In the Breton harbour town of Oldbridge ... or do I mean Henbont ... or am I writing about Hennebont ... they used to have problems which, today, seem only too up-to-date. Pestilences. Perhaps being an entrepot had something to do with it.
But the Pestilence which struck in 1699 was worse ... more terrible ... than all the previous disasters. It was no respecter of persons: bras ha bihan, kozh ha yaouank ... bout a oe betek seizh pe eizh a dud varve bemdez (yes, I have slipped into the 'modernised' orthography: the Bretons are as keen as the Irish and Cornish on 'updating'). Though I suppose, today, we would have to add a fair number of zeroes to those over-modest digits.
But the town elders (Vistr=Magistri??) decided do something practical; to vow a silver statue to our Blessed Lady. And, as soon as the pestilence abated, they had a procession round the town with the statue and promised, in thanksgiving, to do the same thing annually. So, each year, this takes place on the last Sunday in September (the silver statue was melted down down at the Revolution, but a new one, this time silvered bronze, took its place after the Bourbon Restoration).
KEY: Intron means Lady (the modern orthography has deleted the first of the ns); Varia is Maria (the so-called "Celtic" languages do strange things with certain consonants at the beginnings of words); and Ro means Vow. Our Lady of the Vow. And Pedit Evidomp? The older banners in Breton Churches have the Pray for us in Breton. (I have often wondered how long this cultic usage survived the practical near-disappearance of the language.)
It has suddenly occurred to me!!! Good Heavens!!! !!! How can I have been so slow!!! During this year in which we have rededicated this Kingdom of England to Blessed Mary as her Dowry, we could use the Henbont Strategy to attack Coronavirus (yes; I know this would reduce our Biodiversity, but I am not a Laudato si man). Or perhaps not exactly the same thing. I doubt if the Chancellor's ransacked Exchequer could run to a silver statue! Austerity!! But what about 'vowing' a splendid new Crown to our Lady of Walsingham? The Anglican statue doesn't need one, because she has the spectacular 'Oxford Crown' (given by the people of S Paul's Walton Street, originally a daughter church of S Thomas's but now a nightclub). But, with my sound Anglican Catholic background, I have always thought the image in the Catholic Shrine looks so poor and drab and neglected without a proper Crown or even any hint of a Cope. In the sight of Providence (so S John Paul II reminded us after the bullet was deflected from his heart on the Feast of our Lady of Fatima) there is no such thing as coincidence: therefore we ought to have had Faith enough to realise, from the very name of our current pestilence, what it was that our blessed Lady desired: Coronam novam et splendidam para mihi. Hint hint!!
Like the fine people of Brittany, we could then celebrate the deliverance annually, obviously with a procession along the Walsingham Holy Mile (perhaps backed up by a Metropolitan procession from Westminster Abbey down Victoria Street to a Site near the Railway Station).
The First Lord of the Treasury, God bless him, would fittingly walk the Holy Mile barefoot immediately behind the Incoronata. It might add even more force to this whole anti-virus Strategy if he were to add a personal ingredient to the National Vow: videlicet, that he, Boris, would himself return to the Catholic Faith.
UPDATE An erudite friend suggests emending the penultimate paragraph to: " ... ... Victoria Sttreet to a station near the Railway, with further stations also marked by appropriate devotional images."