Gibraltar Journey

In February, a statuette of the Lady of Europe was presented at the UWI Museum in fulfilment of a wish to take this patroness of Gibraltar back to all the locations where Gibraltarians were scattered during World War II. Gibraltar Camp, Jamaica – now within the UWI Mona Campus – was one of those locations where upwards of 1,700 Gibraltarians found haven from attacks on their Mediterranean homeland from 1940-1944. Most of the Gibraltarians were Roman Catholic.

Over recent years, Monseigneur Charles Azzopardi, the Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe in Gibraltar, has been involved in pilgrimages to take replicas of the statue to the UK, Northern Ireland and Madiera – the other locations where Gibraltarian civilians were evacuated in 1940. Gibraltar, a strategic British colony at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, decided to evacuate its civilian population to better enable it to operate as a military base; especially in view of direct and indirect threats from Nazi Germany.

The statuette inside the UWI Museum.

The Lady of Europe has been associated with Gibraltar for centuries. The shrine of Our Lady of Europe is located at Europa Point in Gibraltar, looking across the narrow entrance of the Mediterranean Sea towards Africa. The Christian shrine was built over the ruins of a mosque. The statue of the seated Virgin and Child is around two feet in height, carved in wood and coloured in royal red, blue and gold. Both mother and child are crowned and the sceptre which Mary carries in her right hand has three flowers representing Love, Truth and Justice.

The statue was brought to Jamaica during a visit by Gibraltar Mayor Kaiane Aldorino Lopez, Minister of Culture, The Media, Youth and Sport Steven Linares and Msgr Azzopardi, along with the Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams. The cities of Kingston, Jamaica and Gibraltar were recently twinned.

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