Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”


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.