Pilgrims At Tyburn And Downside
MGR. HINSLEY'S WELCOME TO IRISH PRIMATE
By G. ELLIOT ANSTRUTHER IN ENGLAND LAST SUNDAY, AS IN IRELAND FOR THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE MARTYRDOM, BLESSED OLIVER PI.UNKF.T WAS HONOURED BY A PILGRIMAGE OF THOUSANDS TO HIS SHRINE.
It was an occasion when both countries combined to pay homage to the memory of an illustrious martyr whose relics enshrined at Downside are as the Archbishop of Westminster expressed it, a treasured token of unflinching Faith and a pledge of ever closer union of Irish and English Catholic hearts.
Pilgrimage or pilgrimages? For the bulk of those who made Sunday morning a time of devotional journeying, there was but one objective: the shrine in the stately church of Downside Abbey; but some, the pilgrims living in and around London, had another goal of pilgrimage also, at an earlier hour, when they assembled on the site of Tyburn Tree and invoked the blessed martyr at the spot where he won his crown.
It was a brief opportunity, but one that will live, with the greater scenes in the West, in recollection of the day's events. Looking back upon it, those who were present may reflect, with that burial party at Corunna, that " few and short were the prayers we said "; for the police authorities, with all their goodwill and courtesy, could allow only a few minutes to the pilgrims at that now busy traffic point, while for another thing, time pressed towards the departure of the train from Paddington. But if the prayers., read by Mgr. J. Barton, D.D., were few, they found fervent echoes in the hearts of all those who followed that priest to the scaffold site from Tyburn Convent near by.
Mass at Gloucester
While this preliminary little pilgrimage was taking place in the metropolis, many hundreds of pilgrims from Ireland, whose train had halted at Gloucester to enable them to hear Mass, were on their way to Downside.
Fortunately for the occasion, the Gloucester church, St. Peter's, is near the railway, so there was no trek needed in the ancient city. At Bath the Irish pit,grims had the joy of being welcomed at the station by their own revered pastor and Primate, Cardinal MacRory, who, with the Bishop of Raphoe and Mgr. Lyons, V.G., from Drogheda, was awaiting them
on the platform. With a thoughtfulness which his people gratefully recognised, His Eminence had arranged that the pontifical High Mass at Downside, sung by the Bishop of Clifton, should be postponed for an hour in order that Blessed Oliver's fellow-countrymen, delayed somewhat in their arrival, might assist thereat, at the first great function in the day's celebration.
With the London Contingent
The hundred or so pilgrims from London, in a party led by Dr. Barton and organised by Mr. J. V. A. Kelly, learned shortly before reaching Bath that they would not proceed directly to Downside from that point, as they had expected to do.
It was a pleasurable surprise to them to be told that permission had been asked and obtained for a short visit to be paid to Prior Park College. To that fine pile, accordingly, they made their way in a fleet of coaches, to be welcomed by the Brother President and shown, within the time available, the church, a building on nobly classical lines, and something also of the magnificence of the college salles.
Mr. Kelly is like that; he thinks out ways and means of adding to the profit and enjoyment of a trip from the point of view of Catholic interest. For many of the party last Sunday the unexpected visit to Prior Park represented that " little more and how much it is" which spells opportunities that may never recur.
The Pilgrims Arrive
At Downside Abbey, the rendezvous of laden chars-a-bancs, motor-cars and pedestrian groups from various directions, the Trish pilgrims and the contingent from London were joined by large bodies of pilgrims from many parts of the diocese; for the Bishop of Clifton had bidden his flock to come in thousands for this pilgrimage of honour, and in thousands they came.
There could have been no question of holding the afternoon service within the abbey church; large as that building is, it would not have held a quarter of those who had taken up their places in the open, in readiness for the devotions. many minutes before those devotions began.
The scene was picturesque in the extreme. In front of the range of buildings immediately to the south of the church an altar had been set up. Facing it was the faldstool for Cardinal MacRory, who presided. Places for the "bishops and other prelates were on either side, while long lines of seats occupied by scores of clergy formed, as it were, the borders of an inner enclosure.
Beyond this space were seated hundreds of lay pilgrims. Facing or flanking it, the remainder of the great assistance stood massed, most of them upon the high banks of the lawns, a natural forum, from which one looked down upon the altar as upon the chief point in some arena. Towering above all was the still unfinished tower of the abbey church, whence the standard floated in honour of the day.
The weather proved kindly. There were moments when overcast skies may have made the timid anxious; but no rain fell, and as the afternoon wore on the day
brightened. It was, indeed, a matter for thankfulness that there was cloud to temper what otherwise would have been the exhausting heat of the July sun. Casualties by fainting were few.
The Procession to the Altar
Punctually to time, the procession of monks and high ecclesiastics entered. Benedictines and other religious were followed by canons and monsignori, the abbots, the bishops, the Archbishop of Westminster, and finally the Cardinal. Ireland's Primate wears his years lightly. From the altar during the Benediction service his voice was clearly heard at a distance of many yards away.
Besides Cardinal MacRory, the Archbishop of Westminster and the Bishop of Clifton, Ordinary of the diocese, the bishops assisting included the Bishop of Plymouth, the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, and the Bishop of Raphoe. Four abbots were present: the Abbot of Downside, the Abbot of Belmont. the Abbot of Douai, and the Cistercian Abbot of Mount St. Bernard. When all had assembled the picture was magnificently impressive in its dignity and wealth of colour.