"Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum."
"How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity." (Ps 132)
Today I took a rare day off to assist as Deacon at High Mass for the feast of St Ralph Sherwin, St Alexander Briant, St Edmund Campion and their (37) companions, the martyrs of the Venerable English College at Rome.
Fr Peter Edwards and Fr Richard Whinder were our genial hosts at St Joseph's Church, New Malden. The stunning four voice choir sang Palestrina's Missa "Ave Maria". Fr Dominic Allain was the preacher and gave an excellent sermon on the nature of martyrdom which, I hope, will be published in due course. Fr Allain is the author of a regular column in the Catholic Herald and has recently had a book published by Family Publications: "Diary of a City Priest".
After Mass, we were treated to an excellent lunch prepared by parishioners and allowed ourselves a little liquore to sing the traditional toast "Ad multos annos!" It was very good to catch up with news from other priests. It has just dawned on me that I was asked to say grace because I was the most senior priest there.
The picture shows the window on the stairway of the English College with St Ralph Sherwin, the proto-martyr of the College holding a palm branch, the symbol of martyrdom. The students were asked to sign the "Liber Ruber" (red book) upon taking the missionary oath to return to England and, if necessary, to die for the Catholic faith. St Ralph Sherwin added the words potius hodie quam cras - "Rather today than tomorrow." He was martyred at Tyburn on this day in 1581.