Margaret Akers, services co-ordinator at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), reflects on the Lady Chapel at Westminster Cathedral and the importance of Our Lady to the pro-life cause.
When did you first go there?
I was by myself and had just wandered in. I’ve al- ways found it to be striking and one of the most beautiful places of worship in the UK. What I re- ally love about it, is a very small detail. Right along the base of the arched ceiling, there’s a mosaic frieze of the life of Mary. It’s probably less than 1% of all of the mosaics in Westminster Cathedral. It’s told from Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception all the way through to her death. It’s a beautiful piece of art.
Most recently I was there during our SPUC conference, less than 10 minutes away from Westminster Cathedral. The Cathedral itself is less than a mile from Westminster, where all of these decisions are being made. The chapel is right near where you sit while you’re waiting for Confession.
Sometimes there’s sung vespers. It’s a peaceful spot away from everything happening in London and everything that has wider implications for the whole country.
You’re so close to somewhere just last month they were debating whether abortion is a right and issues of suicide. But you have this place of peace and reflection in the midst of it.
Does the chapel have relevance to your pro- life work?
Absolutely. Our Lady’s story is one of mother- hood and sacrifice. She’s a model for all Christians to follow, but you see it through that act of motherhood. She’s such an important witness to the pro-life movement.
I find that to be so important. One thing that I find really striking is this talk about buffer zones, and making it illegal to pray outside of abortion facilities. Often people are focused thinking on this issue of praying the Rosary.
How interesting is it that the Rosary has come to be seen in certain circles as this hateful symbol. Really, what people are doing is invoking Our Lady for the sake of mothers and their babies and for the protection of mothers and their babies. She’s deeply tied to everything the pro-life movement has to say.
There’s so much to be said for Advent as a time of preparation, especially in the lead up to Christmas, and relating that to Our Lady’s pregnancy and all the difficulties that came with that.
People often talk about the fact that she was young and unmarried at the time of the Annunciation, having to travel with her husband at the time of the census. She persevered, and that all comes to fruition with the birth of Christ at Christmas.
That’s reflected again through her life as she walks with her son to the Cross in the hope of the ultimate Resurrection. Maternal sacrifice is present through the whole story of Christmas.
Pro-life Christmas campaign
SPUC has a campaign on at the moment called 10 Million Prayers for 10 Million Lost Lives. This year, we crossed the threshold of 10 million lives lost to abortion in this country since 1967.
And for that, we’re doing this prayer campaign getting people to pledge prayers to commemorate those lives lost and for their mothers, reflecting on Our Lady and her importance to this movement.
I think it’d be wonderful to pledge a decade of the Rosary or a full Rosary for this campaign.
To support SPUC’s 10 Million Prayers for 10 Million Lives visit spuc.org.uk/national-prayer-campaign