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Discovery prompts Requiem Mass

Bishop William Kenney celebrates Mass for Anglo-Saxons whose remains were discovering during the building of a John Paul II Centre

By on Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The skeleton of one of the Anglo-Saxons discovered during work in the parish of the Immaculate Conception (Photo courtesy of the Church of the Immaculate Conception)

The skeleton of one of the Anglo-Saxons discovered during work in the parish of the Immaculate Conception (Photo courtesy of the Church of the Immaculate Conception)

On Saturday, October 8, a Requiem Mass was celebrated for the Anglo-Saxons discovered during the digging of the foundation for the new John Paul II Centre at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Bicester.

The remains were solemnly interred in the Foynes Memorial Garden, next to the church.

The Mass was celebrated by Bishop William Kenney, CP, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, along with six other concelebrating priests of the Archdiocese.

The remains of the 15 Anglo-Saxon skeletons had been on display in the John Paul II Centre the day before the Requiem for public viewing and for people to come and pray. Bob Hessian from the Bicester Local History Society had arranged one of the most complete skeletons before the paschal candle and the wicker coffin which contained what was left of the 14 others.

The persons whose remains were discovered are thought to date from between 640AD and 770AD, most of who were women aged between 30 and 40 years of age, with the exception of a child under the age of one. Previous disturbances for further burial had contributed to the fact that most skeletons were incomplete. It is believed that the remains were most likely of Christians, probably linked to the Anglo-Saxon minster, which was located a short distance from where the Immaculate Conception Church stands today.

The coffin was solemnly processed from the John Paul II Centre on the evening of Friday, October 7, and received into the Church with Vespers for the Dead.