Bishop Tom Burns, promoter of the Apostleship of the Sea in England & Wales, has dedicated a new cruise ship the Costa Serena to the protection of Our Lady.
The military prelate joined the president of Costa Cruises and the company's directors in the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde on a hilltop overlooking Marseilles last Saturday.
In his homily, Bishop Burns noted that for centuries seafarers sailing out of Marseilles had saluted Notre Dame de la Garde to ask for her protection while they were away at sea, separated for long months from their families and loved ones. On returning to the port, they would again salute Mary and thank her for bringing them home safely.
The blessing of a ship is to commend to God the new ship's architects and constructors, the crew, and the passengers, the bishop explained. He then asked the crew to remember that when seafarers leave home or a port, Christ goes with them.
A large model of the Costa Serena was placed in front of the statue of 'the Guardian Lady', and the ship, and all who will sail in her, were dedicated to the care of Mary, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris).
About 2,000 invited guests attended the evening 'christening' ceremony on the quayside in the port of Marseilles, and witnessed the breaking of a bottle of champagne against the ship's bow.
After the gala dinner, the ship sailed out of the harbor and guests witnessed a 30-minute firework display and light-and-sound show.