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Not JUST a Saxon church, but an ancient treasure.

This is the Parish church at Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire, England. It is Warwickshire’s oldest church boasting a ‘Saxon Sanctuary’ Exhibition showing the development of the community over the centuries. An entire Millennium of English church architecture can be seen in this building which is an organised jumble of the interesting and quirky. A ‘must see’, top-ten church.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 032

Dating back to the first decades of the eighth century as is proved by the charter of Aethelbald (Saxon king) which mentions the minster which then existed in the area and founded by Aethelric. Its tower dates back to the 900s, if not earlier. It was first established as a missionary church for spreading the Christian faith to the surrounding areas and was inhabited by Benedictine monks at that time. This church was built on the “Wudu Tun” (Wootton) estate near the river Alne which still meanders through the tranquil countryside.

The preservation of historical buildings is paramount in the UK.

The preservation of historical buildings is paramount in the UK.

Today, the remains of this stone church forms the heart of the parish church of St. Peter’s, including the lower two- thirds of the tower and the four arches enclosing the Saxon Sanctuary. As it stands today, St. Peter’s represents almost every stage of English architecture, and its medieval congregation was the first in a long line to raise funds to safeguard the building.

In the barn-roofed Lady Chapel an acclaimed exhibition explores Wootton’s mysterious past, including how it got its very odd name. Wagen (‘Wawen’) was the Saxon lord of the manor a thousand years ago.

 

The  barn roofed Lady Chapel.

The barn roofed Lady Chapel.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 085 Visible inscriptions made by past pilgrims to St Peters. Some of these inscriptions are known to have been made by Crusaders.

As we walked in the church spoke loudly of a Catholic past, and as we moved from one part of the church to the next, I felt a deep sadness about all the Catholic churches that were either destroyed or repatriated during the Reformation. I certainly felt a connection with those Catholics who had been there before me.

What happens before, during and after a Papal election?

Just received this link from CTS (Catholic Truth Society) All you need to know about how the election of a new Bishop of Rome.      Conclave_Mgr_Charles_Burns_EX48 (1)

Shop floor at theCTS bookshop in London

Shop floor at theCTS bookshop in London

SPECIAL OFFER FREE DOWNLOADABLE BOOK ON THE CONCLAVE
Written by Mgr Charles Burns, the Ecclesiastical Adviser at the British Embassy to the Holy See, this free publication explains simply and clearly what happens before, during and after a Papal election.

Centrally located at a site in front of Westminster Cathedral, the Bookshop serves as a shop-window for the CTS.

To find out more, why not visit the CTS Bookshop if you are in central London.Contacts: Telephone (020 7834 1363) or email bookshop@CTSbooks.org.

Orders sent worldwide.

 

Prayer for the Church

O Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme Pastor of Your Church,
we thank you for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI
and the selfless care with which he has led us
as Successor of Peter, and Your Vicar on earth.

Good Shepherd, who founded Your Church
on the rock of Peter’s faith
and have never left Your flock untended,
look with love upon us now,
and sustain Your Church in faith, hope, and charity.

Grant, Lord Jesus, in Your boundless love for us,
a new Pope for Your Church
who will please You by his holiness
and lead us faithfully to You,
who are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Amen.

(located at the website of the Knights of Colombus.)

 

The Catholic connection: Part 2.

Upon hearing of our impending trip to Rome, our parish priest suggested we purchase the CTS booklet on Rome. So we did.  It s available at any parish book store or alternatively, it can be ordered online here.  What a gem!  It recommends starting a trip to Rome by visiting the ancient burial sites of the early Christians. We visited on the third day of our stay, starting out after breakfast and walking down passed the Colosseum, and onwards to the Circus Maximus.

Scale model of the Circus Maximus in Ancient Rome

This arena was the largest stadium in ancient Rome. At one point the Circus could seat 250.000 people, one quarter of Rome’s population. Contrary to the popular misconception that places the  scene of early persecutions of Christians in the nearby Colosseum, it was in the Circus Maximus that most convicted early Christians perished. As the Circus Maximus had more seating than the Colosseum, this popular spectacle was staged there.

Cicus Maximus as it is today.

Records indicate that only once did Christians face wild beasts in the Colosseum. Looking at what remains today of the stadium, I found difficult to picture the scenes of persecution that occurred there so many centuries ago. What I did sense though was a strange connection with my fellow Christians that I know for sure, had died there. My mind wandered to and fro as I contemplated and later prayed for these brave martyrs and saints! The grandeur of this site is an awesome phenomenon, much like the rest of Rome, exposing them as formidable opponents- doing everything in grand style, to perfection, with  flair and no mercy.

It was from this site that we set off to the find the Via Appia Antica (the Appian Way), one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It was on this long road that we were allowed to wonder about those that travelled the road daily to visit with fellow Christians at the catacombs of St. Callistus (Pope).

Porta San Sebastiano is the gate of the Appia in the Aurelian Walls.

About halfway to the Catacombs, we walked through the Gate of St. Sebastian and onwards for a further half an hour before coming upon

a seemingly insignificant little church on the left of the road.

The church is called Domine, Quo Vadis—an odd name for a church, until you hear the parable behind it.

Finding his way blocked by the specter of his Savior, a nervous and surprised Peter who had escaped his persecutors asked, “Domine, Quo Vadis?,” which is Latin for ‘Lord, where are you going?’

Christ replied, “To Rome, to be crucified a second time,” whereupon Jesus disappeared, leaving his footprints in the road’s flagstone as a sign (there’s a cast of them inside the church). A chastened Peter realized that Christ meant he was going to take the place of the weak-willed first pope and die, once again, for his faith. Peter turned around and returned to Rome to take his martyrdom like a man. (In fact, when it came to the moment, Peter gritted his teeth and told his executioners he was unworthy of being crucified in the same manner as his Lord and, in effect, asked them to “Do me upside down.” )

Image from 1catholicsalmon

In the stillness of this little chapel I contemplated the personality of a simple rough-shod, sunburned fisherman from Galilee facing a barbaric form of persecution for his love of Christ. For his belief in the importance of  perpetuating Christ’s message of Love;  The Church founded by Christ Himself.  What an immense sacrifice. Would I ever be able to do something this radical? I don’t know… I pray for the strength to carry the crosses put in my path with conviction and sincerity. St. Peter left his little town and all he loved and cherished for the one purpose given to him by our Lord Jesus: to build His Church. That took absolute of Faith. Absolute Trust. Enduring Love. St. Peter did this so that I may be blessed with Baptism and learn to love my God. Just too incredible for words. I am Blessed.

The preservation of the True Faith was uppermost in the early Christian Fathers‘ priorities. My link with them as a fellow Christian is tangible in Rome. It’s in the air, and this tangibility can be experienced through the Liturgy and in the Holy Eucharist  around the world on a daily basis without doubt.

My resolve as a Catholic was injected with a solid boost of understanding and conviction on the road to the resting place of hundreds of thousands of  Christians who died before me. The Catholic Connection welded firmly into time and space.