We thought we would be participating in his memorial (which is a Solemnity, at least at Westminster), but done up big. We were right, but we were also wrong. When we got to the Cathedral, we were handed a program for the Ordination Mass. Since it was a free day for both of us, we were under no time constraints, so both of us considered it a signal grace that we would witness a priestly ordination. (As for me, I had previously been to the ordination of deacons--for the first class of American deacons of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary at St. Clement's Eucharistic Shrine in Boston, and the ordination of three bishops--one of whom became Cardinal McCarrick, but had never been to a regular priestly ordination!) The twist was, this Ordination Mass was celebrated with the "propers' (special prayers) of St John Southwark: all the Mass prayers except for the actual Rite of Ordination were taken from the martyr's page in the missal. The three ordinandi (one of them with a smile he just couldn't control) processed in wearing red stoles; when the time came, they moved down to the center of the Cathedral where the martyr's body was lying in state in a glass casket and joined him, prostrate; at the vesting, they were draped in red--a red they would don again for their First Mass on the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul.
Just the Sunday before, Sister Mary Lou and I joined a few dozen others for the "Martyr's Walk." Led
|This fresco from Our Lady of Victories parish depicts|
Tyburn's triple gallows; you can also make out the "hurdle"
on which the prisoners were dragged to the execution site.
- Here in London, they pronouce "Douai" (which I have only, ever, in all my life heard pronounced "Doo-ay") as "Dow-ee" (rhymes with owee).
- Even when it was completely illegal to celebrate or attend a Catholic Mass, the foreign embassies maintained active chapels. If you could slip into the Sardinian or Spanish embassy, you could safely go to Mass (presuming you could safely slip away). Those embassy chapels became the embryonic parishes of a restored Catholic community in London!
- St Etheldreda's Church, for peculiar reasons of history, is the only Catholic Church in London (outside of embassy chapels) never to have served as a "state church"; the day after our pilgrimage was Etheldreda's (Audrey's) feast day. The locale even gets honorable mention in Shakespeare!
- St Giles in the Field was the church of the lepers, located far from the city center. When the procession of the condemned got that far, someone from the church would typically bring the prisoner a glass of refreshment, a final act of humanity before being hung, drawn and quartered. We learned that St. Giles being the patron of lepers, most European churches of that name most likely originated with a leper colony, far from the populated zones. The current St. Giles in the Field is located near a busy London street, and is an active Anglican community with a strikingly lovely 19th century church (the earlier versions of St. Giles having suffered various fates through the centuries).
Read Joanna Bogle's description of the annual Martyr's Walk on her blog!