Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It's Grim Up North...

On Sunday we had a gentle stroll to a local reservoir

Not the people, the countryside or even the weather! The last couple of days Fr Richard has been a wonderful host taking me round the sights of what was once Catholic Yorkshire. What's grim is to see how effectively the Reformation stamped its heavy heel on what was once a thriving Catholic population.

On Monday we went first to Osmotherley. I was intrigued by this pub sign just round the corner from where we parked the car:

Fr Richard explained that there was once a large local community of monks but that the Mount Grace monastery had been disolved at the Reformation. Queen Catherine of Aragon (whose birth place has already featured on this Blog) had endowed a local Chapel dedicated to Our Lady just outside the town and that we would visit it at the end of our walk.
It was a lovely sunny morning and we took the long route out of the town up towards the moors. I took this photopgraph because it reminded me of something I heard Cardinal Shonborn once say. Commenting on the concept of 'inculturisation' he remarked that the biblical image is quite different. In the Old Testament Yahweh goes before the people of Israel destroying towns and cities so that they could inhabit them. The monasteries all over Europe were witness to the labour of Christian communities that had made the wastelands flourish. Here it seemed to me we can see man's labour holding back the barren waste of nature:

At the end of the walk, and just after it started snowing we reached the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace at Osmotherly. It is looked after by the Benedictines from Ampleforth who run the local parish and remains a place of pilgrimage.

I was very pleased to find that the Chapel was open and that it was possible to pop in to pray and light a candle before the image of Our Lady. The Chapel looked very attractive with the winter sun playing through the windows.
The West window contains four Coats of Arms, being the Arms of those whose patronage established the shrine. These included Sir James Strangeways, Ralph Scrope, and the fourth Earl of Eldon. Presiding above them all in this little corner of Yorkshire were the Arms of Queen Catherine, the red and yellow stripes of Aragon being quite unmistakable.

Later that day we went on to York. I'll post about that on another occasion except to say that the old Viking name for York was Jorvik and, as Fr Richard pointed out, many of the locals still look like their Viking ancestors. And given this little headline, presumably behave like them as well...


Anonymous said...

But you missed out Ampleforth!!!

Fr Stephen said...

I hope to make a special trip to Ampleforth to visit one of our students...