...on a bitterly cold January day, and a group of students from the St Patrick's Evangelisation School. We were on a Catholic History Walk, and took in Traitor's Gate and Tower Hill...the latter has a plaque marking the site where so many people were exceuted over the centuries - among them John Fisher and Thomas More, of course - and also the great Memorial Garden dedicated to the men of the Merchant Navy who lost their lives in both World Wars and have no grave but the sea. Panel after panel of names, hundreds and hundreds of them. There are scarlet poppies and small memorial crosses tucked into some of the panels, evidently placed there on November 11th and now damp and weathered by the winter's snow and rain.
I was impressed by the young team from St Patrick's, members of which came from China, Germany, and the USA as well as Britain. Their coursework is linked to Maryvale and a couple mentioned the possibility of going on to study at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Signs of hope flourishing in the Church for today and tomorrow.
Earlier, I had paced out the route, and dropped into St Margaret Patten's church, where I happened to meet the vicar. He was extremely kind, and arranged to meet us as we arrived, talked to us about the church's history and allowed the girls to try on a pair of 200-year-old pattens. We finished by praying the Lord's Prayer together and he suggested that we each say it in our own language - a moving and memorable experience in this fine old church.
We finished on the steps of St Paul's. I felt suddenly very middle-aged as I recalled watching the Royal Wedding procession almost 30 years ago in a very different Britain.