On Sunday 3 September the grounds at Harvington Hall, the Shrine to the English Martyrs in Worcestershire, were filled with pilgrims commemorating those holy men and holy women who laid down their lives rather than forsake their faith.

Over 700 attended, making the pilgrimage likely to be one of the largest of such gatherings at the Hall.

This year, Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley, as Harvington Hall is celebrating the centenary of its rescue from ruin by Ellen Ferris, who gifted it to the Archdiocese in 1923. Through Harvington we remember the strength of the faith of those Catholics who were persecuted during the Reformation.

This year we were also pleased to welcome a special guest: Bishop Ken Howell, of Toowoomba in Queensland, Australia who is visiting the Archdiocese after his recent installation as the 7th Bishop of Toowoomba.

Against the backdrop of the Hall, which contains the greatest number of priest hides of any house in the country, Archbishop Bernard gave his homily reflecting on Matthew's Gospel:

"The Gospel of St Matthew emphasises that, despite their troubles and apparent defeat, the voice of the martyrs will always triumph: what you are to say will be given you when the time comes.

"May we also offer faithful witness to Christ as we receive him in this Eucharist and in communion with the English Martyrs – and may the remembrance of this day be a source of spiritual encouragement in the year ahead."

Archbishop Bernard's Homily

Master builder St Nicholas Owen, believed to have been the creator of four of Harvington’s priest hides, was remembered during the Mass, along with the other English and Welsh Martyrs.

Of those who suffered between 1535 and 1681, forty-two have been canonised (as ‘saint’) and 242 beatified (as ‘blessed’). Many who lived or died in other dioceses studied at Oxford, which is within the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

The following are in the Archdiocesan calendar, with the places where they were executed and the dates when they are commemorated:

1581 St Edmund Campion – Tyburn – 1 December

1588 Bl. Robert Sutton – Stafford – 27 July

1589 Bl. George Nichols, Richard Yaxley, Humphrey Pritchard and Thomas Belson – Oxford – 5 July

1591 St Edmund Gennings – London – 10 September

1595 Bl. William Freeman – Warwick – 13 August

1604 Bl. John Sugar and Robert Grissold – Warwick – 17 July

1606 St Nicholas Owen – London – 23 January

1610 Bl. Edward Oldcorne – Worcester – 27 January

1679 St John Wall – Worcester – 23 August

1680 Bl. William Howard – London - 11 October

Harvington Hall

Photo Gallery by Con McHugh

Harvington Hall Pilgrimage 2023

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