Friday, 4 May 2007

Tyburn Walk

Today was the Feast of the English Martyrs (it used to be the Beatified Martyrs of England and Wales, but now it's the whole lot: Saints and Blesseds together. I wouldn't mind, but the Feast of the Forty Martyrs on October 25th has been dropped completely, which seems a bit mean!!)

Fr Nicholas has put up a stunning post on the martyrs, complete with pictures of some relics: be sure to check out the eyeball of Blessed Edward Oldcorne, SJ!

The first Sunday in May (so this Sunday) is the occasion of the Tyburn Walk, organised by the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom. The Guild prays for the Conversion of England back to the True Faith, and it also supports priests in poor parishes. A few years back, the Walk was a full procession, in silence (apart from the recitation of the Rosary), in the road with a police escort, and we stopped traffic, literally. Now, because of reduced numbers (and the inconvenience stopped traffic poses to the Sunday trading on Oxford Street) we just walk along the pavement. Every cloud has a silver lining: the smaller numbers mean that we can actually go inside the churches which have a special significance on the route.

The walk starts off in a churchyard just across from the Old Bailey, which is where Newgate prison used to be. The church bells would toll before those to be martyred were taken from the prison to be drawn on hurdles to the place of execution at Tyburn (now Marble Arch.)

From Newgate Prison, we walk to St. Etheldreda's in Ely Place. This church is the oldest Roman Catholic church in England and the first pre-Reformation church to be restored to Catholic worship. This is the first stop, and after a brief introduction from the Master of the Guild, Monsignor Stark, a rosary is recited. The walk then proceeds towards Kingsway (Lincoln's Inn Fields), and stops at the church of St. Anselm & St. Cecilia, where the Rosary is recited once more. This church was once the chapel of the Sardinian Embassy, and you can read more about its history HERE.

From there, we go on to St. Patrick's, Soho Square. The Rosary is recited, some hymns are sung, and everyone is blessed with the relics of St. Oliver Plunkett (the last person to be martyred) and someone else, whose name escapes me. Finally, the walk proceeds down Oxford Street, until we get to Marble Arch.

A few hardy individuals brave the barriers and the traffic, and risk life and limb in order to go and pray on a little traffic island in the middle of the Edgware Road: there is a small plaque set in the ground, announcing that this is the site of Tyburn Tree (the name given to the gallows.) I only found out about it because, when the procession walked in the road, we would stop and venerate it. Unless you knew it was there, you'd never see it, because the barriers prevent anyone from crossing at that point...

And the walk finally ends at Tyburn Convent, with Benediction. The Blessed Sacrament is perpetually exposed. There is a huge grille separating the chapel from the Sanctuary, and you can just catch a glimpse of the nuns' choir (oh, and they're proper nuns... full habits and everything!) It's a really stunning experience. The crypt downstairs has many relics of the Tyburn martyrs, and lots of information. It isn't practical to see the crypt on the day of the walk (just too many people... it's standing room only in the main chapel) but it is well worth a visit.

For those of you unable to get to London, I recommend paying a virtual visit to the Tyburn Convent, where you can find out much more about all the martyrs, and about the nuns.

Anyhow, with a Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) scheduled for Sunday morning (assuming Fr Tim makes it back from the Eternal City) and the Tyburn Walk in the afternoon, I think this Sunday is going to be a real treat!

10 comments:

Stephen Wikner said...

Your piece prompts me mention my visit to London a fortnight ago. My daughter (crazy child) was running the London Marathon and I had to find a convenient church for mass. I'd not been to St Etheldreda's for a service so that's where I went and it provided a wonderful reminder that there's nothing whatever wrong with the novus ordo. It's all in the way it's celebrated. OK it was in Latin (but the language per se is not important - I've been to an equally memorable celebration with tribal drumming in Zulu) and the mass setting was by Schubert but it wasn't that either. We still hear a lot about the 'spirit of Vatican II' well this, modern rite though it was, was imbued with spirit of pre-Vatican II, that of simple and unquestioning belief in every word spoken or sung. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing added, nothing taken away.

Oh yes, my daughter completed the marathon (in about 5 hours 55 minutes and coming in about 8,900th out of the 36,000 who started). So that too was not bad.

Mac McLernon said...

Wow... she is indeed crazy... but congratulate her on a productive strain of craziness!

Stephen Wikner said...

Thanks, I will. She'll be chuffed.

Mac McLernon said...

And how come you didn't blog about it? With photos??

Methinks you shirketh your duty!

Mac McLernon said...

2:30pm and it finishes at Tyburn Convent at about 5pm (ish) I think... I never notice what time it ends!!

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Miles-Jesu- The Continuity Movement are organising a similar Martyrs Walk on June 23rd. They will provide a red neckerchief inscribed with the Martyrs names. There will be full Police escort..shame we couldn't have got the 2 events 'joined'?

God bless

Mac McLernon said...

Jackie, the Tyburn Walk has been running for years. Brad and his friends knew about it in advance - in fact, they were careful not to arrange the walks too close together!

greatgable said...

I shall be visiting the South East at the beginning of July and shall be visiting London. Its about time I investigated Tyburn etc!!

fr paul harrison

Mac McLernon said...

Fr Paul, give Fr Tim a ring... maybe he'll arrange a bloggers' meet like the one he did in Rome!!

greatgable said...

I may do so. I will be on holiday, staying in Ramsgate. Watch this space lol!

fr paul harrison

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