by ESME O’RAFFERTY

Crowds of the faithful flocked to Christchurch as the city was re-consecrated
to Our Lady at Maryfest this month.

The festival took place on Sunday, October 13, at Our Lady of Victories Church in Sockburn and was presided over by Bishop Emeritus Basil Meeking.

Held in honour of Our Lady of Christchurch, Maryfest is an annual event that takes place to give thanks for the protection Mary has given Christchurch since the earthquakes, and to ask for her continued patronage.

Fr Yousef Marie, who organised this year’s festival, said that around 500 people attended the festival this year, coming from around Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region.

The festival took weeks to prepare, Fr Yousef said, with parishes from around the city and the Legion of Mary among the groups being involved.

They prayed an October 4-12 novena for the intentions of the Bishop of
Christchurch, Paul Martin, SM, and for the intentions of those who were participating in the festival.

The hour-long procession took a statue of Our Lady out into the city, before
returning to Our Lady of Victories for the coronation of Our Lady and the consecration of the city.

The statue of Our Lady was carried on a bier, preceded by banners and followed by a group of girls who had made their First Holy Communion this year as handmaidens of Our Lady.

“The procession went out in front of the church, with servers . . . cross-bearers and acolytes, after that all the banner-bearers,” Fr Marie said.

Then there were the young women who were the coronation cortege.

“After the bier were 12 men . . . and a guard of honour of young ladies holding ribbons. After that was the bishop, the clergy, the religious and the faithful.”

Trumpets played once the procession arrived back at Our Lady of Victories,
and one of the handmaidens came forward to crown Our Lady.

“Heralds played the trumpets . . . that was the fanfare. After Our Lady was
crowned, the hymn Hail Queen of Heaven was sung by the choir and the rest of the congregation,” Fr Marie said.

“After the hymn was sung, was the consecration to the Immaculate Heart
of Mary, recited by Bishop Meeking, for the diocese of Christchurch and all the people of Canterbury, invoking her intercession for the protection from any future earthquakes and in thanksgiving for all the protection from the great earthquake [of 2011],” Fr Marie said.

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