On this Vigil of Pentecost 2011 we have much to celebrate. The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham within the Catholic Church in England has been accompanied by warm welcomes. The same pattern will soon unfold in the United States, Canada and Australia. The generous offer of Pope Benedict XVI is taking concrete visible form. The offer itself is a welcome from the Successor of St Peter, and his welcome is generating much good will in the Church.
It is significant that we meet at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories, Camberwell, one of Australia’s finest parish churches, combining Romanesque and Renaissance styles. This domed stone church was built in 1914 by a man of vision and imagination, Father George Robinson, himself a former Anglican. On the eve of the Great War he appealed across Australia to raise a national shrine in the Melbourne suburbs in honour of the Patroness of Australia, Our Lady Help of Christians, also known as Our Lady of Victories.
This Marian title recalls a critical moment in history, the sea battle of Lepanto, 1571, depicted in the glowing colours of the West window of this minor basilica. We see Pope Saint Pius V leading the people of Rome in fervent prayer, that through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians victory would be granted and Europe would be spared. Today we may entrust our enterprise to Our Lady’s help.
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