Today, December 29, is the feast of St. Thomas a Becket. As all the world knows, the pilgrimage to his shrine at Canterbury Cathedral inspired Chaucer’s work – amd as all the world knows, that shrine was destroyed by Henry VIII (although, according to legend, it contents were hidden in a locale know to a special few, whose descendants will return it when the building is Catholic once more). To-day, Canterbury Cathedral still points out the sites of the shrine and martyrdom, and remains an incredibly beautiful building. But are there any other reasons to visit? Oh, yes!
The Catholic Church of St. Thomas Becket has a number of smaller relics to venerate; St. Martin’s church – the church used by St. Bertha at the time of St. Augustine’s arrival in England, and the oldest church in use continuously in the Anglosphere; St. Dunstan’s church, which contains the head of St. Thomas More; the ruins of St. Augustine’s Abbey; and, at nearby Ramsgate, the Catholic shrine of St. Augustine, Pugin‘s favourite of his own churches. The shrine offers the Traditional Latin Mass every day, while there are Ordinariate communities at Deal and Folkestone. In recent years, as in so many European Protestant countries, the pilgrimage has revived – and the modern Catholic may find it well worth its while.But whether you hike from Southwark or Winchester, or just drive to Canterbury, be sure to pray for the completion of the work of Ss. Augustine, Thmas a Becket, and Thomas More, inteh return of England as while, Crowm and Country, to the Faith.
O BLESSED VIRGIN MARY,
Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother,
look down in mercy upon England thy “Dowry”
and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee.
By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world;
and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.
Plead for us thy children,
whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross,
O sorrowful Mother.
Intercede for our separated brethren,
that with us in the one true fold
they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.
Pray for us all, dear Mother,
that by faith fruitful in good works
we may all deserve to see and praise God,
together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.
Nicholas Patrick Stephen Cardinal Wiseman (1802-1865)