Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pope John Paul II in York

On the Feast of the Visitation, May 31, 1982, Venerable Pope John Paul II celebrated a Mass with families in York. His homilies and speeches throughout this pastoral visit were prepared in consultation with the bishops of England, Scotland, and Wales. This pastoral visit, with very subdued contact with the government of Queen Elizabeth II, was paid for by the Catholics of England, Scotland, and Wales. Because of the Falklands War, it had very nearly been called off. In this homily the Pope highlighted important Catholic martyrs and saints from York, specifically St. Margaret Clitherow:


York, Monday, 31 May 1982

My brothers and sisters,
1. On this feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary I greet you in the Lord. I am happy to be with you in this historic city of York. We are in the shadow, as it were, of the beautiful Minster, and in the spiritual company of so many saintly men and women who have graced these northern counties.
I deeply appreciate the presence here of many fellow Christians. I rejoice that we are united in a common Baptism and in our renewed search for full Christian unity.
I greet all those civic representatives from different cities and towns of Northern England. I thank you all for your welcome.
I am conscious of the history, especially the religious history, of this part of England. I refer to Holy Island where Aidan and Cuthbert brought the Catholic faith. I recall Bede, who wrote so lovingly of the early life of the Church in England. I remember that a thousand years later men and women laid down their lives in this region for the faith they loved. Mary Ward taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ to English exiles; Margaret Clitheroe gave her life in this city of York. These holy women inspire women today to take their rightful place in the life of the Church, as befits their equality of rights and particular dignity. In that same period the priest, Nicholas Postgate, carried the Gospel across the moors and gave his life on this very spot.

Here is an interesting feature about Father Nicholas Postgate, who was martyred during the Popish Plot hysteria on August 7, 1679. Pope John Paul II included him among those English martyrs beatified in 1987.

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