Our Lady Of Europe
In 1309 Ferdinand IV, King of Castille, conquered Gibraltar from the Moors. He thanked God and placed the Continent of Europe under the protection of the Mother of Christ, naming her Our Lady of Europe. A statue was sculptured in stone and was venerated at a Mosque on the southernmost tip of the Rock, now the present-day Shrine of Our Lady of Europe. This statue was lost when the Christians left Gibraltar in 1333 as the Moors took possession of Gibraltar. In 1462 Henry IV, grandson of King Ferdinand re-conquered the Rock and had a new statue carved. The wooden statue is 80cm high and polychromed in royal blue, red and gold. The Virgin is seated on a simple chair, holding the Child Jesus sitting on her lap in her left arm. In her right hand is a sceptre with three flowers in bloom signifying truth, justice and love. Both the Mother and Child wear crowns. In 1540 Turkish troops raided the Shrine and pillaged all its valuables. The statue of Our Lady was stripped of its jewels and broken into pieces. The Turks were intercepted before they escaped and the jewels retrieved but the statue needed repair. Attempts to transport the statue to Seville for repair were thwarted by bad weather. People interpreted this as a sign from God that the statue had to be repaired in Gibraltar itself, hence a craftsman from Seville travelled to Gibraltar. During the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704 the British invaded the Rock. Again the treasures and valuables were stolen and the statue of Our Lady was mutilated in the process. The vandalised statue was taken away from Gibraltar and taken to Algeciras in Spain. Early in the 1860s the Vicar Apostolic of Gibraltar, Dr. John Baptist Scandella, Gibraltar, initiated proceedings to retrieve the mutilated statue from Algeciras. He achieved his purpose by having a replica statue of Our Lady of Europe carved in Seville and placed in the church for the faithful in Algeciras. At the same time Dr.Scandella had the mutilated statue repaired by the same craftsman. While the restoration was carried out in Seville, Bishop Scandella mobilised the Catholic community in Gibraltar to build a new Chapel for the awaited statue of Our Lady from Algeciras. The Shrine was still in Military hands so the new Chapel would house the statue once restored. A beautiful altar was donated by Pope Pius IX and a white marble canopy was erected for the statue above the altar. The repaired statue arrived in Gibraltar in 1864. A solemn procession was organised from the Cathedral in Main Street to the new Chapel in Europa Point. The statue was carried shoulder high on a bier, accompanied by a Military Band, and escorted by a Military Regiment which flanked both sides of Main Street, up Europa Road, up Engineer Road all along to the new Chapel. The strong military participation was purposely organised as an act of reparation for the desecration which took place at the Shrine in 1704. On the occasion of his Ad Limina visit in 2002, Bishop Charles Caruana took the ancient statue of Our Lady of Europe with him for the Holy Father, Blessed John Paul II to crown. A replica of the statue was donated to the Holy Father. Today that replica statue is to be found at the Casa del Clero in Via Scroffa..
Technical DetailsIssue Date: 01.01.2009
Mint: Tower mint
Metal: Cupra nickel
Values: 50p collector coin