Thursday, 20 September 2012

Pilgrimage to Walsingham

I was delighted to join our friends the monks of Farnborough and His Lordship the Bishop of Lismore (New South Wales) on a day pilgrimage to Walsingham today. After the low mass of a bishop in the Slipper Chapel it was a privilege to fulfil the SSIM duties in St Mary's parish church.

All members of SSIM and friends were remembered at the feet of Our Lady. GJ

Friday, 14 September 2012

O Crux ave spes unica!

Fest of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Pope in Lebanon

We offer our prayers for the Holy Father's visit to his Apostolic Journey to this group of diverse local churches.


Vatican City, 13 September 2012 (VIS) - [Today] Benedict XVI is due to begin his twenty-fourth apostolic trip abroad, taking him to Lebanon where, in the country's capital city of Beirut on Sunday, he is due to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican in October 2010.

The name of Beirut is thought to be Canaanite in origin (bis'rot, the plural of bir meaning a well, a reference to the water tables under the city). The city is mentioned in Egyptian chronicles of the second millennium BC and became famous for the activities of Phonecian sailors and merchants. In the year 14 BC it obtained the status of Roman colony and took the name of Julia Augusta Felix Berytus. Destroyed by an earthquake and tidal wave in 551 AD, the city was in ruins when the Muslims arrived in 635. It was conquered by the Crusaders in 1110 and, following their definitive expulsion in 1229, passed under the control of the Mameluks, becoming an important regional port for the spice trade with the Italian Maritime Republics of Venice and Genoa.

The city was occupied by the Ottomans in 1516 and in subsequent centuries its population grew steadily due to its commercial importance. Following the massacres in Mount Lebanon in 1860 the city witnessed a massive influx of Christian refugees. Pacification, brought about by the Great Powers, was followed by the arrival of Protestant missionaries (from Great Britain, the United States and Germany) and Catholic missionaries (above all, from France). The American Protestants founded the American University of Beirut in 1866, while the Jesuits established the Universite Saint-Joseph in 1881. Thanks to the development of printing in Arabic, English and French, Beirut became a hub for journalism and publishing in the Arab world.

At the end of World War I, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Lebanon fell under the French mandate. It gained independence in 1943 and, thanks to a prevailing atmosphere of intellectual openness and economic liberalism, became a regional centre for trade, business, finance and tourism, gaining the sobriquet of the "Switzerland of the Middle East". The expulsion of the Palestine Liberation Organisation from Jordan in 1970 was a key moment in the country's history, as the organisation's political and military centre moved to Lebanon where it became a catalyst for the tensions between the various religious communities. The Civil War between 1975 and 1991 wreaked widespread destruction on the economy and infrastructures.

The scale of the destruction meant that the centre of the city had to be almost completely rebuilt. In the absence of an official census, it is estimated that the inhabitants of "Greater Beirut" currently number around 1.5 million, slightly less than half the population of the entire country.

Beirut has five dioceses: Beirut of the Maronites (episcopal see since 1577), an archieparchy with some 232,000 faithful under the care of Archbishop Paul Youssef Matar. Beirut of the Greek-Melkites (dating from the fourth century) and Jbeil of the Greek-Melkites (suburbicarian 1881), a metropolitan see with 200,000 faithful under Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros. Beirut of the Armenians (1928-1929), metropolitan see and patriarchal eparchy of Cilicia of the Armenians, serving 12,000 faithful and led by His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. Beirut of the Chaldeans (1957) with 19,000 faithful under Bishop Michel Kassarji. Beirut of the Syrians (1817), eparchy of the patriarchal church of Antioch of the Syrians with 14.500 faithful under the care of His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians.

The city also has one apostolic vicariate, that of Beirut of the Latins which has 10,000 faithful and the vicar of which is Archbishop Paul Dahdah O.C.D.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Waverley Abbey

Waverley was the first Cistercian Abbey in the British Isles. It was founded in 1128 and despite not being well endowed survived until it was dissolved in 1536 on the orders of the King.

We are grateful to our friends the monks of Farnborough for this picture, taken during their recent visit with some of their guests

Thursday, 6 September 2012


A number of members of SSIM and friends visited Walsingham today, accompanied by the Abbots of Farnborough and Christ in the Desert (New Mexico) and a Maronite Religious from Lebanon.

The visit included the SSIM duties in St Mary's Church, Little Walsingham, as well as on the site of the original Holy House and at the Church at Great Snoring with its marvellous medieval choir screen.

In St Mary's we were blessed to hear Frere Elie Abou Assaf sing a beautiful hymn to God the Father in syro-aramaic (very close to the language of Our Lord). In the Abbey ruins we sang the Salve Regina on the site of the Holy House.

All members of SSIM were prayed for at the feet of Our Lady.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

St Alban

A member attending a Benedictine gathering at St Alban's in Hertfordshire tells us that he performed the SSIM duties at the Cathedral there today. the Cathedral was a Benedictine Abbey until the reformation.

The Shrine of St Alban, dating back to the 13th Century contains a part of St Alban's shoulder blade, a gift from St Pantaleon's Church in Cologne in 2002. St Pantaleon is also a former Benedictine Foundation.

A further major relic (the thigh) of St Alban is preserved at St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough and was also taken from the St Pantaleon reliquary (1950s).

The cult of St Alban was noted by St Bede in 731 although he is first mentioned in literature in circa 480.

St Alban, Protomartyr of Britain; pray for us!

St John the Baptist, Stokesay, Shropshire

A member of our Chapter recently marked the feast of the Passion of St John Baptist with a visit to Stokesay. He writes:

" The church was founded in the 12th Century, largely destroyed in the maelstrom of the Civil War with Royalists and Parliamentarians shooting at each other.

The building has many hints of its former Catholic past and several pre-reformation memorials in the building and it's environs. "