Throughout my life, there has always been an image of the Blessed Virgin in my home and it has usually been crowned.
As a teenager, I had a statue of Our Lady which my Aunt had brought back from Lourdes in 1958, the centenary year of the appearances of Our Lady to Saint Bernadette – my Aunt had later given this statue to me. I went to the art store and bought some paints and some thick gold and silver card. I carefully re-painted the statue, since by then it was in need of a little care and attention; and with the card, I made a golden crown with twelve silver stars on the top. Once all this was done, I solemnly crowned the statue. Every time a draught caught the crown, it would fall off and I would have to carefully re-position it, something I probably did a thousand times. Later on, I made a crown out of crystal beads and silver wire and this replaced the paper crown. Some years later, the statue had gone and I had a painting of Our Lady of Schoenstatt; this, too, bore a crown, which I had very carefully cut out of metal and then painted gold. Even now, some forty years later, I still have a statue of the Blessed Virgin – this one depicts Our Lady of Fatima, and there is a picture of it here – and it, too, wears a crown.
So why crown the statue in this way?
For me, all of this coincided with my first reading of St Louis de Montfort’s ‘Treatise On The True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin Mary’, a book which has influenced me more than any other. Much like the statue, this came about because of my Aunt – she had given me an old book called ‘The Reign Of Jesus Through Mary’ and it included a short work by St Louis de Montfort called ‘The Secret Of Mary’. This was how I first learned about this Saint who would quickly influence my entire life in ways I could never have imagined. And so through these works, I came to learn about the True Devotion.
The year was 1981 and I was sixteen years old. In December of that year, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, I solemnly made the Act of Consecration proposed by St Louis, having undertaken the period of preparation. It has shown itself over the years to have been the hardest thing and the best thing I have ever done. And it is something which has never left me. Now, all these years later, I continue to renew that Consecration from time to time and next year, I will celebrate 40 years in the service of this dearest Mother and Queen.
Also at the time of that original crowning, I had just learned of the appearances of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima, and the devotion to Her Immaculate Heart, and something about this seemed to set me on fire in a sense, in a way that I cannot really explain. Since then, that fire has never diminished and those flames have never cooled – in fact, quite the opposite. I think of Her and it seems that my heart wants to jump out of my body and go to Her. For me, She is everything.
Looking back, it seems that these two factors – the True Devotion and it’s Consecration, and learning about Fatima – joined forces in a very particular way and at a very particular moment and together, they changed the course of my life forever; it has never been the same since.
And so my crowning of that original statue represented something very real to me – it expressed who and what I saw myself to be; that is, a child of the Queen.