Thursday, 8 May 2008

Our Lady of Greatness (II)

When Fr Mark visited Gloucester House Nursing Home for their bi-monthly communion, he took with him some holy cards of Our Lady of Greatness. Fr Mark told them the story of how all this came about. They were all fascinated about it and appreciated the card and joyfully recited the prayer. It is wonderful to see how the local history is enabling us in establishing devotion towards the Mother of the Lord.
After the recitation of the Divine Office, Father Mark led us in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and concluded the Office by the recitation of the new prayer to Our Lady of Greatness. A short time later the French choir “Les Jeudistes” arrived in church and joined our choir in their first rehearsal for the concert on Saturday. Our choir then stayed over for our evening devotion to Our Lady of Greatness. Marigold and Carol gave us a very good explanation of the origins of Holy Wells and how our own one might have looked like. It was a very good and informative exposition. This was followed by a Marian hymn, an abridged version of the Akathist of Our Lady and a final Marian hymn. More people then I ever expected turned up for these devotions and I ran out of books eight minutes before we started.
Here below are some lines that long ago have been written about the Holy Well and Shrine of Our Lady of Greatness.
However, before that a story that impressed me very much concerns two young girls of primary school age who have recently moved from Eastern Europe. They always stop in front of the church to say their prayers on their way to school and back. Yesterday they left next to the church door some flowers. Fr Mark brought the flowers in which were quickly put in a vase next to Our Lady as we recited her first Vespers. Was not that a wonderful homage to Our Lady?
Photos of the event will be posted as they are available. The following is from an article in the parish Magazine of May 08 written by the Mrs Cheesman.

When describing Greatness Jane Edwards wrote in her diary:
‘There was formerly a hospital or chapel dedicated to St John and an Oratory
or Chantry dedicated to Our Lady of Greatness, near which is a chalybeate
spring which flows into an antique cistern. I have the lines, which were written many years ago, on this spring, which was covered with a Chapel, but now in ruins, it was called Our Lady’s Well, near Greatness, and reads thus:

Fount of the woods! Thou art hid no more
From Heaven’s clear eyes as in days of yore.
For the roof hath sunk from the mossy walls
And the sun’s free glance on thy slumber falls,
And the dim trees’ shadows across the grass.
And the boughs are swayed o’er thy dewy glass
And the reddening leaves on the breast are blown
And the autumn winds hath a stormy tone
And the bubbles rise to the flashing rain
Bright fount! Thou art nature’s own again.

Fount of the vale! Thou art sought no more
By the pilgrim’s foot as in days of yore!
When he came from afar his beads to tell
And to chant his hymn at Our Lady’s Well.
There is heard no Ave through thy shady bowers
Thou art glancing lone midst thy water flowers
But the herd may drink from thy gushing wave
And there may the reaper his forehead lave
And the woodman seek thee not in vain
Bright fount! Thou art nature’s own again.

Font of the Virgin’s curried shrine!
A voice that speaks of the past is thine.
It mingles the tone of a thoughtful sigh
With the notes that ring through a laughing sky
And the sound of the breeze it will just be heard
Midst the mirthful song of the summer bird.
Tis that all on earth is of Time’s Domain,
He hath made thee nature’s own again.’

Font of the Chapel! With ages grey
Thou art springing freely amidst decay
Thy silts are closed, and cross lies low
And the changed hours breathe o’er thee now,
Yet if at thine Altar one holy thought
In man’s deep spirit of old hath wrought,
If peace to the mourner hath been given
Or prayer from a chastened breast to heaven,
Be the spot still hallowed while time shall say
Who hath made thee nature’s own again.’

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