The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  • The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ESBVM) exists to advance the study at various levels of the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church, under Christ and of related theological questions; and in the light of such study to promote ecumenical devotion. Its aim is to show that, in the Blessed Virgin Mary, Christians of many traditions may find a focus in their search for unity.
    Prayer for the Society God our Father, through the Blessed Virgin Mary you gave your Son to be our Redeemer; send your blessing on the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary; so that strengthened by your grace, enlivended by by your Spirit, and renewed in the One whom Mary bore, your Church may grow in the unity You desire. We ask this through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord.
  • Social media

  • Contacts

    General enquiries (UK & international)
    Fr Bill, OSM
    Hon General Secretary

    General enquiries (USA)
    Dr Virginia Kimball, Chapter President

    Membership (UK & international)



    Web site

    ESBVM is registered in the UK as a charity. No. 282748

ESBVM Canterbury Branch Relaunch

Posted by esbvm on July 19th, 2014

ESBVM Canterbury Branch is holding a ‘Relaunch’ of the branch with an Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary occasion to be held in Canterbury Cathedral Crypt, by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral, offering an evening of music, words and reflection for the Feast of the Assumption, on the 15th of August at 7pm in Canterbury Cathedral Crypt.

Guest speakers on the nature of the feast across traditions, the Greek Orthodox tradition of the Dormition and the Protecting Veil, shared views and points of departure and the special interest the feast has held for artists and composers across the centuries. Speakers to include: The Very Revd. Archimandrite Vissarion Kokliotis Priest in Charge, Greek Orthodox Community of the Archangel Michael, Margate Revd Jon Ehlers Pastor, Christ Lutheran Church, Kent Fr. Valentine Erhahon Curate, St. Thomas of Canterbury, Burgate

Music Programme
Assumpta est Maria Morales Palestrina
Exaltata est Sancta Dei genitrix Byrd
Gaudeamus omnes in Domino Tavener
The Dormition from the Protecting Veil

The branch has had a great history in the past and we hope to see past members of the Branch still in the area and to interest new participants in the society.

Free admission / All welcome

CLICK HERE for a PDF poster advertizing this event.

FURTHER INFO: about the society from / 01225 832096
and the local branch via

Posted in News, UK branch reports | No Comments »

Ordination of Fr David McDonald to the Priesthood

Posted by esbvm on July 12th, 2014


The Rev’d David McDonald, member of the ESBVM Council for many years, was ordained to Priesthood in the Catholic Church by the Rt Rev’d Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, on Friday July 11th at 11.00am in St Gregory’s Catholic Church, 10 St James Square, Cheltenham.

Fr Bill OSM, Hon Gen Secretary of ESBVM, who concelebrated at the Ordination during Holy Mass, represented the ESBVM, along with Mrs Irene Rich and Mrs AJ Gate. Our heartiest congratulations, prayers and good wishes. Ad multos annos.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Council & Executive, News | No Comments »

Possible relaunch of the ESBVM Gloucester Branch

Posted by esbvm on July 12th, 2014

There are hopes of a revival of the Gloucester Branch in the near future and members in the area are invited to advise the Hon. Gen Sec of any interest and willingness to assist in this renewed effort, using the contact form below or by post at ESBVM HQ, c/o St Peter & St Paul, 112 Entry Hill, Bath BA2 5LS [please note the change of address for ESBVM HQ].

Posted in News, UK branch reports | No Comments »

Ordination of Fr Alan Williams SM as Bishop of Brentwood

Posted by esbvm on July 12th, 2014


The Rt Revd Alan Williams SM, a member of the ESBVM Council for many years and former Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, was ordained as Bishop of Brentwood on July 1st 2014 in Brentwood Cathedral by HE Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.

Fr Bill OSM, Hon Gen Sec of the Society, was among the concelebrants at the Episcopal Ordination during Holy Mass, which was concelebrated by a vast number of the hierarchy including one of our Patrons, HE Cardinal Cormac-Murphy O’Connor.

Fr Bill represented the ESBVM along with The Rev’d Augustine Hoey [now resident in Walsingham], Mrs Margaret Durnford and Mrs AJ Gate [Associate General Secretary]. Bishop Alan is a Marist and among the Bishops present was his fellow Marist Bishop Tom Burns and a host of Marist Sisters also attended. Our deepest congratulations, prayers and good wishes go to the new Bishop. Ad multos annos.

Bishop Alan has graciously agreed to be a patron of the forthcoming ESBVM 19th International Congress to take place at Cambridge, Sept 22nd-25th 2014.


Tags: ,
Posted in Council & Executive, News | No Comments »

19th International ESBVM Congress 2014 – ‘Christian Perfection, The Immaculate Conception and Contemporary Thinking on Holiness in Christian Traditions linked with the ESBVM’

Posted by esbvm on July 12th, 2014

Magdalene College, Cambridge

The 19th International ESBVM Congress 2014 is to be held, DV, at Magdalene College, Cambridge, UK from 22nd – 25th September 2014; the venue making it especially attractive.

Please note the dates in your diary now, and if at all possible advise the Hon General Secretary e-mail: if you are interested in attending to help with planning. The Master of Magdalene, The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Baron Williams of Oystermouth, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has generously made himself available as a keynote speaker. In this he fulfils a promise he made to play a fuller part for the ESBVM when he had relinquished office as Archbishop. His willingness to play such a part along with that of other distinguished contributors indicates the privilege the society enjoys in the interest shown by those who recognise the continuing importance of the ESBVM’s efforts in this area of ecumenical exchange. The Congress has been made briefer at the behest of potential participants, but will hopefully have a satisfyingly rich fare in that curtailed meeting time. More details will follow in a full programme with booking details and booking form available on request shortly.

The participation and interest of the Master of Magdalene, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and others hopefully make the Congress something to be keenly anticipated.

The Congress, based in Magdalene College, is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, and situated in the heart of Cambridge on the banks of the River Cam. Founded in 1428 as a Monk’s Hostel, which hosted Benedictine student monks, it hosts over 300 students in term time. Cripps Court was built in 2005 as a conference and accommodation facility to the College.

Magdalene College has a fantastic range of conference facilities, from beautiful historic buildings, to bright, modern and contemporary spaces for a variety of events. It boasts an auditorium for 142 people, a striking oak beamed gallery for informal dining, five attractive seminar rooms and a large foyer with exhibition space – all fully accessible. In addition, there are high quality ensuite bedrooms and disabled facilities. In the historic part of College, the 16th century Hall and the Parlour will be used for formal dining. The Conference costs will include 3 nights full board with single ensuite accommodation.

Fully inclusive single occupancy for 3 nights £420.00 per person + £30 per person conference fee
Non-residential rate (including lunch) available on request [Dinner extra] + £10 conference fee
All prices include VAT where appropriate.
A full brochure will be sent out shortly with a booking form

Further enquiries about the Congress to:-
ESBVM Hon Gen Sec [Father Bill, OSM] on e-mail: / +44 (0) 1225 832096
ESBVM Congress Secretary [Mrs AJ Gate] on

Click here to download the Itinerary for the Congress and the Booking Form. Please return this form to ESBVM, 112 Entry Hill Bath, BA2 5EQ, UK, or express interest using the online form below.

Posted in Conferences & Congresses, News | 1 Comment »

Memorial Mass for Mr Frank O’Brien R.I.P., Saturday June 7th 2014

Posted by esbvm on June 6th, 2014

The ESBVM Newsletter sent out in February gave notice of The meeting of the ESBVM AGM 2014 which is once again graciously to be hosted, by kindness of the Prior, at the Carmelite Priory, 41 Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4BB in the Refectory Room and is on Saturday 7th June 2014.

A Memorial Mass will take place at 12.15 in the Carmelite Priory Church 41 Kensington Church Street London W8 4BB for our deceased Treasurer, Mr Frank O’Brien, whose first anniversary will occur at this time. This Memorial Service but it is a moment when members of the Society might easily be together. We will, of course, be remembering others of the ESBVM who have also gone to the Lord in recent times. Members are asked to call to mind those who have died and to advise the Hon General Secretary by email of any deaths of which one is aware.

Coffee will be available from 11.30 am for those who arrive before the time in the church and those who come later, while others are attending the Memorial Mass, may enjoy engaging in conversazione.

There will be no AGM Lecture this year.

Please bring packed lunch / hot drinks will be provided / AGM commencing at 2.00pm and closing by 4.00pm.

February 7th, 2014’s announcement was the formal & the required notification of the corrected date of the ESBVM Annual General Meeting.

Tags: ,
Posted in AGM, Obituary | No Comments »

Recent Additions to the ESBVM Pamphlet Archive – Fr Mark Elvins R.I.P.

Posted by esbvm on May 30th, 2014

Over its history, the ESBVM has published a large number of pamphlets by respected theologians of the traditions that make up its membership. These are now being made available as a free-to-access online archive as downloadable PDF files and using the YUDU magazine publishing facility.

Recent additions to the archive include the two pamphlets written for the Society by the recently departed Fr Mark Elvins:

The Origin of the Title ‘Dowry of Mary’ and the Shrines of Our Lady at Westminster, Fr Mark Elvins (Download as a PDF)
Our Lady and the Ecumenical Movement, Mark Elvins OFMCap (Download as a PDF)

The full archive can be seen on our Publications page. If the pamphlet you want is not yet available online, email the publications secretary and that title will be prioritized. Please note that this is a free service offered by an organization with limited income and no paid staff. We cannot commit to any particular timescale in making a requested title available, although we will endeavour to do so in 10 days to a fortnight. Requests for pamphlets needed for essays, articles, term papers &c should be submitted as early as possible.

Posted in News, Pamphlet archive, Publications | No Comments »

Father Mark Turnham Elvins, OFMCap R.I.P.

Posted by esbvm on May 9th, 2014

The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ESBVM) reports with sadness the death of Father Mark Turnham Elvins, OFMCap, (November 26, 1939 – May 1, 2014) and extends sympathy to his community and many friends.

A member of the ESBVM Council and a contributor to the Society’s publications, Father Mark was an inspirational and at times provocative figure both within the ESBVM in its early years and as a broad promoter of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary echoed in his paper ‘The Origin of the Title `Dowry of Mary’ and the Shrines of Our Lady at Westminster’, Mark Elvins, ESBVM 1989, and the demands of an ecumenical addressing of her place in ecumenism in his ‘Our Lady and the Ecumenical Movement in the Light of her Maternal Patronage’: a paper given to members of the Canterbury branch of the Society on 27 September 1997 (Wallington: ESBVM, 2000)

Mark Turnham Elvins was born on November 26, 1939 at Whitstable, the son of an Anglican clergyman who had been Rector of St Mary in the Castle, Dover and died of cancer at Oxford on May 1, 2014. Educated at Dover College, St Stephen’s House, Oxford, Beda College at Rome, the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Heythrop College, where he received a Master of Arts from the University of London. He also was awarded a Graduate Diploma in Spirituality at Milltown Institute, Dublin, Ireland.

At the beginning of his career, Elvins passed into Sandhurst but opted for the Territorial Army serving with the Honourable Artillery Company, eventually reaching the rank of Captain in the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department. In civilian life he began by working as a gallery manager at St James’s Gallery in Jermyn Street, central London, and as Assistant Editor of Debrett’s Peerage.

Following his theological studies at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford he was ordained an Anglican deacon.

On Christmas Eve 1968 he was received into the Catholic Church.

He was ordained a priest at Arundel on Easter Sunday 1973 and was Assistant Curate at Arundel Cathedral and Chantry Priest to the Duke of Norfolk from 1973 to 1979. From 1980 until 1990 he served at St Mary Magdalene’s parish church in Brighton, holding additionally the post of Chaplain to the Master of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners of the City of London. From 1990 until 1993 he was parish priest of Henfield.

In 1999, he was professed in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. During the academic year 2005-2007, he was the Roman Catholic Chaplain to the University of Central Lancashire and following the retirement of Dr Nicholas James Richardson in 2007, Elvins was appointed Warden of Greyfriars, Oxford. Upon the dissolution of the permanent private hall he was appointed Guardian of the friary (Greyfriars) from 2008 to 2011. He served as a Capuchin Provincial Definitor from 2006 to 2011.

Throughout his life he was particularly concerned for the homeless and was the founder of Simon House in Oxford (1967), St Thomas Fund for the Homeless in Brighton (1980), and Becket Homes in Canterbury (1997), as well as being a co-founder of the Thomas More Legal Centre. In 2011, his combined Marian concerns and his regard for the Poor prompted him to found Regina Palestinae (Our Lady of Palestine), a charity for the support of poor families in Palestine.

In 1982, Elvins was appointed an Ecclesiastical Knight of Grace of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George and Chaplain and Council Member of the British and Irish Delegation of the Order. In 2003, the Order awarded him the Gold Benemerenti Medal. He was also a Chaplain of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta.

He wrote as both Mark Turnham Elvins and Mark of Whitstable and his published writings include: Catholic Trivia, Towards a People’s Liturgy: The Importance of Language and ESBVM publications.

The Heraldry Society holds an annual Mark Elvins Lecture.

A Requiem Mass will take place in Oxford on Monday 19th May at 11.00am at Greyfriars. Parking has been arranged at the Rugby Club. His funeral will be in North Wales on Tuesday 20th May.

May he come to that full share of the Resurrection in the hope of which we all live. Requiescat in pace.

Tags: ,
Posted in News, Obituary | No Comments »

ESBVM Branch Lecture, May 10th 2014, 11am: ‘The icon-writer and how an icon on the BVM is inspired …

Posted by esbvm on April 14th, 2014

… and also how it is regulated by traditions of the discipline – with illustrations.’

To be given by Silvia Potter-Dimitrova on Saturday 10th May 2014 at 11am in The Magdalen Chapel [St Mary Magdalen's Chapel], Holloway, Bath BA2 4PX. Those attending should seek parking round The Magdalen Chapel on Saturday morning [partly residents' and partly two hour free] in a couple of roads nearby where free parking is possible on a pot-luck basis. Otherwise, No 13 bus from Dorchester St Bus Station to Bear Flat / alighting at Shakespeare Ave and walking back to Holloway. Coffee offered from 10.30am by kindness of the Chapel. Free admission / All welcome / Further info: Father Bill, OSM / / 01225 832096 R.S.V.P would be helpful both for this occasion and others and useful for future publicity about other events.

Posted in Lectures | No Comments »

Mr Geoff Dignum R.I.P.

Posted by esbvm on March 28th, 2014

With sadness the ESBVM, in a letter to Mrs Anne Farrelly, learnt this week of the death of Mr Geoff Dignum, a long-time supporter of the Society who devoted considerable effort in the promotion of its activities as our ESBVM Promotions Secretary and as a member of our Council and Executive. His jovial presence at ESBVM occasions was a blessing and much valued. Geoff died on 16th March 2014 and His funeral Requiem is to be held at St Alban’s Cathedral & Abbey Church on Friday April 4th 2014 at 10am in St Alban’s Cathedral followed by a reception in the Deanery. The Rev’d Marianne Atkinson and her husband Revd Bob Torrens will represent the ESBVM for which we are all most grateful. May Geoff have the full share in the Resurrection in the hope of which we all live and may he rest in peace.

Our deepest sympathy and prayers to his two sisters, Mrs Gillian Giddings and Mrs Jenny Ironmonger and to all of Geoff’s family.

Posted in Council & Executive, News, Obituary | No Comments »