New Zealand’s Catholic bishops gathered on Sunday 15 August in an overflowing St Mary of the Angels church in Wellington for a special Mass to rededicate Aotearoa New Zealand to Mary Assumed into Heaven, a dedication first carried out by Bishop Jean Baptiste Pompallier on 13 January 1838.
During the COVID-19 lockdown last year the bishops received many letters from people asking them to dedicate New Zealand to Mary under a variety of titles, most people being unaware that the country has been dedicated to Mary Assumed into Heaven 183 years ago. This led the bishops to decide that as the feast of the Assumption fell on a Sunday this year, it would be a good time to renew the dedication.
An Aotearoa-themed artwork depicting Mary and the child Jesus, created by Damien Walker of Rangiora at the bishops’ request, was welcomed to St Mary of the Angels immediately before the Mass and unveiled during the Mass.
It will now leave for Invercargill on the start of a 12-month hīkoi (journey) around the country’s six dioceses, ending with its return and permanent placement in St Mary of the Angels, which will become a National Shrine. The artwork has been titled Ko Hāta Maria, te Matua Wahine o te Atua – Holy Mary, Mother of GodThe overall name for the celebration is Te Ara a Maria: Mary’s Way. Details are on the specially created website.