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In 597, Pope Gregory the Great sent to England the monk Augustine and a group of forty fellow monks of the Lateran monastery in Rome. King Ethelbert invited them all to Canterbury, the chief city of his kingdom, and Augustine built an oratory nearby. Through his preaching he converted to Christianity many of the islanders and even the king, to the great joy of the king’s Christian wife, Bertha.


Gregory ordered Augustine consecrated a bishop, founded the See of Canterbury, gave him the use of the pallium and the power to establish a hierarchy in England. Augustine underwent many exhausting labours for Christ.


He placed Mellitus in charge of the church in London, Justus in charge of the church of Rochester, and Lawrence in charge of his own church. He at last died on the seventh of the Calends of June, and was buried in the monastery of St Peter. After this, the monastery became the burial place of the bishops of Canterbury and a number of kings.


O God, who graciously enlightened the English peoples with the light of the true faith by the preaching and miracles of blessed Augustine, your Confessor and Bishop, grant, through his intercession, that the hearts of those who have strayed may return to the unity of the true faith and that we may be in harmony with your will. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964


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God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling. Therefore, my God, I will put myself without reserve into Your hands. What have I in heaven, and apart from You what do I want upon earth? My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the God of my heart, and my portion for ever. Amen.
– Bl. John Henry Newman


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Edward, called the Confessor, nephew of St Edward, king and Martyr, was he last of the Anglo-Saxon kings. When he was ten years old, the Danes, who were then devastating England, sought him out to kill him. He was forced to flee into exile to the court of his uncle, the Duke of Normandy, where his innocence of life won the admiration of all.


The tyrants who robbed his brothers of their lives and their kingdom were eventually overthrown, and Edward was recalled to his country. There he devoted himself to removing all traces of havoc wrought by the enemy, beginning with the sacred temples of God.


He was famous for the gift of prophecy and foresaw much of England’s future history by divine inspiration. He had a very special devotion to St John the Evangelist, and on the day predicted by that saint, he died a most holy death, namely on the Nones of January, in the year of salvation 1066. Pope Alexander III enrolled him among the saints.


O God, who crowned blessed King Edward with the glory of eternity, grant us, we beseech you, so to venerate him on earth that we may be worthy to reign with him in heaven. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964


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A prediction which Dominic Savio made about England: The message was relayed to Pope Pius IX by St John Bosco.

Dominic Savio was born in 1842 and died in 1857, a month before his fifteenth birthday. He was declared a Venerable in 1933 and was beatified in 1951.

Dominic told Don Bosco several times that he wished he could see the Pope. Don Bosco asked him why.

“If I could only talk to the Holy Father,” Dominic replied, “I would tell him that in spite of the great trials which he has to suffer at present, he should not lose heart in his solicitude for England. God is preparing a great triumph for Catholicism in that country.”

“What makes you say such a thing?” questioned Don Bosco.

“I’ll tell you,” replied the boy, “but don’t mention it to the others or they might think it foolish. But if you go to Rome tell Pius IX for me. This is why I think so. One morning, during my thanksgiving after Communion, I had a distraction, which was strange for me. I thought I saw a great stretch of country covered in a thick for, and it was filled with many people. They were moving about, but like men not sure where to put their feet. Somebody nearby said, ‘This is England.’ I was just about to question the man when I saw His Holiness, Pius IX, as I had seen him in pictures. He was richly dressed and carried a bright torch with which he approached the multitude, as if to enlighten their darkness. As he drew near, the torch seemed to disperse the fog, and the people were left in broad daylight. ‘This torch,’ said the man near me, ‘is the Catholic religion, which is to illumine England.’ ”

Don Bosco told the Pope about the incident in 1858. The Holy Father said: “What you have told me confirms me in my resolution to do all that is possible for England, which has long been the object of my special care. What you have related is, to put it at its lowest estimation, the counsel of a devout soul.”


It was Pope Pius IX who had re-established the hierarchy in England in 1850, after a lapse of 300 years.

In 1852, Dr John Henry Newman, later Cardinal, delivered his famous sermon in which he referred to the restoration of the Church in England as “The Second Spring”. In the course of the sermon he said: “Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come. It is time for thy Visitation. Arise, Mary, and go forth in thy strength to that north country, which once was thy own, and take possession of a land which knows thee not. Arise, Mother of God, and with thy thrilling voice speak to those who labour with child, and are in pain, till the babe of grace leaps within them. Shine on us, dear Lady, with thy bright countenance, like the sun in his strength, O stella maturing, O harbinger of peace, till our year is one perpetual May. From thy sweet eyes, from thy pure smile, from thy majestic brow, let ten thousand influences rain down, not to confound or overwhelm, but to persuade, to win over thine enemies. O Mary, my hope, Mother undefiled, fulfil to us the promise of this Spring.”


When Newman preached his sermon, The Second Spring, in 1852, the position of the Church was just beginning to improve after centuries of suppression. The Church in England has had a remarkable growth since then. Some authorities say that one Englishman out of every ten today is a Catholic, although it is impossible to secure exact figures. If we count only practicing members, the Catholic Church is the largest religious body in England today, larger even than the Church of England. In the past century Catholics have wielded an influence out of proportion to their numbers. Newman has enriched our spiritual life and our literature. Chesterton has trumpeted merry defiance to modern paganism. Bellow, Knox, and many others have given us cause to be grateful. Three of the most prominent of all living novelists – Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and Bruce Marshal – are British Catholics. Yes, England is having its Second Spring. Throughout the country devotion to the Blessed Mother has spread greatly. This is true not only among Catholics, but among Anglicans and other Protestants as well. For centuries our Lady was virtually exiled from England, but that is true no longer.

“When England goes back to Walsingham, our Lady will come back to England.” England, it would appear, is well on its way back to Walsingham. We may hope that under our Lady’s guidance and protection England’s Second Spring will soon give way to full summer.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954



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In the eleventh century, five years before the Norman Conquest, there lived in the little village of Walsingham, England, a pious widow, Richeldis de Faverches. One day, according to the ancient tradition, Richeldis had a vision in which the Blessed Virgin took her to Nazareth and showed her the Holy House of the Annunciation. It was here that the Angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God. In this house the Holy Family had lived until our Lord was ready to begin His public life. The vision was repeated three times. Each time, our Lady told Richeldis to note carefully the dimensions of the little house so she could build a replica of it on her estate of Walsingham.

Richeldis hastened to obey. Acting under her instruction, a group of workmen built a house similar to the one she had seen in her vision. After the house was constructed, Richeldis did not know where she should put it. Then she received what she considered a sign from heaven. A heavy fall of dew soaked the meadow where Richeldis had planned to put the house, but two small rectangles were left dry.

It was decided to erect a stone foundation on one of these rectangles. Try as they might, however, the workmen could not make the foundation fit the house. They worked all day and at night went home “all sorry and sad.” Richeldis spent the entire night praying that the difficulties might be solved and the shrine erected.

The next morning Richeldis and the workmen found that the house had been moved more than 200 feet to the other space and was on a stone foundation. Thus, says the legend, England received its most celebrated shrine.


There is a great similarity between the story of Walsingham in England and that of Loreto in Italy. The Holy House of Loreto is said to be the very house in which our Lady lived, while the house at Walsingham was a replica of it. The house at Loreto was said to have been moved by the angels from Nazareth to various parts of Italy until it took up its present location. The house at Walsingham was moved 200 feet.

Of the two legends, that of Walsingham is the older. The date given for the foundation of Loreto is 1291, that for Walsingham is 1061. The first written record of the Loreto tradition dates from 1472; that of Walsingham from 1465. Walsingham therefore was not a copy of Loreto. For at least two centuries before Loreto was heard of, thousands of pilgrims were making their way to Walsingham, or New Nazareth as it was called. Whether or not these legends are true, there is no doubt of the sanctity of both shrines nor of the number of miracles and favours granted there.

Richeldis died, and her son, before going off on one of the Crusades, put the house, which had by then become a shrine, under the protection of the Canons of St Augustine. This was a religious order which has since become extinct. The canons built a large church around the house, and they erected many other buildings. There was also a hospice for sick pilgrims. The roads to the great shrine were marked by wayside crosses. There were also a number of wayside chapels at which the pilgrims stopped to pray. Among the thousands who made the pilgrimage to Walsingham were many kings and queens of England. Nobles vied with each other in making generous donations to the shrine. Such was the love Englishmen had for our Blessed Mother in medieval times.

New Nazareth became known throughout all Christian Europe. Because of it, England was called “the Holy Land, Our Lady’s Dowry.”


King Henry VIII at first had great devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He made a pilgrimage to Walsingham, walking the last mile barefooted in the snow. He also made many generous donations to the shrine. When he broke with Rome in order to take a new wife, he had the buildings razed. So the shrine was destroyed after being in existence almost 500 years. An anonymous sixteenth-century author wrote this Lament Over Walsingham:

Bitter bitter Oh to behold the grass to grow

Where the walls of Walsingham so stately did show;

Such were the works of Walsingham while she did stand:

Such are the wrecks as now do show of that holy land.

Level level with the ground the towers do lie

Which their golden glittering tops pierced once the sky…

Weep weep O Walsingham whose days and nights

Blessings turned to blasphemies holy deeds to dispites,

Sin is where Our Lady sat Heaven turned to Hell,

Satan sits where our Lord did sway, Walsingham O farewell.

As England became more firmly Protestant the memory of Walsingham faded from the minds of most men, but not all. Among those who cherished the tradition of Walsingham there was a saying: “When England goes back to Walsingham, our Lady will come back to England.” That day, however, seemed very remote.


In the nineteenth century there was a reawakened interest in medieval times. Men began digging in the ruins of old churches and abbeys. England was rediscovering its Catholic past. Along with this came the Oxford Movement and its numerous conversions of prominent Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church. Outstanding among these converts was John Henry Newman, later Cardinal Newman.

Excavations were made on the site of the old shrine. Remains were found which tallied with ancient descriptions. A pilgrim’s badge was unearthed. Catholics began to yearn for a return to Walsingham, but such a return seemed impossible. All the land that had once belonged to the shrine now belonged to non-Catholics. There was, in fact, not a single Catholic resident in the village of Walsingham.

It was decided to build a shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham at the parish church of King’s Lynn, some miles away. A statue blessed by Pope Leo XIII was enshrined in the new sanctuary on August 19, 1897.

Most of the wayside shrines had been destroyed, but one of the most important ones was still standing. This was St Catherine’s Chapel, which had popularly been known as the Slipper Chapel. This was the last chapel on the way to Walsingham. Here pilgrims stopped to remove their shoes or slippers in order to walk the last Holy Mile in their bare feet.

The Slipper Chapel was built in the middle of the fourteenth century and is a gem of Gothic architecture. It is built in such a way that the sun rises behind the east window on the feast of St Catherine, according to the old-style calendar. The chapel is small, measuring only 28 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 5 inches.

After the destruction of the shrine proper, the Slipper Chapel was no longer needed. For a time it was used as a forge, then as a poorhouse, and finally as a barn in which cows were kept.

About 1894 this chapel was discovered by an Anglican woman, Miss Charlotte Boys. She wished to purchase it and to restore it. While negotiations were going on, she received the gift if faith. She completed the purchase and employed a noted architect to do the work of restoration. In 1897, the day after the inauguration of the shrine at King’s Lynn, Walsingham had its first official pilgrimage since the Reformation. The Slipper Chapel, the entrance to the Holy Land of Walsingham, was reopened and in Catholic hands after a lapse of three and a half centuries.

The Slipper Chapel was made a shrine in 1934. From that time pilgrimages have been made from every part of England. Many people travel on foot from London, 117 miles away. In 1938, the fourth centenary of the desecration of Walsingham, Cardinal Hinsley led the gigantic pilgrimage of Catholic youth to the Slipper Chapel…

Little by little, England is returning to Walsingham.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954


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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Devotions, Prayers to Our Lady


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Now join in hearty chorus while I sing my homely rhyme,

And you shall hear how things went on in good old Catholic time,

When England was a merry land, her sons were brave and free,

And innocence kept company with mirth and jollity.

Chorus: And thus they pass’d a merry time, as ev’ry one may know, when our old Catholic Fathers lived a long time ago.

For what concerned a man’s belief there needed no great search,

They knew but one high road to Heav’n, and that was thro’ the Church,

A Church that priz’d the humble man, and held him full as dear

As those of high and noble blood, with all their costly gear.


Then ev’ry man profess’d himself the Church’s faithful son,

And fearlessly she taught them all their duties ev’ry one,

With tender hearts for brethren poor, with free and open hand,

A noble and frank respect for the gentry of the land.


They knelt beneath the self-some roof and said the self-some prayer,

And all alike, both rich and poor, could meet as brothers there,

For ev’ry place was free to all of high or low degree,

They felt at home as children do around their mother’s knee.


And when they heard the ‘Angelus Bell’ ring over hill and dale

The blacksmith stopp’d his hammer and the thresher stopp’d his flail,

They doff’d their caps and cross’s their breasts with meek and pious care,

And never thought a moment lost when spent in fervent prayer.


Full well the homeless wand’rer knew he had not long to wait,

If he could but contrive to reach the nearest convent gate;

The trav’ler worn was welcom’d there with kindly Christian glee,

And cheerful monks perform’d the rites of hospitality.


They lov’d their Pope, they lov’d their King, they lov’d their freedom too,

Their hands were quick for action and their hearts were staunch and true,

They dearly lov’d their merry land, its customs and its laws,

Right glad to fight for England’s flag and bleed for England’s cause.


Then happy both for high and low shall be the moment when

We see in this our merry land those bright days come again;

And if we strive to live the life our fathers lived of yore,

Old England once again may be what England was before.

Chorus: Oh! then we’ll pass a merry time, as ev’ry one may know, when our old Catholic Fathers lived a long time ago.

– From the time when the Catholic Faith was outlawed in England (18th century), Broughton Charitable Society, published in Dom F. O.Blundell O.S.B., Old Catholic Lancashire, Vol. 1, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., London, 1925


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St Hugh of Lincoln, Memorial: November 16

“A leading figure in the 12th century proto-Renaissance, Hugh of Lincoln has enjoyed a spectacular historical decline, going from being one of the most famous saints in English history at one point to a virtual unknown today.

He was born in Avalon in Southern France around 1135. His father was the local lord and soldier, who later retired to a monastery near Grenoble.

Hugh’s mother died when he was sent to boarding school, becoming a religious novice at 15 and a deacon four years later.

In 1159, Hugh was sent to a nearby Benedictine monastery in Saint-Maximin, after which he left the order to enter the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the Carthusian order, just outside Grenoble.

A famously austere environment

In this famously austere environment he rose to become procurator, before being sent to With am Charterhouse priory in Somerset, the first of the Carthusian houses in England.

At the time, the kingdom was part of the Anjevin Empire of Henry II, who, despite introducing the jury system, is probably best remembered for the murder of St Thomas Becket, by four knights. As part of his penance Henry established a Carthusian charterhouse (it was either that or go on crusade).

Riddled with problems

The project was riddled with the sort of problems that afflict building work, with one prior having to retire and the second dying soon after. It was at this point that Hugh was called for to sort things out. Eventually, after some string-pulling, Hugh got the things fixed, and in January 1182 a charter of foundation was endowed. Four years later he ran the house, attracting many recruits and visitors, including the king.

Then, in 1186, he was chosen as Bishop of Lincoln, a role in which he excelled. Generous and kind to his flock, he was also firm in standing up to the Crown. He also helped to improve education in the country and protected the Jews of Lincoln during the persecution that begun during the Lionheart’s reign.

He also rebuilt Lincoln Cathedral, which had been damaged in 1186, and consecrated St Giles’s in Oxford in 1200. But he was also overworked, taking on the thankless task of being a diplomat for the new king, Richard’s appalling brother, John, and he died on November 16 1200.

Canonised 20 years later, St Hugh was very well known in the later medieval period but became less so after the Reformation.

He is the patron of sick children, shoemakers and swans.”

– This article was published in the Catholic Herald newspaper, issue November 14 2014. For subscriptions please visit (external link)



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