Friday, August 29, 2008

Mary visits the Abbey at Echourgnac in the Dordogne

On the 21st novembrer 1852 eight nuns and novices left the Abbey of Vaise in Lyons and arrived in Espira de l’Agly (Pyr-Or) The new religious order with the name Our Lady of the Angels prospered, built a church and built an abbey which was consecrated by his Eminence Cardinal Desprez Archbishop of Toulouse on 29th November 1883. In 1904 after the severe and repressive French laws banned all religious orders from teaching and social work, they were themselves suppressed on the 4th October and expelled from their abbey, seized by the government, just has English Abbeys 350 years earlier.Many Northern French religious orders helped with the reestablishment of the Church in Wales England, and Monmouthshire benefited from the nuns from Saint Brieux. As St Brioc had travelled to Gaul (Northern France0 to the town named after him, the nuns came to found convents all over Gwent with the powerful help and support of Lady Llanover. Pontypool, Usk, Abergavenny, and Monmouth all benefitted from their help . However this community travelled to Spain over the border, where they travelled to Herrera, an ancient Cistercian Abbey in the diocese of Burgos (on the Camino of St James)until 1923, when the repressive laws against the religious orders were repealed and it was possible to return to France. The government had already sold the Abbey at Espira de l’Agly, so the nuns had to re-install themselves in the Diocese of Perigeux and received from the government the Abbey founded in 1868 by the Trappist Cistercians of Our Lady of Port de Salut (Mayenne), which had been abandoned by them in 1910. Many of these nunneries and abbeys were schools and when the right to teach was withdrawn the brothers and sisters became destitute and had to leave. Here, however, the sisters formed their new home under the protection of Our Lady of Good Hope. They continue their prayers here and live their life of Sacrifice for the Glory of God and the Salvation of Souls. ------------------------- The number of nuns here has grown to 30 and in recent years a splendid retreat house has been built where frequent retreats and conferences have been held. Although the nuns are enclosed, there is a beautiful church and the picture of Our Lady of Good Hope.The church services are all open the public and the gift shop open every morning from 10-12-30and afternoon from 2.30 to 5. The Abbey is to be found in the Dordogne, south of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne and St Aulaye. The singing of the sisters was extraordinarily sweet and I attended and filmed Nones a fifteen minute dedication at 2.15pm.You need to take your own picnic lunch to eat in the glorious grounds if you are making a short day visit.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mary of Monmouth's Trip to France and Encounters with St James!

I returned from France in the early hours of yesterday, and arriving at London Stansted ,decided to visit England's nNtional Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Living in the West of England and Wales, this is a very long hourney and having a complete day at my disposal, I thought I would pay a visit and managed to join a pilgrimage from Pontefract, and went to Mass at the Slipper Chapel. More of that anon in a separate post.


My sister has a property in Montboyer near Chalais and this is directly couth of Angouleme and on the way to Chalais and thence to Aubeterre and Sainte Aulaye and this forms part of the Tours Route (from Paris and Chartres) of the Mediaeval St James Way.

O Camino de Santiago-Le Chamin de Saint Jaques

I have mentioned two sites connected to St James in Monmouthshire- Saint James at Langua, which has an enormous statue of the Saint in the Church, although frequent rebuilding has perhaps eliminated the track of earlier pilgrimages and the amazing church at Orchard St James near the main A48 going to Gloucester from Tewkesbury. Most interesting were the carvings near the door of the pilgrims, who came from Mid and North Wales. Because at this period, Wales and England formed part ofte European wide Catholic Church all of whom hoped to travel to the great sites of pilgrimage in Europe, and called upon all the St James dedicated Churches en route.

This is a very informative stie:-

Aungouleme Cathedral with its absolutely magnificent facade can be googled all over, but the smaller sites from this wonderful Cathedral down to St Aulaye are interesting too.

According to this tradition St. James the Greater, having preached Christianity in Spain, returned to Judea and was put to death by order of Herod; his body was miraculously translated to Iria Flavia in the northwest of Spain, and later to Compostela, which town, especially during the Middle Ages, became one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in the world. The vow of making a pilgrimage to Compostela to honour the sepulchre of St. James is still reserved to the pope, who alone of his own or ordinary right can dispense from it. In the twelfth century was founded the Order of Knights of St. James of Compostela.

Relics at Toulouse and Compostela (Not unusual)

According to another tradition, the relics of the Apostle are kept in the church of St-Saturnin at Toulouse (France), but it is not improbable that such sacred relics should have been divided between two churches. A strong argument in favour of the authenticity of the sacred relics of Compostela is the Bull of Leo XIII, "Omnipotens Deus," of 1 November, 1884.

English Routes

Generally the English would have taken the sea route to Corunna and gone from there. However another English route runs from Bordeaux , where English and generally British pilgrims did the sea voyage. Others travelled to Paris and down through Chartres and Tours, Angouleme and visited the sites mentioned, curiously now full of English and Welsh settlers in this beautiful part of France.

My sister and Brother in Law live in a small estate just outside Montboyer, whose little Church, also on the route is dedicated to St Martial of Limoges. Curiously monks from Limoge used to live here in a building still called the monastery.

I had never heard of St Martial,but here is something about him.

St Martial

Under the Emperors Decius and Gratius (250-251 CE), Pope Fabian sent out seven bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Gatien to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont, and Martial to Limoges.

Martial quickly became a beloved Bishop of Limoges, dedicating himself to evangelising the Faith and caring for the poor. In this new religion still prone to occasional persecutions and dangers, St Marial thoroughly established the Faith in Limoges and the surrounding countryside, the monks founding churches and evangelising among the people, providing healing, apothecary services for pain relievef, orphanages, doles for the poor, and corrodies-services for the elderly. They were compelled to this by the law of Christ to works of Mercy, Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison etc.

St Martial's Abbey- A Pilgrimage Site

Martial was buried outside the Roman town, and as his tomb became progressively more important as a pilgrimage site, the monks found patronage in the Benedictine order in the 9th century. The site became the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Martial, a great library (second only to the library at Cluny) and scriptorium. The 12th-century chronicler Geoffroy du Breuil of Vigeois worked in its library.[2]
The abbaye de Saint-Martial, one of the great pilgrimage churches of western Christianity, was so thoroughly razed in the 19th century, that only the scattered manuscripts of its library remain. Some of the abbey's library had been bought for Louis XV and have come to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The original crypt was exhumed in 1966–1970. Twelve Romanesque carved capitals were discovered built into the foundations of a barn and purchased in 1994 for the Museum of the Bishopric of Limoges.

St Martial's reputation for a greatly loved Saint of Limoges has been perpetuated with his inclusion in the town crest of Limoges.

The little Churh in Montboyer is a small part of this larger enterprise.


I hope eventually to have images of the inside of the church, and the facade, but did not have a car on my recent excursion.

La Chapelle des Templiers in Cressac (near Banzac)

This is an incredible place to visit and is south east of Angouleme.

At the side of the Church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but used and maintained by a Protestant sect, you can still see the stone on the North Side, and the imprint of the many hands placed there through the centuries by the pilgrims on St James Camino.We visited in the 'opening hours' between 3 and 6pm in the months of August(view by appointment 05 45 64 07 31 or 06 60 83 92 12.

The Secret Chapel

After the supressions of the Templars and their cruel and unjust executions. the church was used as a barn by local farmers. In fact theur remained undiscovered all through the 30 Years Wars of Religion and 1900 supression, until one day, a visitor notices bright colours and that on the wall were surprising and vibrant frescoes of an attack on the Muslims who had overrun the Holy Land. Like comic strips all along the wall the story is that of the Templar attack on Krak (Castle Stronghold of the 12th century crusaders in Syria) and the victory in 1163 of the Crusaders over Atabeck at Alep.

Remember we have yet to relate on M in M about how Catholics in Monmouthshire and Gwent were recruited to the Cause of defending the Holy PLaces. Gerald the Welshman travelled right through Wales raising men and money for the campaign and it is possible that these may have contained men from Gwent.

Be sure to visit this amazing shrine, especially if you are doing the Camino.

Saint Jaques at Aubeterre

It was good to see such a tidy and well used church, with a very early facade. This Church also had a nearby priory and pilgrimage centre and a Hospital as you would expect for sick pilgrims, seeking healing. This was the Saint Fracois Hospital (named after Francis of Assissi). Good to see the cloister still used by nuns.

As you enter Saint James (Saint Jaques) you have to notice the large original facade. It is all that remains of the original church of St James in this very pretty market town, and dates from 12 th century-(11 hundred and something)There are three tiers and it is all that was left after the Wars of Religion destroyed the rest of the church between 13, and 14th May in 1562, when Hugenot Protestants attacked it. The church in existance now was rebuilt in 1710. The bell tower was constructed from the ancient stone and dates from 1860.

Restoration of the Facade

This 12th century facade was restored in 1979 and 1985 and 1993. It redeveloped the faceade to its ancient height of 18 metres 40 .

The Romanwsque style doorway is of enormous symmetry and beauty and has 3 arcades and there ae many small animals carver there.

The second Tier is charged with Christian symbolism and shows six signs of the zodiac-and this shows the destruction of the other six on the right hand side.

Taurus-The Bull- a man on ia orse being pushed by a bull!for example.

The NExt Tier

Shows sculture of the Twelve Apostles.The central celles for the round window.

The Highest Tier

This shows a man on horseback, possibly Emperor Constantine, or Charlemagne or even St James, but he is not normally shown to be on a horse.

In several places on the facade you can see the shell of St James depicted.

Behind the facade you can see how old it is.

Interesting Artefacts

It is quite a steep climb and if you do go to visit, get someone to drop you outside. Entering down, there is a sturdy bannister and the first thing which strikes you is the amazing facade. Many of these still exist in English cathedrals, but the fact this was an important church is obvious.


Statues of St Mary of Aubeterre

As you enter the church. you notice a modern stained glass window, which is quite colourful in 1970's style, but there is a semicircular staircase leading down, and to the right a truly lovely statue of Our Lady in front of which three Candles were burning. It lit some more and made my own petitions. This statue is very beautiful, although no attempt has been made so far to restore its colouring. She carries the Christ Child in her right hand and it seems that she was carved from stone at the clos of the sixteenth century (15 something)and was placed in a niche. Seemingly she will have been 'rescued' during the Wars of Religion a' and replaced later.


These are on either side of a 'Peace Altar'. Indeed the other Church of Saint John, carved out of stone on the side of the mountain also suffered a great deal in these times and of course at the time of the Revolution.There was a further persecution by the French government at the opening of the twentieth century. The church has been taking a long while to recover, yet Monmouthshire benefitted from the large number of Nuns who came to work in convents in Gwent in the 19th century, called the 'Daughters of the Holy Spirit' whose work reestablished the Catholic church in large areas of Gwent, partuclarly Monmouth, Pontypool, Usk and further afield in Brecon and Abersytwyth. Must be the Will of God.They returned to Wales from St Brieux, as it was Brioc or Trioc (to whom the Benedictine Priory Church at Malpas was dedicated) who brought the Gospel to Gaul from Wales, and lived for a whil;e on St Tecla's Island off Chepstow.Another name for him was Saint Briavel.

Ancient Relics

Behind a pillar at St Jaques is a Reliquary from glass in which ancient relics are displayed. They are defended by a grille, and this makes photography difficult, but there does seem to be a relic (of St James?) a crucifix and various other artefacts from earlier times. I did the best I could, but as it was also poorly lit, I was not very successful. It is possible there is a relic for veneration as some of St James' bones were held at Toulouse.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel

was lovely, brightly coloured statue of Our Lady, more modern but very lovely and two angels in alabaster kneeling towards the Tabernacle. This is a box or tent for carrying the consecrated wafers of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In earlier times of persecution, they often were tents and boxes, as they needed (like the ark of the Covenant) to be removed to places of safety. IN most churches, however they are part of the High Altar and a sanctuary lamp is kept burning, to show the presence of the Lord. The Earliest Christians were convinced of the Eucharistic Feast being the actual real Presence of Christ, as the Apostles taught it to their students.

For St James Feast Day 25th July
(old Calendar)


sanctifiez et proteger votre peuple, alfin qu'aide par la'ssistance de votre Apotre
saint Jaques, il vous soit agreable par la regiement de sa vie, et vous serve dans un parfaite tranquillite d'esprit.


que la glorieux martyre de saint Jaques, votre apotre, vous rende agreable les onblations de votre peuple, et que son intercession vous les fasse agreer , n'etant pas dignes de vous par nos propres merites.

Aidez nous, s'il vout plait par l'intercession de votre apotre Saint Jaques, en la fete duquel nous avons recu avex joie vos saintes mysteres.

And these are identiacal prayers to ours!Just in French.

I shall post more details of the Camino in France tomorrow, then my visit to the Abbey at La Trappe, and then finish with my pilgrimage to Walsingham.Keep reading Mary in Monmouth-and Keep Praying!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Podcast and Photos from St Winifred's Well

Just now, I have uploaded an spisode of Mary and Monmouth-free from iTunes which was a soundseeing tour of the pilgrimage to the grave at Welsh Newton of St John Kemble as posted yesterday, Read the blog and you can join in!!! If you have not downloaded a podcast before

Go to iTunes and download it free from the Apple site (click 'download')
Then after clicking set up to set up iTunes click iTunes Store
Tyoe in 'Mary in Monmouth' to the right hand window
Sign comes up with my spisode Click 'subscribe'.
The computer will save all the episodes to 'podcasts' and you can then clcik on episodes in which you are interested. is the email address.

Here is a post from Shaun about the Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to St Winefride's Well in Holywell in Fflint.


Interesting pics!!!

You will have to cut and paste this into the browser as the link does not work.

Most Blessed St John Kemble-beloved priest and Martyr

This was a good day out as always, although I could not go back for Benediction at St Mary's Church Monmouth. My knee injury made it difficult even to walk to the preaching cross and grave of St John Kemble and I was unable to find a parking place close enough to St Mary's to get in. However, the 'main part' was achieved successfully.

All of us met at the leafy gates of St Mary the Virgin (a thirteenth century church, now Anglican-with the permission of the vicar) and Father Nicholas of Monmouth began to intone the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. As we began to meditate on the Resurrection of Christ and his ascension, the final mysteries pointed us to the Book of Revolation and the life of the world to come. Gradually we walked up, past the church and towards the preaching cross in the churchyard. The mysteries ended by then and a homily was given after a reading from the Holy Scriptures.(St John)

The Gospel

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said "Father pray not only for these but for those also who through their words will believe in thee, may they all be one. Father, may they be one in us as you are in me and I am in you so that the the world may believe it was you who sent me. I have given them the glory you gave to me so they may be One as we are one. with me and them and you and me we may be so completely One that they may realise that it was you who sent me, that I loved them as much as you loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am so that they may always see the glory you have given me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Father, Righteous One the world has not known you, but I have known you and these have known that you have sent me. I have made your Name known to them, and will continue to make it known so that the Love with which you loved me may be in them and so that I may be in them".

The Martyrs

The gospel, taken from the Last Supper reading emphasisises Communion. We are all part of the Communion of the Body of Christ and father Nicholas explained that the thing about the Martyrs is that they gave their lives to strengthen that communion. We speak about the precious gift of Faith which is passed on to us for the generations of people who have lived in and died for the faith. The very word 'Chuch' means 'belonging to the Lord' and extends the mystery of Our Lord's saving love for us through Space and Time. We are joined to the Lord through space and time with the saints and martyrs and particularly St John Kemble, who has a special place in the Church. It was summed up for Fr Nicholas in the first tradition of the early church- that the only Apostle who was not martyred in the early church, was the only one who was with Jesus at the foot of the Cross-possible John himself went to Western Asia Minor to Smyrna and who taught a little boy called Polycarp a name which means 'much fruit'.Polycarp grew up himself to be a leading man and scholar of the church, a bishop and a very old man(86 when he died) Polycarp taught Iranaeus found his way to Lyon in France where he became the first systematic theologian and all in the Body of Christ in time and space and also an Eastern connection through people like St Germanus of Auxerre , whom followed on and St Illtyd, the learned teacher of all the Britons East and Roman West, Britain was a Roman island and an Eastern strand through St Iranaeus. After the saints and Apostles the Martyrs always had first place.

The word 'Martyr' means Witness and we know that the witness that they give is not just talking, but the sealing of it with the gift of their lives rather than deny Christ. And when Luke is telling the story in the Acts of the Apostles of the Martyrdom of St Stephen (St Stephen's Feast day is just after Christmas-close to the birth of the Lord on 26 December)it is clear Luke sees the martyrdom of Stephen as a 'living out again' of the death of Our Lord Jesus and asking forgiveness of those who put him to death. This is linked to Rome the seat of the Martyrs where so many died and St Peter and Paul were both martyred there. Tombs of the Martyrs make it a holy place-always associated with that giving of life for the faith.This was a special quality. Everything did not come from Rome, but wherever the difficulties in the world were, people could always go back and test it against that see. The churches in Rome breath light and space and there is a serenity there which is really beautiful.

Polycarp, taught by St John also at over eighty years of age, became a Martyr in 155AD. He always made Father Nicholas think of St John Kemble-so many things in common with him , he said. He was lovable. Even at 86 people fought for the privilege of being able to put on his sandals! When he was taken to execution, the account has dignity and simplicity and the way he relates to the people who are putting him to death. We are told the official responsible for arresting him was Herod, the High Priest was Philip of Trallis, the Pro Consul was Statius Quadratus and thenwe are told that the ruling monarch was "Our Lord Jesus Christ to whom all time belongs to Him be ascribed all Glory and Honour for ever and ever". The same as when we all gather for the Easter Vigil at Midnight before Easter Sunday-exactly the same thing.There is a completely different Order and Purpose in the World that goes beyond the material things which we see and gives a different significance to what happens.

Comparison with Oscar Romero

Something that comes through the martyrs is joyful peaceful, and full of forgiveness and reconciliation-even today in El Salvador, where you see the effects of a martyr, it has a galvanisaing force on the Faithful who are there. With someone like Oscar Romero-you see something else is going opmn all the time. Appointed Bishop by the Bishop of Rome - even an administrative appointment-he spent time with his people, he learned from them, he listened to them and was available to them and saw their sufferings and started to teach them back. He was making them a fine people and they were making him a fine Bishop. You see the effect of the relationship, and how the whole issue of giving one's life for the faith is part of the Communion and Community.

Ugandan Martyrs

Recently Monmouth had a visit from Father Joseph Mbala from Uganda and he talked about the Ugandan Martyrs Charles Lwanga and companions and they told him about John Kemble's sacrifice. The Ugandan Martyrs were bothe Catholic and Anglicans. When he canonised them, the Pope said 'These Martyrs of Uganda have indeed laid the foundations of a New Age. We should not dwell on the religious persecutions and conflics but rather on the rebirth of Christian and civil life have begun'.

With the martyrs we go beyond the polemics and the enmities, there is the deep magic to do with forgiveness and reconciliation, and on that basis he thanked Tony Calcun the Vicar of Welsh NEwton Church, who look after the grave and care for it.

John Kemble was born in 1599- forty years after the Dissolution, approximately and on his mother's side (Morgan family) came from Monmouthshire near Skenfrith but was born in Rhydicar Farm in St Weonards, near to Welsh Newton, but moved to Llangarron at The Grove close to the village where he now lies buried.

We are told the family may have come from Gaul and there may have been a link with the old Cymbeline link , which Shakespeare spoke about. He was born between the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder plot, so it was a very volatile time. 'Henry V, Julius Caesar' and 'As you like it'were all written in this year. He had lived through the '30 years War' and the 'Civil War'. He was deeply able to connect. Could get on with people, friendly with the family of his accusers, had a pipe with people and siad to be on first name terms with the executioner. All these things go beyond the world, the Communion or Lord invites us to be part of , which asks for big and generous forgiving hearts and all of us owe a special debt to John Kemble.

When Father Richard was first ordained and served at Hereford (St Francis Xavier) it was a big privilege to have the relic of he hand of John Kemble and his sacrifice and on a daily basis he would pass Wigmarsh Common, where he was executed and his head and hand severed. Coming to his grave now at Welsh Newton, he was reminded of the Best of the Church, the real ancient deep traditions which connect us to Our Lord and the tradition. We should indeed be people of 'Bigness of Heart and Reconciliation'
which make us a Communion of Love'.

From a Manual of Prayers in circulation in 16th and 17th Century

Lord have mercy on us
Christ have mercy on us
Lord have mercy on us and grant us virtue
An awareness upon earth to Love and serve you
And above the earth, according to your heart's delight

God the eternal father for the sake of your heavenly virtue have mercy on us.


Son of God, Saviour of the World
Have mercy on us
Uncreated God, Undivided Trinity
Have mercy on us.
For the sake of your Divine Nature
Have mercy on us.
For the sake of your unending generosity
Have mercy on us.

Following on rom this , the Hymn of St John Kemble was sung.

O trusty shepherd, John
Whose maimed and lifeless hand
Drwas blessing yet upon
Your loved and faithless land.
Through you we praise
The Lord, for whom
You met your doom in Hate marred days.

Within this western shire
Where England climbs to Wales,
You fed the faith's bright fire
That all untended fails
And year by year
Come storm or shine
One friend divine you held most dear.

From youth to strengthless age
You sought his scattered sheep
And earned no hireling's wage
In apple valleys deep;
Through pastures green
Your flock you fed with living bread
And washed them clean.

Then like the Lord you served
Without the city gates
You suffered undeserved
A hard and shameful fate
For us you plead
Who chose to die and not deny
Your boyhood's creed.

Following on from this hymn all the pilgrims came forward one by one and venerated and thanked John Kemble, kissing the tombstone and its flowers. The saints are remembered into eternity and those who killed them pass into obscurity.

In my previous post announcing his pilgrimage I wrote about the forgiveness of St John in healing the family of his accusers, the Scudamores etc.I shall repost this.

Tomorrow I shall go on to tell you the story of St John Kemble and the account of his death. I have to say I was very moved by the veneration ceremony. There were many Faithful there young and old. The younger people had walked from Monmouth to the shrine. There followed Benediction and Adoration at St Mary's and then the Bun fight in the Hall. A moving day.There were sisters of St Joseph from Llantarnam, and several Benedictine Monks including Father Tom of Abergavenny in attendance.

Afterwards, I looked quickly at the church of St Mary the Virgin. This was again once a Catholic church and still possessed its piscina and a fancy stone pulpitum, which I have not seen before in a parish church. It was very beautiful with thick walls. I will post a better picture of the church when I have more time, but had problems with the camera. The stained glass of the Nativity was lovely.

A Blessing of a Day. Put it in your diaries for next year 3pm on the Sunday nearest to August 22nd.

Don't forget next Sunday's pilgrimage to USK -when pilgrims will descend on the grave of St David Lewis -the 'Tad yr Oedolion'-the Father of the Poor at St David Lewis and St Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Usk

St John Kemble Shrine at St Mary's Monmouth

At the rear of St Mary's Catholic Church, Monmouth, is an altar dedicated to the memory of St. John Kemble. It consists of two small benches, which could be separated to disguise their real purpose in dangerous penal times. They were used for the celebration of Mass at Pembridge Castle near Monmouth. The reredos of the altar is made from the bed of Matthew Pritchard OFM, Vicar General of the Western District in the 18th century. He resided at Perthir near Monmouth at the home of the Catholic Lorrimer family.

The creation of the altar was the work of Thomas Abbot, who also restored Kemble's grave at Welsh Newton. Abbot gathered other artefacts associated with St. John, namely a chalice, now at Archbishop's House in Cardiff, a missal annotated by John Kemble and a missal stand. The parish also possesses a magnificent red chasuble embroidered with Opus Anglicanum work and dating from about 1502. It was believed that it belonged to St. John Kemble. There is no evidence for this although he may have worn vestments of this type.

Monday, August 11, 2008



St John Kemble's Pilgrimage at 3pm


The annual pilgrimage to the grave of St John Kemble will be held on Sunday 17th August. The programme will be similar to previous years. A walk to the graveside at Welsh Newton starts at St. Mary's Church immediately after Sunday morning Mass. Everyone is most welcome. Walkers and non-walkers then meet in the Churchyard at Welsh Newton at 3:00 p.m. for a short service. This will be followed by Benediction back at St. Mary's at 4:15 p.m. and concludes with tea. This is always a lovely day and everyone is most welcome.

Bede Camm writes 'The Catholics in Monmouthshire and Herefordshire go in procession to keep the martyr's anniversary and invoke his intercession.For two hundred years and more, this pilgrimage has continued and the strange sight may then be seen of Catholics kneeling in a Protesant Churchyard, reciting the rosary and other prayers. A homily is often preached from the site of the churchyard cross(In 1909 Bede camm preached it)which overshadows the Martyr's grave.


Beside his tomb is a slab which covers the grave of Catherine Scudamore, a near relative of the Martyr's captor , John Scudamore, who recovered her hearing after praying at the grave of the Martyr at one of these pilgrimages.This miracle was testified to by Bishop Matthew Pritchard OSF, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, who with 'three or four of the family of Perthyre'(of the secret Francican Community there)was present on the occasion as he wrote to Bishop Challoner.The daughter of Captain Scudamore had previously been cured of a malignant sore throat by putting to her neck the rope with which the martyr had been hanged.

The chalice was stolen at the time of the Martyr's apprehension, but the altar and the small missal, bearing the date 1623 and some of his writing remained at Pembridge Castle until 1839 and were used by his predecessesors, at the eight Indulgence times for the convenience of neighbouring Catholics, until the Townley family of Burnley sold the old castle to the estate of the Welsh Ironmaster. Father Abbot then removed the precious relics Monmouth. A reredos, which now surmounts the altar was made by Father Abbot out of an old oak bedstead from Perthir belonging Bishop Matthew Pritchard who died in 1750. (MM:And buried under the altar of Rockfield Anglican Church)

Speaking of Blessed St John Kembles death (at a very advanced age) Bede Camm writes of a com=ntemporary biographer :'The Protestants that were spectators of the exit (hanging, drawing and quartering) of Blessed John Kemble, that they never saw a man so like a Gentleman and so like a Christian'. In fact his hand only was severered as a token quartering and now resides in an oak reliquary at St Francis Xavier in Hereford. The church remembers its saints forever.

A Recent Miracle.......

John Kemble was subsequently canonized in 1970. As recently as 15th July 1995, a priest at St. Francis Xavier's church in Hereford called Father Christopher Jenkins found himself close to death. He had unfortunately slipped into a deep coma as the result of a massive stroke. Luckily for him a sacred relic thought to possess great powers of healing lay in an oak casket on the church altar. Father Tumelty an assistant to Father Jenkin placed the severed hand of St. John Kemble on the sick man's brow and very shortly Father Jenkin regained the ability to eat talk and walk. So far no scientific explanation has been put forward to explain this event.

SUNDAY 23 AUGUST 2008-PILGRIMAGE WITH ANGLICANS TO CAPEL Y FFIN, near Llanthony, in the Black Mountains.

This pilgrimage is in stunning countryside right up in the black mountains at the monastery itself, kindly hosted by the present private occupants.The roof of the Catholic chapel desperately needs help to restore it for worship.

From previous years:

This pilgrimage is primarily an Anglican one although Catholics do go, remembering the Vision of the Virgin Mary by children in a field near the Monastery at Capel y Ffin in the last century. (another post has been written about this here). The little Church at Capel y ffin is the church of Mary the Virgin because the Norman builder of the church had a wife who also saw a vision of her here and built a church on the spot. There was also another vision on a nearby farm by a farmer's wife and it seems there may be seven 'sightings' o the Blessed Virgin right from Norman times, the earliest records being kept then. A farm at Capel y ffin is called 'Vision Farm'. Ignatius Lyne, leader of the Anglican Community at the monastery he founded, wrote a detailed account of this miraculous vision. I believe she later appeared to other members of the Community.

12 Noon Anglican Service at St David's Church at Llanthony Priory. In In preevious years, Mass was held in the Chapel at the Monastery.

1.30 Arrive at Pilgrimage Walk at Capel y Ffin. Most pilgrims come by
coach and arrive early by car to park locally at Chapel Farm.
Followed by PICNIC LUNCH.

3.30pm Ecumenical Offices of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Mary the
Virgin's church at Capel y ffin.

Followed by Procession to Monastery and old Abbey Church . A station at the
Wayside Calvary, site of the vision by the choristers. Devotions
in the ruined Abbey Church.

Stout Footwear and weatherproof clothing. Pilgrimage walk is on a secluded footpath from the St David's Church at Llanthony (former cell of St David's hermitage when he lived and prayed here) not the main road (so should be a shorter route.

Capel y Ffin is easily found. In the main road leading from Abergavenny to HEREFORD, turn left at Llanfihangel Crucorney. Turn left at the road leading down the hill signposted to Llanthony. Stay on that road for six miles or so and you come to Llanthony and St David's Church. There is a good refectory in the crypt of the Old Priory, open Sundays too! Go back on that road and follow signs for Capel y ffin. The Car park at Chapel farm is owned by Mr and Mrs Watkins.

. The beautiful reredos from here can still be seen at St Julian's Anglican Parish Church in Hather Road ,Newport, to whom it was sold by the Catholic Monks at Prinknash Abbey, when the Abbey roof became in bad repair.


3pm at the Church of St David Lewis and St Francis Xavier.Walk to the old Priory Church of St Mary's (now Anglican) previous to 16th century was a Benedictine nunnery. St David Lews' remains were discovered during work to the church by the vicar who reverently had them placed near the door of the church. The jesuits and local catholics placed a large tombstone there with his last words.

Flowers are placed on the tombstone every day.

Except for the short reprieve of the reign of Queen Mary Tudor, for the remainder of the 16th century, and into the early 17th century, the Catholics of Abergavenny worshipped in a barn located in Monk Street. Thereafter, in the attic Chapel of the Gunter Mansion in Cross Street. The Altar-reredos fresco of the Adoration of the Magi, discovered in 1907, is preserved in the Abergavenny Museum.

Holy Mass was celebrated for the Catholics of Abergavenny throughout the dark days of cruel persecution. The spiritual administration of the district came into the care of the Jesuit Fathers, who had established a seminary and college at The Cwm near Welsh Newton. Saint David I,ewis S.J. (also known as `Fr. Charles Baker') was pastor for thirty-one years. He had been born in Abergavenny. He was assisted for a time by Saint Philip Evans S.J. (`Captain Evans'). Both were Martyred in 1679, following the false allegations of the liar Titus Oates: David Lewis at Usk, and Philip Evans at Cardiff.

Several other Martyrs for the Faith are known to have passed this way, and most likely celebrated Holy Mass when possible, namely, Saint John Lloyd (pastor of the Llanarth area), Saint: John Kemble, Blessed Philip Powell OSB, and Blessed Edward Powell. The Venerable Augustine Baker OSB was born In Abergavenny, and was converted to The True Faith in 1600.


It was to a great extent by his advice and exertions that the Congregation of English Benedictines or Black Monks, after being driven from their monasteries and almost completely suppressed under Edward VI and Elizabeth I, were able to avoid total extinction, and reform in exile with Papal approval, founding monasteries for exiles in such as Paris, Rheims, Dieulouard, Doua, St. Malo, Valladolid, Compostella, and Lamspring. The Pope commissioned these monks in exile "to work hand in hand with the secular clergy for the conversion of England, as new Augustines" , and so a stream of Benedictines were to take part in the secret provision of Mass and the Sacraments for their persecuted brethren in England and Wales, for which many of them lost their lives. Augustine Baker was a great mystic, and the author of `Santa Sophia'. He was also chaplain to the Benedictine nuns of Cambrai.(Father Tom of Abergavenny)


PILGRIMAGE TO OUR LADY, ST MARY OF TINTERN 7th September 2008 (Ecumenical, though Catholic usage)3pm


Following the successful dedication of the New Statue of Our Lady at Tintern Abbey, there are exciting plans for a pilgrimage centre to be thrashed out by CADW and the Friends of OUr Lady of Tintern.Abbot Aiden Bellinger of Downside will preach the homily and laity and religious from all over Monmouthshire and surroundings will take part.


The statue, commissioned by the Cistercian Community at Caldey by Abbot Daniel (see the YouTube Video Living Stones of Tintern)was consecrated last year.

Come early and have a pictic lunch at this lovely spot.

VESPERS begins at 3pm.There is a small car parking charge to offset the cost of the day.

You should enter at the OLD abbey entrance (not the gift shop and tourist entrance).
Merchandise will be on sale to raise funds for the next phase.

Salve Regina is always sung and refreshments are in the Village Hall afterwards if required. Sunday 7 SEPTEMBER at 3pm

PLIGRIMAGE TO THE SKYRRID Yskyrrid Fawr-The Skirrid)28th September (if closest to St Michael's Day. Please check with Abergavenny Parish.


I have written much about Monmouthshire's own Holy Mountain overlooking Abergavenny. In that Catholic worship was unbroken through some very cruel times of persecution, I feel the devotion to the Blessed Michael Archangel has been powerful and the people do well to do this annual pilgrimage. (Another up the mountain takes place on Good Friday)

This sculpture of St Michael can be found in the little Catholic Chapel at Llanarth Court, Which I visited at Christmas. This was also near Abergavenny and the Skirrid looks over here too.

Devotion to St. Michael the Archangel has been a feature of Catholic life in Abergavenny for many hundreds of years. A Chapel dedicated to him once crowned the eastern summit of The Great Skirrid; indeed, at the time of St. David Lewis, who led hundreds of Catholics there for the annual Michaelmas pilgrimage, the Altar was still intact amidst the ruins. Alas, only a couple of stones now remain, but the Pilgrimage still takes place on the Saturday nearest Michaelmas each year. We preserve a rescript of Pope Clement X which reads:-

"Pope Clement X grants a Pienary Indulgence to those who devoutly visit the Chapel of St. Michael on. the Skirrid Fawr on 29'" September -Michaelmas Day. Anyone making this Pilgrimage and wishing to gain the Indulgence is required, first, to go to Confession and Holy Communion; then, on the Holy Mountain itself, to pray for peace among Christian Princes, for the rooting out of heresies, and for the exaltation of Holy Mother Church. Given at St. Mary Major`s, Rome, under the Seal of the Fisherman, on 20th July 1676, and valid for seven years "

Father Tom OSB of Abergavenny.Please Check the date with him or with the Parish Diary on the website.