I was moved to see this photograph of our statue of Our Lady posted in our Facebook group on May 31st, the final day of Mary’s month. The statue is well known and well loved by our people at St Chrysostom’s, Mary is for us a sign of love and companionship in faith. In our church we particularly honour her as Mary, Mother of Welcome, Mother of Hope.
I was moved as I looked and reflected on some of the history of the statue. It was given to us by the neighbouring parish of St Luke’s, once it stood in their church, but they wished to replace it with another and offered it to us. For us it replaced a smaller statue. We decided to have the gifted statue ‘refreshed’ and so Hannah McKenzie worked on it. Hannah is the daughter of Alistair a former organist, and granddaughter of David and Ann Percival Smith long term worshippers at St Chrysostom’s, before their move to Lytham St Anne’s. Hannah chose to darken the original skin colour of the statue, to reflect the ethnic variance in our church, and she chose to use the deep blue and red colours associated with medieval statues of Mary. Hannah’s lovely work makes the statue very distinctive for us.
In May our statue is crowned. At one time a garland of flowers was used, and perhaps it may be so again. More recently we have used a crown and lace veil which has come to us from St Benedict’s, Ardwick, a church which closed some years ago.
In our statue Mary holds out her son, Our Lord to us, inviting us to take him, to embrace him, and hold his presence and warmth in our lives. Jesus has his arms open and welcoming to us. Look at his hands. You will notice his left hand is disfigured. Some years ago a careless group using the church moved the statue and in so doing damaged the hand of the Lord. We were going to have it repaired but then felt we wished it to remain as a symbol and challenge of inclusion for us.
In May Ann, who arranges our flowers, often places a rose in Mary’s hand, and there you see it in this photo. A sign of love and beauty, and a sign to us that we offer Mary our love, and she in turn shares her love, her beauty with us.
So for me our statue has a lovely story which I am pleased to share here. It is a living story. Each Sunday worshippers turn to the statue at the end of Mass. The statue becomes a focus for prayer and hope as we join our prayers with Mary’s as we sing the Angelus or the Regina Coeli. Mary is with us on our pilgrim journey of worship and prayer. She is a loving mother accompanying us at the heart of our faith. This moment is an encouragement to our vision of worship – we worship together and with Mary and the saints of heaven. This is a special moment for us at St C’s and made even the more special by the candles people light at the statue as the Angelus finishes.
Mary, Mother of Welcome, Mother of Hope pray for us all at St C’s, and for all whom we love.