The Reliquary at Ladyewell


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 30 October 2008 - 21:02:20 | by admin

layewell_010.jpgThe reliquary at Ladyewell House deserves a special mention because of its importance as a place of prayer, devotion and Catholic history.

The centrepiece is the remarkable Burgess Altar which is flanked by statues of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. The altar was constructed by John Townley in 1560, to be disguised as a side cabinet at Townley Hall when not in use, during the days of the persecution of Catholics to avoid detection by priest hunters... 

St. Edmund Arrowsmith, St. Edmund Campion, and Blessed John Woodcock are amongst the great priests who are thought to have celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at this altar during the heights of the persecution.

layewell_011.jpgAnother fascinating relic in here is the part of the cranium of St. Thomas a Becket (who was of course martyred during an earlier period of trouble between the state and the church in 1170 A.D. in Canterbury Cathedral). St. Thomas has been a hero of mine since I used to pray, many years ago as a student at Ushaw College, in a side chapel which depicted his martyrdom in its beautiful stained glass window. 


layewell_020.jpgThis attractive little set up includes a relic of the True Cross in the crucifix and relics of no less heroes of The Faith than St. John of God and St. Gerard Majella.

Other relics - with authentication documents - include those of great saints such as - 
St. Gregory the Great
St. Edward the Confessor
St. Paul (Apostle)
St. Peter (Apostle)
St. Joseph
St. Charles Borromeo
St. Matthew (Apostle)
St. John (Apostle)
St. James (Apostle)
St. Philip (Apostle)
St. Thomas (Apostle)
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Martin de Porres
St. Peregrine
St. Pope Pius X - (a piece of his flesh!!!)

A set of vestments thought to have been worn by Fr. Edmund Campion and another set (which were definitely worn by Blessed John Woodcock before his arrest and move to Lancaster Castle) flank the reliqury in individual glass cases.

In this sacred place, so filled with tangible connections to the heroes of The Faith and our rich heritage as British Catholics, we all prayed for the reconversion of Britain and for the defeat of the HFE Bill which was being discussed that day in the House of Lords. We asked for the intercession of the martyrs of Douai College and of all the English Martyrs and Saints and prayed the Rosary decade of the Resurrection. Ray then read out a moving piece which included the last words of Blessed Fr. Peter Wright who was executed for his Catholic priesthood at Tyburn in 1651 and who forgave his oppressors.

All in all a very moving and enjoyable day which we highly recommend!