On Friday 26th May, the Solemnity of our Holy Father, St Philip, Bishop Robert Byrne will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at 6pm, at which Monsignor John Armitage, Rector of the Shrine and Basilica of Walsingham, will preach.
The day before, 25th May, is the traditional feast of the Ascension. There will be an Extraordinary Form High Mass at 6pm, followed by a party in the Parish Centre.
The novena in preparation for St Philip's Day continues each day at 6.30pm (6pm at the weekend).
On the 13th May - the centenary of the first apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima - we went to Our Lady's shrine at Walsingham, on the diocesan pilgrimage, led by Bishop Robert Byrne.
Our coach made excellent time, and we were able to visit some of the sites in the village of Little Walsingham:
Then we walked along the old railway track to the Slipper Chapel, our pilgrims going at varying speeds:
As the bells rang for midday, we stopped to pray the Regina Caeli:
We also visited the lovely church of St Giles', Houghton-in-the-Dale, with its fifteenth-century rood screen, showing the Holy Kindred on one side and the four Latin Doctors on the other. The screen is a rare survival, although the faces of the saints have been scratched out by the iconoclastic vandals of the sixteenth-century.
Bishop Robert led a Holy Hour, and then there was Mass, together with pilgrims from all different parts of the Archdiocese of Birmingham:
At the conclusion of Mass, the Bishop led us in consecrating ourselves to Our Lady of Fatima.
We were spiritually united with all those gathered in Fatima for the celebrations there, and the canonisation of the two shepherd children, Francisco and Jacinta. Our Lady promised them, "My Immaculate Heart will triumph" and asked us all to renew our prayer and penance, especially by saying the Rosary every day for the peace and conversion of the world.
Here are some of our pilgrims with the Bishop after Mass, standing by the Slipper Chapel:
During Easter week, 23 pilgrims from Young Oratory travelled to Rome to follow in the footsteps of the city’s three apostles: St Peter, St Paul and St Philip.
A stop for ice cream on the first night:
and a walk across the Tiber:
We visited St Philip’s Rooms in the Chiesa Nuova before celebrating Mass on the altar where he is buried.
Fr Daniel in the Palazzo Massimo told the story of Paolo Massimo, the little boy St Philip raised to life.
The first day included visits to some of Rome’s most famous sites, including the Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Minerva and Trevi Fountain.
We ended the day by visiting the tomb of St Aloysius in the church of Sant’ Ignazio, and St Ignatius in the Gesù.
Day two started with Mass at St Mary Major, and prayers before the ancient image of Our Lady, Salus Populi Romani. We then visited two more of the seven basilicas of Rome, Santa Croce, which houses the relics of the Passion brought back from the Holy Land by St Helen, and St John Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral.
We travelled back in time in the church of San Clemente, before visiting the Colosseum and the ruins of the ancient Forum.
Travelling out of the city on day three, we celebrated Mass in St Paul outside the Walls, where St Paul’s body is buried underneath the high altar.
St Philip used to lead groups of youths out into the countryside as part of the seven churches walk. They would find somewhere on the way to stop for a picnic lunch. We revived this very sensible tradition.
In the Catacombs of St Sebastian, we were able to visit the spot where St Philip was praying when he received the Holy Spirit on the Eve of Pentecost 1544.
The walk back into the city took us past some more of Rome’s most famous sights, and back for a well-earned rest at the hotel.
On the final day, we celebrated Mass in St Peter’s basilica, very close to the tomb of the apostle himself. Afterwards, we climbed to the top of the dome of the basilica.
New faces are always welcome at Young Oratory. We meet on Tuesdays in the Parish Centre from 5–6pm.
A group of intrepid parishioners went off last week to North Wales, on pilgrimage to Holywell, the shrine of St Winefride.
Winefride was a seventh-century Welsh princess, who was brutally attacked by the evil Caradoc, while she was alone. When she bravely resisted his advances, Caradoc cut off Winefride's head. However, her uncle, St Beuno, restored her to life: hence Winefride is known as the 'Welsh Lazarus'. Caradoc was swallowed up by the earth, but a spring appeared where Winefride's head had landed, and pilgrims have been coming continuously to seek grace and healing there for 1.300 years, without interruption.
In the sixteenth century, Lady Margaret Beaufort prayed at Holywell that she might conceive. She had a chapel built in honour of St Winefride above the well. Margaret Beaufort was the mother of King Henry VII, and this is possibly why the next Henry did not entirely destroy the shrine.
The beautiful structure of the well survives to this day, and even at the worst times of persecution, Catholic pilgrims have never stopped coming:
Here our pilgrims to 'The Lourdes of Wales', pray the litany of St Winefride at her well:
We visited the waters three times, since St Beuno told his niece to sit upon a stone, so that all who came there would receive whatever they asked, "If not the first time, then on the second or the third".
The Chapel of St Winefride above the well is sadly not much used, but we were given the key to go inside:
The Bridgettine Sisters have a convent and guest house at Holywell, and we were delighted to stay there, right next to the shrine. One day, Sister M. Claudia gave us an inspiring talk about St Bridget of Sweden, her devotion to the Wounds of Christ, and about the life of the Bridgettine Sisters today:
We also explored some other holy sites of North Wales, including St Asaph's, where is found Britain's smallest ancient cathedral. St Asaph came down from Scotland with St Kentigern (Mungo) to evangelise the Welsh in the sixth century.
St Beuno's Ignatian Retreat Centre is run by the Jesuits, and we were pleased to catch up with Fr Roger Dawson, S.J., former assistant Chaplain to the University.
Fr Roger kindly showed us the magnificent gardens of St Beuno's, with the view of the Clwyd Valley, the sea, and over to Snowdon.
Another day, we went to Pantasaph, where the Capuchins have a retreat house. Again we met up with old friends, including, in the St Pio's Cafe, Fr Pashcal Burlinson, O.F.M. Cap., who was Parish Priest of Greyfriars in Oxford for twenty years. He gave us an impromptu, and fascinating talk about Padre Pio, and the history of Pantasaph:
St David's Church, Pantasaph was built by the Earl of Denbigh after his conversion to the Faith, and designed by Pugin. We were able to celebrate Mass in this fine building:
Pantasaph also has a magnificent Calvary, outdoor Stations of the Cross and a Lourdes Grotto, so we were kept fully occupied with our devotions:
There was also some time for frivolity:
On our last day, the sisters kindly allowed us to venerate the relics of St Bridget and Blessed Elizabeth Hesselblad, who revived the Bridgettines in the nineteenth century:
On our way home, we visited Shrewsbury Abbey, where the relics of St Winefride were transferred in 1037.
A small fragment of the original shrine remains:
St Winefride - pray for us.