St. Thomas of Hereford (c. AD 1218-1282)




LSO known as St. Thomas of Cantilupe, this English Saint’s Feast is celebrated in the British Ordinariate on October 3rd. He has the unique distinction of being the last Englishman canonized prior to the Protestant Reformation two-and-a-half centuries after his death.

Thomas was born into the high society of Buckinghamshire, the son of a Baron, he was educated at first by his uncle Walter, the Bishop of Worcester. Showing promise, his family sent him to Paris and to Orléans, the academic centers of the day where he also excelled in his studies. As a noble, he could have had any kind of life he desired, but he chose to become a priest of God’s Holy Church.

St. Thomas became an expert in canon law and the Chancellor of Oxford University in 1261. Three years later he was made the Lord Chancellor of England, second in power only to the King himself. For political reasons unrelated to his service he soon lost this post and returned to academic life.

Ten years after this in 1274 he attended the 14th Ecumenical Council in Church History, the Second Council of Lyons, which considered the merits of a new Crusade against the Muslim rulers of the Holy Land, and the reunification of the Eastern and Western Churches (sadly a schism still largely unhealed over seven centuries later). Soon afterwards he was appointed as the Bishop of Hereford, a post he initially refused, but accepted when the clerics of Hereford insisted.

Although a recurring theme for many of the English saints was their opposition to the English monarchs who would frequently attempt to assert themselves in ways that compromised the independence of the English Catholic Church, St. Thomas was actually a friend and trusted advisor of the relatively righteous King Edward I of England.

Instead, St. Thomas stood up for the poor of the land against evil usurpatious nobles like Earl Gilbert de Clare and Lord Clifford. The latter actually stole cattle and set fire to peasants’ houses to entertain himself. By threatening excommunication St. Thomas forced Clifford to do penance wearing sack-cloth and ashes, walking barefoot through the streets of Hereford to the cathedral’s high altar. Once there St. Thomas literally beat Lord Clifford with his staff in the presence of all the people to punish and humiliate him for his wicked deeds. So it was the Bishop became quite popular.

St. Thomas was also a friend of Robert Kilwardby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. But after Kilwardby’s death a new Archbishop arose named John Peckham (who is also famous for having earlier debated St. Thomas Aquinas and getting one of his doctrines temporarily condemned) who also disputed with our St. Thomas over his right to rule the diocese of Hereford. In an attempt to reform a dysfunctional English Church plagued by absenteeism and indulgences of the flesh, he tried to clamp down on Thomas’ and many other dioceses. But the popular Thomas would have none of it, asserting his episcopal rights. In fairness to Peckham, the English Church of the time – indeed like the Catholic Church today – was very corrupt both financially and sexually, but Peckham’s reform effort was unfocused and came across as a power grab.

This dispute almost cost Thomas his Church-acknowledged sainthood, as Archbishop Peckham excommunicated him over it. Thomas appealed to Rome over the authority issue and the excommunication, travelling to Italy in person. But before the case could be decided, Thomas died. Before Thomas’ death however, the Pope did lift the excommunication, a necessary prerequisite for sainthood at the time. (St. Jeanne d’Arc, canonized in 1920, is a well-known modern exception.)

Symbolic of Thomas’ many yet unopposed loyalties and loves, his heart was removed from his body and buried in his native Buckinghamshire. Thomas’ flesh was boiled off his body and buried in Italy where he died a loyal subordinate to the Pope of Rome. And the bones of the saint were buried in Hereford Cathedral, where miracles began to occur attributed to his intercession. After many letters from King Edward, his son Edward II and numerous prelates, Pope John XXII declared Thomas a Saint on 17 April, 1320. St. Thomas of Hereford, pray for us!

For a weekly dose of English Catholic Patrimony, if your Ordinariate parish or parochial community would like to receive our This Week in English Catholic History articles in advance in single page black-and-white pdf form (perhaps inserted in the bulletin), please contact us at <>, and we will be happy to oblige, gratis

Written by Mr. John Burford, IV and Dr. Foster Lerner of Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida; a parish of The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, (C) 2018.

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John is the founder and owner of Magnolia Prep, an SAT and ACT tutoring business with branches in several major US cities. Foster holds a Doctorate in Medicine from  Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is currently pursuing post-graduate studies in medicine.

Pray without Ceasing: A Tale from the Spiritual Trenches of the Ordinariates

Repeating this story published elsewhere on September 24th, I am reminded of a scene from that most excellent British nautical film Master and Commander, Captain Aubrey recounts his time with Lord Nelson:

“…He told me a story about how someone offered him a boat cloak on a cold night.

And he said no, he didn’t need it. That he was quite warm.

His zeal for King and Country kept him warm.

I know it sounds absurd, and were it from another man, you’d cry out ‘ Oh, what pitiful stuff!’ and dismiss it as mere enthusiasm. But with Nelson… you felt your heart glow.”

This is to say, our society’s eliminativist materialist worldview (despite the same society being absolutely unwilling to elect an open atheist to any post of high office) often makes us skeptical of supernatural claims of any kind, but de fide these things do happen from time to time. I leave you then to this dark but hopeful tale:

[F]rom someone who wants to remain anonymous, but had quite an experience while accompanying a priest to Rome on Church business (integrating an Anglican parish with Roman Catholicism). Can it really be as spectacular as described? For your discernment.

“I went soundly to sleep only to be suddenly awakened at about three a.m.,” he relates.

“There was the shadow outline of a man in my room, darker than the dark of my room. He was standing near my bed and he had red burning coals for eyes.  My  mind was frozen with terror, and without thinking the words came out of my mouth, “I know who you are!’ His dark arm pointed toward me and the sheets flew up around me and in an instant trussed me like a straight-jacket or a mummy;  I felt myself lifted above the bed —perhaps several feet? — and swung slowly sideways.

“I suddenly knew what was coming, and though panicked, I struggled mentally with the greatest effort to say, ‘Hail Mary’. . . and then I was brutally and suddenly slammed against the wall — to bounce down on the bed. The pain was great, and I knew I should have broken bones; but to my astonishment, I was okay though very, very, sore all the next day or so. I stayed awake the rest of the night praying and trying to make sense of what happened. I said nothing to anyone next morning at breakfast.

“Unbeknownst to me, back in my parish in the U.S., a spiritual friend of mine (call her Mrs. Y) had been vacuuming her carpet and she said suddenly I was standing before her, looking terrified. She was startled; she knew I was away on pilgrimage. A few moments later when I ‘disappeared’ she knew something was terribly wrong. She turned off the vacuum and sat down on her sofa and immediately said the Rosary for me and prayed for me the rest of the day. Mrs Y. was due to work in the sacristy that afternoon, and when she went she met our pastor in a hallway, and told him what happened, he was thoughtful and said he would also pray for me.

“When I returned, I would not have said anything to anyone, except my friend told me what happened and asked what terrible thing had happened to me. So I told  her, and we both went to our pastor and told him the whole story. He said we should ponder and discern what message there was in this. After a awhile we concluded that Satan hated the Anglican union (with Catholics) and what it represented (undoing the English Reformation). He hates it because the Ordinariate is a new work of the Holy Spirit:  truly ecumenical, bringing Anglicans and many lapsed Catholics and people in mixed marriages into or back into the Catholic Church though the beauty of our Ordinariate liturgy and its cultural patrimony.

“We also figured out that Satan really wanted to harm the priest I was with, Fr. X, but that perhaps since I —though just ordinary and ‘not that holy,’ had volunteered to ‘back him up in prayer’ that day in Rome, I was something like a ‘spiritual bodyguard’ for him.

“God would not permit Satan to touch this holy priest, as Fr X  was old and not in good  health; however me being younger and stronger, God permitted Satan to show his displeasure and take out his frustration by throwing me up against the wall instead.

“It was a message that ‘we were doing something right’ in this prototype of the Ordinariate, and therefore we should be encouraged by it.

“And we were! Pope Benedict XVI—our old friend and protector Cardinal Ratzinger —instituted the Ordinariate in the U.K., the U.S., and Australia a few years later.


Ordinariate cathedral makes the list!

Aleteia has a story about the return of traditional church architecture to the United States, as more and more dioceses are moving away from the brutalist, functional modernist architecture that has dominated new church construction for decades.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, that is the cathedral of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter made the list!  Here’s what the article says about it:

2. Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston, Texas 

Also designed by Cram & Ferguson, this neo-Gothic church was consecrated in 2003 for the parish of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Texas. Its name refers to the site of a miracle, when Mary appeared in front of a local pious woman in 1061 in the village of Walsingham in NorfolkEngland. Cram & Ferguson architects decided to celebrate that connection by using wood and stone carvings inspired by medieval churches near the site of the Walsingham miracle. And the shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham, housed inside one of the church’s transepts, was built as an actual-size replica of the Walsingham Holy House, which was originally built by the site of Mary’s apparition but later destroyed by Henry VIII during the Reformation. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham is the home of the Personal Ordinariate of St. Peter, which was formed of parishes that had belonged to the Anglican Communion but are now in union with Rome. Ordinariate parishes retain some traditions of prayer, devotion, and celebration common to the Church of England.


Courtesy of The Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham

Some other great new churches over at the link.  Check them out!   Great to see a return of beauty in church architecture.

Bishop Lopes at the Canadian Bishops’ conference

DSC06026The busiest and most stressful time of year for me is the first couple of days of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB) annual plenary.

Usually on Mondays and Tuesday mornings, I write and file three or more stories from my basement office, using material I have gathered over the previous several days, augmented by a telephone interview or two.  That’s pretty intense, as writing is difficult, even under quiet conditions at home.

Well, at the CCCB plenary, I have to write those three or more stories while paying attention to the proceedings in case I miss anything; often taking notes for a story while listening to English translation via headsets of a presentation in French; and ensuring I don’t forget to take photographs.

But it’s also a great time because, in between the gathering and the writing, I get to spend time with some bishops and this year,  Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was there and we had several opportunities to talk, and were able to sit together at the formal dinner on Monday night in honor of the Papal Nuncio.


I was able to bring him up to date on the Anglicanorum coetibus Society’s recent Annual General Meeting.  It’s great that he supports our lay-run efforts to promote Anglican patrimony and Catholic faith for purposes of evangelization and deeper conversion.


The Apparition of Our Lady of Walsingham (AD 1061)





N September 24th, Ordinariate Catholics since our inception following the promulgation of Anglicanorum Cœtibus in AD 2009 and English Catholics in general since the year 2000 have celebrated Mary most holy under her title Our Lady of Walsingham.

The Cathedral of the North American Ordinariate, the original British Ordinariate erected in 2011, and the Parish Church of Rockhampton in the West Pacific Ordinariate are all named after this apparition. What is its significance?

In 1061, Richeldis de Faverches, an English noblewoman living in Walsingham received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This event was recorded in song by Richard Pynson much later in the 15th Century. The appearance of Mary to Richeldis is one of the oldest recorded Marian apparitions.

In a series of three visions Mary showed Richeldis the House of the Annunciation in Nazareth and asked her to build a replica in Walsingham. Mary also promised that “Whoever seeks my help there shall not go away empty-handed.” The wealthy but devout Richeldis obeyed and built the shrine.

Over the centuries the shrine became a popular destination for pilgrimages. Wayside chapels developed where pilgrims could go to confession and Mass. The Slipper Chapel, built in 1325, was the closest of these to the Shrine, where pilgrims would remove their shoes (or “slippers”) and walk the final “holy mile” barefoot.

Yet in 1538, King Henry VIII sent his commissioners to destroy the shrine. They took the image of Our Lady with the Child Jesus (see image below) as she had allegedly appeared to Richeldis and carried it off to London where it was publicly burnt. The Slipper Chapel escaped destruction, but fell into obscurity.

Pilgrimages ceased, and public devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham and public Catholic devotion in general were made illegal in Britain until as late as 1829, when the Act of Catholic Emancipation was passed by the British Parliament.

In 1896, Charlotte Pearson Boyd purchased the Slipper Chapel and restored it to Catholic worship. The following year, in 1897, Pope Leo XIII officially restored the sanctuary by papal rescript. Pope Leo said “When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.” The first public pilgrimage since the Reformation was organized the same year by the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, and throughout the 20th Century pilgrimages to and interest in the shrine and its significance for English Catholicism has continued and increased.

Thus in England and now in the Ordinariates, September 24th – the Commemoration of Our Lady of Ransom, after Mary’s intercession for captives of a false religion, in the Old Universal Calendar still vivified by Masses celebrated according to the 1962 Missal – has been made the date when we celebrate Our Lady of Walsingham. Blessed Mary, who appeared to Richeldis the Fair and promised your aid to those who seek it, restore the Church in England and her children abroad, your Dowry, and purge your Son’s Universal Church of every contamination. Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us!

UPDATE: A reader, Jeff Hirst of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (UK), writes to fill in details of the recent history of the Anglican and Catholic Shrines that have attracted so much devotion of late:

“Here in the UK the Shrine at Walsingham is a major pat of our Patrimony, and many – if not most – members of the Ordinariate have a great love of Walsingham through our visits to the Anglican Shrine. As well as the restoration of the Catholic National Shrine we remember the revival of devotion in the Church of England. Fr Alfred Hope Patten, the vicar of Walsingham, set up an image of Our Lady of Walsingham in St Mary’s Parish Church in 1922. The copy of the Holy House was built in 1931 and the Image transferred, and the Shrine church was completed in 1936. Under his influence pilgrimage grew, not without opposition, and annual pilgrimages became a much-loved annual ritual amongst Anglo-Catholics. Even as Catholics, the emotional pull to the Anglican Shrine remains strong. At 5.30pm today [September 24th, 2018], Our Lady’s solemnity, the directors of both shrines are to sign an ecumenical covenant. We pray for both Shrines and give thanks for what it means to us in these lands.”

Thanks so much, Mr. Hirst!


For a weekly dose of English Catholic Patrimony, if your Ordinariate parish or parochial community would like to receive our This Week in English Catholic History articles in advance in single page black-and-white pdf form (perhaps inserted in the bulletin), please contact us at <>, and we will be happy to oblige, gratis

Written by Mr. John Burford, IV and Dr. Foster Lerner of Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida; a parish of The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, (C) 2018.

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John is the founder and owner of Magnolia Prep, an SAT and ACT tutoring business with branches in several major US cities. Foster holds a Doctorate in Medicine from  Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is currently pursuing post-graduate studies in medicine.

Anglican tradition spreads in New England

The Anglican tradition is putting down new roots in New Haven, Connecticut, bolstering the Catholic Church in the area.

While evensong has been held monthly by the group known as the Ordinariate Fellowship of CT, their first mass has been announced, both on this blog and elsewhere online, for September 29th.ee076-banner

Further masses are now being announced, and the group has even been featured recently in New Liturgical Movement and the National Catholic Register. As one of the group’s young organizers, Sarah Rodeo, so aptly puts it, “The liturgy must be good, true and beautiful, because the God we worship is good, true and beautiful.”

The first mass will be followed by a second on Saturday, October 27th, and then by masses on November 3rd, and December 11th. Each of these Saturday evening masses will be in the Anglican Use and will take place at 6:30pm at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, New Haven.

The choral masses will be sung by a professional quartet and will feature traditional Anglican hymns, Anglican chant psalms, English plainsong, and English polyphony.

There is one other centre of Anglican Catholicism in New England, the joint parish community of St Athanasius & St Gregory the Great in Boston. But as the group notes, “The celebration of these Masses is the culmination of the efforts the Ordinariate Fellowship of Connecticut, a group of people looking to establish a church of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in CT.

The Catholic Church is blessed by the efforts of such small but growing groups, and it’s great to see their efforts bearing fruit. This new Ordinariate Fellowship of Connecticut is rightly attracting more and more interest as they begin their regular choral masses.

Further information can be found on their Facebook group.

Masses for Our Lady of Walsingham in our rite featured on NLM

The influential blog New Liturgical Movement today featured an article by Gregory DiPippo on Anglican Use masses being held for the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.

As is also noted in the article (Ordinariate Rite Masses for Our Lady of Walsingham, September 24), this is the first time in the Diocese of St Petersburg, Florida, that “the celebration of the Mass according to the rite used in the Ordinariate” will occur.

Other masses featured are being held in Ottawa, Ontario, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and no doubt there are many others being held all around the world in Anglican ordinariate communities.

Divine Worship Form Mass in Tampa, FL on Monday September 24th, 7pm

If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, you won’t want to miss the first Ordinariate Form Mass ever at Epiphany of Our Lord parish this coming Monday evening in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham’s feast day, said by none other than Fr Edwin Palka, who says two Latin Masses according to the 1962 Missal daily at Epiphany in Tampa each morning, so we trust he will be using the Traditional Options.

(You may recognise Fr Palka’s name in connexion with a series of articles he wrote for a well-known Catholic news source regarding the sex abuse crisis.)

Credit must also be given to Mr. Steven Rabanal who, as an instituted acolyte of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, helped instruct Fr Palka on the peculiarities of our Mass that set it apart from either of the other two forms of the Roman Rite. Mr. Anders Bergmann, whose daughter was baptised at Incarnation Catholic Church, is the director of music at Epiphany, and directing Epiphany’s polyphonic Schola choir I am sure will provide a musical experience to the congregation there present well in keeping with our proud Patrimonial Heritage.

This Mass was requested by a canonical member of the Ordinariate and friend of mine whose wife was also baptised at Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando, there being no Ordinariate priest available closer than Orlando (2-3 hr drive). Unable to swing the commute each week, this couple has brought the third Form of the Roman Rite to Tampa–on an occasional basis for now. We hope to film this historic event. Return here for updates…

For those who can’t be there, a taste of what you’re missing:

Indeed, the Ordinariates and their members do exist to evangelise.

Ordinariate parishes exist to evangelize

The National Catholic Register, the best Catholic paper in the United States, is carrying a great article by Peter Jesserer Smith entitled Passion to Evangelize Drives New Ordinariate Communities.

Go on over and read the article, as it gives a great overview of what’s happening in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, starting with a new group in formation in Connecticut, driven by young people.

Included in the story is a mention of the Anglicanorum coetibus Society.

One of the engines of the ordinariate’s development and growth is the Anglicanorum CoetibusSociety (ACS), which has a mission to nourish and pass on the Anglican patrimony within the Catholic Church.

“There’s a great interest in the ordinariates and our Anglican patrimony that Pope Benedict described as a ‘precious gift’ and a ‘treasure to be shared,’” explained Deborah Gyapong, president of the ACS. “That passion animates the society, but our focus is also on evangelization and deeper conversion to the Catholic faith.”

Gyapong said the society helped in the development of a devotional, called the “St. Gregory Prayer Book,” which is in the process of being published. It also encourages the development of Anglican Patrimony Groups, which aspire to become ordinariate communities in formation.

“Our interest is not in studying our patrimony as some kind of historical society, but in keeping it alive because of its beauty, its truth and its goodness,” she said. “Our liturgy, our daily offices, our high sacral language and our community life have helped us grow ever deeper in our Christian faith.”

A Divine Worship Mass to be celebrated in New Haven, Connecticut Sept. 29

The New Liturgical Movement has the news from Sarah Rodeo, who is also an Anglicanorum coetibus Society member.

For the first time, the Divine Worship (Ordinariate) Form of the Roman Rite will be celebrated in the state of Connecticut, on Saturday, September 29th at 6:30 pm, at St Joseph’s Church in New Haven. This Mass is the culmination of the efforts of the Ordinariate Fellowship of Connecticut, a group looking to form a mission of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the state of Connecticut.

A professional SATB quartet and organist will sing and play William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus), and his Ave Verum Corpus as a communion motet; four traditional English hymns (processional, offertory, communion and recessional – all verses will be sung, of course!); the psalm rendered in four-part Anglican chant; David Burtt’s English plainsong propers (psalm-tone based settings of the introit, gradual, offertory and communion antiphons), and an English translation of Credo III.

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