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.

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