Nearly 2,000 pilgrims assembled at Chelmsford last Sunday to pay visible homage to Blessed John Paine, who was martyred there in 1582.
Assembling at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the pilgrims, in processional order led by cross bearer and acolytes, proceeded to the Chelmsford Cricket Ground, where Fr. Hugh Pope, 0.P., gave an address.
Speaking of Blessed John Paine, who worked amongst the Chelmsford Catholics in Queen Elizabeth's reign and was arrested and sentenced for high treason, Fr. Pope remarked that old chronicles revealed that " He was so loved by the whole of Chelmsford " that the people rose against the full sentence (of being hanged, drawn and quartered) being carried out and insisted that he must die in peace upon the gallows.
Smiled on the Gibbet
A martyr was " one who bears witness." John Paine bore witness to his Catholic Faith and he lay down his life for the Supreme Truth that is Almighty God, the great Rewarder.
The Chief Martyr of all, Our Blessed Lord, was cool and calm amongst the excited rabble. It was this coolness and calm that was the chief characteristic of our own martyrs. Blessed John Paine was always unruffled and on his gibbet he smiled.
Benediction was then given by Mgr. Doubleday, Bishop of Brentwood, at an altar temporarily erected on the ground.
Pontifical Benediction The procession then reassembled and the Blessed Sacrament was carried by the Bishop back to the church, where he again gave Pontifical Benediction.
The pilgrimage was arranged by the Knights of St. Columba (Brentwood Province) and their Provincial Chaplain, Canon M. Wilson (P.P. Chelmsford), and Knights and Squires, headed by Provincial Deputy J. E. Otterson, schoolchildren, Children of Mary, men and women, came from all parts of Essex.
Many priests were present, including the Very Rev. Mgr. W. O'Grady, V.G. (Walthamstow), Canons Dacey (Brentwood) and Fitzpatrick (Silvertown), and Frs. McKenna (Brentwood), Cotter (Dagenham), Walsh (Braintree), Quinn (Chelmsford), Walmsley (Halstead), Canisious (Hatfield Peverel) and Rogers, C.SS.R.