On Sunday, 8 May, 2016,
the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer in Christchurch,
New Zealand, had the joy of once more
organising what would become the
fifth annual Maryfest and Grand Procession
in honour of Our Lady of Christchurch.
The first procession took place in 2011,
after the terrible earthquake of 22 February that year,
when the image of Our Lady
which was standing in the (since collapsed) Cathedral tower
was seen to have turned to face out towards the torn city;
reminiscent of the Salve Regina:
"Turn then, Most Gracious Advocate,
thine eyes of mercy towards us."
Much work of preparation bears fruit
in the rapid assembly of everything required
in the church hall of the
Christchurch parish of Our Lady of Victories.
Our Lady's bellringers await the moment
when they will ring the glory or their Heavenly Queen.
This year a very beautiful crown was
made painstakingly by the hand
of a hidden servant of Our Lady
and offered to her by
the little cortege of the
Crown Bearer, May Queen and Train Bearer.
The bier leaves the church borne by the sedarii,
assisted by the ribboniers and flanked by the torch bearers.
Our Lady's flower girls and bell ringers go ahead
strewing the ground with petals
and ringing little bells.
The Mother of God represented as
Our Lady of Christchurch is borne aloft
through the streets
wearing her silver tiara in preparation for the coronation.
As we process along Main South Road
the Holy Rosary is played,
the band taking up the Gloria
and interspersing the decades with
a verse of the Fatima Ave.
A dozen garlanded banners add to the spleadour of the occasion.
The return to the Church of Our Lady of Victories.
This year for the first time,
His Lordship Bishop Barry Jones
was sadly absent, having passed away
on 13 February this year.
In his stead
Very Rev. Fr Rick Loughnan,
our Diocesan Administrator,
consecrated the city and diocese once again to
the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary
and gave the Solemn Benediction
of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
As the fanfare resounded through the church...
....our May Queen crowns the image of the Queen of the May.
A miniature orchestra accompanies the congregation
during the exposition of
the Blessed Sacrament,
playing "Jesus my Lord, my God, my All"
and the "Tantum Ergo".
Unfortunately pictures cannot sufficiently capture the
moving witness of hundreds of souls from the Diocese
kneeling, singing sweetly to this accompaniment
in adoration of Our Eucharist Lord.
For the first time Our Blessed Lady
was, this year, offered an antique votive heart
enclosing the names of more than 1500 souls
who had been enrolled
from all around the diocese.
The very large number of sheets of names
were gathered, printed in miniature
and enclosed in the receptacle in the back of the heart
... literally "written in Our Lady's heart"...
This was formally offered to Our Blessed Mother
by our Very Rev. Diocesan Administrator.
This year the sedarii were
captained by Mr Matthew Green
and the men of our city,
proud to serve under the banner of Heaven.
Surely another crown is to be found for
Our Lady in the
beautiful and innocent souls
of the children of our Oratory
pictured here after the procession
with their chaperons.
They are truly "building Jerusalem"
once more here in the South Pacific.
May she keep them always as the apple of her eye.
Our human eyes see perhaps
the beauty of the day,
but the wonder of a city placed under
the mantle of our Heavenly Queen is far greater.
Everything we saw was brought to
the feet of their Queen
by those who live in our city and its environs,
a truly remarkable witness to their faith.
Our Lady of Christchurch,
turn always thine eyes of mercy towards us!
A large album of photographs may be found here: