Our Lady of Bolougn-sur-Mer, France (633) – 20 February:
In the year 636, a small group of people standing on the seashore witnessed a ship without oars or sails came into the harbour of Boulogne. It finally came to rest in the estuary, seemingly of its own accord. One of the witnesses boarded the boat and confirmed that there was no-one aboard and that the vessel had no rudder, oars or sails.
The ship, however, bore a luminous statue of Our Lady. Taking hold of it to bring it to land, a voice was heard saying, “I choose your City as a place of grace.” The citizens welcomed Mary to their city by erecting a Shrine to her, which reached its height of glory in the 12th Century.
King Henry VIII is reported to have stolen the Statue of Our Lady of Boulogne and taken it to England. After many negotiations, the French managed to get it back. The image had been stolen and hidden many other times but always saved and returned.
World War II almost completely destroyed the Statue. In modern times, four exact replicas of Our Lady of Boulogne toured France for more than seven years, as a symbol of French devotion to Mary. One of these was taken to Walsingham, England in 1948 and carried in procession by the “Cross-bearing pilgrimate” when many other Statues and images of the Virgin visited England.
Bologne was one of the most important Lady shrines of medieval France; among its noted pilgrims have been: Henry III, Edward II, the Black Prince, John of Gaunt.
Marian Feast Day, 10 July: The dedication of a new Church built in honour of Our Lady of Boulogne was consecrated in the year 1469 by Bishop Chartier of Paris. The confraternity of Our Lady of Boulogne was so celebrated, that six French kings have chosen to belong to it.
At the French Revolution, the Statue was burnt to ashes and the Church pulled down. A new Shrine and Statue was made in 1803 and pilgrimages began again. The image represents the Mother with the Child in her arms, standing in a boat, with an angel on either side. At the Marian Congress in Bolougne in 1938, a custom began to take replicas of this Statue “in turn” in France and abroad. A branch of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Compassion at Bolougne has been established for the reconciliation of the Church of England.
The Sanctuary Church at Bolougne was badly damaged during World War II and Mary’s image smashed but the return, the “Great Return” of one of the copies of the Statue which had been sheltered at Lourdes, took place in 1943 and the occasion will long be remembered by lovers of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Most remarkable about the Grand Return was the unprecedented avalanche of graces, especially of conversions and penance. Thousands upon thousands of atheists, communists, freemasons and fallen-away Catholics converted on the spot when they saw Our Lady enter their village. One bishop described the effect on the faithful:
“The passing of Our Lady in my Diocese is the most extraordinary contemporary religious event of our times and the most significant. Crowds of people rose up, motivated and enthusiastic. In fact, the confessionals and communion rails were besieged during the holy vigils, while the recitation of the mysteries of the Rosary kept the faithful praying in the Churches. In some Parishes, there were tremendous conversions like never seen before on the missions.”
St Amata of Assisi OSC (Died c 1250)
St Bolcan of Derken
St Eleutherius of Tournai (c 456-532) Bishop and Martyr
St Eucherius of Orleans OSB (c 687-743)
About St Eucherius:
St Falco of Maastricht
St Francisco Marto (1908-1919)
St Jacinta Marto (1910-1920)
Today (2021) is the Fifth Anniversary of their Canonisation: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/saints-of-the-day-20-february-saints-francisco-1908-1919-and-jacinta-marta-1910-1920
St Leo of Catania
St Nemesius of Cyprus
St Pothamius of Cyprus
St Serapion of Alexandria
St Silvanus of Emesa
Blessed Stanislawa/Julia Rodzinska OP (1899-1945) Martyr
St Valerius of Courserans
St Wulfric of Haselbury
St Zenobius of Antioch