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Dowry of Mary



The Annunciation

‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your Word.’ (Luke 1:38)

At the Annunciation, Mary said yes to the Angel Gabriel, who asked her to give birth to God’s son, she freely accepts God’s will in her life. We also are free to say yes or no to God.


Mary’s decision changed the world. ‘Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.’ St Bernard of Clairvaux.


The story of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) perfectly describes the route of our spiritual journey: Before ever we seek God, He is seeking us and initiates the conversation; but we are hesitant and fearful; as we seek to understand God’s will in our life; God reminds us of our experience of His love for us, and that ‘nothing is impossible for God’. If we, like Mary, say yes to God, we will conceive the Word in our heart, and bring Christ’s love into our families, communities, and our world, for we shall share her joy that ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour, for the Almighty has done great things for me.’ (Luke 1:46)

2020 has been chosen to re-dedicate England as the Dowry of Mary.


The Re-Dedication of England

In 1381, England was dedicated to Mary, by King Richard II and was 'set apart for her among the nations. This year, the Christians of England are called to make a personal dedication to Mary, taking up her example as Christ’s first disciple.

History shows us that when the people pray a surrender to God’s will for their lives, society is transformed. By taking up this personal dedication in 2020, you can be a part of the renewal of this nation, drawing ourselves closer to the will of our loving God, through Mary.


England - The Dowry of Mary

There is a tradition that the title 'Dowry of Mary' goes back to Edward the Confessor (1042 - 1066). This may well be true, but there is no historical documentation to support it. There is no doubt, however, about the deep devotion to Our Lady that existed in medieval England and the dedication rests on this foundation.


The first documentary evidence for the title was found in a painting which used to hang in the English College in Rome, which showed Richard II (1377 - 1399) and his consort kneeling before Our Lady and offering England to her. He holds a parchment with a Latin inscription: ‘This is your dowry, O pious Virgin'. Perhaps the painting portrayed the King presenting England to Our Lady as her Dowry in Westminster Abbey in 1381.


At the same time (1399) Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to his suffragan bishops:


‘The contemplation of the great mystery of the Incarnation has drawn all Christian nations to venerate her from whom came the first beginnings of our redemption. But we English, being the servants of her special inheritance and her own dowry, as we are commonly called, ought to surpass others in the fervour of our praises and devotions.’


So the title of England as 'The Dowry of Mary' was definitely in use by the end of the fourteenth century, but Archbishop Arundel's letter seems to indicate that at the time of his writing it was already in common use, indicating an earlier origin.


The dedication in 2020, unlike the dedication of King Richard II in 1381, will not be the gift of the country of England, but the personal gift of the faith of the people of England to Mary, Christ’s first disciple, to seek her help in building a strong spiritual foundation for the New Evangelisation.



ORIGINAL PASTORAL LETTER 1893 – Consecration of England to the Mother of God


A PowerPoint for use with primary and secondary pupils explains this historical event and encourages the recitation of the Angelus. The accompanying Support Document includes further information as well as suggested creative activities for use at home and in school. These resources which can be used at any time. See