The internet has given an unexpected boost to Marian devotion

by Dan Hitchens

The total currently stands at 237, but every few hours it increases. By the time you read this, as many as 300 locations could be hosting the Rosary on the Coast on Sunday April 29. At 2.30pm, Catholics will gather at St Ninian’s Isle in the Shetlands, at Hugh Town on the Isles of Scilly, and all around the coast of England, Scotland and Wales to say the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, along with a selection of prayers and hymns.

“New locations are coming thick and fast every day,” says one of the organisers, John Mallon, who adds that they have been “very strict” about what they put on the map, so there will probably be many more groups. Some sites have 20 attending; some over 100. The minimum overall attendance is estimated at 10,000, “but that’s very, very conservative,” Mr Mallon says.

This is a grassroots movement, but it has the hierarchy’s support. Pope Francis has sent his blessing, via the nuncio Archbishop Edward Adams; Cardinal Nichols has offered his prayers and good wishes. At least nine bishops will be attending.

For long-term watchers of English Catholicism, it is quite a turnaround. Prof Stephen Bullivant of St Mary’s University, author of the forthcoming Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and America since Vatican II, notes: “The decline of the rosary – indeed, of Marian piety in general – over the past 50 or 60 years has been truly remarkable.”

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection