Tuesday, 7 August 2007

A mini-pilgrimage

Lancaster Castle, where the martyrs were imprisoned, and the site of the executions are both within the Cathedral parish, so today's feast is of particular importance to us. This afternoon a group walked from the Cathedral up to the execution site, about half a mile up the hill.

It was a sort of mini-pilgrimage, a journey to a place made holy by the faith of those who died there.

The executions took place in a very beautiful spot overlooking Morecambe Bay and the southern fells of the Lake District - the natural beauty of the site contrasting the ugliness of the human potential for cruelty and destruction.

Once assembled, we prayed the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. The names of the martyrs were read out - this time, not as criminals but as examples of faith and endurance. A stone, placed here in the early 1990s, marks the spot.

When the martyrs were taken to their place of death they must have wondered whether Catholics would ever be free in England again. It is wonderful that we were able to pray freely at the place where they died; wonderful too that the Cathedral spire, a permanent symbol of the faith they lived, can be seen from that place where they passed between earthly pain and heavenly glory.