Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blessed John Paul II in the United Kingdom

Starting on May 28, 1982 (30 years ago!), Blessed John Paul II became the first Catholic Pope to visit Great Britain, specifically, England, Scotland and Wales. His pastoral visit was filled with celebrations of the Seven Sacraments and with ecumenical gestures, like the visits to Her Majesty the Queen and to the Archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral. Throughout his visit he paid tribute to the Reformation martyrs and the Catholic heritage of England and last year I posted a series on those events and homilies as a lead up to his beatification on the lst of May. Here is a digest of those posts:

On May 28, he celebrated the Sacrament of Baptism at Westminster Cathedral, during which he paid tribute to the architecture of the church building, and mentioned not only St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, but also Bishop Richard Challoner, Vicar Apostolic during the 18th century.

He was very busy on May 29: he spoke to the religious orders, mentioning the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Mary Ward, at Roehampton; he and Robert Runcie prayed at the spot of St. Thomas a Becket's murder at Canterbury Cathedral, and he celebrated Mass at Wembley Stadium, speaking of England as Mary's Dowry and of the shrine at Walsingham.

On Pentecost, Pope John Paul celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation at Coventry Airport on May 30th, highlighting the contributions of Cardinal John Henry Newman and of St. Boniface, two great English Catholics to emulate.

On May 31st, in Manchester, he celebrated the Sacrament of Holy Orders with a homily that mentioned the great martyr priests of the recusant era in Lancashire and highlighted the efforts of Blessed Dominic Barberi, Passionist missionary to England in the 19th century, who received Blessed John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church on October 9, 1845. He ordained 12 men that day, so hopefully there are 12 priests in Lancashire celebrating their 30th anniversaries this year on May 31! Then in York, Blessed John Paul celebrated the Sacrament of Marriage and mentioned St. Margaret Clitheroe (sic) and other martyrs of the area.

Like Pope Benedict XVI in September 2010, Blessed John Paul II visited Scotland and said Mass at Bellahouston Park on June 1, giving an overview of Catholic history in Scotland and highlighting--just as Pope Benedict did in 2010--St. John Ogilvie.

He also visited Wales, where he celebrated the Sacrament of Holy Communion and took his farewell from Great Britain from Cardiff Airport:

My pastoral visit to the countries of Britain has now come to an end. I came here as a herald of peace, to proclaim a Gospel of peace and a message of reconciliation and love. I came also as a servant - the servant of Jesus Christ, my Saviour; and the servant, too, of the Christian people. As I have travelled round England, Scotland, and finally Wales, in fulfilment of my pastoral duty to confirm my brethren, I have sought to remind Catholics of the whole saving activity of Christ, the Redeemer, our Risen Lord. In each of the countries I have also been able to meet and to pray with our brethren from other Christian communities. For these wonderful opportunities and for the friendship and brotherly welcome I have received everywhere, I give praise to God and I thank you all.
To the civic authorities of the countries and of the cities I have visited, I wish to express my deep gratitude. The help, support and cooperation you have given to the Catholic people in your areas, and the way you have made available suitable places for my pastoral visit, have reminded the world of the great blessing of mutual understanding and respect which are a part of the British inheritance. I also wish to thank the police and all those who have been responsible for public order and for the smooth running of the events of these past few days.
And now, as I prepare to return to Rome, I express once more my good wishes to all the people of Britain, and in particular to Her Majesty the Queen, especially on this the anniversary of her Coronation. As I leave you, I do so with the prayer that God may bless all the people of Wales, among whom I have spent this memorable day, I say:

Bentith duw arnoch!

You can find more of these addresses here on the Vatican website and an overview of the visit here.

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