Mr St John-Stevas, the Shadow Minister of Education, should, I feel, do his homework,
He says in an otherwise heartening and typically brilliant article (August 26), speaking about Fr Cientili (1801-1848): "It is said that when he preached in Leicestershire towns and villages, so strong was the force of his personality, that people entered the Catholic Church although they could hardly understand a word he said."
Now, had Mr St John-Stevas read either Denis Gwyn's book, "The Second Spring" or "Father Gentili:' by James Mad-high, OC, he would know that the whole success of this holy man was, that he came to the Apostolic Mission, speaking English fluently.
We in this parish of Holy Cross, Whitwick, cherish the memory of Fr Gentili. Our foundation as a Catholic parish in 1837 was due to the pioneering work of Ambrose and Laura Phillipps ol Gracedieu,
who brought Fr Gentili over from Italy originally as their chaplain.
We prise the possession in our earliest baptismal register of some 133 entries covering the years 1840 to 1842 written in the fine handwriting and signed by Fr Gentili — two of the precious years of the only 18 years Of his momentous priesthood.
Also within our parish we have the famous Trappist monastery of Mount St Bernard with the bodies of their founders, Ambrose and Laura Phillipps, lying beside the high altar.
Our hope here is that following the demand for the canonisation of John Henry Cardinal Newman, it will be recalled that it was to Gracedieu that his "kindly light" led him in those days of his perplexity. The Rosminians are still using the Gracedieu Manor as their preparatory school for Ratcliffe. They are calling for both Fr Rosmini, their founder, and Fr
Gentili to be raised to the altars, and we, with a living knowledge of their work in our own parish, heartily concur.
I would finally add what may sound startling and novel. Why not do the job properly and thereby give an inspiration to the sanctity of married lire by promoting the cause of Mr Ambrose and Laura Phillipps, without whom there might have been no Second Spring?
That. Mr St John-Stevas, would bring the score up to about six, and would also rejoice us here as we celebrate on All Saints' Day this year the diamond jubilee of the priesthood of our well-loved parish priest, Mgr Arthur Canon Bird, who at 82 years of age still firmly holds the reins after 21 years with us
R. George Collett,
Lay Reader of the Word, Holy Cross, Whitwick Whitwick, Leicester.