The Shrine of Our Lady - Broxburn

Although the 12th century parish of Strathbrock was dedicated to St Nicholas in 1524 the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland refers to the Church of Strathbrock (still to be found on the Ecclesmachan Road going out of Uphall) and the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Long since demolished this chapel was situated near the House of Kirkhill with the last remaining reference to a Catholic Church in Broxburn being the little stream the Liggat Syke: Litch-gate – the church yard gate and Syke stream or burn so we have ‘the burn which goes past the church gate’. This chapel is evidence to growth in devotion to Our Lady in late mediaeval Scotland as well as population growth in the area.

Devotion to Our Lady would of course have accompanied Irish Catholics to the area in the 19th Century and for many years; the Children of Mary, the Legion of Mary and Our Lady of Lourdes focused that devotion. The Legion of Mary and the Lourdes Group are still part of our parish life. However on September 8th 2003 we dedicated the ‘Buchan Shrine’ to the Glory of God and in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To be a renewed focus of prayer and devotion to the Mother of all Graces, the Mother of Jesus our Saviour.
The Shrine building itself predates the church and was build by Caroline Dowager Countess of Buchan as a memorial to her late husband Henry 12th Earl of Buchan. Lady Caroline was our parish’s chief benefactor donating both land and resources for school, church and hall. She died on the 22nd April 1893 remembered before God with thanks giving ever since.

Rooted in Scripture devotion to Mary the Mother of God is part of the sacred tradition of the Church. It flows from the central fact that she was Mother of Jesus: Son of God and her Son. Mary, made holy by a supreme act of God’s grace, carried in her womb her own Creator and Saviour; Mary becomes by God’s grace the Temple, the ark, the dwelling place of God, the tent of meeting. The thrice Holy God takes flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone. In Scriptural symmetry as Eve is brought forth from Adam so now the New Adam comes forth from the New Eve. Or as 15th century Christians sang at Christmas

Behold the great Creator makes
Himself a house of Clay,
A robe of Virgin flesh he takes
Which he will wear for ay.

In the shrine Mary holds out to us the child Jesus who himself extends his arms in welcome, yet anticipating the man Jesus’ arms stretched out on the cross. The woman who so presents her child will one day hold the body of her dead Son taken down from that cross, will rejoice with him on his glorious resurrection, will be filled with the Spirit at Pentecost and will be crowned with the light of 12 stars by the hand of that same Son. And so it is with Love and Joy we approach her with that most popular of Catholic prayers

Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou amongst women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God
Pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.


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