By MARIAN CURD
A LARGE green rug thrown by the Carmelite Prior to the centre of the lawns of Aylesford on Saturday fell in the centre of 800 children from the Westminster Diocese and 10 little boys sat down.
They sat where 400 years ago stood the high altar of the ancient priory church and where even in their lifetime a great church may rise in reparation for Aylesford's silent centuries.
The church that 'turned round'
Archbishop Myers and Bishop Craven attended the dinner held last week at the Hendon Hall Hotel to mark the silver jubilee of the reopening of the restored Church of Our Lady of Dolours, Hendon. and the centenary three years ago of the church's foundation.
Archbishop Myers remarked that the restoration had meant that the church had been "turned round"the entrance became the exit and the altar the front door. He congratulated the rector, Mgr. Canon Coote. on making the parish "a centre of real spiritual activity."
Other speakers were Alderman S. Sumpter, a parishioner, who will be Hendon's next Mayor, and the present Mayor, Alderman Knowles. From Millwall, Teddington, Enfield, Su n b u ry, Hammersmith, Haverstock Hill, Islington, Highgate and many other parishes the boys and girls, in more than 20 coaches. poured into Aylesford to pray, with Cardinal Griffin. for the conversion of England, for the return of lapsed Catholics, and for the increase of fervour among Catholics.
The thunder and rain of the early morning cleared just in time for the children to explore the priory and grounds, to visit the chapel where the relics of St. Simon Stock are enshrined, and, by 2.30, line up ready to greet the Cardinal on his arrival from Allington Castle.
A man of Aylesford, a layman, with a little procession of scarletcloaked. white-veiled children, members of the Guild of St. Agnes from Romford, waited by the old stone bridge to welcome the Cardinal and to escort his car through the village and up the hill to "The Friars."
A long lane of boys and girls lined the narrow path from the road to the old gate-house-with the Papal flag flying above it-and knelt as the car from Allington passed and the Cardinal blessed them.
Canon Simmons. from Maidstone. and Canon Fairhall were there to meet His Eminence.
The sky remained dull and overcast but the heavy air carried the scent of lilac and fresh green grass as the children began the long procession of Our Lady across the cloisters, becoming then the first to walk 'officially" down the Rosary Way-where the five Joyful Mysteries are already in place.
Each plaque Mystery is worked in ceramic, hanging on the old wall and each set in a little flower garden. The first Sorrowful Mystery has a stonebuilt shrine and by it stood Mr. Adam Kosnowski, artist of the plaques. together with Mr. P. Lindsey Clark. Both have done much artistically in the restoration of Aylesford.
The third Sorrowful Mystery, the Crowning with Thorns, will be erected near a thorntree already growing.
Encircling the whole Rosary Walk the procession. escorting the ancient statue of Our Lady presented to the Friars by the former owners of Allington Castle, came slowly on to the lawns before the open-air altar, and watched all the while by the Cardinal from a lattice window on the first floor.
Proud bearer of the procession's
only banner, 13-year-old Anna, from Jamaica, walking with the girls of Si. Aloysius's School, Somers Town, accompanied the mass of panamas, berets and bare-headed boys filling the hollowed centre of the grass before the permanent outdoor altar.
Around the edge, a fringe of nuns and parish priests were the first to kneel as across the grass and to his throne draped in red and gold came the Cardinal's procession, escorted by Fr. Malachy Lynch, Prior of Aylesford, with other members of the community.
A slight breeze stirred the leaves of the giant copper-beech behind the altar and a shower of blossoms fell in the paths, but the rain stayed away while the Cardinal spoke to the children of the Dowry of Mary.
"England was the Dowry of Mary and so, as it were, her special property and possession-and if we want Our Blessed Lord to come back to this country, then we must bring His mother back too," the Cardinal told them.
After the Cardinal had given Pontifical Benediction, he returned to the Priory-and the children were let loose on a never-ending pile of sandwiches, cakes and cartons of orangeade.
Armfulls of bluebells and wild flowers were gathered "for Mum," handfuls of holy pictures were bought. and with typical generosity the boys and girls crammed their pennies into every collecting box.
Then, sitting, kneeling, standing, around the steps of the altar, they gathered to hear Fr. Malachy tell them the story of the Friars and then to be enrolled in the Brown Scapular. The Prior gave the Papal Blessing.
"The Cardinal is going," came a sudden cry and all the 800 children streamed across the lawn once again to line the path. This time His Eminence passed down a lane of cheering. waving children-and he, smiling and waving almost as energetically, passed through the gate-house archway and away down the lane.
THE CARDINAL TALKS TO HOXTON RALLY
Before the Mayor of Shoreditch, the Mayors and officials of neighbouring boroughs and the Catholics of Hoxton. Cardinal Griffin on Wednesday spoke to a Catholic schools rally in Shoreditch Town Hall of the financial burden imposed by the 1944 Education Act.
Explaining the scheme by which each parish has been given an annual target, the Cardinal said that Hoxton has to find 11,000 per annum.
"In your parish of Hoxton," added his Eminence, "the existing primary school has got to be reconstructed. The cost of this, after the 50 per cent. Government grant has been received, will be about /20,000.
"Moreover, a secondary school is being built in the Bethnal Green area and this will serve some of the needs of your parish. Accordingly, your parish would have to bear some of the cost. the Catholic share of which will be no less than £40,000."