Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Trinitarian Friars

Having visited the vikings of Jorvik, the next day we were again out on the hunt for Yorkshire's historical roots. This brought us to Knaresborough where we were looking for the St Robert's Chapel of the Holy Cross and the cave where he lived. Nearby, until the dissolution, there had been the prior of the Trinitarian Friars.

Things were looking hopeful when we found Abbey Road and only a few yards along St Robert's dwelling. This is all that's left of his Chapel today:

You can still see the piscina towards the upper left hand corner. St Robert was something of a trogladite and just in front of the Chapel there is the entrance to the cave where he dwelt:

Having visited St Robert's home we then set off down the lane to find the old priory. It had been founded in 1252 and had flourished until the King's men closed it down in 1538. Of course, having flourished on that site for nearly three hundred years it was impossible to totally eradicate all signs of its existence. We were heartened by the continual references such as the names of local houses:

However, although the reformers were unable to extinguish the memory of that great Catholic institution, its physical footprint was easier to remove. This is all remains of the monastery today:

It was rather disappointing to see how effectively the monastery had been eradicated. I wondered whether anyone walking along the path and seeing all the references to Our Lady, St Robert, the Holy Cross, the Trinitarians, abbeys and priories, is ever today tempted to stop and consider the Catholic past of this beatiful place. Again a comment of Cardinal Schonborn came to mind: people sometimes think that the canny monks went to find the most beatiful places to build their monasteries. It was not so. Like St Robert they went out into the wilderness but under their influence those wastelands flourished. It is good for us to remember that today. Our vocation is not to maintain beautiful structures (there are very few left!). It is to go out into the barren fields and sow the Word of God. Under its influence the desert will be transformed into a fertile field. This was the call of John Paul II who asked young people to have the courage to go out into the areopagi of today's world and proclaim to the people there 'that God they know not'. Do not be afraid!

Following the river along we came eventually to the pretty little town of Knaresborough where we had tea in the 'Oldest Chemist Shop in England' - but is in fact now a tea room!

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