20 May 2014

Church vandalism

".... The three of us imprisoned there, an old mam, a youth and myself, could do nothing against the forty or fifty men assembled. I attempted to withdraw into myself, to say my prayers and to repeat as much of the offices of the breviary as I knew by heart ... But however much I tried, I could not escape from what was going on round me. I might shut my eyes, but I still saw men standing on the holy altar, hacking at the reredos or carrying away the image of our Lady. I could not close my ears to the sounds of hammering which now filled the church.

" ... the guardianship of the Blessed Sacrament is part of the priest's office; the two men with me realised as fully as I did that the Holy Sacrament must be defended against profanation. While we were conferring together, a man who appeared to be in charge, approached me and suggested that if I surrendered the monstrance, now locked in the safe, he would be willing for me to remove the Sacrament. I could make no terms with him. Seeing that we were preparing to defend the Sacrament at all costs, he consented to my demands and allowed me to carry It to a place of safety. ... after vesting I went to the altar and, opening the door of the tabernacle, took out the Sanctissimum.

"Outside the church were a number of people ... As I came from the little doorway of the Lady Chapel carrying the Holy Sacrament, I found them all on their knees lining the pathway through the churchyard, with lighted candles in their hands.

"I had passed from the noise and tumult of passion to a quiet world of faith.

"That night there was a service of reparation, when the Most Holy Sacrament was borne back to the church. All along the roadway from house to church were rows of people with bowed heads; as the procession passed slowly by they sang the hymn of S Thomas: Therefore we before him bending/ This great sacrament revere; words in which the summit of man's faith is reached. Never had I so realised the God-given quality of faith as on that night when, together with this company of people, I entered the dismantled church.

"During the week people were busy restoring the house of God; carpenters and masons were repairing the damage; other images were substituted for those carried off and the church made gay with many flowers; so that by Sunday it was fit for the offering of the Holy Sacrifice."

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