William Barrington Giles Mary Black OP was born in Scotland on the first day of the year 1887. Queen Victoria was still on the throne, the first Sherlock Holmes story was soon to be published and Leo XIII was entering the ninth year of his pontificate.
Educated in Edinburgh, before studying for his degree at Oxford University, Black was raised in the Scottish Episcopalian Church and after graduating he served as an Episcopalian clergyman in Aviemore, an attractive town in the midst of the Scottish Highlands. Along with some members of his parish Revd. Black was received into the Church before the Great War, undergoing a conditional baptism and receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion in his mid-twenties.
During the war he saw active service and fought alongside French forces on the Western Front, being decorated with the Croix de Guerre for his bravery in combat.
In 1919 he entered the Dominican Novitiate at Woodchester and was professed the following year on the 13th of June 1920. He was ordained priest on the 19th July 1925 and he worked initially in Newcastle, serving there eight years, before being assigned to the restored house at Edinburgh where he became a popular chaplain to the students of the university and a widely sought after speaker throughout Scotland.
After around twenty years of priestly service, at fifty-eight years old, Fr Black was exhausted and often seemed close to death. However, his service to the Order and Church was not yet complete and in 1950, after four years as Master of Laybrothers, he was elevated to the position of Preacher General by the Master of the Order. Too ill to stand this preacher had to sit during his homilies and over his last four years he promoted the cause of the then Blessed Martin de Porres, who would be canonized in 1962, eight years after Fr Black’s death at the age of sixty-seven with thirty-three years of profession.
Fr Giles Black took the name Mary, in honour of the Blessed Mother of God and he is especially remembered for his promotion of the Rosary amongst the faithful, writing two books on the subject Fifteen Steps (1942) and Our Lady in England (1949)
May Our Lady’s prayers always be with him,
Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him, O Lord
And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him
May He Rest In Peace