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A statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus stands outside St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica in Toronto. Michael Swan

Canadian and U.S. bishops consecrate nations to Mary amid pandemic

  • May 2, 2020

Facing lockdowns, economic strife and the health threats brought on by the deadly coronavirus, Catholics across the country and in the United States turned to the Blessed Virgin for help May 1.

Bishops on both sides of the border joined in consecrating their countries to Mary in services that were live-streamed across Facebook and on diocesan websites.

“During this time of the coronavirus crisis, all of us in this country are facing the same uncertainty and fear so we ask Mary to intercede for us with her powerful prayers to help us overcome this health crisis,” said Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg, president of the Canadian Conference of Bishops, during the 22-minute consecration service at St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Mantioba capital.

“Mary opens the way to knowing her Son more and more, and this is the great mystery of having Our Blessed Lady in our lives,” said Gagnon, alternating his homily between French and English. “We join today with the Church in the United States in making this consecration of our own church in Canada and country to Mary, and with St. John Paul II let us say with open hearts totus tuus … all yours Mary.”

The Prayer of Consecration asks for Mary to comfort the sick, strengthen the dying and aid health care workers.

“Come quickly to our aid at this time, Mother of Mercy, and deliver us from the dangers that surround us in our hour of need,” said the prayer. “Watch over especially the elderly, the weak and the infirm, our children and the unity of our families, and all those who give of themselves selflessly in pastoral care to those in need until in your arms and in your gentle embrace we all find safety and solace.”

In the U.S., Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led the renewal of the consecration of his country to the Blessed Virgin.

"In this difficult time we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the Church,” said Gomez. “She intercedes with her Son for all are affected in this way by the pandemic. ... We implore her maternal care for her children."

Canada was first consecrated to Mary at a National Marian Congress in Ottawa in 1947, then again at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape near Trois-Rivieres, Que., in 1954. It was last consecrated to Mary in 2017 to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Pope Francis has also asked Catholics around the world to look to Mary for spiritual help during the month of May, urging the praying of the rosary.

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