Sunday, September 11, 2011

A celebration... Maryvale for the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the present Brigettine Order. The Brigettine sisters at Maryvale are a wonderful team - they run the whole of the student accomodation and hospitality there, meals, cleaning, organising of the rooms etc - and, more importantly, are the spiritual heart of the whole place as the days begin with their prayers and the whole house is made pleasant by their kindness.

There was a beautiful Mass in the chapel by Bishop William Kenney, auxiliary in Birmingham, who was for some years a Bishop in Sweden - where of course the Brigettine Order has its roots and where he was frequently at their retreat house at Djursholm. The whole story of the Brigettines is of special interest to me as I am currently working on a biography of two of them, Mother Riccarda Hambrough and Mother Katherine Flanagan. The former was something of a heroine in Rome in World War II as she helped to hide Jewish refugees in the convent...and I have just over the past couple of days had the delight of making contact with some of her relations, who did not know about all this and are extremely interested...

It is always a joy to go to Maryvale: as a student there I feel so much at home as soon as I walk through the big gates and up the drive, past the statue of Our Lady and on to the pillared porch. The Brigettine celebration included a delicious buffet lunch laid out on a table laid with crisp white cloths caught up with scarlet ribbons, all in the lecture hall which usually features rows of desks and busy students. I stayed on in the library for a little while to tackle some emails - and will be back at Maryvale again in a short while for the start of a new term.

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