Mission to Napoleon Island

The Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph has a good article today (Michael's mission to 'Napoleon island') on the forthcoming move of a priest of the Northampton Diocese, Canon Michael Griffiths, to the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic.

The island was colonised by the British East India Company in 1658. The Dutch East India company mounted a successful invasion in 1672 but the island was retaken by the British a year later. The island is perhaps best known as the place of detention of Napoleon Bonaparte from 1815 until his death in 1821. Its prosperity declined with the building of the Suez Canal which eliminated the need for ships to round the Cape of Good Hope. St Helena is reckoned to be one of the most isolated places in the world, being 1200 miles from the nearest major landmass.

Canon Griffiths told us about his move at the Faith Theological Symposium. The article in the Northamptonshire Telegraph is written by Richard Marsden of Bashing Secularism who is a staff reporter with the paper and was also on the Symposium.

Coming under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Prefecture to the South Atlantic, the Catholic Church in St Helena been without a priest for three years. I am sure the Catholics there will be pleased to welcome Canon Griffiths who is taking with him a statue of Our Lady to replace one that was eaten by an army of ants. He will be sailing from Dorset on Easter Monday: the journey will take two weeks on the last remaining Royal Mail ship, stopping at Tenerife and Ascension Island on the way.

He said that when he was asked to go to St Helena, he could not think of a good reason to say "no". As he says: "When God wants you to do something – and if you do it – it brings you happiness". Here is a photo of the capital of the island where the Canon will be for two years before his first stint of leave:

Photograph by Andrew Neaum

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