English Martyrs Pilgrimage Diary 4

English Martyrs Pilgrimage Diary 4 June 9, 2015
Oxborough Hall
Oxborough Hall

Sometimes on a pilgrimage like this shepherding thirty or forty people and their luggage some stuff goes wrong. You miss a connection or someone gets lost or you could have had some details organized better. On the other hand, sometimes unexpected gifts are given. We’re still talking about the serendipitous Corpus Christi procession at Oxborough Hall and the unexpected privilege of celebrating Mass in the historic chapel. Last night we only had time for a short walk around Cambridge. We visited the oldest church in Cambridge: St Benet’s–with it’s Saxon tower arch. We then walked down past St Catherine’s College, Pembroke and Peterhouse to visit Little St Mary’s–where I used to worship and serve during my time as Chaplain at Kings’ College.

Little St Mary’s is famous for being the Church where metaphysical poet Richard Crashaw was an Anglican curate before he converted to the Catholic Church. He ended up in Loreto where he was appointed a canon before his early death. He was a canon guardian of the Holy House at Loreto, and one wonders if he ever made the connection with the much more ancient Holy House at Walsingham. Crashaw’s Catholic poetry is sublime and mystical. His poem “Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice” is set to music by Gerald Finzi.

This morning we motored to Stratford on Avon while Joseph Pearce lectured on the evidence for Shakespeare being a Catholic. Once there we visited the house of John Shakespeare where William was born. This is the house where a Catholic “living will” for John Shakespeare was discovered during renovation work. We also visited Shakespeare’s school and the Guild Chapel where John Shakespeare presided as mayor. At each place “Shakespeare the Catholic” was unheard of or ignored. In Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptized and buried there was only the slightest trace of the evidence for Shakespeare the Catholic where the information board stated that there was “some confusion about where he was married.” In fact he was married at an outlying village church where the priest was known to be a Catholic sympathizer.


In the afternoon people had free time to enjoy the shops and a beautiful cool summer day in Stratford before heading to the hotel and then straight out to the theater. I went with a group to see Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta at the Swan while the others went with Joseph to see Othello at the main playhouse.  Tomorrow we head off to Oxford where, after saying Mass at the Oxford Oratory I will leave the group and head to Italy for a week of vacation.

One of the most impressive things about this pilgrimage to England…

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