By Marielena Montesino de Stuart

Around the world, one church at a time

Europe continues to descend into materialistic atheism, under the leadership of Euro zone operatives, which includes politicians, religious leaders and monarchs.  But Our Heavenly Mother is standing guard.  She, in unity with the Child Jesus, will have the last word.

Our Lady of Europe and Shrine of Our Lady of Europe

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History of the Shrine

Moslem troops, led by Tarik Ibn Zayid successfully captured this peninsula [Gibraltar] (known at the time as Calpe) in AD 710. In honour of his achievement, Calpe was renamed ‘Gibel Tarik’, from where we get the name ‘Gibraltar’: the Mountain of Tarik. In keeping with their practices, and in thanksgiving to Allah, the Moslem troops built a fortress and constructed a mosque with a minaret at the southernmost part of Gibraltar, located just across from the North African coast. Once consolidated here, they marched into mainland Europe, conquering most of the Iberian Peninsula.

Six hundred years later, in 1309, Spanish King Ferdinand IV captured Gibraltar and expelled the Moslem troops back to Africa. The King converted the ancient mosque into a Christian Shrine where the first statue of Our Lady of Europe was venerated.  Conscious of its importance, the Moslems recaptured Gibraltar 24 years later in 1333 until Spanish King Henry IV, grandson of Ferdinand IV, recaptured Gibraltar in 1462 and restored the devotion to Our Lady of Europe initiated by Ferdinand, and once again transformed the ancient mosque into a Christian Shrine. There followed a period during which devotion to Our Lady of Europe spread throughout the Mediterranean.

Gibraltar was captured by Anglo-Dutch forces in 1704, during the War of Spanish Succession. The Shrine was again plundered by the invading troops who stole all the valuables, mutilated the statue of Our Lady, severing her head and throwing the pieces over the cliff. These were later found and salvaged and taken to Algeciras.

The Shrine remained in military hands until it was returned to the Church on 17th October 1961. The building was in a desperate state of disrepair, having been used as a store room, guard room and prison. A long process of restoration was ahead, before the statue of Our Lady of Europe and her Shrine were to meet.”– From the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe.

History of Our Lady of Europe:

Mauritanian born warrior, Tarik Ibn Zayid successfully led his troops across the narrow Straits (of Gibraltar) to the Continent of Europe in AD 710.

The Catholic Monarchs of Spain were acutely aware that the ‘Reconquista’ of Catholic Spain could never be fully achieved so long as Gibraltar remained in Moslem hands. The Rock of Gibraltar formed the bridge between Europe and Africa ensuring a steady flow of Moslem troops into Spain.

In 1309, nearly six hundred years later, the Spanish King Ferdinand IV finally succeeded in capturing Gibraltar and in so doing expelled the Moslem population from the Rock.

Following his victory, the King gave thanks to the Almighty and, as legend tells us, he dedicated the Continent of Europe to the Mother of Christ, giving her the title of Our Lady of Europe. At the same time, he converted the ancient mosque at the southernmost tip of the Rock into a Christian Shrine and it is believed that a statue of Our Lady, sculptured in limestone, was venerated there.

The Moslems recaptured Gibraltar in 1333, and the Christian population left the Rock, carrying whatever they owned, including the limestone statue of Our Lady of Europe.”

New Statue of Our Lady of Europe

In 1462, Henry IV, grandson of Ferdinand IV, recaptured Gibraltar and restored the devotion initiated by Ferdinand to Our Lady of Europe in 1309. Since the original stone statue could not be found, he commissioned a new one, this time depicting the Virgin sitting on a chair holding the Child Jesus. This statue was to be venerated at the Shrine.

The Shrine was ransacked by Barbarossa’s Turkish pirates in September 1540– and badly mutilated the statue of Our Lady of Europe. It was eventually restored in Seville and brought back to the Shrine.

In 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession, Anglo-Dutch troops captured Gibraltar. The civilian population, once again left Gibraltar, taking with them the statue of Our Lady which had once again been mutilated.

It was not until 1864 that the statue was returned to Gibraltar, thanks to the efforts of Bishop Scandella, after 160 years ‘in exile’ in Algeciras, Spain.”– From the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe.

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