• Mass at Mrs. Norma Simpsons' home

    The story of this remarkable testament to Catholic faith and determination goes back to the 1940s. At the time, St Patrick’s was the only Catholic Church in Barbados. Mrs Norman Simpson, a devout Catholic who lived in Verdun in the Parish of St John, requested permission for Mass to be celebrated occasionally at her home. Catholics from the surrounding community took advantage of the opportunity to attend Mass at Verdun. Soon the numbers grew.

  • A Chapel was Born

    Mrs Simpson did not stop there. She had a dream she wanted to fulfil. On the grounds of her home there was an old carpenter’s woodshed. She thought it might be converted into a little chapel where about twenty or thirty people could gather to worship God. Usual story: the diocese had no money to do this. But a woman of strong faith is not easily deterred, Mrs Simpson soon cleaned up and painted the woodshed and had an altar and benches built, at her own expense. The first Mass was celebrated by Father Sellier, one of the parish priests at St Patrick’s, at this humble little chapel on May 9th 1948. The chapel was dedicated appropriately to a carpenter, St Joseph.

  • Father Sellier Died

    Mass was held on the second Sunday of each month by Fr Sellier, who although getting on in years and not in the best of health, rushed up to Verdun after saying Mass at St Patrick’s. He was clearly inspired by the faith and enthusiasm of Mrs Simpson. Fr Sellier died in 1952 and was replaced by Father Raymond Barker. Most people thought that that would be an end of it. They did not know Mrs Simpson well.

  • Marian Year Of Mercy

    In 1953 the pope proclaimed 1954 as the Marian Year and urged Catholics across the world to erect shrines to Our Lady to commemorate the year. Mrs Simpson seized the opportunity. She donated the land at Verdun and with her own money and other money she had raised, decided to build a second Catholic Church in Barbados and a shrine that would be a perpetual memorial of the Marian Year. Her son, Lawrence, undertook to build the church. The site was cleared and made ready for construction in October 1954. The big question on people’s minds was whether the church could be erected before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. They did not know the Simpsons. Lawrence gave his assurance to a doubtful Catholic community that the church would be ready in two months. Bear in mind this was 1954 before all kinds of fancy construction equipment was available.

  • Arrow Keys Support

    It was agreed that the foundation would be laid on 17th October. A plaque bearing the inscription “In Memory of the Marian Year, October 17th 1954” was affixed to the foundation stone, which was to be laid at a special ceremony. Meanwhile Lawrence Simpson did not hang around twiddling his thumbs. When the priest went to choose the spot for the laying of the corner stone, he found that in one week the foundation had been laid, the walls had gone up to four feet and the frames for the doors and windows had been put in place. Many people have often wondered how a foundation stone could have been four feet off the ground. Well it was divine inspiration and human perspiration. On 17th October, with the permission of Bishop-elect, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Richard Lester Guilly S.J., the ceremony for the laying of the corner stone was held at Verdun in the presence of over 500 of the faithful. Fathers Pearson, Parkinson and Raymond-Barker officiated. Some medals of Our Lady, coins of the realm and a scroll commemorating the circumstances of the new church, were placed behind the cornerstone. On Sunday 5th December 1954 the solemn blessing and opening of Our Lady of the Rosary at Verdun was held with the same priests officiating.

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