“The only worthwhile striving is after the highest ideals: If you aim for an easy target, your standard will inevitably decline, and no progress is ever made, except through real effort and real suffering.” - Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie                                                                                                                                                 "Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God" - Saint Ignatius of Loyola



Tomorrow, Sunday, is the feast of the Stigmata of Saint Francis.  Let us offer our prayers especially today for the Holy Father, who took the holy name of this beloved saint, for his intentions and for his papacy.

THIS MAN, despising the world, and triumphing over earthly things, laid up treasures in heaven by word and deed.
V. The Lord conducted him through the right ways.
R. And shows him the kingdom of God.
Let us pray :
O LORD Jesus Christ, who to inflame our hearts with the fire of your love when the world was becoming cold in spirit, renewed in the flesh of the most beloved Francis the sacred marks of your own Passion, graciously grant that by his merits and prayers we may steadfastly carry our cross and bring forth worthy fruits of penance. Who live and reign with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 
LET US PRAY for Francis our Pope; may the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.
R. And upon your son whom you have anointed.
Let us pray :
O GOD, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us also ask the prayers for Pope Francis of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), the most recent saint to have borne the holy stigmata of our Blessed Lord, and for our beloved Order and for the wellbeing of the whole Church.

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us and for the Holy Father.
Saint Pius of Pietrelcino, pray for us and for the Holy Father.


One of our confreres has proposed that we say a Novena to Our Lady of Walsingham, asking especially for Our Blessed Mother's intercession for the deliberations and reforms currently under way in our Order.  The Shrine at Walsingham has a full set of prayers, with devotions for every day, in preparation for the rededication of England as the Dowry of Mary in 2020, HERE. All readers of this blog are encouraged to join in this Novena. This Novena starts today, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (or of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, depending on which calendar you follow), and finishes on the eve of the feast, which this year falls on Sunday 24th September.
The Walsingham shrine at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane.
Any other suitable prayers may be used, the follow simple suggestion is adapted from the Customary of the Ordinate of Our Lady of Walsingham, for those who do not have online access at the times they may wish to say the prayers.
MARY, great Mary, most blessed of all Marys, greatest among women, great Lady, great beyond all measure, I long to love you with all my heart, I want to praise you with my lips, I desire to venerate you in my understanding, I love to pray to you from my deepest being, I commit myself wholly to your protection. (from a prayer of S Anselm)
V. Blessed is the holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise*

through her has risen the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, by whom we are saved and redeemed.
V. Let us joyfully celebrate this feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary*
through her has risen the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, by whom we are saved and redeemed. 
Let us pray:

O LORD God, in the mystery of the incarnation Mary conceived Thy Son in her heart before she conceived Him in her womb: grant that, as we, Thy pilgrim people, rejoice in her patronage, we also may welcome Him into our hearts, and so, like her, be made a holy house fit for His eternal dwelling. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.  
Please pray also for the members of the Order in England who are in Walsingham on pilgrimage this weekend, and for those of Our Lords the Sick whom they serve.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.


The 7th Military Orders Conference, founded by our late confrere Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, took place last weekend at St John's Gate, Clerkenwell, site of the former English Priory.

We give below part of the text of the opening address by Fra' Ian Scott, 57th Grand Prior of England.
Model of the Grand Prior's regiment (see below)
Thank you Michael for inviting me this evening. Every time I come here I’m struck by the irony of being a guest in my own house.

The Order of Saint John of Jerusalem is generally thought to have been established around 1080 and the Grand Priory of England was established about 80 years later in 1140. Unfortunately, as Jonathan Riley-Smith pointed out to me, we were pipped to the post by the Venetians who established their Grand Priory a couple of years earlier – so we are the second oldest Grand Priory in the world.

After the reformation there were several gaps but Grand Priors were appointed right up to the beginning of the 19th century – sometimes with such old English names as Feretti, Geraldin, and Laparelli – no doubt the Scottish Laparellis! As you know, the Grand Priory was then re-established in 1993 with Fra’ Matthew Festing as the 55th Grand Prior and I am the 57th Grand Prior. 
A little known fact is that Henry Fitzjames, natural son of King James II was created Grand Prior of England by the bull of Grand Master Gregorio Caraffa in 1687 and was given the title Duke of Albemarle and Baron Romney by his father. He raised what was called the Grand Prior’s regiment, which saw service in the battles at Dublin in 1689, the Boyne in 1690, then at Limerick, Athlone and finally at Auchrin in 1691 which saw the defeat of the Jacobite army in Ireland. The regimental banner was a white flag with in the centre a picture of a burning city and beneath it the motto ‘The Fruits of Rebellion’. I sometime think that maybe this banner should be carried before me on ceremonial occasions.

On a different subject, I should like to mention that my confrere and friend Michael Hodges, Chancellor of the British Association, is currently working on a book listing all the Commanderies of the Order of Malta in Great Britain and I am looking forward to seeing this important work when it is published next year.

Finally, I should like to say how pleased the Grand Priory and the British Association are to support the 7th International Conference and to wish you all an enjoyable and instructive time over the next few days.

Fra’ Ian Scott
Grand Prior  


We are pleased to be able to reproduce here the homily preached at the Victory Mass last Friday, and express our gratitude to Dr Antony Conlon, Chaplain of the Grand Priory, for celebrating the Mass and for preaching.

In the long history of the progress of human ideas misunderstanding of interaction and integration of the spiritual and the physical has been a major problem. A major heresy known as dualism hindered the spread of Christianity from the beginning and has continued in various forms to afflict religious experience to this day. Dualism may be described as a radical scepticism and disapproval regarding all things physical and material. This would include obviously the visible and tangible creation, the body and all its attributes, human organisations and objects fabricated or designed by human effort. Essentially, matter is evil and only spiritual things are good. One extreme form of dualism denies outright any possibility of good coming from or being associated with the body and bodily or man-made institutions or things.


"Sprung from a royal race, Mary shines forth to the world; the help of whose prayers we devoutly implore with heart and mind." (Antiphon 3 of Lauds and Vespers, 1962)
The Icon of Our Lady of Philermo, as she would have appeared 
annually on this day in Malta, wearing the festal 'dress' given by
Grand Master Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (16th to 18th centuries)
Today, the Birthday of our blessed Mother, the Order celebrates the great naval victory of the lifting of the siege of Rhodes in 1565, won at her intercession, known as the Victory Mass. This is also recognised as the feast of Our Lady of Philermo, the precious icon which the Knights found on Rhodes, and which has been their most prized devotion ever since.

High Mass will be sung at the Church of St James, Spanish Place at 6pm.  the celebrant will be the Chaplain to the Grand Priory, Dr Antony Conlon.
The Grand Priory's copy of the icon.
In this troubled age for our world and for the Church, let us ask for Our Blessed Lady's prayers once again to bring peace, in the words of the collect of the Mass.
Let us pray.
Bestow upon your servants, we beseech you O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace, that, as the child-bearing of the Blessed Virgin stood for the beginning of our salvation, so may the solemn feast of her Nativity bring about an increase of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
"Whoever you are who understand that in the floods of this age you are walking among squalls and storms rather than on land, do do not turn your eyes from the brightness of this star, if you do not wish to be overwhelmed by the squalls. If gales of temptations arise, if you run aground on rocks of tribulations, look upon this star, call upon Mary. If you are tossed around by waves of pride, or ambition, or depression, or envy, look upon the star, call upon Mary. If anger or greed or the lure of the flesh strike the poor little ship of your mind, look upon Mary. If you are thrown into confusion by a great mass of sins, or bewildered by a sense of disgust in your conscience, or terrified by a horror of judgement, and you begin to be sucked down by a whirlpool of grief or an abyss of desperation, think upon Mary. 

In dangers, in tight corners, in dubious matters, think upon Mary, call upon Mary. Let her not leave your lips, let her not leave your heart, and, so that you may win the help of her prayer, do not abandon the example of her way of life. As long as you follow her, you have not strayed from the path; as long as you call upon her, you are not without hope; as long as you think upon her, you are not lost; if she holds you fast you do not fall to the ground; as she protects you, you are without fear; with her as your guide, you are not wearied; with her favour, you reach your destination and thus experience within yourself how fittingly it was said: 'And the Virgin's name was Mary'." 
(From the Homilies in praise of the Virgin Mother of S Bernard the Abbot, taken form the Office of Readings for The Holy Name of Mary, Sept 12th. Hat/tip Fr John Hunwicke) 


We are grateful to one of our confreres for the photographs below, which shows the relics of Saint John the Baptist at the former Conventual Church of Saint John of Jerusalem in Valetta, now the Co-Cathedral, displayed for the veneration of the Faithful on the Feast last Tuesday.  The reliquary is in the form of a very realistic severed head upon a dish, but does not, of course, contains a head (See our earlier post on the Feast, illustrating the three supposed relic heads).
Those members of the Grand Priory and British Association who occasionally opine that the liturgical practices of the Order in Britain are elaborate might do well to reflect upon this splendid image, which shows the glorious character of the Order's liturgy though most of its history.  We should be grateful that, despite the ravages of Napoleon, the disappearance of the Knights, and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the liturgy of Saint John's Valetta retains much of the ceremonial and custom of our noble tradition.

Any Maltese member reading this who knows the origin and date of the reliquary would be very welcome to post a comment in the box.


The Monthly Mass today will be celebrated in honour of one of the great 20th Century saints of our Order. Mass is at 7pm in the Lady Chapel at St James Spanish Place.

He was born in Rome of Bavarian parents on 18 January 1880 and was baptized Alfredo Ludovico Luigi. He entered the Benedictine monastery of St Paul-Outside-the-Walls when he was 11, and in 1896 began his novitiate, taking the name of Ildefonso. He made his solemn profession in 1902. After studying philosophy at Sant' Anselmo (Rome) and theology at St Paul's Abbey, he was ordained a priest in 1904. He was appointed Archbishop of Milan by Pope Pius XI on 26 June 1929 and created a Cardinal on 15 July. In 1933 he was invested Bailiff in our Order. A few days before he died, he withdrew to Venegono seminary. His last, moving words were to the seminarians: “You want something to remember me by. All I can leave you is an invitation to holiness...”.

The Collect of the Mass
Almighty God, through your grace, Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso, by his exemplary virtue built up the flock entrusted to him. Grant that we, under the guidance of the Gospel, may follow his teaching and walk in sureness of life, until we come to see you face to face in your eternal kingdom. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The following text is an article written by Blessed Ildefonso Cardinal Schuster OSB, Blessed of the Order of Malta, who was Archbishop of Milan in the 1920's, a most learned scholar of liturgy.
The Sacred Liturgy in its widest meaning, has as its object, the religious and supernatural culture of Christianity in its various sacramentary, euchological, ritualistic, literary and artistic manifestations, embracing thus, as in a vast synthesis, all that which is most sublime which has been created in the world, in order to grasp and express the indescribable and the Divine. Nor is that all.

As children of the Catholic Church and heirs of the dogmatic revelation made to the ancient Patriarchs and Prophets of Israel, our religious culture not only pre-exists, in its fundamental elements, the very coming of the Son of God to the world, but it is present many centuries prior to the most ancient cultures which record history, establishing itself, for that reason, to be respected and venerated by the learned. Moreover, it is not possible to speak of a purely natural and human origin, both because the dogmatic element of Christianity originates from direct and positive Divine Revelation and also because the life and activity itself of the Church are derived from the Spirit of Jesus Who lives in Her.

Therefore we are speaking of a sacred poem, to which Heaven and earth have truly placed their hand, and in which humanity, redeemed in the Blood of the Spotless Lamb, on the wings of the spirit, soars on high, thrusting itself up to the throne of God. This is something more than a simple elevation; since the Sacred Liturgy does not only express that which is ineffable and Divine, but through the Sacraments and its euchological formulae, produces it, so to say, and fulfills it in the souls of the Faithful to whom it communicates the grace of Redemption. One may also say that the very source of the holiness of the Church is wholly comprised in Her Liturgy, so that without the Divine Sacraments, the Passion of the Saviour, in the present economy instituted by God, would not have any efficacy for us, due to the lack of instruments able to transmit its treasures to us.
The sphere of the Liturgy is unsurpassed by that of any other science, since it embraces the first origins of humanity, its essential relations with the Creator, the Redemption, the Sacraments, Grace, Christian eschatology, in other words, all that there is which is most sublime, most aesthetically perfect, most necessary and important to the world.

As for science, the Sacred Liturgy has its canons, its laws, its subdivisions, the same as all other sciences and particularly of positive theology, which is similar both in its method and its aim. One of its purposes, in fact, is the systematic study of Christian worship, distinguishing and classifying the various liturgical formulae according to the basic structure characteristic of each family, ordering them by date of compilation and instituting examinations and comparisons between the various forms, with a view to tracing elements of common origin in them.

It is only thus that apparently irreducible liturgies, such as the Roman, the Gallican and Hispanic liturgies can be traced to a common source. If such were not the case, it would be difficult to see how the unity of the Symbol of Faith (The Creed) failed to lead(as an immediate consequence of its unity) to primitive unity in its liturgical expression. Instead, recent studies and detailed and patient investigation have uncovered in all the liturgies, even the most dissimilar, a common substratum.

At times an identical concept is expressed using quite different ritual formulae and language. Nevertheless, it can now no longer be doubted that eastern and western liturgies all derive from an identical, very ancient form, which provides a foundation for Catholic unity in ecclesiastical worship.


Domine mi rex, da mihi in disco caput Ioannis Baptistæ.
O my lord king, I want you to give me on a dish the head of John the Baptist. (Antiphon of the second psalm of the Office)

Today is the second feast of our blessed Patron, in which we commemorate his beheading at the hands of Herodias and Salome.

Saint John died defending Marriage, denouncing the adulterous union between Herod and Herodias, wife of his brother Philip.

In our day there can be no stronger intercessor than Saint John for the defence of the Sacrament of Marriage so threatened in our civic society, as well as within the Church by those prelates whose eyes are turned to the secular world.

During this week you are all very earnestly encouraged to pray to Saint John the Baptist to defend Christian marriage, and to take this Truth out into the world where amongst even our closest friends we find error. We must not shy away from engaging in this debate.

Pray also that Holy Mother Church may be moved to declare Saint John the Baptist as patron saint of Marriage.

The collect of the Mass is particular to our Order which bears his holy name, and which is a clarion call to Tuitio Fidei.
Deus, qui beatum Ioannem Baptistam et nascentis et morietis Filii tui Præcusorem voluisti, concede, ut, sic ille veritatis et iustitiæ martyr occubuit, ita et nos in Ordine illi dicato militantes tuæ confessione doctrinæ strenue certemus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen. 
O God, who called John the Baptist to be the herald of your Son’s birth and death, grant that, as he gave his life in witness to truth and justice, even so we in the Order which bears his name may strive unerring to defend your doctrine. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Shrine in San Silvestro in capita, Rome
The reliquary in Amiens
The relic in Constantinople
The photographs show the three heads venerated in Rome, Amiens and Constantinople as those of the Precursor.  As many will know, our beloved Order had in its care the Saint’s right hand, which was preserved in Russia following the fall of Malta, only to be lost during the Second World War.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.


Farnborough Abbey - tomb of Eugénie, Empress of France,
foundress of the Abbey
Our August Day of Recollection will take place on Saturday 26th August at St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, GU14 7NQ. Farnborough is easily accessible by car (junction 4 of the M3) or train to the main station in Farnborough then a short walk. For those who do not know it, the Abbey is well worth a visit – founded by the Empress Eugénie as a monastery and Imperial Mausoleum to house the mortal remains of her husband Napoleon III and their son the Prince Imperial (killed under British colours in the Zulu War of 1879), and designed by the renowned French architect Gabriel-Hyppolyte Destailleur (who also designed Waddesdon Manor). 

The conferences will be given by Father Dominic Allain.

This day falls within the study weekend at the Abbey for professed knights, and it is fitting that as many members of the Order, particularly those in Obedience, make the effort to attend to support them.

10.30am        Lauds 
11.00am        First Spiritual Conference, followed by opportunity for Confession/recitation of the Rosary
12.00 noon    Mass
1.15pm          Lunch
2.00pm          Second Spiritual Conference
3.15pm         Vespers, Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

As ever, everyone is welcome: ALL members of BASMOM, other members of the Order in Britain, Companions and guests. Lunch will be in the monastery refectory, by kind permission of the Abbot. A donation of £20 per head will be taken on the day, to cover the costs of the clergy and of lunch. 

Please would you let Fra’ Richard Berkley-Matthews (rbm@clarionwines.co.uk) know if you intend to come for lunch, by Friday morning at the very latest.

Our next Conventual Mass will be on Wednesday, 30th August at 7.00pm in the beautiful Lady Chapel at St James's, Spanish Place, courtesy of the Rector. 

Remember to pray for the work of the Order every day, and for the ongoing constitutional review.


This wonderful feast of Our Blessed Lady, which punctuates the informal days of the summer with a great burst of glory, falls tomorrow. It is a holy day of Obligation, upon which all Catholics will wish to go to Mass. There will be a solemn sung Mass at Our Lady of The Assumption, Warwick Street, W1B 5LZ, celebrated by Father Mark Eliott-Smith, at 7pm.

All members of the Order and Companions, especially those involved in our collaboration with the Ordinariate in the Wednesday Breakfast Club, are warmly invited to attend, and it is hoped that as many of you as possible will choose to celebrate out hosts' patronal feast with them.

Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us!


Today is the day upon which every year we may gain the Portiuncula Indulgence, from the afternoon on the 1st August to sunset on the 2nd.  This plenary indulgence may 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.


For those members of the Order who wish to celebrate the great naval victory over the Turks at the Siege of Rhodes by Grand Master Pierre d'Aubusson on this day in 1480, given below are the prayers to be added to the prayers of the day for the Mass and Office.

D'Aubusson, who was 57 at the time of the siege, was one of the most accomplished Grand Masters ever to lead the Order. A man of fine presence, a polished diplomat, a Cardinal, and as the siege was to show, a courageous leader in war.

The besieging Ottoman army was made up of 170 ships and 100,000 men, under the command of Gedik Ahmed Pasha.  Grand Master d'Aubusson's small garrison was reinforced by 500 knights from France, and 2,000 soldiers under the command of the Grand Master's brother Antoine.

On this last decisive day of the battle, on which the Turks managed to capture the tower of the Langue of Italy, the battle rose to a frenzy during which 4,000 Turks were slain. The Hospitallers finally reached the tent of the Grand Vizier and captured the holy standard of Islam.

Defeated, the Ottoman fleet finally left on 27th August. Safety for Christian sea traffic in the Mediterranean was thus assured, until the fall of Rhodes in 1522.

For next year, it would be very kind if someone would furnish us with a good usable translation into English, this may be sent to "Blog Editor" via the BASMOM office, either by email or post.

The prayers were first published in a Missal in use in the Order's church of Saints John and Cordula in Cologne in 1659.   Two years ago this Mass was celebrated solemnly at Pantasaph on the BASMOM Holywell Pilgrimage.  Chaplains are encouraged to commemorate it in their daily Mass.

This day is celebrated in the Order as a First Class feast.
Deus in te sperántium fortitude, adesto precibus nostris : quas tibi cum gratiarum offerimus actione : pro Victoria Magistro nostro, ac ejus exercitui, contra hostes Fidei Christanæ Turcos, per te mirabiliter Rhodi concessa : supliciter deprecantes: ut solitá tuæ pietatis clementiá muniti, dextráque tuæ potentiæ defensi : ab hostium infidiis, omníque adversitate protegámur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Hostias tibi Domine placationis et laudis offerimus, suppliciter exorantes : ut qui nos de Fidei tuæ hostibus triumphare fecisti : clementer ab inimicorum infidiis, et omni periculo salves et munias. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Filium tuum, qui vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Sumptis redemptionis nostræ muneribus, quæsumus Omnipotens Deus : eorum celebratione tuæ protectionis auxilium : et famuli tui N. Hospitalis Hiersolomitani Magistrum, cum suo Exercitu, gratias de Triumphis Turcarum hostium fidei, nomini tuo sancto referentem : ab omni inimicorum incursu, cunctisque adversitatibus liberes semper et protegas. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula sæculorum. Amen.


The Feast of our Martyr, 12th July, was marked by a small pilgrimage beginning with Mass at the Church of the Precious Blood Borough, and a walk past Marshalsea Gaol, then along the route of the martyrdom from King's Bench Gaol to St Thomas Waterings, on the Old Kent Road, along which Blessed David was dragged on a hurdle to be hanged, drawn and quartered on this day in 1541. St Thomas Waterings was the nearest execution site for the Southwark gaols, being just outside the City of London jurisdiction, as executions were forbidden within the boundaries.  St Thomas Waterings was also the site of the Thomas-a-Becket inn, still extant, where Chaucer's Pilgrims drew the lots to decide the order of the Canterbury Tales, and which Blessed David would doubtless have known from happier times.

The Mass was celebrated by Father Gerard Skinner, a notable historian of the English Reformation saints.  We are grateful to him for sending the text of his homily, which will be of interest both to devotees of our Martyr and to students of the Reformation.  It is given in full below.

Blessed David Gunson, pray for us and for England.
Whether for priest or for layman, the bills were pretty much the same: “Paid to a Frenchman who took away the priest’s bowels after he had been hanged: 20s; for coals to make the fire: 6d; for a wright’s axe, to behead the priest: 4s. 6d; for a hand axe and a cutting knife, to rip and quarter him: 14d; and for the horse which dragged him from the hurdle to the gallows: 12d; for four iron brackets, with hooks on them, to hang the priest’s four quarters on the four gates of the city: 3s. 8d; for an iron wedge to break up wood to make a fire on the moor: 18d;   and for a shovel for the fire: 2s; to a mason for two days’ work, securing the brackets to the gates: 10d per day; for carrying the four quarters of the priest from gate to gate, and other charges, 2s; for straw, candle, drink; and string to bind the priests’ arms before he was executed: 9d;       . . .;     for drink which another prisoner had before he executed the priest: 2d.”  This is a list from the Newcastle Corporation Accounts. In such petty sums was the cost of a life calculated. In such sums, doubtless, would the close of the life of the martyr whom we revere today have been reckoned and recorded. 


The Grand Priory and British Association's annual pilgrimage to Saint Winifride's Well at Holywell, North Wales, took place last weekend.
click all photos to enlarge
As ever, the weekend, well attended by some 30 pilgrims, was immaculately organised. The Saturday included a visit to the Dome of Home, New Brighton, in the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
This church has special relevance for members of the Order, as it is the home of Canon Scott Tanner, who before he went to Seminary at Gricigliano, had served the Easter Triduum in our Conventual Church in Saint John's Wood for two years.  He remains a close friend of many.

The Mass at Holywell was particularly special this year, as instead of being in the Parish Church, it was celebrated in the mediaeval Shrine Church, in which there is no record of Catholic Mass ever having been celebrated since the dark days of the 16th century, though the Orthodox have apparently used it on various occasions. It is in the ownership of the State. We are grateful to CADW and to the Diocese of Wrexham for  their permission and support.
The Shrine Church literally sits on top of the Well.  That is to say that it is supported by the elaborate structure of columns and arches which surround the Well basin.  It is most likely this structural fact which saved the well from destruction.
At the Reformation the church was desecrated, and the altar ripped out, though the walls and magnificent roof left intact. The mortar can barely have been dry, as it is very late Perpendicular in style.  For our Mass it was necessary to erect an altar, containing a consecrated relic stone, and this process may be watched in this video.
The Well itself is the only pre-Reformation place of pilgrimage in Britain which has known no break in the public visit of pilgrims, and was indeed visited by King James II and his Catholic Queen Mary of Modena. The Order's pilgrimage, started by Sir Jeremy Mostyn, has been running for well over 30 years.

A special moment on the Pilgrimage this year was the 70th Birthday of our Chaplain Dr Antony Conlon on the Feast of Saint Toscana, Virgin of Our Order (in some dark places Bastille Day), Ad multos annos!

More photographs of the Mass may be seen HERE.

Saint Winifride, pray for us.
Saint Toscana, pray for us.

PATRONAL FESTIVAL - Saturday 8th July

The Grand Priory will celebrate the Feast of its Patron, Blessed Adrian Fortescue, Martyr, this Saturday with Holy Mass at 11am at St James’s Spanish Place, W1U 3QY. The celebrant will be Father Hugh Allan, OPraem, Titular Abbot of Beeleigh, Prior of the Norbertine Priory at Chelmsford.

All members of the Order, Companions and friends are welcome to join in this celebration. A reception will follow the Mass.


Today, in addition to being the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord, at least in some places, and of Saint Oliver Plunkett, (to whom many members and friends of the Order in Britain are related, and for whom we pray especially this day) is also the feast of Saint Nicasius, martyr of our Order.
The reliquary of the Saint in Caccamo
Nicasius holds an honoured place in the Order's calendar by sharing his feast with the Octave Day of that of our holy Patron Saint John the Baptist. 

He was born in Sicily in 1135. As a knight of the Order of Saint John, he fought as one of the defenders at the siege of Acre in Palestine and was captured and beheaded there in 1187 with many others, including, it is said, his brother Ferrandino.

There is popular belief about Nicasius still current in Sicily, and one hopes in our Order :   under his effigy, drawn on a column of Saint Dominic of Palermo, can be read this inscription, "S. Nicasius Martyr et Miles Domini nostri Jesu Christi, multas in collo habuit glandulas et imperavit a Domino nostro Jesu Christo ut quicumque nomen suum supra se portaverit, glandulae ei nocere non poterint. Amen". Therefore, our Knight was either scrofulous or suffered from scrofula as a consequence of his tortures. He will guard us from scrofula from his high place in heaven, on one simple condition: if our 'glands' worry us or trouble our children, let us write with confidence the name of Saint Nicasius and let us wear it on us or put it in the clothing of the patient; the holy Martyr will indeed know how to cure the disease he knew.

On October 4, 1996 the Archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi issued a decree  to reactivate the ancient Confraternity of Saint Nicasius. The Martyrologium Romanum promulgated in 2001 by Saint John Paul II set the liturgical festivities of Saint Nicasius Martyr to the July 1 “Die 1 iulii – Ptolemaide in Palestina, sancti Nicasii, equitis Ordinis Sancti Ioannis Hiresolymitani et martyris, qui in terrae Sanctae defensione a Saracenis captus et decollatus est”. (July 1, Ptolomaides, in Palestine, to Saint Nicasius martyr, knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, who in the defense of the Holy Land was captured and decapitated by the Saracens). In Caccamo, every year, besides the liturgical festival on July 1, the transfer of the relic of Saint Nicasius is celebrated on the last Sunday of August and the following Monday.
Collect : O God, every year you give us joy in the commemoration of your martyr, blessed Nicasius: grant that through his prayers and example the companions of our Order may grow in faith and always follow you with all their hearts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


High Mass was celebrated at Noon, following sung Lauds, at the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint Gregory by Dr Antony Conlon, the Chaplain to the Grand Priory, assisted by Fr Mark Elliot-Smith, Parish Priest of the church, and Fr Christian de Lisle.
We were privilege to have been offered the use of the Parish's wonderful antique vestments bearing the badge of the Order of St Gregory the Great, a lovely œcumenical detail.

The Homily was preached by Fr John Hunwicke, of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who based his text around a visit to the Church of Our Lady and St Edmund of Abingdon, in Abingdon, which was built by Sir George Bowyer and contains a magnificent east window of Order saints, including Our Blessed Patron wearing the Cross of his own Order upon his camel-skin cloak! In the churchyard is a monument by Eric Gill, the burial place of Montagu, 7th Earl of Abingdon, grandfather the late Grand Master Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie, so there are several connections to the Order.  (Sir George Bowyer was a co-founder of the British Association and the donor of our Church in Saint John's Wood, where his heart is buried.)

It was therefore doubly fitting that, as is customary for this Feast, the chalice given to Sir George Bowyer by Pope Saint Pius IX was used for Mass.

Mass was followed by veneration and benediction with the relic of Saint John the Baptist (see previous post) and then lunch in the parish rooms (where on Wednesday mornings the Order and Companions feed Our Lords the Poor) by the great generosity of some members of the Order.
Fr Hunwicke preaching before members of the Order.


Happy Feast to all our Friends!
St John the Baptist - Guido Reni
Dulwich Picture Gallery
DEUS, qui præséntem diem honorábilem nobis in beáti Ioánnis nativitáte fecísti: da pópulis tuis spirituálium grátiam gaudiórum; et ómnium fidélium mentes dírige in viam salútis ætérnæ. Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen.

O GOD, who makes this day great in honour of the nativity of the blessed John: grant to Your people the grace of spirtual joys, and direct the minds of all the faithful into the way of eternal salvation.Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Grand Priory's relic