FROM ALAN McELWAIN IN ROME
THOUSANDS of pilgrims, led by most of the bishops of England and Wales, have been arriving here this week for the Canonisation on
Sunday of the 40 English and Welsh martyrs in ceremonies which will bring to St. Peter's Basilica a thoroughly English atmosphere.
The number of those to be canonised, the tremendous witness of faith that they represent and fervour of devotion to them, will make the day both solemn and exciting.
The canonisation has its significance not only for Catholics everywhere but also for Anglicans who share in the solemn tradition of the laying down of lives for one's own faith.
Anglicans who attend the ceremony in St. Peter's should feel very much at home when Christendom's mightiest church resounds to old favourites among English hymns. There are to be Praise to the Holiest in the Height, All People that opt Earth do Dwell. For All the Saints, Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, Jerusalem the Golden and The Church's One Foundation, which will be sung as Pope Paul leaves St. Peter's in procession.
The psalm The Lord is My Shepherd will be sung in the lovely Crimond setting and the music of the Mass will be by the English composer Byrd.
The celebrated Sistine Chapel Choir is even standing aside to let the Westminster Cathedral Choir take over, with Mr Colin Mawby conducting and Mgr. Wilfrid .Purney, precentor of Westminster Cathedral Chapter, leading the congregational singing.
The choir will be augmented by the choirs of Rome's Venerable English College and the Pontifical Beda College, and English-speaking sisters from Regina Mundi, the international theological college for nuns, will also sing. The Rev. Harry Smythe, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, said this week that the martyrs deserved the "loving respect of Anglicans for their courage and sacrifice.
"Many Anglican martyrs also gave telling proof of moral heroism. Each martyr, Roman Catholic and Anglican, bore his witness within a highly complex political and religious situation.
"Papal policy on the one side, as seen especially in its instrument, the Bull Regnans in Excelsis of 1570, and government policy on the other, sought survival and self-vindication by any means, however imprudent, oppressive or immoral. Anglicans now grieve sincerely at the death of those faithful and courageous Roman Catholics, Victims of policies in Church and State which, we trust, no Christian of today would seek to justify.
"Relationships within the community of Christians were broken. This break has had many evil consequences. "God's authority in matters of conscience and of the Faith makes hard claims upon us all. One of the most exacting of these, which Anglicans and Roman Catholics must now accept in penitence together, is the need of making unity between ourselves.
"When we look back with sorrow upon the historic origins of our division, and begin to share responsibility for our enmity in the past, we may trust that the faithfulness of our forerunners in the Faith. on both sides, can, in God's mercy, become the means of our peace.
"The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion are now turned towards each other in quite a different way from that attitude of hostility which prevailed in the 16th and 17th centuries, The historic meeting in Rome in March 1966 of His Holiness Pope Paul VI with His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and their Joint Declaration, commit us to the new task of learning to understand, accept and love one another."
Shorter ceremony The actual ceremony in St. Peter's, starting at 10 a.m., is expected to last about two hours—much shorter than the time taken in days when canonisations were full of pomp and pageantry. There will be no flourish of silver trumpets as the Pope enters the Basilica and, although the Swiss Guards will add their glamour to the occasion, gone will he the caparisoned Noble Guard and the Palatine Guard. both recently disbanded on the Pope's orders.
The Te Deum will not be recited as in pasi canonisations. Pope Paul, after the usual prayers for guidance, will simply pronounce the canonisation by intoning: "We decree and define the 40 Blessed Martyrs of England and Wales to be Saints." He will then read their Christian names in Latin and surnames as they are.
At this climactic moment of canonisation, St. Peter's great bells will ring out. Symbolic gifts of two loaves of bread, two ceremonial candles, a small barrel of water and one of wine. wilt be presented to Pope Paul after the proclamation. In previous times, it was.also customary to offer gifts of caged birds. This has been dispensed with. Relics carried in procession will include a piece of rope with which blessed Edmund Campion was hanged.