Harvington Hall's annual pilgrimage resumed in person this weekend, albeit with a smaller number of pilgrims than usual due to restricted numbers.

Congregants from the closest deaneries of Kidderminster, Worcester and Dudley were in attendance and the Mass was live streamed for the first time for those who could not make it in person.

The Mass commemorating the English Martyrs was celebrated by Bishop David Evans with clergy and Oscott seminarians concelebrating.

The four martyrs especially venerated at Harvington, who worked at various times in the area, are:

  • St John Wall – hanged, drawn and quartered at Red Hill, Worcester on 2 August 1679, and canonized in 1970;
  • St Nicholas Owen – died under torture in the Tower on 2 March 1606, and was canonized in 1970;
  • Bl. Edward Oldcorne – executed at Red Hill, Worcester on 7 April 1606 and beatified in 1929;
  • Bl. Arthur Bell – executed at Tyburn on 11 December 1643 and beatified in 1987.

A hymn to the English Martyrs composed by Michael Hodgetts, Historical Director at Harvington Hall, was sung:

Hymn for the English Martyrs

A grain of wheat is nothing more unless it falls and dies;

the suffering which the Servant bore was precious in God's eyes.

But, while his glory was achieved, the light was blotted out,

and even those who had believed were prey to fear and doubt.

Remember then, O Lord, the blood of martyrs in the mire,

the hurdles jolting in the mud, the gallows and the fire:

remember those who died in gaol of fever and the stench;

the Judases with lives for sale; the Pilates on the bench.

Remember those who, never racked or hanged and now obscure,

not martyrs by a single act, had longer to endure:

from searches and the fear of spies, from rumours and alarms,

from trudging under wintry skies to lonely moorland farms.

For what was hidden is revealed, the pear-tree is in flower,

and charity has won the field of Tyburn and the Tower.

O Lord, their strength in ages past, give us their double grace:

to hear you witness and at last to see you face to face.

Words: Michael Hodgetts, April 2003

Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) 'Kingsfold'

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Harvington Pilgrimage 2021