Last night I joined in the annual night walk to Littlemore to commemorate the reception into the Catholic Church of Bl. John Henry Newman by Bl. Dominic Barberi. The walk takes in places associated with Newman's life in Oxford and the events of October 8th 1845 when Bl. Dominic arrived here and travelled out to Littlemore. The following day - now Newman's feast day - Bl Dominic received him and others into the Church, the One Fold of the Redeemer. This was the 170th anniversary of those events.
Not only does the walk commemorate an historical anniversary but it also is designed as an act of prayerful witness, with stations for readings and collects along the way and ends with a Holy Hour in the Catholic church in Littlemore and then moves to the College where Newman and his friends were received in the oratory.
I have done the walk each year since my reception into the Church in 2005, and despite something of a gammy leg, - and after giving two walking tours of Oxford in the afternoon - I managed one again to do the walk. It is an occasion upon which one can have a series of intentions to offer as well as offering up any minor hardships.
I was asked to be the voice of Bl. John Henry in the readings at the various stops we made en route from the Oxford Oratory to Littlemore. This was a gesture I appreciated as not only a convert from Anglicanism but also a member of Oriel.
Following the reflections and benediction in the church of Bl. Dominic Barberi we processed into the College for the final readings in the library, and prayers and veneration of a relic of Bl. John Henry in the restored chapel.
The Library in the College at Littlemore
It was here that Newman knelt at Barberi's feet to seek admission to the Church
Image: Supremacy and Survival
As is customary on this occasion - and seemingly all other visits to the College - the pilgrims were provided with tea and cake by the Sisters of the Work who care for the building and provide an always warm and kindly welcome to this very special place. The College has a quiet holiness that derives from what Newman created there in the years leading up to his reception for himself and his companions - or perhaps I should say was provided for them by Higher Powers - and which so impressed Bl. Dominic - he remarked that the life of Newman and his friends there was much stricter than that of most contemporary orders.
The meeting of the two future beati - a bronze relief in Littlemore Catholic church