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Gibraltar: The Statue of Our Lady of Europe in The Shrine of Our Lady of Europe

The statue of Our Lady of Europe:

The statue has a tumultuous history due to the many conquests and re-conquests of Gibraltar. Gibraltar came under Moslem rule in 700 AD. Due to its strategic location near Africa, it gave the invaders a way in to the continent of Europe and was therefore important to both sides.

In 1309 Spain re-took Gabraltar under the leadership of King Ferdinand IV. Following this victory, the King dedicated the continent of Europe to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Our Lady of Europe. He converted what had been a mosque into a Christian shrine and placed a limestone statue of the Blessed Mother within it.

The Moslems recaptured Gibraltar in 1333, causing the Christian population to flee. Among the items they took with them was the limestone statue of Our Lady of Europe.

The Moors again turned the Church into a mosque but were again driven out in 1462 by King Henry IV, grandson of Ferdinand IV. The original stone statue had been lost by this time, so Henry IV commissioned a new one, this one made of wood. It was itself damaged by Turkish pirates in 1540, but was later restored.

Then in 1704, Anglo-Dutch troops captured Gibraltar during the War of Spanish Succession and the statue was mutilated. Once again the population fled, taking the statue with them. It was later found and restored and was returned to Gibraltar in 1864 where it remains to this day in what is now the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe.

The statue of Our Lady of Europe was brought to Rome in 2002 crowned by Pope John Paul II during the Bishop of Malta’s Ad Limina visit as shown in the photo above..

The Shrine was also recipient of the Golden Rose by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to mark the 700th anniversary of the Shrine, again shown in the photo above.

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