Earlier today I had the pleasure and privilege of guiding some 40 US and Canadian pilgrims around sites in Oxford and Littlemore associated with Bl.John Henry Newman, as well as other places of Catholic and historic interest. This was part of a week long pilgrimage to England organised by the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, whose website can be seen here.
I admire the energy of the party - so far this week they have visited Walsingham, York, the Birmingham Oratory and Stratford, and have certainly London and Ramsgate to follow.
We began from the Oxford Oratory, going to Trinity where Newman was an undergraduate from 1817 to 1821, to St Mary's, where he was vicar from 1828 until 1843 and to Oriel where he was a Fellow from 1822 until 1845 and his reception into the Catholic Church.
Bl. John Henry Newman about the time of his reception - a portrait at Keble College
Image: Oriel College website
After a pause for tourist shopping we returned to the Oratory for Mass celebrated by their chaplain, Fr Michael Stinson FSSP. With him, and acting as the server, was one of the Fraternity's seminarians, James Mawdsley, whom readers may recall from his activities as a campaigner for human rights in Burma - there is something about that here. He hopes to be ordained as a deacon next year.
For the Mass and for lunch at a nearby restaurant we were joined by theChairman of the Latin Mass Society, Dr Joe Shaw, who had helped arrange the programme for the group, and indeed suggested me as a tour guide to them.
In the afternoon we travelled down to Littlemore, where Newman built the parish church and school for this outlying part of the parish of St Mary's, and where he largely based himself in the College, which he acquired in April 1842 until he left Oxford early in 1846, and where he was received on October 9th 1845.
The College Littlemore
At the College we were welcomed by the Sisters of the Work who administer it on behalf of the Birmingham Oratory.
The garden inside the College
We had a tour of the library where Newman worked and where he met Bl.Dominic Barberi on the night of October 8th 1845, and the pilgrims were able to receive Benediction in the restored chapel.