The Statue of Our Lady of Waterford is believed to have once held a place of honour in the ancient Dominican Abbey founded in Waterford in 1226. When the last Prior, Fr. William Martin, O.P. surrendered the Abbey of St Saviour’s to Henry VIII in 1541 special mention is made of the Lady Chapel which housed a miraculous and much loved image of the Blessed Virgin. Marian devotion was strong among the people of Waterford despite persecution, to such an extent that in 1580 the Anglican bishop of the city complained about “public wearing of beads and praying upon the same- worshipping images and setting them openly in their house doors with ornaments and decking.”
During these years of persecution and the destruction of many Catholic shrines the statue of Our Lady of Waterford survived. In 1932 three layers of paint were removed from the image, revealing a coating of wax and cement which probably hid the statue from public view during the years of persecution.
In 1815 following the death of Fr. Anthony Duane, O.P. the last Dominican friar in the city, the statue was removed for safe keeping and brought to Kilkenny and from there to Limerick City.
In 1865 the Bishop of Waterford invited the Dominican Friars to return to the City and on the 31st of March 1867 the friars opened a small oratory on Bridge Street. In 1876 the beautiful St. Saviours Church was opened and the statue of the Virgin was returned from Limerick and enthroned alongside the Rosary Altar.
In 1934 the people of Waterford in gratitude and thanksgiving for so many favours received through the intercession of Our Lady of Waterford, commissioned Messrs Egan of Cork to make two golden crowns with jewels and a sceptre for the Statue. The older crowns of silver which dated from the 1700s were replaced and are preserved in the Dominican archives.
In 2016 the Statue and its silver shrine were again restored by the National Gallery and Museum in Dublin, to commemorate the 8th Centenary of the Dominican Order. The veneration of the statue of Our Lady of Waterford continues to this day as the love of the Virgin continues for the faithful and devout children of the City of Waterford.
Prayer to Our Lady of Waterford.
O’ God who has brought us out of the dark days of persecution, from you we hope for every good gift through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, whom we venerate under the title of Our Lady of Waterford. Grant to us all through her maternal prayers, the grace to be always faithful to the teaching of her Son, and die blessing his holy will. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.