Our Lady of Banada
“Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight” (Psalm 140:2)
“And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.” (Revelation 8:4)
Our Lady of Banada Prayer Association seeks to bring families together to spiritually raise a cloud of prayerful incense to Our Lady of Banada for her to present before the throne of God for the conversion of family members. We have a particular focus on those family members who have fallen away from the practice of the Catholic Faith. Many parents are concerned about their adult children who no longer practice the Catholic Faith into which they were baptised. Many grandparents are concerned for their grandchildren who are not being brought up in the Catholic Faith.
Many Catholics have siblings who have not practiced the Catholic Faith for years. Some Catholics are married to a spouse who is not Catholic. In some cases a convert to the Catholic Faith is concerned for their parents who are not Catholic. In other cases it may be one or both parents of a Catholic who may have fallen away from the Catholic Faith. We all know of lapsed Catholics and of others who have not embraced the Catholic Faith.
Our Lady of Fatima constantly urged the children of Fatima – Saint Jacinta Marto, Saint Francisco Marto and Sister Lucia – to pray and to offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. The worst thing that can happen to any of us is that we die outside of the Catholic Church without being in the state of grace.
The story of the conversion of Freddie Jones from Banada in County Sligo, through the intercession of Our Lady of Banada, is particularly poignant. He came from a distinguished family. One of his ancestors was Sir Roger Jones, a Welsh Protestant who was the first High Sheriff of Sligo and who settled in Banada and built a house there, on the site of an ancient Augustinian Friary. The Friary was established in 1423.
Some of Sir Roger Jones’ descendants converted to the Catholic Faith and Freddie Jones was born into a devout Catholic family. He had two brothers and three sisters. His brothers, Fr Daniel Jones and Fr James Jones, were ordained priests in the Jesuit order in 1852 and 1857 respectively. Two of his sisters entered the Irish Sisters of Charity, a congregation which was founded by Mother Mary Aikenhead. The third sister joined the Sisters of Mercy.
Freddie Jones, unlike his siblings who had all entered religious life, lived a debauched lifestyle and often disappeared from the family home for weeks at a time. His mother, a devout Catholic, was understandably heartbroken.
Fr Daniel Jones was granted a private audience with Pope Pius IX in Rome, shortly after his ordination to the priesthood. Pope Pius IX, on learning of the help that the Jones family had organised for the victims of the famine in Sligo, and in appreciation of the family giving five children to religious life, gifted a small statue of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady to Mrs Maria Jones, Fr Daniel Jones’ mother who was a widow at the time. Pope Pius IX mentioned that there were miracles attributed to the statue.
Mrs Jones, highly appreciative of the great honour bestowed on her by Pope Pius IX, had the statue erected in a little alcove in the family oratory in the house at Banada. She prayed continuously for the conversion of her son Freddie who was still living a dissolute lifestyle.
The story is told that one night, when Freddie Jones returned after being away for several days, he noticed a light shining around the statue of Our Lady in the family Oratory. Inquisitive as to the source of this light, he tried to take a closer look, but found that he was unable to approach the statue. An invisible force prevented him.
A few nights later he saw the same light again. This time, his mother was kneeling within the light in front of the statue, praying. She stretched out her hand to Freddie and this time he was able to enter the light. On enquiring of his mother what she was praying for at such an early hour of the morning, she informed him that she was praying to Our Lady of Banada for his conversion. Filled with compunction, Freddie knelt down, asked his mother’s forgiveness and vowed to change his life with the help of God and Our Lady of Banada.
Freddie made a retreat with the Jesuits in Milltown Park and he decided to join the Jesuits, but they told him to wait for a year to test his vocation especially after the lifestyle he had been living. Within the year, Freddie Jones got very sick and died as a result of his illness. He was fortified with the sacraments of the Catholic Church and died a holy death.
Banada Abbey was donated to the Sisters of Charity by Fr Daniel Jones on behalf of the Jones family, and the last document signed by the founder, Mother Mary Aikenhead, was the deed taking possession of the house. Mrs Jones lived in private accommodation at the house until her death.
When Pope Pius IX heard of the conversion of Freddie Jones, he gave permission for the statue to be placed over the High Altar in the new convent chapel. He confirmed the title of Our Lady of Banada and bestowed a plenary indulgence on those who would pray before the statue for the propagation of the faith and for the Pope’s intentions.
The Sisters of Charity remained at Banada Abbey from 1862 until their departure in 1987. They founded a primary school and a secondary school as well as building a community hall. The secondary school remained in operation until 2002 when it was amalgamated with another school in the area.
In 2005, the statue of Our Lady of Banada was formally installed in the Church of St Attracta in Tourlestrane in Co Sligo, where it can be visited to this day.
When Mother Mary Aikenhead took possession of Banada Abbey, she made the following vow, composed by Fr Daniel Jones, which formed part of the act of acceptance of Banada Abbey.
“ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
“Almighty and everlasting God, I, Mary Aikenhead, the unworthy instrument of the Divine Majesty in the Foundation of the Irish Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity, being moved by the desire of still further extending it to Thy greater glory by the establishment of a new convent at Banada, do beseech of Thee by the Precious Blood and Passion of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, to place the projected foundation under the special protection and patronage of His Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Virgin Mary.
And I, as Superior of the Congregation, do promise, in the presence of the most sacred Virgin Mary, and of Thy whole heavenly court, that, as far as in me lies, each Sister of Charity residing in that convent shall offer daily the prayer Memorare before the statue of the Immaculate Conception, honoured there at present under the title of “Our Lady of Banada,” in thanksgiving for our Lady’s protection.
From Thine immense goodness and clemency, therefore, and by the Precious Blood and Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, I suppliantly beseech Thee to accept this offering in the odour of sweetness, and to grant the requested favour to the honour of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, and to the greater glory of Thy Holy Name.”
Members of Our Lady of Banada Prayer Association commit themselves to praying one Memorare per day in front of an image of Our Lady of Banada.