It is well known that a large number of Anglican churches are dedicated to Mary. From a humble remote chapel, to splendid cathedrals such as Lincoln or Salisbury we find dedications to the Blessed Virgin.
In England approximately one in every six Church of England dedications are in the name of Mary. Now, of course, many of these are pre-Reformation churches. We find in England early saxon churches bearing her name through to the current day. Sometimes the form of dedication varies. So for example at Faversham in Kent the dedication is to St Mary of Charity, and in Petworth, in Sussex Our Lady of Pity is found.
We could well imagine that dedications to Mary fell out of favour at the Reformation. However, Henry VIII favoured cathedral dedications which included Mary. Even in Puritan days in the seventeenth century, when church building was in decline, we find St Mary, Limehouse and St Mary, West Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
Around the Anglican Communion the dedication of churches in honour of Mary is common too. From Auckland, New Zealand to Anchorage, Alaska, from Belgrade to Blackpool, we find Anglican Churches dedicated in honour of Mary. Indeed the most remote Anglican Church, thousands of miles from the next Anglican Church is dedicated in Mary’s honour – the church on the world’s remote island – Tristan da Cunha.
With a dedication often goes an annual festival, and so many churches dedicated to Mary honour her with a particular feast day. When this is can vary. In England St Mary’s, Truro now Truro Cathedral kept feast on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, St Mary’s Barnard Castle in County Durham has Mary’s Feast of Nativity, September 8th, as a feast day while Alne, in North Yorkshire has chosen August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption.
This is the latest of our series of blog posts on Mary in the Anglican tradition.