(Clearing this away from elsewhere on the website, it seemed a pity to lose it altogether)
Make sure you offer a prayer the next time you find yourself on Oxford High Street.
The first statue of Our Lady to appear on a public building in England since the Reformation was put up above the door of the university church of St Mary at Oxford, in 1637, by Dr Morgan Owen, Chaplain to Archbishop Laud.
Born c.1585, Morgan was educated at Jesus, Oxford, and then pursued a successful clerical career in Wales, prebendery of St Davids’s among other positions. When Laud became Chancellor of Oxford in 1630, his advance continued; awarded DD when Charles I visited in 1636.
Using his extensive landed wealth he ‘enclosed the south yard of St Mary’s with a freestone wall’, and commissioned the ‘curious and beautiful’ porch, at a cost of £230. In 1640 his support was rewarded with the See of Llandaff. Imprisoned in the tower a few months later, he shared the fall of Laud his patron, but managed to escape execution, and after release in 1642 retired to a small property and lived a quiet life, until his death on 5 March 1645; buried at Myddfai church near Llandovery.
From the Universal British Directory of 1791, ‘On the south side is a portal of more modern structure, erected by Dr Morgan Owen, chaplain to Archbishop Laud, ad 1637. Over it is a statue of the Virgin, with an infant Christ holding a small crucifix; which last circumstance was formed into an article of impeachment against the archbishop by the Presbyterians, and urged as a corroborative proof of his attachment to popery.’
The bullet holes in the statue were made by Cromwellian troopers in 1642.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.