St Mary of the Angels church now a national shrine

New Zealand now has a national shrine dedicated to Mary, Mother of God, Assumed into Heaven.

A Mass of Dedication was celebrated last Sunday afternoon at St Mary of the Angel’s church in Wellington.

The central Wellington church was almost at its 550-person capacity for the Mass.

The Dedication Mass was the finale of a year of celebration.

Exactly a year earlier, St Mary of the Angels celebrated rededicating the country to Mary. A specially commissioned artwork, Ko Hāta Maria, te Matua Wahine o te Atua – Holy Mary, Mother of God was unveiled at that time.

The artwork was then taken on a year-long hīkoi (journey) around the country’s six dioceses.

It was carried back into St Mary of the Angels at the start of Sunday’s Dedication Mass. It will now be on permanent view as part of the national shrine.

In his homily, Cardinal John Dew noted sacred sites are found in many places around the world. In Wellington, these include the tomb of the Venerable Suzanne Aubert and a memorial to the Wahine disaster.

“Sacred sites all over the world are visited by thousands… they may be natural sites or designed and built by human beings. These places often hold deep meaningful messages, are awe-inspiring, they prompt us to reflect on life, on where we are with God, stir up feelings of awe and reverence and draw us close to God.

“St Mary of the Angels is already a sacred place and has been for 100 years. Now this Icon of Mary Mother of God Assumed into Heaven is here permanently… we hope and pray that in time this becomes one of those sacred sites.”

Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Catholic Bishop, Jean-Baptiste Pompallier, dedicated the country to Mary Assumed into Heaven when he celebrated the country’s first Mass at Totara Point in the Hokianga in January 1838.

A video of the full service is available here.


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News category: New Zealand.

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