Thursday, May 29, 2008


Our Lady of Penrhys by Photographer MAL DURBIN

Our Lady of Penrhys, in 1538, was thrown from a window in Saint Pauls, London, and destroyed.Mary, Mother of Mercy, was the banner Arthur carried into battle.
When Rhys, the last king, or "Prince" of Wales died,his memory was honoured in association with Penrhys.(Penrhys means: "Rhys's head" The statue of Mary, at Penrhys,became the greatest site of pilgrimage in Wales.Many of the pilgrims were aware that the hopes and dreams of Wales could be brought here.
The Holy Well of Penrhys, up to 1538, was overlooked by the beautiful gilded figure of Our Lady.

Gwilym Tew, poet, says that:

"It was crowned, had ruddy cheeks,
the Holy Infant in the arms
and a precious stone in the bosom".
Gwilym Tew noted that
"there were human marks
upon the face of Our Lady of Penrhys."

Possibly marks upon the gilded face appeared as tear marks

At this time Bishop Latimer wrote to Thomas Cromwell suggesting the destruction of a number of Shrines of Our Lady, believing them to be a focus of idolatry, and thus 'the devil's instrument'. The statue at Penrhys at this time was obviously an important one as it, alongside others such as the one at Walsingham and Ipswich, was mentioned by name in this letter

On 23rd of August, 1538, the then Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell,instructed William Herbert "to remove the famous effigy as secretly as might be to prevent a local uprising".This was done. The figure itself was said to have been hurled through the west window at Saint Pauls by Bishop Latimer.He recommended afterwards that the figure, of wood, be "burned".

The original statue at Penrhys was said to be 'indescribably beautiful', and contained 'Mary nursing Jesus for a kiss'. Much smaller that the statue that currently resides at Penrhys it was thought to have originally been placed in an alcove at the small well chapel.

What a fabulous photograph this is and what a talented photographer! Superb evocative and emotional view of this statue.Anyway:-

Here are the Details for anyone from South Wales or elsewhere to go tomorrow.


Legends tell that the original statue was a gift from heaven, which miraculously appeared in the branches of an oak tree at the site. The statue, it is said, resisted all attempts to move it from the tree so that, 'eight oxen could not have drawn the Image of Penrhys from its place in the tree'.

The statue only allowed itself to be moved when a shrine and chapel were built to house it. The original statue survived at Penrhys until the 1500's, and Henry Viii's dissolution of the monasteries.

Thus it is said the statue was removed from the shrine secretly at the dead of night to prevent any local unrest. From here it said the statue was removed to Thomas Cromwell's home in London, and after being thrown from the West window of St. Paul's by Bishop Latimer, it along with many other images of Mary was burned publicly.
When Ferndale church was built a Miss M.M. Davies of Llantrisant procured for the church a replica of the original statue, carved in oak standing in a tree trunk.
The statue that currently stands on the hillside at Penrhys was erected in 1953, and blessed by Archbishop McGrath on the 2nd July that year. The statue was carved out of Portland stone and designed, using the many description of the original statue contained in medieval welsh poetry, to resemble the original as closely as possible.

ITINERY FOR SATURDAY's PILGRIMAGE2nd annual combined parishes pilgrimage

1pm They hope you will be seated by then. If you are late bring your
own collapsible chair.

2pm Rosary of the most Blessed Virgin Mary

2.30 (approx)Procession of the Blessed Sacrament from the nearby Penrhys Arts Centre
to the Shrine.

3.15 Benediction

3.35 Homily

Penrhys Hymn and Hymns to Our Lady

All Hallows Choir are providing the Music
Toilet facilities at the Canolfan Rees Arts Centre.
Our Lady of Penrhys Pilgrimage Goods (new)available in a new marquee erected by the residents of Penrhys.


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