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Historic celebration at Minster

Hundreds of Catholics attend an Extraordinary Form Mass in York Minster for the first time since the Reformation

By on Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Catholics participate in the Extraordinary Form Mass at York Minister (Photo: LMS)

Catholics participate in the Extraordinary Form Mass at York Minister (Photo: LMS)

Over 700 Catholics converged on York Minster on Saturday March 26 to attend the first celebration of a Catholic Mass according to the Extraordinary Form in the Minster.

The sung Mass was celebrated at the High Altar by Fr Stephen Maughan of the Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough.

Afterwards the huge congregation processed through the streets of York in public witness of the Catholic faith to the Shrine of St Margaret Clitherow in York’s historic Shambles, before completing a memorable day with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the Catholic church of the English Martyrs.

The occasion was the Latin Mass Society’s first annual York pilgrimage in honour of St Margaret Clitherow, one of the LMS’s patron saints. The day was organised by Paul Waddington, national treasurer and local representative for the LMS who said: “I am overwhelmed by the response of so many hundreds of faithful Catholics. The number of young families with children in buggies was particularly encouraging.”

Permission for the Mass was given by the Dean, the Very Rev Keith Jones, and the chapter of York Minster. The Dean and the Precentor, Canon Peter Moger, sat in choir during the Mass.

The massive choir of York Minster was packed and over 150 people had to be accommodated in the nave with extra seating brought in.

The music was provided by the Rudgate Singers, a local choir who specialise in the Latin Mass and who sang William Byrd’s polyphonic Mass for Five Voices.

St Margaret Clitherow (1556-1586), who lived in York, was a wife and mother who refused to renounce her Catholic faith and who was martyred by being pressed to death in the reign of Elizabeth I. She was executed on Good Friday 1586 and was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Following the Mass there was a procession from York Minster through the city streets to St Margaret Clitherow’s shrine in the Shambles and then across Ouse Bridge, the place of her execution. The sight of so many Catholic pilgrims publicly processing and praying the rosary drew the notice of Saturday afternoon shoppers, and a respectful silence fell as the procession passed.

The procession finished at the Catholic church of the English Martyrs where a relic of St Margaret Clitherow, on loan for the occasion from York’s Bar Convent, was venerated and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was conferred by Fr Michael Brown, the LMS’s northern chaplain.