I have now got round to writing a fuller report on this and have got the most important pictures together - though more are on their way to me. There was an article about it in last weekend's Tablet, and there will be a report in this weekend's Catholic Herald, and there are more pictures and commentary on the background of the pilgrimage on this blog here, and on the pilgrimage itself on the New Liturgical Movement (1, 2, and 3), on the Gregorian Chant Society blog, and on Br Lawrence Lew's Godsdogz blog.
On Saturday 25th October Bishop William Kenney CP, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, blessed a plaque in honour of four Catholics martyred in the city of Oxford. The four, who were beatified in 1987, included two secular priests, ordained in Douai, George Nichols and Richard Yaxley, and two laymen: Thomas Belson, a young member of a local land-owning family, and a Welshman, Humphrey Pritchard, who worked in the Catherine Wheel Inn in Oxford where they were captured. They were executed in 1589.
Bishop Kenney, on behalf of Archbishop Nichols, led a procession of 180 people in the footsteps of the martyrs, from the site of the Bocardo prison where the priests were held (in Cornmarket Street) to the site of the town gallows where they died (in Holywell Street). Bishop Kenney preached on the meaning of martyrdom for Catholics today at the traditional Solemn High Mass which preceded the procession.
The pilgrimage, the fourth annual pilgrimage in honour of Oxford’s Catholic martyrs, was organised by the Latin Mass Society. Mass took place in the Priory church of the Dominican community in Oxford, Blackfriars, which was packed to the doors for the occasion. The Cantores Missae under Mr Charles Finch sang Victoria’s Missa Traha me post te. The Te Deum and other chants were sung on the procession by the Schola Beati Thomae Abelis of the Oxford University Gregorian Chant Society.
The congregation included a coach-party from St Bede’s Clapham Park, and others from as far as Wales, Sussex, and Staffordshire. Many local clergy attended, as did Bishop Jarrett of Lismore, Australia, who was visiting the area.
Bl. Thomas Belson has living descendants in the Oxford area, and a number of these, led by Dorrien Belson, attended the proceedings. Other historic local Catholic families represented at the blessing included the Mockler-Barret family of Milton Manor and the Stoner family of Stoner House. The colleges of Brasenose, the alma mater of Bl George Nichols, and Oriel, which absorbed St Mary Hall, where Bl Thomas Belson studied, were also represented.
The celebrant was Fr Dominic Jacob of the Oxford Oratory; the deacon Br David Rock OP, and the subdeacon Br Lawrence Lew OP. The serving team was provided entirely by the Dominican community. The day’s events were concluded with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament led by Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP.