Last night, and for the ninth year in succession, I did the night walk to Littlemore to commemorate the journey of Bl.Dominic Barberi there on October 8th 1845 to receive Bl. John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church. It is always an occasion I enjoy and it combines the narrative of Newman's conversion with places he knew and a chance to reflect on one's own, faltering, spiritual progress.
Here are a set of expandable photos of our journey last night, taken by a friend and which she has kindly forwarded to me to use on this blog:
As seems to happen whenever the Oratory organises a public procession I get appointed as a marshal with the privilege of wearing a yellow safety jacket - the Provost, Fr Daniel, said to me at the end of the evening that if I am ever canonised the yellow jacket will be one of my attributes...
For many of thjos eon this walking Pilgrimage this was their first visit under any circumstances to Littlemore, and in many ways it is a very good occasion on which to see the College for the first time.
I have to admit that I set off on the walk in a not especially holy frame of mind - my Yorkshire grumpiness was having an outing - but I did find that as we progreesed through the city centre and suburbs and prayed the rosary that sensation began to fade and I had considerably greater peace of mind at the end of the evening than in the earlier stages.
Our route took us from the Oratory to Trinity College, where Newman was a an undergraduate, St Mary's Church, of which he was Vicar, Oriel College, where he was a Fellow, past the site of the Angel inn where Bl.Dominic alighted from the stage coach that wet October evening 168 years ago to be met by John Dalgairns, and past the site of St Clement's church where Newman served his first Anglican curacy. Passing Greyfriars we stopped at Rosemount where Mrs Newman and his suisters lived from 1833 to 1836, and the cottages they used in 1830-33 as a summer retreat and base for nursing the 1831 cholera victims in Littlemore.
We had a candlelit procession from the house occupied by the Sisters of the Work at Rose Hill, and singing "Lead Kindly Light" walked into Littlemore to a Holy Hour with meditations drawn from Newman's writings before the Blessed Sacrament in the modern church of Bl. Dominic Barberi. Finally we went to the College for our final narrative reflection in the library and then veneration of the relic of Bl. John Henry in the restored chapel where he was received on October 9th, and made his first Catholic communion on October 10th 1845.