Pilgrimage to Canterbury

C'bury 4

The Ordinariate to Canterbury wends

When in April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower,
Then people long to go on pilgrimages
And specially, from every shire’s end
In England, down to Canterbury they wend
To seek the holy blissful martyr, quick
To give his help to them when they were sick.

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Concelebrants vesting, amidst the makings of the Big Picnic Lunch in the oldest Refectory still in continuous use in England.

Following Chaucer and a countless host, The Ordinariate too was on Pilgrimage to Canterbury, not in chilly March or showery April but on Saturday the 13th of July this year.

Our devotional focus was not on the ‘holy blissful martyr’ Thomas but St Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury and Reginald Cardinal Pole, last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Pilgrims gather for Mass on the Chapel of St Augustine’s, among them our distinguished guest speaker Prof Eamon Duffy (wearing the tie!)

Saint Augustine and his companions were sent to England by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, arriving in Thanet in the Year of Our Lord 597.   The Venerable Bede, in his ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’, relates that Augustine and forty companions approached Canterbury, bearing according to their custom as their standard a silver cross and the image of our Lord and Saviour painted on a panel.   Augustine, founded the Monastery of SS Peter and Paul on land given to him by King Ethelbert, where he was to be buried in the Abbey renamed for him.

Reginald Pole was born in 1500, claiming descent through his mother from the Plantagenet royal family.   He was educated at Oxford and Padua and held ecclesiastical office under Henry VIII, but fled to Europe over the King’s ‘great matter’.   He returned to England as Cardinal and Papal Legate at the start of the reign of Queen Mary.   He became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1556, being ordained priest two days before his enthronement.   Cardinal Pole died in London in 1558, a few hours before Queen Mary; he is buried in the Corona of Canterbury Cathedral.

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Mgr Keith Newton, our Ordinary, preaches a short homily at the Pilgrimage Mass
Read the text of his Homily here

A Votive Mass, in honour of St Augustine, began the Ordinariate Pilgrimage at St Augustine’s Abbey.   After Mass, a Big Picnic Lunch was also at St Augustine’s Abbey.   The Pilgrimage then moved on to Canterbury Cathedral and ‘Reginald Pole : a Counter-Reformation Prince in Reformation England’, an Address by the celebrated academic and author Professor Eamon Duffy.


Professor Duffy is internationally known for his work on the history of late medieval and early-modern popular religious belief and practice; he has done much to overturn the popular image of late-medieval Catholicism in England as moribund, presenting it as a vibrant cultural force.

Listen to Prof Duffy’s Address here


Ordinariate pilgrims then joined the Cathedral congregation for Choral Evensong, and finally Devotions at the Tomb of Cardinal Pole, were led by the Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton.

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