the Shrine in Turin. In 1880 a young priest, Father Giuseppe Allamano, was appointed Rector of the Shrine at the age of 29. Although his father had died when he was only three years old, his early years had been privileged with the example of at least two future saints: one being his uncle, later to become St John Cafasso, and the other being Don Bosco, later to become St John Bosco. The latter was his teacher and spiritual director.

Father Giuseppe had benefited from these early influences and, by the time he was installed as Rector of Our Lady of Consolation Shrine in Turin, he had a number of years’ experience of directing seminarians and newly ordained priests of the diocese. He was a dynamic Rector of the Shrine and enhanced its reputation and influence, but his achievements were not limited to that holy place.

Consolata Missionaries

Father Giuseppe was led by his intense devotion to Our Lady and his zeal for evangelisation to found the two religious missionary congregations that we know as the Consolata Fathers and Brothers (1901) and the Consolata Sisters (1910). They were soon active in Africa and now are spread across the world. Father Giuseppe, better known to us today as Blessed Joseph Allamano, died in 1926 and was beatified in 1990 by Pope St John Paul II. We may hope that he will soon be a canonised saint. The Consolata Missionaries eagerly await this and have dedicated the year 2014 to their founder. They are praying that the miracles required to support the Cause of his canonisation will soon be identified and they urge us all to ask his intercession.

The Consolata Icon

Blessed Joseph Allamano spent many hours in prayer at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Turin. The holy icon was a source of inspiration for him, and his prayer led him beyond the ancient representation, to the reality of Our Lady’s loving concern for the needy, the sick, the forlorn, the lost… a loving concern as alive today as it has been through the ages.

It seems appropriate that the icon at Turin is not replicated at West Grinstead, which has its own distinct painting … Our Lady is not limited in time or space. Her title of ‘Consolata’ reassures us of her motherly love and her attentiveness to us whenever we call on her, wherever we may be.

Our Lady of Consolation, pray for us.

Blessed Joseph Allamano, pray for us. “

– This article was published in the “Little Way Association” magazine (hard copy) Issue no. 94. For subscriptions and donations, please visit the Little Way Association’s website (external link)


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Posted by on July 21, 2015 in Devotions


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