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On 27 December 2015, Feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis raised the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham to the status of a minor basilica. English Catholics were delighted to have their National Shrine recognised by Rome but quite what the honour entailed was not known by many.
In Ancient Rome, the term Basilica denoted an official administrative building having a large rectangular central nave with an aisle on each side and an apse at one end. Many early churches were built in this style. In the Catholic Church, Basilica is a title of honour given to certain churches because of their antiquity, dignity, historical importance or significance as centres of worship.
There are four Major Basilicas, all of them in Rome: St. John Lateran, St Peter’s, St Mary Major and St. Paul outside the Walls. All of these have a papal throne and a papal altar (at which only those with the Pope’s permission may say Mass), and a Holy Door which remains cemented up, except during Jubilee Years when it is opened and becomes part of the ritual of obtaining a Jubilee indulgence. (It was a break with tradition when Pope Francis suggested to the Bishops of the World that they designate one or more local Holy Doors during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, so Catholics could gain the plenary indulgence without having to travel to Rome.)
In April 2016 our society arranged a pilgrimage to Walsingham. 45 pilgrims (mainly from the Island) were accompanied by Fr. Jozef Gruszkiewicz and Fr. Jonathan Redvers Harris.
En route the pilgrims stopped at Oxburgh House, about 30 miles south west of Walsingham. This quintessential Tudor house, with its magnificent gatehouse and accessible priest’s hole, was built in 1482 by the Bedingfeld family. The present family still reside in the house and it has been in Catholic hands throughout the penal times. After a tour of the house and a visit to the priest’s hiding hole, Mass was offered in the family chapel by Frs. Jonathan and Jozef.
After settling into their accommodation in the village of Walsingham, the pilgrims were joined another pilgrim group from Manchester for Evening Prayer
On the Feast of Christ the King, seven of us from the Isle of Wight (six from St. Mary’s Parish) joined 100 others for the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, led by His Lordship Bishop Philip Egan, assisted by Monsignor Vincent Harvey and Fr. James McAuley. The first visit was to Bethlehem.
After breakfast, we visited the School of Joy in Beit Sahour, the town of the shepherds. The school was founded in 1993 to support and educate children with special needs and is the only such one in the region. It is run by Father Mamdouh Abu Sa’da with the help of six teachers and currently caters for 58 young people. It is run entirely on donations with no funding from the government. As well as a basic education in reading, writing and mathematics, the boys are taught woodwork, enabling them to make a wide variety of objects from olive wood. The girls are taught needlework and embroidery and we managed to buy many examples of their handiwork during our visit. The school is one of the projects supported by Friends of the Holy Land (FHL).
The image of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus with a towel on the journey to Calvary, is familiar to us all, especially as we pray the Stations of the Cross in Lent. We are pleased to include here an article on Veronica, contributed by Dr. Alison Habens.
“Nothing is known about the ‘real’ Saint Veronica. She’s never mentioned in the bible but appears on the Stations of the Cross, number VI: the woman who wipes Jesus’ face with her veil after he falls for the first time. Her name may just be a play on words. Vera means true in Latin and Icon means image: Vera Icon, the holy face indelibly printed. Early church fathers might have confused the term for the cloth itself with the person who carried it. There may not have been a Veronica at all. Though the way of the cross, along the Via Dolorosa to Calvary, was walked by pilgrims to Jerusalem within a hundred years of the crucifixion’s actual date, it was not until the eighteenth century that a pilgrimage of the fourteen holy sites could be taken around any church nave.
Nobody can say at what stage Saint Veronica took her place on the way of tears; but one thing is certain. The veronica, that legendary vera icon which wiped the blood and sweat off Christ’s face as he carried his cross, can still be found in the Vatican today. This relic is exposed every year on the fifth Sunday of Lent, though when a Jesuit art historian was allowed to examine it in 1907 he saw only ‘two faint rust-brown stains, connected one to the other…’
August 2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the foundation of St. Dominic’s Priory at Carisbrooke; – the first monastic institution established on the Island in the Post Reformation era. It was founded by Elizabeth, Countess of Clare, who had a close affiliation with the Dominican Order.
Bishop Thomas Grant of Southwark laid the foundation stone on the feast of St. Dominic (4th Aug) 1865. Co-incidentally, it was this same Thomas Grant who, as a young seminarian in Rome, had given the Countess of Clare instructions in the Faith, before she converted in 1841.
The year 1865 was a very significant year for the Dominican Order. It was 650 years after St. Dominic founded the Order of Dominican nuns, and the establishment of the Order of Preachers by Pope Innocent III.
The date chosen (4th August), was also significant in Catholic history as this was the date of desecration of the Medieval shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham in 1538. At the request of the Countess of Clare, the foundation stone of the new Dominican Priory at Carisbrooke was to be dedicated to Our Lady and St. Dominic, as the bishop stated, “as a fitting act of reparation for the destruction of the Shrine at Walsingham 327 years ago to this very day. We must hope and pray that faithful Catholics will find peace and consolation at this priory here on the Isle of Wight, as our spiritual ancestors did at the ancient Priory of Walsingham in Medieval times“.
Sunday, 21st June, 2015 marked the golden jubilee of this church in, Bembridge. A Solemn Mass was held to celebrate the event and to give thanks for the blessings received from Almighty God over the past fifty years. In his sermon at the Mass, the parish priest Fr. Glaysher spoke about a church as a House of God, different to any other building. He also asked the congregation to remember “those who have gone before us, who made the building of this church possible, not only by their labour, determination and generosity, but by their commitment to the Faith and the desire to have amongst them the reassuring presence of Our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist“.
Before 1965 Catholics of Bembridge worshipped in the former Methodist church, which they purchased in 1935.
The following day (22nd June) there was a historical OPEN DAY (afternoon) attended by about sixty people. There were colour slides depicting the past eighty years of Catholic life in Bembridge and in particular the celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the church ten years ago. People were able to reminisce about Catholic life in Bembridge during the past fifty years.
These two parents of St. Therese of Lisieux were a shining example to their renowned daughter and still inspire Catholics today.
Bishop Egan welcomed the relics of these two holy people to the cathedral on 21st May. Quite a few people from the Island attended to hear Holy Mass and to venerate their relics.
The bishop has encouraged the faithful to ask the prayers of Blessed Louis and Zelie for the intentions of the family synod in October.
Blessed Martin and Zelie were the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux, affectionately known as the Little Flower. Pope Francis has indicated that he may canonize Blessed Louis and Zelie during the Synod on the Family in Rome in October.
The bishop has recommended this prayer:- “God our Father, I thank you for having given us Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St Therese. United and faithful in marriage, they have left us an example of Christian living and evangelical virtue. In raising a large family through trials, suffering and bereavement, they put their trust in you and always sought your will.”
The Diocese of Portsmouth announced that the motto of the relics’ visit will be “united and faithful” in order to “recall the virtues of Christian marriage and to meditate on the Church’s call to remain united and faithful to Christ and His teachings.”
In a quiet corner of the Surrey countryside near Windsor, called Runnymede, with the River Thames quietly flowing by, a document was signed by a king of England and his barons in June 1215, which rings down through the centuries in importance and significance: Magna Carta.
The king was John (1166 –1216), son of Henry II and brother of Richard the Lionheart. The barons were some of the great men of the realm, earls and barons including “the best knight that ever lived” William Marshall.
In the year’s previous to 1215, John had proved an unpopular king. His nickname was “lackland” (Norman French sanz terre) meaning “without land”. He was despotic and money grabbing, ruthlessly exhorting fines and raising taxes. He took hostages at will and deprived barons of their lands without legal process, always acting in an arbitrary manner. Even in a cruel age, he could be cruel to those who threatened him.
Gary May, from the Parish of Ryde, will be ordained to the permanent Diaconate on Saturday, 10th January at St. John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth. This is the first permanent Deacon that Ryde has produced, so it is a time of joy and celebration for Gary and the parish and the whole Island.
Fr. Glaysher, parish priest of St. Mary’s, Ryde, welcomes Deacon Gary to this ministry and he is delighted that he will be assisting him in his parish ministry.
The ministry of the deacon in the Catholic Church is described as one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The deacon’s ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel during the Mass, preaching and teaching. The deacon’s liturgical ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an ordinary minister of Holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when Holy Communion is administered under both kinds. The ministry of charity involves service to the poor and marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more involved in such ministry. Deacons, like priests and bishops, are ordinary ministers of the sacrament of Baptism and can serve as the church’s witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which the bride and groom administer to each other (though if the exchange of vows takes place in a wedding Mass, or Nuptial Mass, the Mass is celebrated by the priest and the deacon acts as another witness). Deacons may preside at funeral rites not involving a Mass (e.g., the final commendation at the gravesite or the reception of the body at a service in the funeral home), and may assist the priest at the Requiem Mass. They can preside over various services such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and they may give certain blessings. However, they cannot hear Confession and give absolution, anoint the sick, or celebrate Mass.
These paintings were blessed by Fr. Anthony Glaysher after Mass on 21st May, 2014; the anniversary of the consecration of St. Mary’s by Bishop Thomas Grant, in 1863. They depict the following:-
These watercolours were sponsored by our society and painted by Catholic artist, Madeleine Sarah Beard, M.A. Litt (Cantab), from Petworth. Madeleine is one of our society’s mainland members. She held an exhibition of her paintings at St. Mary’s, Ryde on the Feast of the Annunciation, 2003. You can visit her web site and see the Marian watercolours that she painted if you click here
Fr. Glaysher, accompanied by four parishioners from Ryde, was delighted to be present in the cathedral sanctuary on the Feast of Christ the King for Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Rt Rev Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth, presided from the throne and preached the sermon.
Traditional High Mass was the first at the cathedral for four years and joins the weekly Sunday morning Low Mass (8-00am) that has begun at Portsmouth’s mother church in recent weeks. Despite warnings of dire weather conditions and the imminent storm, the Mass was well attended. The celebrant was Fr Phillip Harris, who flew from Jersey at lunchtime especially for the Mass. The deacon was Rev Stephen Morgan, and the sub-deacon was Fr John Maunder of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, based at St Agatha’s, Portsmouth. Music (Gregorian Chant and a polyphonic Communion motet) was provided by the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, directed by Christopher Hodkinson.
Fr. Anthony Glaysher was the bishops assistant at the throne, and Fr. Robert Mercer (Ordinariate) was in the congregation. In addition 15 servers were present in the sanctuary. It was interesting to see that the average age of these servers was late 20s. Whilst at Ryde, I am usually the youngest person for many Latin Masses, on this day I was (I think) the oldest altar server participating. It was also good to see many young people in the congregation, including a good number of Ordinariate folk.
On the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Mass was offered by Fr. Gerard Flynn at the historic former family chapel of the Ward family at Weston Manor, Totland Bay. Organised by our society, this unique and unspoilt Victorian Catholic family chapel is one of the finest in the south of England. A class of children from St. Saviour’s Catholic Primary school attended the Mass, and the choir of St. Michael’s Church, Bembridge (under the direction of Muriel Moss) led the singing. Afterwards there was a history talk on the Ward family and the chapel given by Yvonne Rowles of Bembridge and by Peter Clarke of Ryde.
Read about the history of this beautiful Victorian chapel in the Places / Pilgrimages. Photographs can be seen in the Gallery – Churches page.
Father was pleased to be able to attend the celebrations in Rome on the occasion of the silver jubilee of the canonical establishment of the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). This is a priestly fraternity and a clerical society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right, which has two main aims:- the formation and sanctification of priests to offer the traditional liturgy of the Roman rite (E.F. Mass); and secondly, the pastoral deployment of priests in the service of the Church.
It was especially joyous for Father to visit the Eternal City as we conclude this Year of Faith; and in the year of the 150th anniversary of the consecration of our beautiful church in Ryde. 2013 also marked the 20th anniversary of Latin (E.F.) Masses in Ryde, and the 10th anniversary of the first (Post Vatican II) Missa Cantata (Sung Latin Mass) in the parish.
Father accompanied a group of English pilgrims to Rome for the FSSP celebrations, led by Fr. Armand de Malleray (Superior of the Fraternity in England). The group visited some of the Roman places associated with St. Peter, i.e. the Mamertine Prison, where St. Peter was held before his crucifixion; the Church of St. Pudentiana, the site of Peter’s captivity when he first came to Rome; St. Peter ad Vincula (St. Peter in chains), a church which contains the chains with which Peter was bound; and St. Peter’s Basilica, built over the tomb of the great apostle. At these places, as well as the Colosseum, where many Christians were martyred, Fr. Armand outlined the history, its significance, and its association with St. Peter.
At the end of September Bishop Egan of Portsmouth came to the Island to celebrate Mass at Sacred Heart Church, Shanklin to marke the 125th anniversary of the parish. (The first Mass in the original church was on 21st August 1888). In the afternoon he went to St. Patrick’s, Sandown for Evening Prayer and Benediction to mark the 75th anniversary of the consecration of the church. (It was consecrated to the glory of God and in honour of St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, 1938, by Bishop William Cotter.
The bishop also went to the cemetery to bless the gravestone of Fr. Henry Donnelly, former parish priest of Totland, Shanklin, and Chaplain of St. Anthony’s Convent, also in Shanklin, Fr. Donnelly died last year. An appreciation of his ministry can be read in the Obituary page.
The annual pilgrimage from Ryde to Quarr Abbey (organised by the IoW Catholic History Society) was held on Sunday 8th September. This annual walk (or pilgrimage) started in 1882 when Catholics walked from Ryde to the Medieval Cistercian ruins to pray for the return of monastic life at Quarr. Little did those people realise at the time, that their prayer would be answered within 30 years, when the Benedictine monks arrived to built the present abbey on the adjacent site. The annual pilgrimage this year attracted a smaller number of walkers due to the weather.
The first stop en route was at the Church of the Holy Cross at Binstead, which has a close historical association with Quarr Abbey. After tea and cakes there was a talk on the history of the church by Hilary Spurgeon (the Church Reader). The next stop was at the Medieval ruins, where walkers studied a map of the Cistercian ruins identifying the various parts of the old abbey.
September 8th is the Patronal Feast at Quarr Abbey (both the Medieval and the present abbey are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin), and this was the main theme of the talk in the abbey church by Fr. Luke Bell OSB. Afterwards, prayers were led by Fr. Jonathan Redvers Harris. The day concluded with the Service of Vespers and Benediction.
See the County Press (13th September) for a brief report and photograph.
The Catholic Herald (which likes to publicise pilgrimages) has also carried a report (with a photograph).
On the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham our society organised a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady at West Grinstead and onto Arundel Cathedral. This day marks the first anniversary of the enthronement of Mgr. Philip Egan as the 8th Bishop of Portsmouth. It is also the first anniversary of the blessing and dedication of the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in St. Mary’s. It was therefore a wonderful time to ask for Our Lady’s intercession at the shrine in West Grinstead, where the One True Faith was never lost throughout the penal times.
Throughout the day pilgrimage there was Mass, Exposition, the rosary/ devotions, Benediction and opportunity for Confession. Most of those who attended were able to visit the secret chapel above the presbytery (once a hay loft), where priests ordained abroad offered Mass in secret. (See Gallery – pilgrimage page – for photographs).
As always at West Grinstead, there was a warm welcome from Fr. David Goddard (parish priest / custodian). Frs. Anthony Glaysher and Jonathan Redvers Harris concelebrated Mass with him. In the sermon at Mass, Fr. Jonathan reminded those present that Our Lady is a source of unity among the different Christian denominations and an aid to our search for Almighty God. Referring to the shrine at Walsingham, he said “In Mary we find a shrine built for the Creator of the universe. She is the creature made ready as a holy house for our Creator and Saviour”.