Norwood: First Since Reformation
Sir,-It has hitherto been erroneously believed that there are only four officially crowned statues of Our Lady in this country: Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead; Our Lady of Walsingham; Our Lady of Willesden; and Our Lady of St. George's. Southwark. The last three statues were crowned in the Marian Year. 1954, the ceremonies being performed by the Apostolic Delegate at Walsingham, by Cardinal Griffin at Willesden and Bishop Cowderoy at Southwark. The crowning at West Grinstead was performed by the Bishop of Southwark, Dr. Butt. in 1893. the Bishop Acting as delegate for Pope Leo X111.
Evidence has now come to light showing that there are at least two other statues of Our Lady which Were officially crowned some years previously-those at the Convent Virgo Fidelis. Central Hill, Upper Norwood. The writer has been very kindly granted permission to see the Annals of the Convent at Upper Norwood, From these appear the following facts.
Before his death on February 7, 1878, Pope Pius IX, who had a great affection for the Society of the Faithful Virgin, approved by Papal Brief the coronation of two statues of Our Lady, the Faithful Virgin, at Norwood, and had personally blessed two crowns which were to be placed upon her head. The crowning of one statue was carried out by Fr. Morel, the convent chaplain on March 25, 1878: hut by the Feast of Our lady, Help of Christians (May 24), the large and longexpected statue of the Virgo Fidelis presented by the orphans had arrived from Munich and now stands near the Altar rails on the Gospel side of the Church. This statue on this date was also solemnly crowned amid great festivities. His Holiness had sent a special stole which was to be used on this occasion, and the Bishop of Southwark, Mgr. Danell, had delegated the convent chaplain Fr. Morel, to perform the ceremony. The sermon was preached by Fr. Stanfield wearing the Papal stole. Afterwards the stole was handed to Fr. Morel who thereupon performed the actual crowning.
This is a quite remarkable story. There were two statues crowned, and by this dual coronation. Norwood can be said to possess what no other church in England possesses, namely two officially crowned statues of Our Lady Virgo Fidelis: also. this is the earliest recorded official crowning of Our Lady in England since the Reformation.
(Rev.) H. W. R. Lillie, Si.