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Upon this Rock magazine is published by EuropeAxess Media, Gibraltar. Editor Fr. Stuart Chipolina: Production Editor: A. Sargent Cover: Collage: Our Lady of Europe with the Bay of Gibraltar in the background. A.Sargent

Do you know the love that produces immeasurable joy?

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Jesus speaks of the love which the Father and he have for those who belong to him. We can never outgive God in love, because he has loved us without measure. Our love for him is a response to his exceeding mercy and kindness towards us. Paul the Apostle tells us that we can abound in joy and hope because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5:5). In God’s love we find the fullness of grace, life, peace, and joy. Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment – a new way of love. We are to love others as Jesus has loved us. What is the essence of this new commandment? True love is sacrificial. It gives all to the beloved. And there is no greater proof in love than the sacrifice of one’s life for the sake of another. Jesus proved his love for his disciples by giving his life for them, even to death on the cross. We prove our love for God and for one another when we embrace the way of the cross. What is the cross in my life? When my will crosses with God’s will, then God’s will must be done. Do you know the joy and contentment of a life fully surrendered to God and consumed with his love? Do you know the friendship of God? One of the special marks of favour shown in the scriptures is to be called the friend of God. Abraham is called the friend of God (Isaiah 41:8). God speaks with Abraham as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). Jesus, the Lord and Master, in turn, calls the

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disciples his friends rather than his servants. What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship with God certainly entails a loving relationship which goes beyond mere duty and obedience. Jesus’ discourse on friendship and brotherly love echoes the words of Proverbs: A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17). The distinctive feature of Jesus’ relationship with his disciples was his personal love for them. He loved his own to the end (John 13:1). His love was unconditional and wholly directed to the good of others. His love was also sacrificial. He gave the best he had and all that he had. He gave his very life for those he loved in order to secure for them everlasting life with the Father. True love is costly. Those who truly love give the best they can offer and are willing to sacrifice everything they have for the beloved. God willingly paid the price for our redemption – the sacrifice of his only begotten Son. That’s the nature of true friendship and love – the willingness to give all for the beloved. True friends will lay down their lives for each other. Jesus tells us that he is our friend and he loves us whole-heartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he loves us, wholeheartedly and without reserve. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to

ay of Love

Jubilee Arts Competitions

Open to anyone, with a Lourdes Pilgrimage for two and 4 Netbooks to be won.

his love and obey his command to love our neighbour, then we will bear much fruit in our lives, fruit that will last for eternity. Do you

Our Lady of Europe Art and Drama Jubilee Competitions are aimed at fostering creativity through participation in and appreciation of the arts. Art, Music and Word entries may be invited to contribute to the Jubilee Celebrations, in print or performance. Winning entries will be exhibited at the Catholic Community Centre; then at the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe exhibition hall which is open to the public free of charge throughout the year, on the website: ourladyofeurope. net and published in the Shrine Messenger and Upon this Rock magazines.

wish to be fruitful and to abound in the love of God? God Bless You Fr Stuart

Categories: The closing date for the Art, Word and Music competitions was the 23rd of March 2009, but the Film category has been given an extended period to 1st June 2009. It is hoped that filmmakers will take advantage of this extended period to cover the unprecedented events of the Jubilee Celebrations as they unfold around the Rock and at Europa Point during the week commencing May 4th. Entry forms are available at the Catholic Multimedia Centre at the Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned, Main Street.

The closing date for the Film competition category is the 1st June 2009! 3

The band behind “La Virgincita de Europa”

Los Trovad

Music is as old as man, and musical ability is innate to humans.

Since the first primal forms of communication and expression, poets and songwriters through the ages of every culture have reflected the history of man more skilfully than most dusty books. Music is our heritage and Gibraltar is no exception where music is an integral part of daily life. Contributing to this legacy is one of the many groups, Los Trovadores whose music has been around for over fifty years. Though they broke up as a group in 1963, their music lives on to this day through their tapes, records and CDs’. Their style


when singing in Spanish is almost exclusively S. American. Their bilingualism gives them the opportunity to adopt English songs as well and in their own style. A good example of this is their rendering of “Love is a many splendoured thing.” I met with Frank Costa, Octavio Victory, Louis Diaz and Isaac Wahnon, the present members

Anne Mesilio

dores (other members over the years have included Elio Cruz and Louis Bruzon) who generously gave their time to talk to me. They were rehearsing to record a CD at Biffy Studios in City Mill Lane under the enthuastic guidance of Nigel Palmer. I was made aware that these spanking newly renovated rooms were once used, over sixty years ago, by performers at the Wintergardens, and even by the group at various times. They paid tribute to Nigel’s “putting us through our paces,” as they prepare a CD for release later this year. This new recording “will be an improvement in sound, maintaining the purity of voices where vocals blend and will be a professional production.” A far cry from the old days of the vinyl 45rpm record which they have recorded many times. That is still to come, but first back to 1953. Louis explained, “What I really wanted to do was to form a vocal/musical group along the lines of those S. American groups which were becoming popular on radio.” Frank Costa was persuaded to join and he brought along Elio Cruz. Louis continued, “We were very fortunate to get Octavio as we felt he had the quality of voice which would blend well with the kind of group we had envisaged.” Octavio became,

New Single to be released for May Jubilee.

and remains the lead singer, and whilst the others play guitar, his efforts with the maracas have led to his being banned from playing, “because he is often out of tune”! This remark elicited chuckles but the affectionate tone left no room for doubt than it was anything other than lighthearted. So too, referring to Isaac as “El Niño” because he is the youngest member. Los Travadores took part in the first of many concerts at the Theatre Royal in 1954 and this would launch a career of music making over the next ten years. They have performed at concerts, private parties, the Rock Hotel, dances, clubs as well as entertaining patients at both St. Bernard’s and KGV hospitals. These latter became the norm for the group and today this includes Mount Alvernia and the Lady Williams day care centre. We can look forward to hearing them play at the forthcoming celebrations for Our Lady of Europe with their composition La Pleagaria a La Virgen de Europa, or as it’s more

fondly known, La Virgencita de Europa. They are no strangers to playing at the Shrine, having performed before visiting clergy from Spain, led by Madrid’s Cardinal Varela. They have been the proud recipients of a medal presented to them by the Cardinal at a special Mass there. This was my cue and I took it eagerly, really wanting to know about the origins of this enduring song, or hymn as some would have it. I learned that Elio Cruz wrote the lyrics and Louis Diaz the music. “I still have Elio’s original script with a drawing of Our Lady of Europe.” It was first performed by the group at the Theatre Royal in 1959, fifty years ago. It has become the most popular and best known tune in Gibraltar and is considered by some to be its national anthem. The group, to this day cannot perform anywhere without singing it, and I consider myself privileged, because as they gathered for a photo shoot this is what they were singing. There is a sincerity and tenderness of expression

in the melody which invokes nostalgia in Gibraltarians abroad. Sometimes the Gibraltar of the exiles can be more romantic than the real one, but I have no problem with that (an exile from Ireland) as this is the heart’s longing. The lyrics are evocative, “Cuando mencionam tu nombre sienten un fuerte latir, Porgue eras la Patrona de los que van por mar…….” “When your name is mentioned it evokes a strong heartbeat, because you are the patroness of those on the sea,” and to be fair the lyrics continue, “And those of us who were born in Gibraltar.” This is a song with a noble air to it, and had this been Ireland it would belong to that genre called “the high songs.” To this end it must be perpetuated and what better way than through our young school children. The group has performed with St. Joseph’s middle school and this is the right way for others to learn to love it, so please let there be many more school choirs singing La Virgencita. In 1962, the Gibraltar Chronicle held a popularity vote amongst teenagers to find their favourite local group, and despite the popularity of up and coming groups who were performing the 60’s music, Los Trovadores were voted best group. They have remained at the top despite not performing live these days, and their forthcoming CD release is an event to look forward to. (All monies from this will be donated to the church). All I can say is, thank you for the music.

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Hasyear yourold life been takes turnedaupside down? J. Alcantara 82 Pontif short break in Gandolfo near Rome

A Birthday Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 82nd birthday on the 16th April this year. His Holiness spent the day in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo a few kilometres south of Rome where he enjoyed a brief period of rest following the ceremonies of Holy Week. Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. yesterday commented on this by expressing the hope that the Holy Father “may long continue to carry out his ministry, ... helping the men and women of today to find God.” “The focus of his concern,” Fr. Lombardi continued his remarks, “is to bring mankind to God and God to mankind,

through a great personal love for Christ. ... Despite the critical attitude it is necessary to adopt towards so many negative aspects of today’s culture and mentality, in the final analysis the principle message [the Church] wishes to communicate is a message of love, a message for the good of mankind and of the human person; that is, their reconciliation with God and with all the other men and women who live on this earth.” Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, the name with which Benedict XVI was baptised, was born on 16 April 1927 in Marktl am Inn,

Let’s Eradicate Polio Film documents efforts to push polio ‘The Final Inch’ towards eradication

Enormous strides have been made in consigning polio to history, but the effects of climate change could bring it roaring back. That alarming prospect was one of several topics covered in the panel discussion at a special New York screening of ‘The Final Inch’, an Academy Award-nominated film about polio in India. Made by Vermillion Films and, and directed by Irene Taylor-Brodsky, ‘The Final Inch’ documents efforts to stamp out polio in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – which are among the few remaining areas where the paralyzing and often fatal childhood disease remains endemic. “Over the last 20 years, there has been a 99 per cent reduction in polio cases due to the commitment of Rotary and other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.


Registration forms available in the Bookshop

Rest for Holy Father

Pope Benedict XVI leads prayers at Castel Gandolfo ‘08 Castel Gandolofo, Italy. Germany. From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach, he studied philosophy and theology. In 1953 he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: “The People and House of God in St. Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church.” Four years later he qualified as a university teacher with a work on St. Bonaventure’s theology of history. In 1962, he made a noteworthy

Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission, and dean of the College of Cardinals. He was elected as Pope on 19 April 2005, the second day of the conclave. His Lordship Bishop Charles Caruana announced earlier this year that Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, C.M.F. would be representing His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI as his Special Envoy, at the celebrations for the

contribution to the work of Vatican Council II as theological consultant to Cardinal Joseph Frings, Archbishop of Cologne. In 24 March 1977, Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Munich and Freising, making him a cardinal on 27 June 1977. In 1981 he was nominated by John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Subsequently he also became president of the Pontifical


Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins said he was “Delighted to be coming to Gibraltar.”

700th Jubilee of the devotion to Our Lady of Europe in Gibraltar this month. Fr. Charlie explained to the press during this announcement, that with this decision Pope Benedict is, in effect, saying, “I can’t come but I send my Special Envoy Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins on my behalf.” It is known that Pope Benedict is not travelling as much as his predecessor,

To be a pilgrim

Pelegrina con Maria A pilgrimage is an instinctive notion of the human heart, drawing men across Europe to visit the Holy Places.

The idea of a pilgrimage has been traced back by some (Littledale in “Encycl. Brit.,” 1885, XIX, 90; “New Internat. Encyc.,” New York, 1910, XVI, 20, etc.) to the primitive notion of local deities, that is, that the divine beings who controlled the movements of men and nature could exercise that control only over certain definite forces or within set boundaries. Thus the river gods had no power over those who kept away from

nate pilgrimages. Without denying the force of this argument as suggesting or extending the custom, for it has been admitted as plausible by distinguished Catholics (cf. Lagrange, “Etudes sur les relig. sémit., VIII, Paris, 1905, 295, 301), we may adhere to a less arbitrary solution by seeking its cause in the instinctive notion of the human heart. For pilgrimages properly so called are made to the places where the gods or heroes were born or wrought some great action or died, or to the shrines where the deity had already signified it to be his pleasure to work wonders. Once theophanies are localized, pilgrimages necessarily follow. The Incarnation was bound inevitably to draw men across Europe to visit the Holy Places, for the custom itself arises spontaneously from the heart. It is found in all religions. The Greeks sought for counsel from Apollo at Delphi and for cures from Asclepius at Epidaurus; the Mexicans

the river. Similarly there were gods of the hills and gods of the plains who could only work out their designs, could only favour or destroy men within their own locality ( 1 Kings 20:23). Hence, when some man belonging to a mountain tribe found himself in the plain and was in need of divine help, he made a pilgrimage back again to the hills to petition it from his gods. It is therefore the broken tribesmen who origi-


gathered at the huge temple of Quetzal; the Peruvians massed in sun-worship at Cuzco and the Bolivians in Titicaca. But it is evident that the religions which centered round a single character, be he god or prophet, would be the most famous for their pilgrimages, not for any reason of tribal returns to a central district where alone the deity has power, but rather owing to the perfectly natural wish to visit spots made holy by the birth, life, or death of the god or prophet. Granting then this instinctive movement of human nature, we should expect to find that in Christianity God would Himself satisfy the craving He had first Himself created. The story of His appearance on earth in bodily form when He “dwelt amongst us” could not but be treasured up by His followers, and each city and site mentioned became a matter of grateful memory to them. Then again the more famous of His disciples, whom we designate as saints, themselves

began to appeal to the devotion of their fellows, and round the acts of their lives soon clustered a whole cycle of venerated shrines. Especially would this be felt in the case of the martyrs; for their passion and death stamped more dramatically still the exact locality of their triumph. Moreover, it seems reasonable to suppose that yet another influence worked to the same end. There sprang up in the early Church a curious privilege, accorded to dying martyrs, of granting the remission of canonical penances. No doubt it began through a generous acceptance of the relation of St. Stephen to St. Paul. But certain it is that at an early date this custom had become so highly organized that there was a libellus, or warrant of reconciliation, a set form for the readmittance of sinners to Christian fellowship (Batiffol, “Etudes d’hist. et de théol. posit.,” I, Paris, 1906, 112- 20). Surely then it is not fanciful to see how from this came a further development. Not only had the martyrs in their last moments this power of absolving from ecclesiastical penalties, but even after their deaths, their tombs and the scenes of their martyrdom were considered to be capable also—if devoutly venerated—of removing the taints and penalties of sin. Accordingly it came to be looked upon as a purifying act to visit the bodies of the saints and above all the places where Christ Himself had set the supreme example of a teaching sealed with blood. Again it may be noted how, when the penitential system of the Church, which grouped itself round the sacrament of the confessional, had been authoritatively and legally organized, pilgrimages were set down as adequate punishments inflicted for certain crimes. The hardships of the journey, the penitential garb worn, the mendicity it entailed made a pilgrimage a real and efficient penance (Beazley, “Dawn of Modern Geography,” II, 139; Furnival, “The Stacions of Rome and the Pilgrim’s Sea Voyage,” London, 1867, 47). To quote a late text, the following is one of the canons enacted under King Edgar (959-75): “It is a deep penitence that a layman lay aside his weapons and travel far barefoot and nowhere pass a

second night and fast and watch much and pray fervently, by day and by night and willingly undergo fatigue and be so squalid that iron come not on hair or on nail” (Thorpe, “Ancient Laws,” London, 1840, 411-2; cf. 44, 410, etc.). Another witness to the real difficulties of the wayfaring palmer may be cited from “Syr Isenbras,” an early English ballad:– “They bare with them no maner of thynge That was worth a farthynge Cattell, golde, ne fe; But mekely they asked theyre meate Where that they myght it gette For Saynct Charyte.” (Uterson, “Early Popular Poetry,” I, London, 1817, 83). And the Earl of Arundel of a later date obtained absolution for poaching on the bishop’s preserves at Hoghton Chace only on condition of a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Richard of Chichester (“Archæologia,” XLV, 176, cf. Chaucer, “Works,” ed. Morris, III, 266). And these are but late descriptions of a practice of penance which stretches back beyond the legislation of Edgar and the organization of St. Theodore to the sub-Apostolic age. Finally a last influence that made the pilgrimage so popular a form of devotion was the fact that it contributed very largely to ease the soul of some of its vague restlessness in an age when conditions of life tended to cramp men down to certain localities.

A group of pilgrims make their way in procession to the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe in May 2007

It began to be looked upon as a real help to the establishment of a perfectly controlled character.

It took its place in the medieval manuals of psychology. So John de Burg in 1385 (Pupilla oculi, fol. LXII), “contra acediam, opera laboriosa bona ut sint peregrinationes ad loca sancta.” Source:


Poem and Prophesies

Mary’s Beacon On reading Anne Mesilio’s poem, printed here one is reminded of the prophesies given to Joan Le Morvan.

The author Joan Le Morvan received two prophesies in prayer concerning Gibraltar, considering the turmoil of our times and the momentous events unfolding this month at Europa Point, it would seem appropriate to reprint them here. They are, of course, on display at the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe. The first, the year before the border opened, had her cancelling a trip to China and found her in Gibraltar three days later: Three years ago, responding to a request she sent them to this magazine. She wrote: “To my surprise the Lord said ‘Not China, but Gibraltar is where I would place you in my name and in my strength. I would have your feet upon that Rock - I would have you pray any prayer of peace in that place, where many plans lie dormant - where many eyes shall turn. Make haste - I will provide.” The second prophesy was given to Joan in prayer soon afterwards

Oh gracious Virgin of Europa, we praise your holy name. You reign upon our homeland as you reign in heaven too. Look down upon this troubled world we live in. Shower upon us your blessed healing and show us how to live in peace and glorify your divine name. Without your light and loving grace to beam into men’s hearts the world would be a darker place, one lonely and bereft of love, as so often of old, and sadly in these days too. But dear Lady of Europa you have shone a beacon light across the ages which, like a homing device, has kept hope alive and led us to this special place. We rejoice in this glorious hope which has led us safely to today, and will lead us into tomorrow.

and runs: “ I would have you bring my word of forgiveness, that hearts that are stony may become tender with my love. For I would build a fortress of love upon that rock from whence shall flow streams of living power And many shall be anointed And many shall be drawn into the light of my love Shining forth from this place Look to my mother From her arms shall you reach out to other lands, to other Faiths I am building my fortress of love I am building new things - but first it is necessary to take away the stones I cannot use The stones of hate and unforgiveness even now embedded in the hearts of my beloved Give them to me my children I will give your hearts a new strength and I will build my lighthouse of love in Gibraltar”

Cherished Lady, in this modern age there is never a busy signal on the prayer line to you, let us use it often, and always to give thanks, worship, prayer and adoration as well as our hearts devotion, as we walk with renewed courage in the safety of your love. Amen. Anne Mesilio


How it all began

A Lighthouse of Love On 20 August 1462, on St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s feastday, the Spaniards recaptured Gibraltar from the Moors. They found a little mosque at Europa Point and converted it into a Christian shrine in honour of Our Lady as Patroness of Europe (Spanish: Ermita de la Virgen de Europa), with devout intention of consecrating to God, through Mary, the whole continent, from a place of prayer and worship at its southernmost point. They built a large chapel at right angles to the mosque’s east wall and the whole area became the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe. A statue of the Virgin and Child was installed in this shrine in the 15th century. The statue was quite small, only two feet in height, carved in wood and polychromed in royal red, blue and gold. The Virgin was seated in a simple chair, with the Child Jesus on her lap. Both were crowned and the Virgin held in her right hand a sceptre with three flowers denoting Love, Truth and Justice. The shrine prospered in fame and popular-

chapel was the Gibraltar’s first lighthouse. In the 16th century, the Mediterranean coasts of Spain were the target of the Barbary pirates. In 1540, Gibraltar was attacked and looted by a lieutenant of Barbarossa, Hali Hamat. The shrine was sacked and all its valuables were stolen but the statue of the Virgin and Child was respected. In spite of this, the shrine recovered and was protected by new walls, erected by Philip II. New notable gifts were received such

ity, for well over two centuries. Ships passing through the Strait of Gibraltar saluted Our Lady as they passed Europa Point and mariners often came ashore with gifts to the shrine. Provisions were made by them for a constant supply of oil so that a light could be kept burning not only in front of the image but also in the tower. Therefore, the light kept burning in the tower above the


as a silver lamp, given in 1568 by Giovanni Andrea Doria, son of the great Genoese admiral Andrea Doria, and two massive silver lamps presented by John of Austria, upon his victory at the Battle of Lepanto (1571). The great disaster for the shrine happened in 1704 as the city was taken by a mainly English-Dutch fleet on behalf of the pretender to the Spanish crown, the Archduke Charles. As the bombardment of the city began, most of the women and children of

How it all began..... continued

A Lighthouse of Love

continued from previous page Gibraltar were evacuated to the shrine led by several priests. Part of the troops of Captain Edward

Whitaker, who had landed at Rosia Bay, headed to the shrine and captured the women. They also looted:

... twelve silver lamps, candlesticks, lecterns, crowns, gems and consecrated vessels, the clothes of many families, who had withdrawn there, and when there was nothing else to rob, they broke off the head of the statue which is so venerated in Spain and the child Jesus and threw it among the stones.[1] Some women had been killed in a gunfight before the soldiers took the shrine, but did not suffer from further molestation when the shrine was sacked. The head of the statue of the Virgin and the child Jesus were broken off. Once broken, their remains thrown to the water and flung


onto the rocks below. However, as the statue was wooden, the remains floated out to sea where they were found by a fisherman, who later delivered them to Juan Romero de Figueroa, the priest in charge at the parish of St. Mary the Crowned. Romero de Figueroa remained in the city even when the majority of the population left Gibraltar and eventually took the statue’s remains to Algeciras for safekeeping, one of the places where the former Spanish inhabitants of Gibraltar had settled down. The statue was hosted in a small chapel dedicated to St. Bernard, which was later returned to the Chapel of Our Lady of Europe. At the time of the capture of Gi-

braltar by the Anglo-Dutch fleet, the shrine, as all other Catholic places of worship in Gibraltar except for the Church of St. Mary the Crowned (now the Catholic cathedral of Gibraltar), ceased to be used. It also suffered heavy damage during the Great Siege (1779-1783) and subsequently demolished with a new one rebuilt on the same site in subsequent years. We continue our history using notes compiled by Bishop Charles Caruana: publishied on the Our Lady of Europe official website: In AD 1864, when Bishop Scandella finally managed the return of the statue from Algeciras, it could not be lodged back at the original location, i.e. the Shrine; it was being used for military purposes. Instead it was provisionally placed in the Loreto Sisters Convent; at the time opposite the Governor’s Palace in Main Street. The Bishop’s mid-term objective was to situate it as near to Europa Point as was possible. A suitable site was found at what is today an elderly care home (Mount Alvernia), Engineer Road. Bishop Scandella began a campaign to raise funds for its acquisition. On completion Bishop Scandella organised a most solemn opening with an impressive procession towards the new Chapel. The road was lined on both sides by soldiers. This ceremony was intended as reparation for the AD 1704 desecration by the invading Marines. The provisional Chapel’s design though simple, was conducive to prayer. A marble altar was donated by Pope Pius IX. Above the altar was a marble domed Baldachino under which the statue of Our Lady was enthroned.

The Chapel remained active until 1940, the beginning of the Second World War. For security reasons the statue of Our Lady was transferred to the Cathedral of St. Mary The Crowned. Father Louis Orfila organized a pilgrimage to Lourdes in the summer of 1954. The pilgrimage would comprise of H.L. Bishop Fitzgerald and 70 pilgrims. En route by train, as it was about to pass by Puente Genil, Cordoba -Spain, there was a forceful ‘bang’ followed by a sudden halt. Carriages tilted with luggage cases dropping off the racks onto the passengers. The train had derailed! There were fatalities and injured. Passengers began to get off the train, albeit with some difficulty because of the carriage’s derailed angle. The fear was that another approaching train could cause another catastrophe. The pilgrims helped each other. Father Orfila bravely went to the assistance of the dying and wounded. Bonfires were lit to provide light and warmth. It was at this point that it dawned on the pilgrims that they themselves could also have been casualties. Because of an oversight by the station-master in Algeciras, the carriage in which the pilgrims were to travel in was placed at the end, not in its proper place. A special emphasis on thanking Our Lady for her protection developed as a major objective for the pilgrimage to Lourdes. On return from pilgrimage, Bishop Fitzgerald organized a thanksgiving torchlight procession bearing the statue towards St. Joseph’s Parish Church, being the Church nearest to the Shrine at Europa Point –the military were still using the true home where the statue belonged. The statue remained at St. Joseph’s


May 2006: Fr Orfila received the Cross of Chaplins from Fr. de Antonio from the Diocesan of Tarbes and Lourdes in recognition of his work at the Shrine, above after Mass that day Fr. Orfila presented Fr. Antonio with a crystal replica of the Rock.

for many years. The Parish Priest of the time of the first Tridium after the War was Mgr. Carmel Grech. He was delighted to become overseer of the statue. He had been responsible for the devotion to Our Lady of Europe prior to the war. He kept everything pertaining to Our Lady. The people were enthused with love for Our Lady of Europe. This is manifested in a Hymn to Our Lady composed in the

1950’s by Louis Diaz and performed by Los Trobadores. This “Plegaria” has now become part of the local identity of the people. To this day, it is sought after and part of local excursions. (See article printed in this publication) In 1961, as Mgr. Grech safeguarded the statue of Our Lady, he felt responsible for the spreading of the devotion. He setup a stained glass window of Our Lady of Europe at the entrance

How it all began..... continued

of the Church and called on the aid of Fr. Caruana who organised a Triduum in honour to Our Lady at St. Joseph’s Church. Fr. Orfila was invited to preach and the Bishop preached on the final day. The Triduum was a success; an annual event that was postponed because of the war, now restarted invigorated and with renewed enthusiasm. Once the threat of another looming war was found unlikely the British War Department began to withdraw many military installations in Gibraltar. Military buildings were demolished and others remained, i.e. the remains of the ancient Shrine and Bomb Proof House. As military married quarters were still stationed there, access for the civilian population was still restricted to certain areas of Europa Point. The efforts of Bishop John Farmer Healy proved successful in securing a legal footing for all Church property. At long last he was able to acquire the remains of the Shrine. The state of the building was in

a sorry-state. The dilapidated condition showed that the building had been used for all types of services, probably a store, a guard-room or a prison (judging by a whipping pole still present today, just outside the Shrine). The Shrine was returned to the Church on 17th October 1961. The keys were handed over to the Bishop in a quiet private ceremony. Once the Shrine had been handed over to the Church, a group of volunteers, led by Fr. Louis Orfila began works on refurbishment. Fr. Orfila wrote: “The place was empty, drab, very damp and full of cobwebs, quite uncongenial to religious fervour. But In its own humble way, it was an impressive and historic beginning.” With a prayer, a few hymns and two cheap candles on the floor, the works to beautify the torn Shrine began. The moving story of a hospital nurse who witnessed the dedication and efforts of these volunteers donated her first month’s salary towards the beautification


of the Shrine. This precious donation motivated the volunteers even further. After some time, the place became worthy of holding prayer services. On the eve of Bishop Healy’s departure to attend Vatican Council II he celebrated Holy Mass within the premises. It had taken a period of 258 years for Mass to be celebrated at the Shrine. The much marked day was 28th September 1962. 1966 was a time of particular uncertainty and difficulty for the people of Gibraltar. People felt

threatened by the Spanish Government’s claim to the sovereignty of the Rock. This delicate issue was being discussed in the Committee of Twenty Four in the United Nations. At this tense moment a procession to Europa Point was organised, with prayers for a just solution. As the procession advanced halfway, news reached the people: the United Kingdom had supported the Gibraltarians claim at the United Nations. A beautiful altar was arranged

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A Poem for Meditation and people crowded around the stand. Bishop Healy said a few prayers and thanked everyone for participating. He also blessed all families in the community. The Procession had been a success and was talked about for weeks to come. Highlighted was the aura of peace which surrounded the gathering. The statue was once again returned to St. Joseph’s Parish Church. After the death of Mgr. Carmelo Grech in 1967, Fr. John Aher replaced him as Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Parish Church. For reasons unknown, Bishop Healy decided to transfer the ancient statue of Our Lady of Europe from St. Joseph’s to the Shrine at Europa Point. The Shrine was adequately maintained and prayerful, yet there were those who believed that this transfer should have been postponed until such a time that the Shrine became a worthier home for the statue. On 7th October 1967, Fr. Aher organised the transfer to the Shrine escorted by a detachment of soldiers and officers from the Gibraltar Regiment. This was kept at a very low profile. Whatever opinions there may have existed at the time as regards the transfer or its method, the truth of the matter remains that after a period of 263 years, the statue of Our Lady of Europe had, at last, returned to her original home!

In the early 70’s the Shrine became more streamlined in both its Liturgy and Public Relations. This led to pilgrimages arriving to Gibraltar, especially from the UK. Examples of affiliated groups were The Universe Travel Department, The Novena (Redemptorist Magazine) and St. Christopher Tours and others. Groups arrived at peak seasons so as to coincide with local high-feasts; as in the open-air procession of Corpus Christi, the Feasts of Our Lady of Europe, Our Lady of Sorrows in Catalan Bay. Particularly popular was the Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes. Pilgrimages had to cease due to building developments. Picture cards and banners were printed. The Shrine’s “Messenger” began –a newsletter that included articles on Marian Spirituality, information on the Shrine and events held therein. To date, an issue has never been missed. A postage stamp was issued with

the image of Our Lady of Europe that travelled the world and back. Also more medals were struck by Tanci in Milan, Italy. A large banner of Our Lady of Europe accompanied pilgrims to Lourdes, Rome, Jerusalem and Fatima. People were fascinated to learn that in such a small place like Gibraltar there should exist


such pride in spreading the message of Our Lady to the World. Sources: Wikipedia & His Lordship Bishop Caruana’s text published on the official Shrine website.


Upon This Rock 95 May 09  

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