im "No Bread Left" notice, sometimes seen pinned on the presbytery door at St. Etheldreda's, Ely Place, London, has sometimes led mid-day Mass-goers there to think light lunches are available.
Brother Carter, a member of the Ely Place community, explains : " That's for the 40 or 60 beggars who come daily. We give them sandwiches, meat, vegetables, dripping, cheese. Whatever we have."
In ones, twos, and even threes. these men, many of them old, some of them Catholics, plenty of them with colourful pasts; Irish, Scots, English, even young coloured people among them, creep mournfully to the door, receive their ration, and startle busy money-makers in one of the most prosperous cities of the world with the humiliating fact that all do not fare well in the Welfare State.
"It's simple enough", says Brother Carter, "Old Age Pensions plus National Assistance Board, are supposed to provide food, clothing and shelter. They may just about provide any two of them. Then one of them goes by the board, generally food."
St. Etheldreda's, although "outside the walls" as it were, is the City's proudest Catholic possession, our oldest pre-Reformation church, dating from the 13th century, and recently tastefully restored under the inspiration of a gifted artist who is a priest as well, Fr. F V. O'Malley, IC., the present parish priest of St. Etheld reda's.
He told me: "On June 24 this year we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the saying of the last Mass in old days here. Bishop Thomas Thirlby of Ely was the celebrant. He then went to jail for his Faith at Lambeth Palace", The Bishop's coat-of-arms is portrayed in the window nearest the altar on the Gospel side, and is the design of Mr. Charles Blakeman, who, incidentally, is at work preparing the great window for the back of the church, an undertaking that will cost about £8,000.
Said Fr. O'Malley: "This is the largest window in London, perhaps one of the largest in the country. It will be an English Martyrs' window, but the emphasis will be on their glory, in order to match the grandeur of the Christus Rex motif depicted so triumphantly in the marvellous window over the altar."
Sections of the new window are likely to be in place in the course of this year, and Christ, robed in red, will be shown reigning from a cross rising from the Tyburn Tree, with the Martyrs around Him.
The penal days association of Ely Place with the Spanish Embassy will be recorded in the window with the coat-of-arms of the present Ambassador who, said Fr. O'Malley, takes great interest in the project. "Terracotta statues of eight Martyrs will be set up in the empty niches on the walls of the church", he added, "for Saints John Fisher, Thomas More, the Carthusian Martyrs, and two women Martyrs as well".
While work continues to cornplete the embellishment of the Ely Place gem. Fr. O'Malley goes on being tremendously interested in schemes to adapt to church use the best ideas and materials that modern artists have discovered. He himself has been responsible for unique work at St. Bernard's Cistercian Abbey in Leicestershire. at Oxford, Llanelly, and Midhurst.