Our Lady of Combermere
Prayers to the Virgin Mary under the title of "Our Lady of Combermere" began in the late 1940s at the Catholic Madonna House Apostolate founded by Catherine Doherty in the small village of Combermere, in Ontario, Canada. As the title began to gain popularity among the apostolate's friends and neighbours, a woman (who claimed to have received an answer to prayer through the use of this title) offered to donate the money required to have a life-sized bronze statue erected for a Marian shrine to Our Lady of Combermere.
Catherine Doherty and her apostolate sought permission for the formal use of this title, as well as the erection of a shrine, from the Bishop of Pembroke, the Most Rev. William J. Smith, who directed them to contact the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome. He also cautioned them that it would probably be many years before they would receive a response. Instead, the Sacred Congregation of Rites responded in less than two months, giving the local Bishop the authority to approve the title and shrine. This he did, granting them permission to erect a statue of Mary under the title of "Our Lady of Combermere" and to have it blessed.
The statue itself was then sculpted by Frances Rich of Santa Barbara, California, who waived any fee for herself. Modelled on an earlier work by Rich entitled "The Questing Madonna," the statue of Our Lady of Combermere depicts the Virgin Mary hastening with arms open wide as if to welcome and embrace the viewer.
The statue was officially installed and blessed by the Most Rev. William J. Smith, Bishop of Pembroke, on June 8, 1960.
Eddie Doherty, the co-founder of Madonna House and famed American journalist, wrote:
"It was no miracle that produced this shrine. There was no apparition. There was no spectacular occurrence of any kind. It was only the coming of a beautiful statue -- and perhaps the love of the people in and around Madonna House that caused it to become a place of devotion and of pilgrimage."
O Mary, you desire so much to see Jesus loved. Since you love me, this is the favour which I ask of you: to obtain for me a great personal love of Jesus Christ. You obtain from your Son whatever you please; pray then for me, that I may never lose the grace of God, that I may increase in holiness and perfection from day to day, and that I may faithfully and nobly fulfil the great calling in life which your Divine Son has given me. By that grief which you suffered on Calvary when you beheld Jesus die on the Cross, obtain for me a happy death, that by loving Jesus and you, my Mother, on earth, I may share your joy in loving and blessing the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit forever in Heaven. Amen.
Our Lady of Combermere, pray for us.
(This intercessory prayer bears the imprimatur of Most Rev. Joseph R. Windle, Bishop of Pembroke.)
- Our Lady of Combermere. Doherty, Catherine, et al. Combermere: Madonna House Publications, 1999.