Tyburn Pilgrimage

Above is a photo of the East window of St Etheldreda's, Ely Place from traditionalcatholic.org.uk. At one time, the Tyburn Walk was was a public procession with three divisions of a thousand people each, walking in the road escorted by the police (rather as the Rosary Crusade is today.) Many years ago, Mgr Goulder advised his successor as Master of the Guild of Ransom, Mgr Stark, to discontinue the walk if the numbers fell below a thousand. Mgr Stark kept the walk going until a few years ago when numbers had dwindled below 500. He then changed the character of the event to a pilgrimage, stopping at various places of interest along the way.

Sadly, this change was widely misreported as though the Police had ordered the walk to cease. In fact, the Police were always very helpful and used to join us for tea and cakes at Tyburn Convent. I was saddened when this elderly and faithful priest was subjected to personal abuse for supposedly "caving in". .

The Pilgrimage is a fascinating tour. We begin at St Sepulchre's, Newgate, by the site of the Newgate Prison where many martyrs were confined awaiting execution. The first stop is at St Etheldreda's, Ely Place where we remember the martyrs of Smithfield and St Paul's Churchyard. Then on to The Ship Inn where Bishop Challoner used to hold clandestine meetings of clergy. Round the corner is St Anselm and St Cecilia's where we remember the martyrs of Grays Inn Fields, Lincoln's Inn Fields and Fleet Street.

At St Giles Churchyard, we say the De Profundis for all those who are buried there. Alongside the common criminals executed at Tyburn, some of our later martyrs were buried, including the very last, St Oliver Plunkett. His body was subsequently removed to the continent and finally to Downside Abbey where it rests today - apart from his skull which is a much-venerated relic at Drogheda.

At St Patrick's, Soho Square, we have the chance to venerate relics of St Oliver Plunkett and St Cuthbert Mayne, the first seminary martyr (1577).

In the old days, the procession solemnly moved along Oxford Street which was deserted on a Sunday afternoon. In the later years of the walk, this was the most unpleasant section because Sunday afternoon is now the busiest day of the week on the busiest shopping street in London.

We keep up the tradition of ending at Tyburn Convent. In recent years, I have given Benediction here. Mgr Stark leads the litany of the London martyrs: a most impressive list of over a hundred priests, religious, laymen and laywomen from every walk of life.

The thriving community of sisters is a contemplative community devoted to the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the place where so many Catholics were put to death for their love of the Mass.

The sisters are currently undertaking some works to the entrance of the chapel but when that is finished (early this summer) it will possible once again to visit their downstairs chapel with many relics and mementoes of the martyrs.

Mulier Fortis also has a post (Tyburn Walk) with pictures.

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