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With the continued easing of restrictions, the parish was pleased to be able to welcome the Right Reverend John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, on the evening of Wednesday 19 May to consecrate and bless the new prayer shrine to Our Lady which has recently been installed in the grounds of the church. We were blessed with glorious sunshine and blue skies, a sure sign of hope for better times ahead, as Fr Mark welcomed those present.

Occupying a prominent location overlooking the busy junction between Brownedge Lane and Duddle Lane in Bamber Bridge, the new shrine is certainly catching the eye and attention of the many people who walk or drive past each day.

The shrine takes the form of a statue of Our Lady, in reconstituted Carrara marble imported from Italy, holding the child Jesus in her arms, mounted on a block plinth encased in black granite. The statue is the same as that in the garden of the Venerable English College in Rome which has the title of ‘Our Lady of Consolation’. During the service, the statue was consecrated as ‘St Mary of Brownedge’.

The area around the new shrine has been landscaped and floodlights have been installed. Two black marble benches, complementing the plinth, have also been placed within the landscaped area, either side of, and facing, the shrine. The benches will provide the opportunity for people to rest and spend time in prayer and reflection before Our Lady. The new shrine will also provide a fitting focal point for the parish on those Marian feast days throughout the year which are associated with Our Lady, the patroness of the parish, including the traditional crowning of the statue of Our Lady, and procession, which normally takes place on the first Sunday in May.

We were also pleased to welcome young people from St Mary’s, Brownedge, High School, Bamber Bridge who performed solos, including ‘Ave Maria’ and read the prayers of intercession; and pupils from St Mary’s and St Benedict’s Primary School who led the signing of the opening hymn ‘As I Kneel Before You’. The reading, from the prophet Isaiah, was read by a parishioner and the Gospel was proclaimed by Fr Joe. Bishop Arnold gave the homily after which he blessed the shrine. After the prayers of intercession, Fr Colin led the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary: The Presentation. The Litany of Loreto was also recited. The service ended with a solemn blessing and the hymn ‘Bring Flowers of the Rarest’ followed by the ringing of the church bells.

A commemorative Order of Service was commissioned for the occasion which lists the prayer intentions of all those who have so generously provided financial support for the new shrine and for which the parish is most grateful. The parish is also grateful to Lloyd and Smith of Oldham, Stevenson’s Memorials of Blackburn and Elite Artificial Lawns of Chorley, together with all those parishioners who have helped with the project, particularly Steve Eccles (project manager); Brian Spicer (Parish Property Manager); and David Dearden and David Morgan (gardening).

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