The city and archdiocese of Birmingham have lost a veteran fidei defensor. Canon Arthur H, Villiers, rector of St. Anne's, Alcester Street, died shortly before midnight on the 19th inst., in his eighty-second year. It is with St. Anne's that his memory will be chiefly connected; for although there were periods of service at Willenhall, at Darlaston, and for a longer term, ten years, at St. Vincent's, Birmingham, it was in Alcester Street that Canon Villiers put in most of his ministry, first of all as a young curate, shortly after his ordination, and later as rector from 1903 until his death. Since 1899 he had been Diocesan Inspector of Schools, and since 1916 a Canon of Birmingham.
As a painstaking parish priest, an affectionate pastor and a generous friend to the poor, Canon Villiers has his place in the grateful recollection of those whom he served. More widely still, he will be remembered as a champion of the Church, equipped, as the Birmingham Post has described it, with " the lance of argument and the buckler of invincible faith." For fifty-three years or more, in that and other newspapers, " A. H. V." wielded a corrective and sometimes a trenchant pen as a letter-writer. Those who attacked or criticised the Church, on any subject, found in him an epistolary foeman worthy of their keenest steel. The Birmingham daily paid him the compliment, three years ago, of a jubilee leader of tribute to its correspondent of fifty years' standing.
The interment took place, last Saturday, in the burial ground at Olton Monastery, after a requiem Mass at St. Anne's, which was thronged with people from the parish in which Canon Villiers laboured for so many years. Those who were unable to gain entry lined the pavements of the street outside the building. About fifty clergy from Birmingham and the Midlands attended the Mass.
Mgr. C. J. Canon Cronin (Provost) was the celebrant of the Mass. Two former curates of St. Anne's officiated as deacon and sub-deacon. The Rev. B. Withers, of Aston, was the Master of Ceremonies. The Archbishop of Birmingham gave the Absolution, assisted by Fr. Healy and the Rev. J. V. Healey.
Canon John Roskell (Administrator of St. Chad's Cathedral), assisted by the Capuchin monks, officiated at the interment at the Franciscan Cemetery at Olton.