Exhumed with 38 priests, re-buried at Oratory
THERE were no crowds and few passers-by to stand and stare last week when a dosed hearse moved out of the press of traffic in Brompton Road, London, and the remains of Father Faber, renowned author, preacher and writer of hymns, came home for reburial in the Oratory he founded nearly a century ago.
The body was exhumed with those of 38 other Oratorian Fathers from the little cemetery attached to the congregation's country house at Sydenham, which the London Country Council have earmarked for building development But the fortuitous intervention of the planners was not in itself enough to ensure that the body of Fr. Faber should be the first to be interred in the Oratory.
" It was necessary to obtain Home Office permission and the approval of both the Holy See and the Bishop of Southwark." one of the Fathers told THE CATHOLIC HF,RALD.
"The other bodies have gone to Gunnersbury for reburial.
"Consultations with the authoritics began as soon as it became clear that we could no longer hope to keep the Sydenham property. We naturally hoped that we would be allowed to rebury Fr. Faber here."
A simple stone tablet in the floor before St. Wilfrid's altar will mark this great pi iesi's last resting place. He had a deep devotion to that saint.
After he was received into the Church in November, 1845, by I3isho.pWaring, he founded the Wilfridians, a religious community called after St. Wilfrid and known as the Brothers of the Will of God, at Cotton Hall in Staffordshire. He was ordained priest in 1847.
His pastoral zeal was such that very quickly the people of Cotton Hall were flocking into the Church. He and his community are reputed to have converted them all except " the parson, the pew-opener and two drunken men."
A year after his ordination, be joined forces with Cardinal Newman and, when the Oratorians were founded, Fr. Faber established the London Oratory in what had been a tavern, near Charing Cross.
As its first superior, he organised schools for the poor, introduced nightly services. and held processions of the Blessed Sacrament-a devotion new to Londoners of those days.
A former scholar of Harrow and Balliol, and a former Anglican rector of Elton, Northants, Fr, Faber's spiritual writings were to achieve immense popularity, notably among Catholics throughout the English-speaking world.
His hymns are among the most popular ones sung throughout this
country. They include " Faith of Our Fathers," "Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All," "Sweet Saviour. bless us ere we go." and " 0. Purest of Creatures."
Down at Sydenham, news of the exhumation has had a depressing effect on those local people whothough by no means all Catholicsknew the Oratorians well.
"Some of the priests buried there are remembered as real people and real friends," a resident told DIE CATHOLIC HERALD. " For that reason, I suppose, the plan to exhume was a very well kept secret.
SENSE OF LOSS
" I heard the news with a sense of loss. L.C.C. flats are going to be built in time on the cemetery site,
which covers nearly 10 acres. No one seems to know whether the Fathers' country house will go as well.
'' The historical department of the Council sent officials down to have a look at it, though as far as vlaume. aware it has no great historic al
" I'm sorry Fr. Faber's grave has disappeared. But I'm glad its going to reappear in the Oratory. That's only historic justice "