National church planned to honour 105 martyrs
A NEW church—a national shrine—dedicated to the 105 men and women martyred for the Faith at Tyburn in the 16th and 17th centuries is to rise on the bomjed ruins of Tyburn Convent overlooking Hyde Park.
It will be held in the names of the four Archbishops for the Catholics of England and Wales, and the first big step towards its construction will be taken in the first half of this year.
For many years now pilgrims have gathered outside the convent after making the Guild of Ransom's annual Tyburn Walk from the site of the old Newgate Prison.
This year, on April 27, the Walk will be led by Archbishop Myers, Coadjutor of Westminster, and Cardinal Griffin will give
The new church will be an historic link with the Church of the English Martyrs opened 86 years ago on the hill near the Tower of London, where St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More and other martyrs were executed, A preliminary plan-of-action issued this week says that on May 4, the Feast of the English Martyrs, an appeal for public interest and funds will he formally made.
The scheme has the approval and patronage of the Hierarchy.
Major Patrick Taggart, who as general secretary was largely responsible for the outstanding success of the Centenary Congress, has been appointed secretary of the group of seven — two priests and five laymen — responsible for the national shrine campaign.
Chairman is Mgr. Canon Crea, of the Southwark diocese, who was vice-chairman of the Hierarchy Congress committee.
The other members are Fr. Clement Tigar, S.J., Superior of Campion House, Osterley — one of the chief promoters of the canonisation cause of the English martyrs, — Fr. Laurence boulder. new Master of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom. Mr. L. P. Arnold, former Supreme Knight of the Knights of St. Columba, Mr. David Murphy, in charge of publicity, and Mr. Alan Rye, journalist and organiser of tha 1950 Wembley pageant.
Major Taggart told Tor CATHOLIC HERALD. " The martyrs' church is our ultimate aim. What must be done immediately is to stir up sympathy and support for the project, in which every diocese in the country has a positive stake.
"For every diocese is represented by at least one of those 105 martyrs—men and women, priests and laymen, who helped to keep the Catholic religion alive by their heroic deaths at Tyburn."
The campaign will have art even wider appeal than that. It will include Ireland, whose own Blessed Oliver Plunket, the Archbishop of Armagh, was the last of the gallant line to die at Tyburn in 1681.
And another member of the shrine committee said: " Spain will be keenly interested as well. On many occasions the Spanish Ambassador in London at that time insisted on being present at the execution to secure relics of the new martyrs.
"In fact it may he said that the majority of those we now possess came to us through the Spaniards in this way."
Fr. Tiger told THE CATHOLIC 1-Ieeeere: " am most pleased this venture is starting at last. Despite the difficulties, mainly financial, I'm sure it will succeed.
' LITTLE PEOPLE'
"It isn't merely the big and well-known names among the Tyburn martyrs that count. We shall get the chance to rediscover the ' little people ' of great faith, from every shire in the land, who are practical models for all of vs."
The bombs which made a broken shell of a large part of Tyburn convent and the adjoining houses not only mean today the prospective gram of a fairly substantial sum in war damage compensation—amounting to just over £10,000. It has also brought into the property market neighbouring sites which in prewar days were quite unobtainable.
The foundress of the convent. Mother Mary of St. Peter, has always cherished the hope that one day a permanent memorial would rise close to the spot where the gallows once stood.
Two huge gnarled trees, stout survivors of the air raids on the Marble Arch and Paddington districts, still stand in the convent garden. Both are thought to be more than 300 years old, and there is a theory that the trees may have been used from time to time as gibbets.
This theory — %vhich appears to rest on rather slender evidence would fix the spot where some of the martyrs may haye died within the convent precincts. placing the future church on the very site of the execution.
On this academic point, Fr. Tiger made comment: " "1-here is a dispute about the actual location of the former gallows. Some say it is about 70 yards away from the convent—at the place now marked hi the roadway—while others say it is only 15 nr ?0 yards away.
"The suggestion that those trees may have been used as occasional gibbets can he regarded as a possibility."