Maundy purse arrives in the post for Marie!

Thursday April 16th 2020

Marie Anderson with her Maundy purses.

Congratulations to Marie Anderson, a parishioner of Christ Church Parish, Lisburn, who received the gift of Maundy money from Her Majesty the Queen.

The Maundy purses are traditionally handed out by Her Majesty on Maundy Thursday, and Marie and her husband Ivan had been invited to the special service in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Marie had received a letter advising her that, due to the coronavirus crisis, the service would not be held, but the arrival of the Maundy purses in the post came as something of a surprise. Enjoying their garden while self-isolating, neither Marie or Ivan heard the doorbell when the special delivery from Her Majesty arrived, and didn’t open the parcel containing the two purses until a family member collected it from the Post Office last Saturday!

“I don’t feel very deserving of it,” said Marie. “It is all down to Bishop Alan.”

Bishop Alan Abernethy, former Bishop of Connor, nominated Marie for the honour. “I knew the bishop from attending church events and his annual Lenten Talks, but I got to know him a bit better because we went on the same journey at the Cancer Centre,” Marie said.

“He was getting his radiotherapy at 12 noon and I was getting mine at 11.30. We enjoyed each other’s company while waiting. I had 27 sessions and the bishop had more, but we went through the whole thing together.”

Marie and Ivan have two children and five grandchildren. Brought up in the Presbyterian Church – “I still value my Presbyterian roots” – Marie became a parishioner in Christ Church on her marriage, more than 50 years ago.

She was a Sunday School teacher from more than 20 years, has been a long-term member of the Mothers’ Union and for a number of years was branch leader. She also worked as the parish administrator for five years and was secretary of the Select Vestry for five years.

“I just sort of fell into these roles and did them because they were there to do,” she said.

Marie and Ivan were due to go to Windsor Castle just days before jetting off on a family holiday to Portugal. Now the couple are confined to their home and garden. Marie’s cancer treatment has ended, but she still suffers from lymphedema in one of her legs. “I really love being out in the garden and have to drag myself away to rest my leg, but if I wear the special stockings and do my exercises it is not too bad,” she said.

Marie added that she is very honoured to receive the Maundy money.

“I still can’t get my head round why I was chosen. There was a letter from the Lord High Almoner along with the Queen’s letter, and I read about what people have done in church circles and I think, that’s not me! There are lots of people who are much more deserving!”

Marie plans to keep the specially minted coins as an heirloom for all the family.

  • Royal Maundy is one of the most ancient ceremonies retained in the Church of England. Monarchs including Elizabeth I have taken part in the custom, which falls on the Thursday before Easter and commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles.
  • The Queen commemorates Maundy by offering ‘alms’ to retired pensioners, who have been recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations, in recognition of their service to the church and to the local community. 
  • Recipients receive two purses: A red purse contains ordinary coins, while a white one contains silver Maundy coins, amounting to the same number of pence as the years of the sovereign’s age.

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