28 MARCH 2011Something special happened in York on Saturday. Hundreds of Catholics converged on this historic centre of northern Christianity to honour one of England’s bravest women in a quite extraordinary way. Thanks to the efforts of the Latin Mass Society, and with the kind permission of the Dean and Chapter, for the first time since the Reformation, a Traditional Latin Catholic Mass was celebrated at the High Altar of York Minster. The celebrant was Fr Stephen Maughan of the Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough.
An estimated eight hundred people attended the Mass, which was part of the Latin Mass Society’s northern pilgrimage in honour of St Margaret Clitherow, the York wife, mother and martyr, who was executed under Elizabeth I for her Catholic Faith. This form of Mass, of course, was the same Mass that St Margaret would have attended in secret before being arrested and executed.
Although the Mass took place in the Minster’s large choir, such were the numbers attending that extra seats had to be provided. Even these were insufficient, and yet more people spilled out into the Nave of the Minster. The music was provided by local choir the Rudgate Singers who sang William Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices.
The Latin Mass Society had originally hoped to hold the Mass in the nearby Catholic parish church of St Wilfrid’s, but unfortunately this was unavailable. However, the authorities at the Minster made the LMS very welcome and the Dean,the Very Reverend Keith Jones, and Precentor, Canon Peter Moger, sat in choir during the Mass. Our grateful thanks to them and their staff for all their help.
Following Mass, there was a procession from York Minster through the city streets via St Margaret’s shrine in The Shambles, across Ouse Bridge, the site of her execution. The sight of so many Catholic pilgrims processing and praying the Rosary drew the notice of Saturday afternoon shoppers, and buskers fell silent as the procession passed. Once everyone reached the Catholic Church of the English Martyrs there was Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, offered by Fr Michael Brown, the LMS’s regional chaplain for the North of England, and veneration of a relic of St Margaret Clitherow that was on loan for the occasion from York’s Bar Convent. The church was completely packed.
Thanks should go not only to the Dean and Chapter of the Minster, but to the Bar Convent, our friends at the Church of the English Martyrs and all those volunteer members of the LMS who organised and co-ordinated the day’s events, without which such a happy and successful occasion would not have been possible.
More photos here