From 'Mementoes of the Martyrs' : "...which provoked a Frenchman who was there to comment on the strange ways of the English, "those who are for the pope are hanged, those who are against him are burned:"                                               Saint John-Paul II wrote: "The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met."                                                 Cardinal Müller says, “For the real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil.”                                                  St Catherine of Siena said, “We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.”                                                  Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”                                                Brethren, Wake up!


Choose your battle - and stand firm!

"O Lord, may your Church ... be filled with joy at the birth of the Virgin Mary, who brought the dawn of hope and salvation to the world. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (from the Postcommunion of the Victory Mass)

H/T the inestimable Fr Z.


We have had occasion before on this blog to raise matters of freedom of speech and censorship, and our dear readers were then very supportive in their active responses, which bore real fruit.
This time it is the very diffusion of the teaching of Holy Mother Church which is threatened. LIFESTYLE NEWS has been banned by the online news agency Apple News for alleged intolerance.  We have seen this sort of thing coming for some time, and that is good reason why we should fight hard. Apple are after all doing no more than many Government agencies have already done in schools, town halls and other places. We know these people's agenda; this is the sort of the thing the Order of Malta was founded for.

Please sign the PETITION HERE, and diffuse this among your friends. It seems from this afternoon's update from LIFESITE NEWS that this campaign is already working!

This is real Tuitio Fidei. For those of you who think it is some vague Latin principle which has nothing to do with you, think again!

Apple News has just banned LifeSite, the world's largest and most-popular pro-life and pro-family news website, from its Apple News platform. 
Without any prior warning, Apple News informed us in an e-mail today: "Your channel has been disabled, and your content has been removed from Apple News." 
This unfounded decision seems to be designed to silence LifeSiteNews. But, we will not be silenced, and we are not taking this lightly. 
We are URGENTLY calling on our readers and supporters - and on all freedom-loving people - to SIGN THIS PETITION, demanding that Apple reinstate LifeSite's Apple News channel immediately. 
Apple claimed that LifeSite's channel, "shows intolerance towards a specific group," but Apple did not state which "specific group" the site allegedly showed intolerance towards, and provided no specific examples of offending content. 
“It goes without saying that LifeSite would never promote intolerance or hatred against any group," said LifeSite's Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen. 
"Unfortunately, however, in our divisive political climate, even mild expressions of common Christian and conservative viewpoints are now often dismissed as de facto 'hatred' and 'intolerance'. We certainly hope that this is not what Apple is doing. But at a time when there is growing evidence of left-wing censorship by the tech juggernauts, this decision is frightening. 
"We are awaiting Apple's response providing further details on their decision," added Westen. "But at face value, this decision looks like just another case of a tech company using their power to quietly censor conservative opinions, simply because they don't agree with them." 
Unfortunately, Apple's e-mail provided LifeSite with no opportunity to appeal their decision. 
Apple News is an app that is available on all Apple devices. It aggregates news content from thousands of publishers. Apple users can “follow” their favorite news sites and receive customized updates. 
Apple News first approved LifeSite's channel earlier this month, after a six month delay. Since then, thousands of people have read LifeSite's news content on the platform.
LifeSite is by far the largest pro-life and pro-family news site on the Internet. Over 22 million people have visited the site so far this year, viewing over 57 million pages. The site employs a team of over a dozen professional journalists and editors.
"We urge our readers, and any concerned citizen, to tell Apple that this kind of censorship is unacceptable," said Westen. "If anybody is 'showing intolerance' here, it is Apple that is showing intolerance towards the millions of people who rely on LifeSite for our news reporting, and who support our pro-life and pro-family values."


Today is the day upon which every year we may gain the Portiuncula Indulgencefrom the afternoon on the 1st August to sunset on the 2nd.  This plenary indulgence may only be applied to the Souls in Purgatory, by the act of visiting a church following Confession and receiving Holy Communion. It is thus one of the greatest Acts of Charity we can perform, to release a soul from Purgatory. Why would one not do this?

The Indulgence was granted miraculously to Saint Francis on a night of great temptation, in which he is said to have rolled as mortification in a briar-bush which became a bush of sweet thornless roses.  Originally it required a visit to the cell where he died, now in the basilica at Portiuncula (see photo above) about a mile from Assisi, but by successive Popes, in their great mercy, has been granted more and more liberally until today any church may be visited to gain this indulgence. (This privilege has been finally established for an indefinite time by a decree of the S. Cong. of Indul., 26 March, 1911 (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, III, 1911, 233-4), and reformed and confirmed by Pope Paul VI in "Indulgentiarum Doctrina" (1967). This Apostolic Constitution established that a Plenary Indulgence may be gained only once a day.)

The obligations are the usual ones of Confession and Holy Communion, ideally on the day, and recitation of the Lord's Prayer and the Creed, and prayer for the Holy Father's intentions, carried out with the will to gain the indulgence, and a detachment from sin. That is all. The indulgence may be gained on each of the two days, thus twice, assisting two souls.

Please make the effort to do this wonderful charitable work today!

For more information see HERE.


Since our beloved and noble Order has as its immemorial charism to live the life of perfection in the world – in the world but not of it – we could do far worse than to take as inspiration this charming example of detachment from the new Prime Minister of the British realms, for those who have not seen it (courtesy of Fr Z HERE).

Much good may be gained in our spiritual life by standing back and seeing the world of our day (and the Church, and indeed our Order) within the context of a long history.  Much anguish and annoyance may thereby be avoided.

One would like to think that there may be a few members of our Order who can follow, and compete. (It is perhaps worth pointing out that this video comes from Australia, the Melbourne Writers Festival, about which some Englishmen may be inclined to be snobbish!)


So wonderful is this article, published in OnePeterFive by David Mitchell HERE, so deeply imbued with the true spirit of Hospitaller Charity, underlining our duty first and foremost to save the souls of all our fellow people by bringing them to the light of the Truths taught by Holy Mother Church, that we print his article in full here.  Never let us forget as we care for the bodily needs of Our Lords the Poor and the Sick this this work, however worthy, is only a mean to our true work, the work for which God has made us, to strive for the salvation of our immortal souls and theirs.  Then, and then alone, can we rest as knights who work is well done.

David Mitchell

It is a truth revealed by God that there is absolutely no salvation outside of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ, instituted by Jesus Christ for the sanctification and salvation of the souls of men; how could there possibly be salvation outside the society instituted by Jesus Christ for our salvation?

The Catholic Church is not an invisible society, but a visible one, and there are not two Churches, one visible and the other invisible. It follows from this that it is necessary for salvation to be a member of the visible Catholic Church. There is no invisible Catholic Church. However, it is possible that a person could be, invisibly, a member of the Catholic Church, which is visible. Thus, a person in invincible ignorance of the true Faith who does not know of the necessity of membership in the Church for his salvation would not be held by the Almighty as guilty of a sin that he is not responsible for. Such a person might be, by grace, a member of the Catholic Church.

It is extremely dangerous, to say the least, to remain outside the Catholic Church, when the Catholic Church is the divinely instituted means of our salvation. One becomes a member of the Catholic Church either by baptism or by grace, and, visibly speaking, one becomes a visible member of the Catholic Church by baptism, because that is precisely the visible ceremony that makes men members of the Church. But Protestants, who do have a valid baptism, are not Catholics; for the Church is defined as the visible society of those who profess the faith of Christ, partake of the same Sacraments, and are united under the government of their lawful pastors under one visible head (that is, the pope). Protestants are, however, in an imperfect but real (or, to put it the other way, a real but imperfect) communion with us, and they are Christians, but they are not per se members of the Catholic Church. Catholics have used the phrase “separated brethren” to denote Protestants (and, I suppose, Orthodox and others) for two hundred years or so. The Second Vatican Council uses the phrase “fratres a nobis sejuncti” — the brethren separated from us. The word “separated” denotes the imperfection of the communion; the word “brethren” denotes the real communion that is, nevertheless, imperfect.

To state “there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church” does not mean that no Protestant, Jew, Muslim, etc., could be saved, but if he were saved, it would be by virtue of the Catholic Church and not his erring sect or religion. If he were saved, it would be because he was, by grace (or in the case of Protestants, by baptism), a member of the Catholic Church. Everyone who is in heaven is a member of the Church Triumphant and, ipso facto, a Catholic.

I do not think many people will deny that there are good and holy people in other religions. But this does not lessen the importance of the fact that all the graces in the world enter the world through the Catholic Church.

A person who knows that the Catholic Church is the true Faith, and refuses to enter it, cannot be saved. This is the perennial teaching of the Magisterium and is affirmed by the Second Vatican Council in the document Lumen Gentium.

The Catholic Church is the Church. It is not a part of the Church, or a denomination of the Church; it is the religion instituted by Jesus Christ, outside which there is no salvation. It is the only religion instituted by God Himself, and it is the only religion pleasing to God.

It is the duty of all men on Earth to enter the Catholic Church and to submit to her authoritative teaching. It is God who speaks to men, not through Scripture only, but also through the Sacred Tradition and the universal Magisterium of His Church. We must believe what Christ teaches us through His Church; faith that is at least implicit, in all that God has revealed, is necessary for salvation (and there are certain truths also that must be believed explicitly).

It is a great sin against charity to encourage people to persevere in their errors. Error will not save anyone. The truth of Jesus Christ — which includes the truth of His Church, which is His Immaculate Bride and His Mystical Body — will save people. People have a right to the full truth of the Gospel and should not be denied any part of it. They therefore have a right to know the truth: that Catholicism is the true religion; that the Catholic Church is the Church of God, which is endowed with authority, infallibility, and indefectibility, and will teach the true Faith and preserve the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ until the end of time. Membership in it is necessary for salvation.


It was an especial joy this year that, exceptionally, the Holy Mass of Saint John's Day, the Feast of our heavenly Patron, was celebrated by a young priest, Father Gary Dench, ordained last Saturday, who was for several years an altar server in our Conventual Church, and who assisted with the Easter Triduum retreats there for a few years. Thus we are privilege to glimpse the flowering of the fruits of our sacred charism of Tuition Fidei.

Father Dench is a priest of Brentwood Diocese, and was ordained by Bishop Alan Williams. He was assisted at the altar by our Chaplain Fr Richard Biggerstaff and Fr Christian de Lisle, and the Assistant Priest (a privilege of First Masses) was Fr Luke Melcher, a colleague in Washington our former confrere Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth. The Mass was served by Father Dench's successors at our altars, Companions of our beloved Order, and it was impressive to see that, with only one exception (just), all on the altar were under 40 years old! Fr Biggerstaff preached a kindly and fraternal homily for his new brother priest.  It was a joy to see all these old friends of the Order with us on our Feast Day.

It was particularly delighted that we were joined by some of the new Dames and Knights who entered the Order at the Investiture Mass at the London Oratory last Friday, as well as by some of Fr Dench's priest friends.

The Mass was celebrated in the Forma Ordinaria of the Roman Rite, the music being Palestrina's Missa Brevis, and Descendit Angelus by Victoria. We are extremely grateful to the Choir and Director of Music, Mr Edward Tambling.

Mass was preceded by Veneration and Benediction of the Relic of St John the Baptist, given by Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Father Dench gave First Blessings after the Mass.
The Mass was followed by a reception in the Challoner Room, with the obligatory delicious cake! 

We are very grateful to Fr Dench for the honour he pays us in bringing us the graces of his First Mass. Ad multos annos!


Click HERE for the excellent video, with good interviews, which is on the EWTN Facebook page.


Once again members of the Grand Priory and British Association assisted with the 5th Annual Corpus Christi Procession between our two friendly parishes of St James Spanish Place and Our Lady of the Assumption Warwick Street, in which churches most of our Masses are offered during the year.

About 20 Knights and Dames processed – helping carry the canopy alongside the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, carrying banners and other duties. As in previous years, we were pleased to be joined by some knights from other Associations visiting London. Countless Companions helped the Parishes with serving, singing, marshalling and the organisation. This really is a wonderful outreach of our noble Order of which we can be truly proud. As one of our confreres has written to the organisers afterwards: "I was immensely grateful for the privilege of taking part, an experience which occasionally brought me close to tears." About 1,500 faithful processed in lovely sunshine, and the closing Benediction at Spanish Place was given by Monsignor Newton, following the rousing tones of Mendelssohn's Lauda Sion. The lovely video below captures this sublime moment. This procession responds directly to Cardinal Nichols' desire to promote Eucharistic Devotion in the Diocese, to which end he has also established the Diocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, where Cardinal Arinze celebrated Pontifical Mass at the Throne last Thursday, in the Extraordinary Form. The Bishops conference website has photographs HERE.   Several members of the Order were present in the congregation.

EWTN were filming the Procession, so look out for their report.


This Pentecost a group of 18 young (well, 80% so) Knights, Dames and Companions, together with our chaplain Fr Edmund Montgomery, set off at Pentecost on the annual Pilgrimage between Our Lady's ancient shrines.  We joined our French brethren in the chapter of Notre-Dame de Philerme.

Due to the devastation at Notre-Dame in Paris, the opening Mass, celebrated by Fr Julian Large of the London Oratory, was held in the renaissance and baroque splendour of Saint Sulpice.
fresh and keen in Paris...

a long road of prayer...

pious feet of a professed knight!

Holy Mass for the pilgrims in the crypt at Chartres on the day of departure.

As some readers will know, one of our pilgrims has a stoke during the pilgrimage, wonderfully looked after by the French Order of Malta hospitaller teams. Holy Mass was offered at his hospital bedside by Fr Montgomery.  Please pray for his recovery.

Those who have not come with us should seriously think of doing so next year, and we look forward to seeing again many old friends.

Notre-Dame de Philerme, priez pour nous!


Tomorrow, 23rd February, is the third Feast of our beloved Patron, the First Finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist, given in the Martyrology, but sadly not observed as a Feast in our Missal.

The story is by nature complicated, but in a nutshell, following his Martyrdom, Herodias forbade the burial of the Saint's body and Head together. Tradition relates that Saint John's body was buried in Sebaste, near Mount Nablus. Herodias is thought to have thrown the Head onto a dung heap at Machaerus, Herod's Palace where her harlot daughter danced. Some then recount that the wife of Herod's Steward took the head and reburied it on the Mount of Olives. Other stories exits, that it was buried in Jerusalem.  Some time in the 5th century it was found through the working of miracles around it, and Holy Mother Church is of the view that this Head is now in Rome, at the Church of San Silvestro in Capite. The Orthodox believe the head was taken to Constantinople, where it was again lost during wars. It was found a second time, around 450, translated to Constantinople, and in some accounts Walter de Sarton bought it thence to Amiens Cathedral during the Fourth Crusade, where it is still venerated. In 850 Patriarch Ignatius reportedly saw a vision of the resting place of the Head, and again took it to Constantinople, where it remains. Catholics are free to believe whatever part of all this they wish. Scepticism of conflicting historical records should not however diminish our duty of veneration to our Holy Patron, whose life and witness is clearly attended in Holy Scripture and by Tradition. It is perfectly consonant with doctrine and piety to venerate all three Heads, each is a sacred object, the subject of long veneration.

As our readers will most probably know, from early times, certainly by Rhodes, the Order had a relic of the Hand of Saint John. This survived Napoleon, and was taken to Russia by 'Grand Master' Tsar Peter, but was lost during the Second World War. It had accompanied, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the Icon of Our Lady of Philermo, now discovered in Montenegro. Again, we may believe what we wish.

The Church of San Silvestro in Capite is five minutes' walk from the Grand Magistry of our Order in Via dei Condotti. All members of the Order with their heads screwed on straight would do well to visit it regularly when they are in Rome, it will bring Order to our crazy world.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

The painting above is Caravaggio's 'Salome with the Head of Saint John'


John Henry Newman by Sir John Everett Millais
We should all be overjoyed in England that the Holy Father has announced that Blessed John Henry Newman is to be raised fully to the altars as a Saint later this year. Thank you, Pope Francis! Today we rejoice with him also on the Feast of the Chair of Peter.

Newman's influence on the Church far surpasses the boundaries of England in the 19th century, though he single-handedly removed all intellectual justification for the continuation of Protestantism in this land, and left the Church of England merely an empty husk of customs and the relics of Christian buildings.

Indeed Newman may fairly be described as the Doctor of the 21st Century, for his writings address precisely the problems and ailments which Holy Mother Church suffers in our own age.

It is easy for malicious people, whom the Church has never lacked, to distort the meaning of the writings of the Saints to their own end if people have never read them for themselves, and certain progressive elements in the Church have, certainly around the time of his beatification, misrepresented his teaching by selecting passages from Newman's writings to imply support for relativist and modernist positions.  Nothing could be further from the truth, Newman warns us of the danger of what he called "the liberalisation of Religion", and his writings, based upon immemorial Tradition, read as freshly today as when they were composed.  For all the progress of the 20th century, liberal thinkers are still stuck in the mire of outdated modernism, condemned by, and outside the mind of, Holy Mother Church - the moral horrors we see today are merely developments of the errors Newman saw and condemns so clearly. One uses 'condemns' in the presest tense quite intentionally, as his writings are now to last as a gift to the Church forever.

In order that members of the Order of Malta may not feel themselves unarmed for the battle of Tuitio Fidei in which they are by joyful obligation engaged, we publish here an article from the Times of London, May 1879, which gives the famous Biglietto speech in full, the day of our new Saint's elevation to the Sacred Purple.

On Monday morning, May 12, Dr. Newman went to the Palazzo della Pigna, the residence of Cardinal Howard, who had lent him his apartments to receive there the messenger from the Vatican bearing the biglietto from the Cardinal-Secretary of State, informing him that in a secret Consistory held that morning his Holiness had deigned to raise him to the rank of Cardinal. By eleven o'clock the rooms were crowded with English and American Catholics, ecclesiastics and laymen, as well as many members of the Roman nobility and dignitaries of the Church, assembled to witness the ceremony. Soon after midday the consistorial messenger was announced. He handed the biglietto to Dr. Newman, who, having broken the seal, gave it to Dr. Clifford, Bishop of Clifton, who read the contents. The messenger having then informed the newly-created Cardinal that his Holiness would receive him at the Vatican the next morning at ten o'clock to confer the birretta upon him, and having paid the customary compliments, his Eminence replied in what has become known as his "Biglietto Speech" as follows:—
Vi ringrazio, Monsignore, per la participazione che m'avete fatto dell' alto onore che il Santo Padre si è degnato conferire sulla mia umile persona—
And, if I ask your permission to continue my address to you, not in your musical language, but in my own dear mother tongue, it is because in the latter I can better express my feelings on this most gracious announcement which you have brought to me than if I attempted what is above me.


With apologies to our gentle Readers for the late notice, but we append below some information about the visit of Our lady of Walsingham to St George's Cathedral, Southwark,  this weekend, beginning this evening.

This is part of the preparations for the Rededication of England as Dowry of Mary by our Bishops in  2020.

The Tour begins with Rosary at 6pm this evening, Mass is at 7pm, followed by devotions.  The full programme may be read HERE.

For those for whom this is too short notice, Our Lady's Statue will be returning to London on 29th March, and indeedthe Order of Malta Monthly Recollection on 30th March at the Assumption Warwick Street will take place in Her presence.

This is Your Dowry, O Pious Virgin!

In 1399 Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to his suffragan bishops:

“The contemplation of the great mystery of the Incarnation has drawn all Christian nations to venerate her from whom came the first beginnings of our Redemption. But we English, being the servants of her special inheritance and her own dowry, as we are commonly called, ought to surpass others in the fervour of our praises and devotions.”

So, the title of England as ‘The Dowry of Mary’ was definitely in use by the end of the fourteenth century, but Archbishop Arundel’s letter seems to indicate that at the time of his writing it was already in common use, indicating an earlier origin.


Today is the feast of the Dedication of our Mother Church in Valetta. It is also kept here in London as the feast of our own Conventual Church of Saint John Jerusalem, as it was of our former eponymous church in Clerkenwell. This is the first Order feast of the calendar year, and we hope that you have entered the others in your diaries, it is the privilege and duty of all members of the Order to give thanks for, and to ask the intercession of, our Patrons. 

O GOD, who year by year renew for us the day when this your holy temple was consecrated, hear the prayers of your people and grant that in this place for you there may always be pure worship, and for us fullness of redemption. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


And so begins the new Year after Christmastide!

To our our readers, and especially our Chaplains, we wish them a very Happy Feast of the Asses, the Festum Assinorum. (Google it.)
In fine Missae sacerdos, versus ad populum, vice ‘Ite, Missa est’, ter hinhannabit: populus vero, vice ‘Deo Gratias’, ter respondebit, ‘Hinham, hinham, hinham.


This post refer to things a long way away. But we are all united in the Cross of Christ, which makes the world small.

The first and principal function of the Order of Malta is the defences of the Cross. Without this, all our good works fall, as they do for each of us in our individual lives.

So it with no apology that we commend this petition in the United States of America to your attention, with a request that you follow your conscience, and take the time to respond should you feel this is the right thing to do.

We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee :
For by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.


It is true to say that, in our modern world with its many diversions and demands, you cannot wait for the world to beat its way to your doorstep. You must go out into the world and show what you can offer others. This is even true of vocations to a religious life. Works, worship of God and public prayerfulness attract vocations which can be seen clearly in this article concerning vocations in the diocese of Shrewsbury.

How the Diocese of Shrewsbury is creating a springtime of vocations (Click here)
Father, we are your people, the work of your hands.
So precious are we in your sight that you sent your only Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus calls us to heal the broken-hearted,
to dry the tears of those who mourn, to give hope to those who despair,
and to rejoice in your steadfast love.
We, the baptized, realise our call to serve.
Help us to know how to answer your call.
Call forth from among us priests,
Call forth from among us religious brothers and sisters;
Through their hearts you continue to show your love to your people.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.


On the last day of the Christmas Season, the Grand Priory of England, and this Blog in particular, extends to its estimable Readers all good wishes for Christmas, for the Epiphany, and for a New Year 2019.  Equally apologies for silence and lack of posts, for various reasons.

People repeatedly and tediously talk of New Year's resolutions. Silly egocentric ones in the newspapers, better ones from the pulpit. The Editors of this blog ask you for only one, and ask that, should you fail in all the others, this be the one you keep.  Please, in this critical year of 2019, pray  regularly for our Order of Saint John – for its charitable work among Our Lords the Poor and Sick, for its Religious Life, and for its future. None of these is certain.

The Grand Prior, Fra' Ian Scott, sends his good wishes from Rome, and extends greetings and prayers to you all.


(The painting shows the Nativity by Caravaggio, formerly in Palermo, possibly destroyed)


In the face of all the reforms and changes going on in the world around us – in our Order, in this  country, in the Church – we are reminded not to put our trust in human organisations or in the administrative skills of clever men, but in the things which endure. The following text is the Advent Pastoral letter of Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, which gives us a wonderful source of meditations in the days running up to the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, on our own role in our Salvation and that of those around us. As our Holy Patron St Johns says, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
The Baptist preaching. Domenico Ghirlandaio, between 1486 and 1490. 
ADVENT is a time of renewed hope leading us to the light of Christmas. It is a journey we make in the darkest days of our year. Such days evoke the dark shadows in the world around us, and those failures in the lives and witness of Christians which have at times cast dark shadows over the face of the Church, obscuring for many, the clear light of Christ shining from her. The call of Advent is expressed in the prayer of Saint Paul today. It is this call I wish us to take up anew in the year ahead: “May the Lord be generous in increasing your love … May he so confirm your hearts in holiness … when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints”.
As the Diocesan Year of the Eucharist comes to its close, it is this universal call to holiness which I wish all of us, clergy and people, to focus upon anew. It is striking that, amid all the crises of the 20th Century, the central message of the Second Vatican Council was that every one of us, in every state of life, is called to the fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of love: that is, called to become nothing less than a saint. This is the only renewal of the Church which will ever matter, our renewal in holiness. It is why only saints resolved the crises the Church has faced throughout history and why they have proved to be the great evangelisers. It is also why, today, amid the dark shadows of scandal and the challenge of a new evangelisation of western societies, it is urgent to recall this one goal of every Christian life for it is in the saints that the true face of the Church shines out. For, though they can have their place, no pastoral programme; no discussions amongst us; no re-organisation or re-structuring can ever accomplish this; only our striving for holiness to become the saints we have been called by God to be. We too, therefore, pray ardently those words of Saint Paul: “May the Lord increase our love and confirm our hearts in holiness when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints”.
It is both our Christian calling and the ultimate goal of every human life, to become, in the end, a saint. In the Gospel, Our Lord tells us that this is the one thing which alone matters, urging us to “stay awake praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man”.  In a recent  letter to the Church, Pope Francis repeats a striking phrase: “the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint”. A saint is someone who reaches the complete and everlasting happiness of Heaven. We might say that holiness is happiness, which is why Pope Francis insists: “The Lord wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence”, for it is only by being holy that we can be truly happy. The Holy Father writes, “Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God”. For holiness, he writes, is “the extent that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we model our life on Christ’s”. We can never reach this goal by our own unaided efforts. By the grace of God we can!
In the year ahead, I want each one of us in Pope Francis’ words to re-discover that “In the Church, holy yet made up of sinners, you will find everything you need to grow towards holiness”. In daily prayer, frequent Confession and, above all, in the Holy Eucharist, we are given the Divine means, the grace to reach this goal. Pope Francis expresses his hope that “the whole Church (will) devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness,” and he makes this invitation to all “Let us ask the Holy Spirit to pour out on us a fervent longing to be saints for God’s greater glory, and let us encourage one another in this effort”.
This is our purpose as we enter anew into Advent. Let us ask Our Lady, she who is “full of grace”, to accompany us along the path to the holiness, the true happiness to which we are called. In the beautiful words of the Second Vatican Council, we know that in the most Blessed Virgin Mary the Church has already reached perfection and in our struggle she shines out for us as a sign of certain hope and consolation until the day of the Lord shall come in splendour.
Wishing you a blessed Advent and a truly happy Christmas,
+ Mark
Bishop of Shrewsbury


From St Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort (from True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary):

MY dear brothers and sisters, there are two companies that appear before you each day: the followers of Christ and the followers of the world. Our dear Saviour's company is on the right, climbing up the narrow road, made all the narrower by the world's immorality. Our Master leads the way, barefoot, crowned with thorns, covered with blood, and laden with a heavy cross. Those who follow him, though most valiant, are only a handful, either because his quiet voice is not heard amid the tumult of the world, or because people lack the courage to follow him in poverty, sufferings, humiliations and other crosses which his servants must carry all the days of their lives. Do you listen to the voice of Jesus who, burdened with his Cross, calls out to you, "Come after me; anyone who will follow me will not be walking in the dark; be brave; I have conquered the world."

This is the company to which the followers of the Knights of Saint John have been called. Do we all choose it?

St Louis Marie, pray for us


Ivory rosary bead with Morthead and the Holy Face. 16thC. Louvre, Paris
During this month of November, Holy Mother Church invites us to think of Death, to pray for the souls of those who have died, and to prepare for our own inevitable end.

Those with responsibility for the young should not shy away from teaching them these things, which are all too frequently hidden away in our humanist age.  One day we shall be dead in our turn, you too, and yearning in Purgatory for younger souls on earth to pray for us, for you.

Blessed Robert Southwell, a Jesuit, was martyred on 21st February 1595. He penned these lines, upon dwelling on the Image of Death.  We do not have his advantages in the visual arts of our day, so must try harder!
BEFORE my face the picture hangs
That daily should put me in mind
Of these cold names and bitter pangs
That shortly I am like to find;
But yet, alas! full little I
Do think hereon that I must die. 
I often look upon a face,
Most ugly, grisly, bare and thin;
I often view the hollow place
Where eyes and nose had sometime been;
I see the bones across that lie,
Yet little think that I must die. 
My ancestors are turned to clay,
And many of my mates are gone;
My youngers daily drop away,
And can I think to 'scape alone?
No, no, I know that I must die,
And yet my life amend not I. 
If none can 'scape Death's dreadful dart,
If rich and poor his beck obey;
If strong, if wise, if all do smart,
Then I to 'scape shall have no way.
Oh! grant me grace, O God, that I
My life may mend, sith I must die.
Saint Robert Southwell, pray for us at our last hour.

Do NOT forget the indulgence, four days left!


The month of November is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Souls, when we pray for the release of the souls in Purgatory, including our parents, family and friends. Also remember those souls for whom noone prays.

Simply put, Purgatory is where those who have died in grace, but who have not fully atoned for the punishments resulting from their sins, go to finish their atonement before entering Heaven. A soul in Purgatory may suffer, but he ultimately has the assurance that he will enter Heaven when his punishment is complete.

As Christians, we don't travel through this world alone. Our salvation is wrapped up with the salvation of others, and charity requires us to come to their aid, as others one day will for us. The same is true of the Holy Souls. In their time in Purgatory, they can pray for us, and we should pray for them that they may be freed from the punishment for their sins and enter into Heaven.

We believe that those Holy Souls for whom we pray will continue to pray for us after they have been released from Purgatory, when they become Saints. So if we, too, should die after confessing our sins, but before atoning fully for them, those souls for whom we have prayed will offer prayers for us while we are in Purgatory. It's a comforting thought, and one that should encourage us more keenly, especially in this month of November, to offer our prayers for the Holy Souls.

The Church's teaching on Purgatory, derived by Scripture, was supported by the Church fathers, including St. Augustine, St. Ambrose and St. Jerome.


During the following week, 2nd to 8th, a Plenary Indulgence applicable to the Holy Souls may be obtained every day by a visit to a cemetery, or prayer for the dead if you are unable to visit, under the usual conditions of Holy Communion, sacramental confession, and prayer for the Holy Father's intentions.  On the 2nd November, the same indulgence applies to prayers for the dead in any church or chapel. The Indulgence may be gained once a day. One confession suffices for all, the other conditions are required for each Indulgence.

Do not miss this opportunity to carry out the greatest act of Charity open to us!


Of your charity, please pray these coming days for a young Companion of the Order of Malta who has cancer and is undergoing treatment.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.
St John the Baptist, pray for us.
Blessed Gerard, pray for us.
St Peregrine, Patron Saint of cancer sufferers, pray for us.


Last Saturday saw the Mass for the feast of our holy founder, Blessed Gerard, which was held at St James's Spanish Place. The Choir of St James's, under the glorious direction of Iestyn Evans, sang Victoria's Missa O quam gloriosum est regnum, Hans Leo Hassler's Cantata Domino and Ave verum by Byrd. Dr Antony Conlon, chapel of the Grand Priory, preached the homily given below; the title of his talk is that given above this post. Dr Conlon addresses the problems in the Church today, and the necessary disposition of the Soul, if we are to achieve Salvation. The Mass was followed, as every year, by Veneration of the jaw-bone Relic.

Sometimes it is best to be blunt. The turnout of members of the Order at the Mass was pathetic; once a year we celebrate the sanctity of the man without whom there would be no Order of Malta, the man who gave us our twin charism of Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum. He has a feast day conveniently situated outside the holiday periods. It is very disappointing that a large number, indeed the great majority, of knights and dames (some of whom will indeed have had genuine reasons), are somehow unable to be present, to support the work of the Order spiritually and collectively. It is equally unkind to our guests who make the effort to attend, and to the young Companions who come to serve the Mass and assist at the lunch reception.

The picture above shows Blessed Gerard receiving Godfrey de Bouillon, King of Jerusalem, painted by Antoine de Favray (1706-98), it hangs in the Fine Art Museum in Valetta.
While thinking over what I might preach about in my homily today I came across this text from Pope St Gregory the Great “A religious leader should be careful in deciding when to remain silent and be sure to say something useful when deciding to speak. In this way he will avoid saying things that would be better not said, or leaving unsaid things that ought to be said. For just as thoughtless remarks can lead people into error, so ill-advised silence can leave people in their error, when they could have been shown where they were wrong. Negligent religious leaders are often afraid to speak freely and say what needs to be said – for fear of losing favour with people. As Truth Himself says, they are certainly not guarding their flock with the care expected of a shepherd but are acting like hirelings, because hiding behind a wall of silence is like taking flight at the approach of the wolf.”  

There is both wisdom and warning in these words and those of us with the responsibility for the spiritual as well as the material welfare of others ought to ponder them well. In deciding when and how to speak one has always to make every effort to be in possession of the truth regarding the matter. Where questions of faith are concerned we are guided and supported by teaching of the Church. That comes to us in a variety of forms. The Holy Scriptures remind and record for us the revelation of God and its personification and presentation in Jesus our Lord. On the level of explanation and guidance the Catechism is a compendium of references regarding definitions and doctrines which regulate and record aspects of belief and behaviour defining and identifying a Catholic. It helps to simplify and render accessible the more extended statements and pronouncements of the magisterium of the Church. Whatever he or she may be led to believe to the contrary, a literate adult member of the faithful has no excuse for ignorance of the true position of the Church on any matter relating to faith and morals. Though one may plead personal weakness or inability to grasp the full implication of a subject, we may not take refuge in failure to discover exactly what the Catechism says about it. 

As believers truth demands our unconditional assent. Still, our faith as well as our confidence can be challenged in ways that may leave us shaken and disoriented. Assailed on all sides by information and communication on various levels we can’t always be sure either of the veracity or the source of the data. It can be very difficult at times to verify in every case the accuracy and reliability of accounts, attributed actions or statements, or reports. Not every communication we receive or text that we read reflects the reality of either the situation it describes or the reliability of the source from whence it came. At the same time, irrefutable evidence of wrongdoing and immorality can’t be ignored or dismissed. Current issues present a serious test of faith to all of us as well as a weapon of assault to the enemies of our religion. I freely admit to you that in recent times both my faith and my loyalty have been and are frequently tested by the onslaught of confusing reports, and allegation and counter-allegation accessible at the click of a mouse. There can be no doubt that the standards of integrity, decency and honesty that the faithful as well as the secular world are entitled to expect from all in positions of leadership in the Church have been proved recently to have been betrayed and in some cases abandoned altogether. It is a minority but it is sufficiently grave and high placed to represent a crisis of leadership. This puts us all in the front line of fire and for some this has led to complete disillusion while for others it has weakened their trust and lessened respect.  

It needs to be admitted that this not the first time that a situation of this magnitude of complexity and misconduct has overtaken us. The unmistakable difference between those epochs and our own is instant global communication. It’s true that 500 years ago the printing press assured the success of the revolt against doctrine and worship caused in part by lack of reform in the Church. The result of hostile news as well as evident misconduct in our own time is not difficult to discern. Today, even areas once considered among the most loyal and devout have succumbed to secularism and sometimes apostasy.  It behoves us – especially in our capacity as a fraternity of charity embracing loyal defence of the faith as well as care of those in need regardless of their origin or status not to retreat from the field of conflict even when it is at its most enervating. 

Above all, we have tried and tested spiritual resources to call upon and employ. We should seek to offer our worship, our works and our woes in union with our Blessed Lord and Saviour to ask for that recovery of integrity and humility whose neglect has led to the scale of impropriety now being witnessed. True reform comes about as a conversion of minds and hearts after guilt has been acknowledged, remorse demonstrated and appropriate penance done.  

As part of our daily routine of prayer we should begin again to recite the prayer to S Michael, not doubting its efficacy or the realisation that all the evils which seek to undermine and God’s work of salvation stem from Satan.  
May our union with Christ and His Holy Mother as well as the patronage of St John Baptist and our Holy Founder Blessed Gerard, keep us in one mind and aid us in our endeavours. Amen.
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Blessed Gerard, pray for us.


We present here the last of the set of Rosary Prayers from the Manual of Prayers (see previous two posts).

For Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year, 
and the Sundays from Easter till Advent. 

Let us contemplate in this mystery, how our Lord 
Jesus Christ triumphed gloriously over death, and 
rose again on the third day. 

Our Father. Hail Mary, ten times. 
Glory be to the Father. 

Let us pray. 
O GLORIOUS Virgin Mary, by that un- 
speakable joy which was thine at the resur- 
rection of thy Son, obtain of him, for us, that our 
hearts may never go astray after the false joys of 
this world, but may be ever employed in the pursuit 
of the true and solid joys of heaven. Amen. 

Let us contemplate in this mystery, how our Lord 
Jesus Christ, forty days after his resurrection, 
ascended into heaven, attended by angels, before 
the eyes of his holy Mother and of his holy apostles 
and disciples. 

Our Father. Hail Mary, ten times. 
Glory be to the Father. 

Let us pray. 
O MOTHER of God, comfort of the afflicted, 
as thy beloved Son, when he ascended into 
heaven, lifted up his hands and blessed his apostles, 
so lift up thy pure hands to him for us, that we 
may enjoy his blessing and thine also, both on earth 
and hereafter in heaven. Amen. 

Let us contemplate in this mystery, how our Lord 
Jesus Christ, being seated at the right hand of God, 
sent, as he had promised, the Holy Ghost upon his 
apostles, who had returned to Jerusalem, and had 
continued in prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary, 
expecting the performance of his promise. 

Our Father. Hail Mary, ten times. 
Glory be to the Father. 

Let us pray. 
O SACRED Virgin, tabernacle of the Holy 
Ghost, we beseech thee, obtain by thy inter- 
cession, that this Comforter, whom thy beloved 
Son sent down upon his apostles, may teach us 
the true way to salvation, and make us walk in 
the paths of virtue and good works. Amen. 

Let us contemplate in this mystery, how the 
glorious Virgin, twelve years after the resurrection 
of her son, passed out of this world unto him, and, 
accompanied by the holy angels, was assumed body 
and soul into heaven. 

Our Father. Hail Mary, ten times. 
Glory be to the Father. 

Let us pray. 
MOST prudent Virgin, who entering the 
heavenly palace, didst fill the holy angels 
with joy, and man with hope, intercede for us at 
the hour of our death ; that we may be delivered 
from the illusions and temptations of the devil, and 
pass joyfully out of this temporal state into the 
happiness of eternal life. Amen. 

Let us contemplate in this mystery, how the glori- 
ous Virgin Mary, to the great jubilee and exultation 
of the whole court of heaven, was crowned by her 
Son with the brightest diadem of glory, and how 
all the saints rejoice with her in bliss. 

Our Father. Hail Mary, ten times. 
Glory be to the Father. 

Let us pray. 
O GLORIOUS Queen of heaven, accept this 
Rosary which we offer as a crown of roses 
at thy feet, and grant, gracious Lady, that our hearts 
may be inflamed with desire to see thee in thy 
glory, a desire so ardent that it may never die in 
us until it gives place to its happy fruition. Amen. 

HAIL, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, hail, 
our life, our sweetness, and our hope! To 
thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve ; 
to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and 
weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most 
gracious advocate, thy eyes of mercy towards us ; 
and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed 
fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, 
O sweet Virgin Mary. 

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. 
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let us pray. 
O GOD, whose only-begotten Son, by his life, 
death, and resurrection, has purchased for us 
the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech thee, 
that, meditating upon these mysteries, in the most 
holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may 
both imitate what they contain, and obtain what 
they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The painting at the top shows Pentecost by El Greco,
form the collection of the Prado.