From a Special Correspondent.
The weather gave cause for forebodings at Prinknash on Whit Sunday afternoon, when the Benedictine community kept its third annual commemoration of the laying of the foundation-stone of the abbey church. A mingling of gusty wind and torrential showers in the morning had suggested that all participants were in for a wetting. Proceesdings began at 2.45 p.m. with Pontifical Vespers in the ancient chard which almost tiny as it is, does duty as the present Abbey Church, and was followed by a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the site of the new Abbey, nearly half-a-mile away.
When the community came out Into the air, it looked so dark overhead that one feared that the next shower would give place to a steady downpour lasting the rest of the day. But Providence, or the Holy Ghost. was kind; we were let off with a mere baptism. As we approached the site, it began to rain heavily and the wind wrestled with the canopy carried over the Blessed Sacrament, at hart wrenching it off its poles, but the rain lasted for no more than a few minutes, and the wind speedily dried damp clothing.
The procession was quite an impressive affair. War restrictions on travel had naturally kept many friends away, but their absence was largely made up for by a noble contingent of Catholic W.A.A.F.s, who turned up.
At the site, Benediction Was given from an altar placed on a huge semicircle of brown earth, that marks the under-croft or upper crypt of the Abbey to be. Hymns were sung in Latin and English, and then the Abbot, the Rt. Rev. Dom. Wilfrid Upton, OS.B., addressed the gathering.
He referred to the previous celebrations of this anniversary, and to his great happiness that the work has been able to go steadily on, however slowly, in spite of the war.
" This abbey," he said, " is a great work of construction to inspire and encourage those who are sick at heart, and even almost physically sick, at the destruction and devastation all around."
He concluded by exhorting his bearers to use their imaginations to picture the new abbey steadily rising, the nineteen chapels in the crypt completed, and countless Masses being offered in them. To picture the nave and lofty choir, in which would take place the unending praise and worship of the divine office, and the pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of Prinknash.
After the Abbot's blessing had been imparted, the gathering gradually dispersed, to inspect in detail the three columns of stone now rising above ground from the concrete foundations.