evening meal or tea and cake and then assembled at nine o'clock at the gates of the Abbey. People turned up in coaches, cars, minibuses and everywhere was packed. At the gates, people bought Lourdes candles and paper cups in which to shield them from the wind.
Abbot Paul Stoneham welcomed all the pilgrims , who had come from as far as Swansea, and also from Bromyard in Herefordshire and all joined in a rousing series of hymns thanking Mary for her 'Yes' to God's plan which overturned Eve's disobedience in the Garden of Eden. We were graced with the presence of the Lord Archbishop of Cardiff, whose birthday it was and who joined in the hymns with equal fervour to the Welsh, who were in good voice. The processional statue of Our Lady was borne aloft, decked with many different sorts of flowers, roses, carnations lilies many other varieties and was illumined. We walked around the huge garden, and recited the Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. In fact this carrying of the statue and the singing and prayer very much called to mind the Ark of the Covenant, the powerhouse of the ancient Israelites at the beginning of our Plan of Salvation, before whom David danced. Mary was of the House of David, and is often called the 'Tower of David' as one of that line's most glorious creations.
During a homily in the Abbey Church, Archbishop George gave an inspirational homily,recalling our 'journey' through the garden .He reminded us, that our Salvation had begun in the Garden of Eden. Eve too had been conceived without sin, because God had done this for Adam and Eve but, after Eve's disobedience, another woman,Mary in her immediate obedient 'yes' to the Angel Gabriel had brought the possibility of restoring us to Eden. The story of Salvation, moved to a close in another garden, that of Gethsemene,where Jesus was arrested, before his death on the Cross for our Salvation.
The Angel called Mary 'Blessed' and so we call her Blessed Mary or 'Blessed Mother' and in fact Mary herself says 'All generations shall call me blessed' in her Song of Praise, the Magnificat.
In watching the procession move around, I was mindful of the Ark being carried by the Israelites.