The rector of Walsingham Shrine made the announcement while promoting a new novena to Our Lady of Walsingham

England will be re-dedicated as the Dowry of Mary in 2020, the rector of Walsingham Shrine has said.

Mgr John Armitage announced the plans while promoting a new prayer booklet encouraging Catholics to pray a novena to Our Lady of Walsingham.

Mgr Armitage, who became rector in 2014, helped to update the booklet. He told Independent Catholic News: “This novena in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham is the beginning of a National Novena of Prayer for our country which will help us prepare spiritually for the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary in 2020 on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.”

England has been called the “Dowry of Mary” since around the 11th century. The title means that she acts in a special way as the nation’s protectress.

After the Reformation, the title was used by recusants and Catholics in exile. In 1893, Pope Leo XIII told English pilgrims in Rome of “the wonderful filial love which burnt within the heart of your forefathers towards the great Mother of God.”

The novena, whose text can be found at here, is especially intended to be begun Friday, so as to finish on September 23, a day before the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Mgr Armitage said: “It is hoped that through this novena every part of the Church in England and Wales will deeply embrace Our Lady of Walsingham as the powerful intercessor for these lands.

It was a chance, he said, to reclaim “the great spiritual heritage which is ours of being the Dowry of Mary.”