Page 7, 18th December 1959

18th December 1959
Page 7
Page 7, 18th December 1959 — First Cistercian Abbot is blessed
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People: Samson Wicksteed, Er
Locations: Rome

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First Cistercian Abbot is blessed

STORMS THREATEN CALDEY

BUT'NOT AN CEREMONY ANGELS'GLES St. Gregory's statue in From a Correspondent UESPITE all that violent seas, an ominous weather forecast and the fears of local fishermen could throw against one small island, at the appointed time on Tuesday of last week, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Petit of Menevia blessed and installed Fr. Samson Wicksteed as the first Abbot of the recently elevated Abbey of Our Lady and St. Samson on Caldey The gale rose with such suddenness and severity on the Sunday that neither the Abbey DUKW nor the R.A.F. launch could be taken to Tenby Harbour. They rode at anchor in tumultous seas only a cable length or so from the jagged rocks of Tenby cliffs.

Throughout Monday the wind and seas rose so high that hopes

of ferrying across the Abbots. Priors, representatives of other dioceses, and the Bishop of Menevia either that day or the next seemed to fade.

Bishop Petit, summoned at 5 a.m. by an urgent phone call to leave Wrexham reached Tenby at midday . . . but the storm still mocked. The local presbytery took on the appearance of a rehabilitation centre as more and more arrivals were reported.

Night came hut no abatement of the storm. It seemed certain that Tuesday would he as had: possibly the "blessing" would be postponed.

Everyone's last prayer was for a calm sea but nothing could be heard but the wind roaring in the chimneys and the surf crashing on the sands .

en Caldey the Monks rose at 2 a.m. and renewed the assault on heaven for fine weather. By 5.30 the wind began to drop. The island, the Tenby presbytery and the boatmen awoke to the shrill ringing of the phone. The DUKW would make the run at 8.30 . . . Immediately the slender resources of the parish church were stretched to their utmost as all the assembled eleigy waited to offer Mass for the new Abbot's intentions.

The wind ceased. The sea was still. Twenty people including a five-month-old baby went in the first •boat. The Bishop. the main party including nuns and TV personnel followed in the "Lollipop".

Only 10 minutes late the threehour ceremony began. the silence broken only by the muted hum of the TV cameras, The new Abbot's crozier, of simple celtie design. was made by the Abbey carpenter from redwood, His ring, a squarecut amethyst, was given by his mother -who with his brother and sisters was present at the ceremony. His mitre and buskins were made by the Carmelite nuns of Bridell.

VISITORS

Present with the Abbots of Nunraw, Mount St. Bernard, Chimay (Belgium), and Belmont were the Abbot of Prinknash and the Prior of Farnborough, who were both members of the earlier Benedictine foundation on the island. The former was the Prior and could recall the days when the present abbey was built, in 1 91 21 3.

The new Abbot. Dom Samson Wicksteed is 37. He served with the RAY. during the war and was present at the clearing of Belsen.

tic has been a member of the Caldey community for 11 years, this year returning from Rome where he took his degree in Canon Law. His home is at Stratford-onAvon.

The Bishop. Abbots and other clergy joined the community in a silent meatless lunch. At the end. the Bishop broke the silence to read a telegram of blessing from the Pope and to offer his own congratulations to the community.

But the truce with the seas and the wind was running out . By the time the last visitors left the island the sea was choppy: twice the engines of the DUKW cut out. However. in the capable hands of the pilot, Er. Anthony, and the copilot. Fr. Stephen, all survived. By Wednesday the weather had deteriorated so much that the island was again cut off.

Had they, wondered the community and the guests, witnessed the "miracle" of Caldey Roads?




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