By GRACE CONWAY High up on the cliffs at Dunwich, where the sea has scoured away the coast for many centuries, a thousand pilgrims from Many of the scattered parishes of East Anglia caing on Sunday to honour the saint who, in the year 630, brought the Christian faith to that part of England. He was the Benedictine monk, Felix, from Burgundy, and he was to East Anglia what St. Augustine was to Kent. Dunwich is only a tiny village, but it takes its name from a noble city which lies buried in the sea three miles beyond those cliffs on which the pilgrims stood. The East Anglians arc proud of their faith, and as they wound up the village road and through the leafy lane on to the cliffs they said the Rosary and sang their hymns, while wondering holiday-makers, who lined the route, looked on.
From Slough, Aldeborough and Woodbridge, Lowestoft and Southwold, Norwich and Beccles, Bungay, Yarmouth these pilgrims came—on chartered buses, in cars, on bicycles. Families left their beach parties to join the psoeession —some carrying their picnic gear with them. It was a real cross-section of Catholic lay-folk. with no organ
ised sodalities. Only the men of the Guild of the Blessed Sacrament were there to lead and the Knights of St. Columba to act as guides. Otherwise it was quite a spontaneous affair with thc parish priests walking with their own parishioners. Mothers and fathers came with their babies in their arms; others
pushed prams. Old folk walked with the aid of sticks and a onelegged man kept up a good pace on his crutches. A couple of small sea scouts, their bathing kit under their arms, toddlers, boys and girls in holiday dress, grandfathers and grandmothers—all came to do homage to St. Felix.
And leading the hymns was the band of the British Legion. of whom only about two are Catholics. That Fs just an indication of the sense of proprietorship which the whole of East Anglia, whether Protestant or Catholic, takes in this essentially Catholic pilgrimage.
On the cliff top where the turf and heather has been crisped with the sun of this amazing summer, the pilgrims and the priests ranged themselves in a circle round Fr. Francis Curran, 0.F.M., in his brown Franciscan habit, to hear him talk about their ancient heritage of the faith. In the background were the ruins of the medieval Franciscan monastery —relic of the great days of East Anglican Catholicism. Under their feet were the old tomb-stones and, grim reminder of the horror that has Just past, here and there a piece of twisted, coiled iron—remnant of the land-mines with which the cliffs were sown and which even up to last year made the use of this part impossible.
Babies All Quiet The babies all kept quiet while the priest preached his sermon; one man I noticed had four puppies on a lead and their mother on another. They stood stock still, too. Over in another part of the crowd I noticed a group of German prisoners of war —they had come over with the party from Bungay.
After the sermon, Canon Davidson, who founded the pilgrimage in 1927 (it has been held continuously except for the war years ever since) put on his gold cone and walked to the very edge of the cliff. 'I here he blessed the sea, praying that God would bless all those who gain their living from it, who travel on the sea and asking peace for those buried beneath its mentioning specially those whose bodies lie in the submerged City of Dunwich.
Fr. Jolly. parish priest of Aldoborough. who is the secretary of the Guild of St. Felix told me its aims and the purpose of the pilgrimage. " First of all," he said, " it is a public act of faith in the Catholic religion. by people holding to-day the same faith that St. Felix taught. It brings into focus the Guild of St. Felix whose object it is to link up the isolated parishes; to anneal for cars for the use of priests working in East Anglia for Mass and the Sacraments, and, also to bring back a general devotion to the great East Anglian saints!'
The great need of these Catholic parishes of East Anglia, anart from facilities of hearing Mass, are schools for the children.
A public Mass for the repose of the Souls of those who lost their lives in the recent Whitehaven pit disaster, will be offered at the Church of St. Joseph, Stockport, to-morrow, Saturday, September 6, at 9 a.m.
"The Irish Letter" will be found this week on page S.