Bishop Lacy and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

Cornelia R. Ferreira

A reader of the article on the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help drew our attention to the effect its procession to the Church of St. Alphonsus had on Richard Lacy, a young British seminarian studying in Rome at the time. Lacy eventually became a bishop who was publicly devoted to Our Lady under this title, and who was miraculously helped through her intercession. We hope to make this story more widely known for the honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, as the bishop himself had desired.

 

Bishop Richard LacyThe diocese of Middlesbrough, in Yorkshire, England, was erected in 1878 and its first bishop, Richard Lacy, was consecrated the following year. He was the first bishop in the world to put a diocese under the patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

In 1884, whilst staying at the English College in Rome, he wrote the preface for the first English translation of a Redemptorist manual of devotions. In this preface he explained how he became devoted to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

He said whilst he had been studying in Rome, on 26 April 1866 he “was fortunate enough to witness the glorious procession in which the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was, for the first time borne [to] the Church of St. Alphonsus through the streets of Rome: it was a sight never to be forgotten, and made a deep impression on my mind, which time has not obliterated.”

After completing the preface for the Redemptorist prayerbook, Bishop Lacy then wrote the following letter on 21 March 1884 about the miraculous cure he subsequently obtained through the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help:

"My dear Fr. Livius,

"After having sent off to the printer my little preface, as I informed you in my last letter, my next step was to go on the 18th to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour on the Esquiline and offer up the Holy Sacrifice for a very special intention. Our Lady heard my prayer and vouchsafed me a miraculous cure of an internal ailment which has for the last nine years caused me much trouble and suffering, and has been a sad drawback to me in my work. The cure was instantaneous and complete.

"At first I could hardly believe it. I felt confused at the thought of a miracle being wrought on me. It has, however, proved not to be imagination but reality. I need not say how overwhelmed I felt with a sense of gratitude for such a favour. For the honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour I think this ought to be made known, although if I were guided by my own natural instincts, I should prefer my name not to appear. I wish you would get as many prayers of thanksgiving as possible for this extraordinary proof of Our Lady’s loving heart. The good Fathers at St. Alphonsus are all delighted and especially Fr. Douglas. Believe me, my dear Father.

"Yours faithfully in Christ,

Richard, Bishop of Middlesbrough."

 

Sources:

1. [Margaret H. Turnham], "The True Story of Bishop Lacy and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour," Middlesbrough Catholic Voice, June 2006, p. 3, posted at http://www.middlesbrough-diocese.org.uk/Voice/2006_06.pdf.

2. Margaret H. Turnham,"Roman Catholic Revivalism: A Study of the Area that Became the Diocese of Middlesbrough 1779-1992," pp. 85, 131-33, posted at http://etheses.nottingham.ac.uk/2539/1/Roman_Catholic_Revivalism-_A_Study_of_the_area_that_became_the_diocese_of_Middlesbrough_1779-1992.pdf.

3. Author's private correspondence with Dr. Margaret H. Turnham.

 

June 23, 2014

 

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