Catholic Herald Reporter
'THE shrine of Our Lady of the Taper, re-estab
lished in the Welsh town of Cardigan only seven years
ago after having been "lost" since the Reformation, is
again in danger of demoli
tion. Along with the 33-year-old church of Our Lady of Sorrows on The Strand, the shrine will be wiped out under a roadwidening scheme.
Although the scheme is not expected to be put into effect for some years, Fr. James Cunnane, parish priest of this 200-square mile parish, told me this week of the mammoth task he faces—to build a new £20,000 church with a fluctuating number of Massgoers rarely topping the 140 mark.
A one-and-a-half acre site has been bought, but with only a bare £1,500 in hand, and the necessity of raising the whole £20,000 before building can begin, the outlook for the parish which has never had a "real" church is bleak.
Just hack from one of his fivetimes-weekly journeys by the parish van to collect children from school, gather them at a farmhouse for instruction, and then deliver them safely home, Fr. Cunnanc commented on the sparseness of his vast parish; many people travel miles to Sunday Mass, he said, one parishioner comes 14 miles. The next nearest Mass centre is 20 miles away.
The initial impetus for the revival of devotion to Our Lady of the Taper came from the CATHOLIC HERALD. People knew of course of the old story of the miraculous statue of ye ladye of ye hurnynge taper which had suddenly appeared on the banks of the Teifi in the 12th century. and remained to . draw pilgrims to Cardigan until its destruction at the Reformation.
Then came a map drawn by Mr. Martin Gillett and published in the CATHOLIC HERALD of December 4, 1953, to commemorate the Marian year. The map showed the medieval shrines of Our Lady in England and Wales. Those restored were shown with a lighted candle. Those no longer in existence were indicated by a cross.
On the southern extremity of Cardigan Bay the shrine of Our Lady of the Taper was marked, but no taper burned at the oncefamous shrine.
This unintentional irony proved the necessary spur. Within two and a half years a new statue had been carved and enthroned. Pilgrimages were instant and the tiny temporary church—that has to be sandbagged at high water to keep the river out—is fast becoming the centre of a devotion too big for it to hold.
"Diwedd y gun vw y geiniog", says the proverb (the end of the song is the penny), but Fr. Cunnane needs just about four million eight hundred thousand pennies for that new church and shrine ...