It was 2014. I was in charge of some parish devotional projects at the time. In the process, the subject of patron saints became particularly interesting to me. With further research, which takes one down rabbit holes, I wondered, “What about places…what about here?” Having been born in Texas and spending almost my entire life residing within her borders, the natural next step was, “Well then, who is Patron of Texas?”
I vaguely remembered seeing the “whom”, yet could no longer recall the personage’s specific title. In an exhaustive search across the internet, there did not seem to be an iron-clad answer. But, when the individual sources were sifted for the most common threads, the convergence centered on the individual suspected: "Our Lady”, more specifically, “of the Annunciation”. Admittedly, locales across the world are not limited to just one saint, and Texas is not an exception. One’s parish may have one or more, in a town with different one(s), in a state with different one(s)--country, continent, region, etc.—a coexistence, if you will.
By 2015 this knowledge remained in my mind. It had not gone further than just being persistently interesting in the fact that SHE was that common thread. That changed around Spring of the same year. On a work break one morning, I suddenly saw an image and words in my mind. Art degreed, but not surprisingly at a non-artsy job, I had no sketch pad--so a lined spiral notebook and a pencil would have to do. The sketch was set out right then, and completed with map pencils in color later that day. Written around her was “Our Lady of the Annunciation, Queen and Patroness of Texas”. Interestingly enough, this happened within a few miles of the church where I encountered what initially got me past the skepticism about Mary from my non-Anglican upbringing—a noble image of Our Lady of Walsingham pointing us to her Son.
Very soon after that, I took the sketch to Bishop Ackerman, Vicar at St. Timothy Church at the time, and my spiritual authority—understanding going in that this was not an apparition, but merely a proposed artist’s rendering and impression of Our Lady under an already existing title. Who better to see than a Guardian of the original Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham? Far from dismissing it, we went immediately to prayer, placing the inkling of a possible Annunciation Shrine in Our Lord Jesus’ hands and on His Altar Throne. This was kept close and in prayer for an extensive amount of time, and in an unhurried way.
As time went on, individual confirmations kept us moving. The notion of Our Lady in relation to the Annunciation has broad appeal across the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Communions. English Catholic tradition in has a strong emphasis in Incarnational Theology—Walsingham and the Annunciation both reflecting that reality. Across history territories (kingdoms and republics alike) have been placed, officially from the top or through pious tradition from the grassroots, under Our Lady’s queenly care—Poland, Hungary, Ireland, England as her dowry, etc.
Further research revealed Texas’ Annunciation connection. The earliest Roman Catholic parish in Houston and one of the earliest Roman Catholic parishes near San Antonio—are both named after the event of the Annunciation. Our own parish Medieval Scholar, Dr. Robert E. Knox, Jr., also did some digging. In his article, “A Brief Background on the Establishment of the Patronage of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Texas”, he makes additional cases across approximately 500 years of secular and ecclesiastical history in North America for this patronage, with many citations.
So, what does all this mean, practically? A few years ago, proper permissions were obtained from church authority to proceed with the project. St. Timothy Church, lovingly known for decades as an orthodox traditional “shrine parish” of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, will further live into this vocation and charism of prayer, pilgrimage, and healing, by becoming the host parish to the Protoshrine of Our Lady of the Annunciation, Queen and Patroness of Texas--the shrine being a sister entity to the parish, and the first of this name, per se.
A well-known and accomplished iconographer has been working prayerfully, closely converting the original drawing inspirations into a large icon using the finest traditional methods. It is also hoped that a carved image will be made in the coming years. Dr. Knox has recovered and translated a shrine consecration liturgy dormant in the British Isles for approximately 500-700 years--from primary original sources, obtaining all proper permissions for this occasion’s usage. Individuals have been giving time, talent, etc. to this gradual effort as we prepare the space chosen for the location of the Shrine. The target date for the Consecration was December 8th, 2018—the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The shrine now serves as a special place of prayer for you, for our region, and for people far and wide. Bishop Jack Leo Iker, the third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, is currently Guardian of the Shrine.
December 8, 2018
Consecration of the Shrine
OUR LADY OF THE ANNUNCIATION
PATRONESS OF THE STATE OF TEXAS
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2018 at 1:30 P.M. we will consecrate the Shrine of Our Lady of the Annunciation at St. Timothy Church. In so doing, St. Timothy Church will be honored to be the only church in Texas to have established such a Shrine, thus giving St. Timothy’s the designation as the Proto-Shrine of Our Lady of the Annunciation. This Liturgy will be a “once in a lifetime” Mass since Proto-Shrines are quite uncommon. We are hoping that people will invite their friends to participate, and that this will be a memorable and spiritually exciting day, when Jesus Christ will be glorified as we commemorate in the Shrine the Biblical and Theological event that we proclaim every Sunday at St. Timothy’s in the Angelus: “The Angel of the Lord announced unto Mary, and she conceived by the Holy Ghost.”