Many of our parishioners have told me how much they love the statue of Our Lady of Norwalk. It is wonderful to see so many people lighting candles at the Lady Altar at all times of the day. You will remember that Bishop Caggiano came to St Mary’s to bless and dedicate the statue as Our Lady of Norwalk. The oyster shell she holds is the symbol of Norwalk, oysters having a particular and deep symbiosis with the city of Norwalk. The Child holds a pearl, for it is He who is the Pearl of Great Price, who died and rose that we might live.
At the beginning of last summer I commissioned a local woodworker to build a medieval triptych that would be the basis for a true Shrine of Our Lady of Norwalk. When I went to his shop, I wondered whether he would have any idea what I was talking about. Just a conversation of five minutes with him was enough to tell me that he was the master craftsman to build this shrine. His knowledge and love of the artistic heritage of the Catholic Church shone through his smile and enthusiasm for the project. He completed the project at the end of the summer.
Then I had to find a painter who understood medieval painting techniques and who would have great empathy with the project itself. I interviewed three local artists and made a decision, based on the recommendation of a friend of St. Mary’s, to hire the artist who would paint the triptych, who, by the way, has roots in Norwalk. It took him several months to complete the painting and the final sealing of the work. Last Monday we picked up the triptych from his studio and brought it to the rectory, where it resides in bubble wrap in the rectory chapel. Even through the bubble wrap, I can see its beauty. The statue of Our Lady of Norwalk will sit on a platform that projects out from the center of the triptych. The left panel has a painting of St. Mary’s church. The right panel shows an oyster fisherman in full gear, with the Norwalk islands in the background. The central panel depicts Mary’s throne with saints surrounding. How fitting all of this is for Norwalk, which is the geographical center of the shoreline of Fairfield County and which is the locus of the Mother Church of so many parishes in this diocese. How fitting this is for our Lady and her Son to guide as a supernatural Lighthouse this special parish with its special mission of true liturgical renewal at a time when the Church so sorely needs this!
The dedication of the Shrine will be during a special Mass on Wednesday evening, February 7 at 6 pm. It will be a Solemn Mass with all of our choirs participating, including the wonderful Viri Galilei. His Honor, Harry Rilling, the Mayor of Norwalk, will be present with his wife. The woodworker who built the shrine will be present as well as the artist who painted the shrine. The two patrons who made this possible will also be present. I am inviting all the priests from parishes in Norwalk and surrounding towns to share in this wonderful occasion. I am also inviting those involved in oyster fishing in Norwalk and other representatives of the seafood industry that is so important to this city. This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to invite friends to come to this dedication and Solemn Mass.
Our Lady of Norwalk, Star of the Sea, ora pro nobis.
Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla