Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Victories

By Archbishop Julian Porteous

On Saturday, 11 May, the former church at Lutana, Hobart, was dedicated as a Diocesan Shrine for the Archdiocese of Hobart. A shrine, as distinct from a parish church, has a special identity and purpose. It is a designated holy place set aside as a place of devotion.

Shrines are frequently associated with saints or with significant spiritual events. They are places of pilgrimage.

In our Catholic tradition shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary are the most common. Here we recall shrines at Lourdes and Fatima which continue to attract millions of pilgrims each year. The shrine in Mexico City dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe is another example of a holy place that attracts millions of pilgrims.

Shrines are visited because they are deemed holy places and pilgrimages to shrines are inspired by the devotion of the people. As such they are places of prayer and intercession.

Thus, a shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a place where people come to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for their personal and particular needs. Shrines become known as places where miracles occur as people witness their prayers being answered. Many shrines have become places of physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

L-R: Rector of Our Lady of Victories Shrine Fr Suresh Sesusion, Archbishop Julian, and Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett. Photo: Catherine Sheehan

This shrine is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Victories. The former church at Lutana was blessed under this title and the large statue on the tower of the church is testimony to the devotion of the parishioners of the 1960s.

The title, Our Lady of Victories, is traced back to the sixteenth century when Europe was in serious threat of invasion by the Ottoman Turks. As a large fleet of Turks crossed the Mediterranean, Pope Pius V called for a Holy League of Christian powers to assemble. They gathered 206 galley ships and 80,000 soldiers to oppose a superior force of 230 galley ships and 120,000 soldiers. They met in the Gulf of Lepanto.

The Christian world, encouraged by the Pope, appealed to the Blessed Virgin and the rosary was said in intercession. Shifts in the wind gave the Christian forces advantage and they won the day. The victory was attributed to the intercession of Our Lady and Pope Pius V established a feast in honour of Our Lady of Victory. It is also known under the title of Our Lady, Help of Christians.

The shrine at Lutana is a place in which people can gather and pray, not only for our own needs but also for the needs of the Church as it faces many challenges to being able to profess and proclaim the faith in our times. In very many ways the title, Our Lady of Victories, is most appropriate. Here we can seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin confident that she will ensure the victory of God’s grace and mercy in our lives and in the world.

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