Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Martyrs' Walk: a HUGE success!!!...

...a good crowd gathered at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, near the Old Bailey, site of Newgate Prison where so many martyrs were imprisoned in the 16th and 17th centuries...and we walked together along the route to Tyburn. It was a warm sunny Sunday afternoon, but with enough of a light breeze to be cool and pleasant enough for walking.

We started with a short historical talk and then prayers led by Fr Nicoletti, of the Miles Jesu movement, which is organising the Walk and other linked events. We had prayers at the church of Sts Anselm and Cecilia in Holborn,where we were warmly welcomed by Father David Barnes. The sound of a large congregation singing "Ave, ave, ave Maria" was impressive and moving...

At the (Anglican) church of St Giles-in-the-Fields we were again most warmly welcomed and the verger there brought greetings from Mgr Stark of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, who brought the Tyburn Walk along this route for so many years...a good ecumenical friendship had evidently developed there, and we are glad and honoured to carry on the tradition.

The route to Tyburn is not that long - about three or four miles - but is complicated because Oxford Street is impassable now on Sundays as all the shops are open and it is jammed with people. We therefore had to detour after St Giles, and make our way via various side streets to a parallel road. The group - which as indicated was large - inevitably broke up into smaller bunches, one of which (led by me!) got muddled after Soho Square...we had gathered there after a detour made necessary by massive roadworks around the back of St Patrick's church, and then took a wrong turning - we were recued by a member of the party who had a map and a good knowledge of London...but even after that some marchers went confidently off in the wrong direction, and I had to stand at a crossroad and bellow out " Tyburn Walkers! ABOUT TURN!", across the noise of the traffic: what a relief when the column heard and obeyed instructions...I was suddenly reminded of the description - recently revived because of the 70th anniversary - of the General at the evactuation of Dunkirk who, as the last boat was leaving, went up and down the beaches with a loud hailer calling out "Is anybody there?" to ensure that every last straggler got home safely...

At Tyburn we had Benediction - again a great roar of voices singing, and repeating the Divine Praises with vigour: "Blessed be God. Blessed be his holy name...". We were too many for the chapel and even its gallery and all available standing-space so the sisters opened up the gates and we poured into their own choir-stalls too...later there was a magnificent Tea...the Mother Superior had said "You'll all be hungry. We'll provide a good High Tea, and it certainly was splendidly High, with sandwiches and rolls and cakes and buns and big teapots generously poured and poured again for thirsty walkers.

Huge thanks to Bryan and Jayne Lock, principal organisers of the event, to Brad Poore who came over specially from Rome, to Fr Nicoletti - a splendid New York priest currently working in Ukraine - who after the long walk skipped Tea to hear confessions in the chapel...

And to the wonderful American couple who spontaneously invited the organising team back to their home in Pimlico for what proved to be a wonderful, laughter-filled, relaxation after the long day, filled also with good plans for next year...

A good day. Honour to the Martyrs who went along the route to Tyrburn with such great suffering, and passed on to us the heritage of faith that we hold today, and which, please God, we will never lose...

4 comments:

pelerin said...

Grateful thanks to all those who organised the walk this year and special thanks to the nuns for the most welcome refreshments offered.

It was interesting to read about the wrong turnings. I took the decision to carry on down Oxford Street as I knew that if I lost sight of those in front I would be totally lost in unknown streets whereas Oxford street is straight. It is impossible to get lost and after all it is the Way of the Martyrs. Yes there are many people there but it is not impossible to negociate singly or in twos or threes and I arrived at the Convent in a threesome before 5 pm. I did not wish to miss the opportunity of being able to sing 'Faith of our Fathers' and knew from previous walks that this meant being among the first to arrive.

St John Fisher and St Thomas More pray for us.

nazareth priest said...

I have a "holy" jealousy here!
How I wish I could have joined you...the English Martyrs are most dear to me.
I was with you in spirit.
It all sounds most moving and wonderful.
Prayers from "across the pond". FrJM

H. Ledger said...

Dear Auntie Joanna, Glad the walk was such a success. The poster for it I passed around to various people and priests. Hope the route detouring part of Oxford Street can be worked out for next year's walk.

Henry Ledger

Shepherd said...

The pub alongside St Giles Chutch is The Angel, known in Reformation times as The Resurrection Gate and the last stopping off point for the martyrs en route to Tyburn.
Allegedly, it is the source of the saying "one for the road" (meaning Tyburn Road, now Oxford Street. This was the last drink of the carters (or martyrs).