Q: Why is England called "Our Lady's Dowry"?

A:

The expression "Our Lady's dowry" describing England's close relationship, even consecration to Mary, seems to be first and foremost fruit of a strong devotion of this country to the Mother of Jesus. This is what T.E. Bridgett, CSSR, believes and explains in his book Our Lady's Dowry: How England Gained That Title (London, 1890). The key text he uses to support this contention reads as follows:

"The contemplation of the great mystery of the Incarnation has drawn all Christian nations to venerate her (Our Lady) from whom come the first beginnings of our redemption. But we English, being the servants of her special inheritance and her own dowry, as we are commonly called, ought to surpass others in the fervour of our praises and devotions."

Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote these sentences in 1399 to the Bishop of London and the rest of his suffragan bishops. Arundel describes how the power of England has augmented thanks to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. At the special request of King Henry IV he enjoins that henceforth the bells should invite people to prayer not only at the ringing of the curfew but also early in the morning. The prayers to be said on these two occasions were the Lord's Prayer and the Angelic salutation five times (Wilkins, Concilia, vol. III, 246). There is however also the hypothesis that the origin of this title arose from an act of donation or consecration by King Richard II (1367-1400). The conclusion rests mainly on a picture which was formerly in the English College of Rome (see Bridgett, fourth ed., preface, V).


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