History of the Devotion to Our Lady of Paisley
In ancient times, Paisley was famed throughout Scotland as one of our land’s places of pilgrimage and devotion.
Here the shrine of Our Lady of Paisley was held in high esteem from kings to commoners. The abbey was enclosed by a mile-long wall with statues in its niches and one of the Virgin Mary faced the Glasgow Road. Near it was the Latin inscription:
“Hac ne vade via nisi dixeris Ave Maria. Sit semper sine via, qui non tibi dicet Ave.”
This translates as “Go not this way unless you have said Ave Maria. Let him always a wanderer be who will not say Ave to thee.”
How the icon of Our Lady of Paisley came to be…
A chance encounter at a family gathering between a Deacon of Paisley Diocese, Denis Murphy, and myself, started a conversation between us, which led eventually via Nunraw Abbey to Paisley. I had trained in iconography in the London studio of Dr. Stephane Rene, the world renowned Neo-Coptic iconographer and was full of enthusiasm to put my training prayerfully into practice in the Neo-Coptic style which I find to be a wonderful blend of the ancient and modern. Denis ( who was not at that time yet a Deacon), revealed to me that he had had a dream, a desire, for many years to see the ancient devotion to Our Lady of Paisley revived once more.
I had been encouraged in my painting of icons for many years by Fr. John Keenan and within months of beginning my work, Fr. John was appointed to be Bishop of Paisley and so it seemed that this project had been initiated and blessed by Our Lady.
The icon includes the first line of the ancient inscription, with Mary holding the child Jesus; her skirt shows the scallop pattern of pilgrimage, illustrating the continuity of faith in Paisley. Mary stands firmly rooted on a small piece of Paisley patterned carpet, in between images of Paisley Abbey and St. Mirin’s Cathedral.
I deeply loved writing this icon and felt that Our Lady worked with me all the way, and it was wonderful to see it coming to life. It was a privilege and honour, a wonderful blessing and a gift from Our Lady to me. I will always treasure my connection to Our Lady of Paisley and her beautiful child.