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Pope Benedict XVI Visit to Britain

From the 16th - 19th September the British people had the honour of welcoming His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. It was a four day visit where our Holy Father enlightened us through various activities and events.
The Parish participated in several events, and below you will be able to read the accounts of pilgrims who attended these events:
Shannon Henry (Youth Gathering at Westminster Cathedral):

“On Saturday 18th September, I travelled to London to see and hear the Pope address a congregation of young people, each of whom was there representing their parish. The first thing I want to say is thank you for the opportunity of representing our parish. As I stood in the Piazza of Westminster Cathedral, I felt very privileged and happy to be there. Standing amongst a group of excited young people, all sharing the same faith and beliefs as me, listening to Pope Benedict’s warm message to us, is an experience I will never forget.

His message was primarily one of love. Pope Benedict asked us to look into our own hearts and open them to what he had to say. He asked us to think of all the love our heart was made to receive and give, being made for love, having been made in the image and likeness of God. He asked us to find our supreme fulfilment in that Divine love that knows no beginning or end. Pope Benedict addressed the crowd, declaring how we are made to receive love and that we need to thank the Lord for the love we have received from our families, our friends, our teachers, and all those people in our lives who have helped us to realise how precious we are in their eyes, and in the eyes of God.

Likewise, we are also made to give love. At times it seems so natural, especially when we feel our hearts overflowing with generosity and the desire to help others - to build a better world -- but at other times, we realise it is difficult to love -  selfishness, envy and pride can take over. Pope Benedict reminded us to take example from The Blessed mother Theresa of Calcutta, a great missionary of charity and an inspiration that giving love, pure and generous love, is the fruit of a daily decision. Pope Benedict reminded us that we have to choose to love and this requires help - from Christ. This was Pope Benedict’s message and one which he wanted to share with us.

Finally, he asked us to look into our hearts, each day, to find the source of all true love, with an understanding that Jesus is always there to guide us, calling us to spend time with him in prayer. He also told us that amidst the business and stress of our daily lives we need to make space for silence, because it is in silence that we find God; and in silence that we discover our true self. Heart speaks unto heart crystallises the essence of his message and the wider message of our moral obligations onto each other as members of the same species, regardless of divisions or differences. Pope Benedict asked us to pray for the Church and for him, to give him strength in his ministry.”


Margaret Anscomb (Hyde Park, London):
“Monsignor Bill has asked me to say a few words about the Papal visit. I have been saying more than a few words all week to anyone who would listen. The vigil began for our group of 40 when we entered the arena showing our tickets and wristbands. We were entertained in the glorious sunshine by various singing and dancing groups.

We prepared for the arrival of the Holy Father by singing hymns which were uplifting:

Christ be Our Light

One Bread One Body

Christ be beside me

Be still and know that I am God


By the time we were singing the words written by Blessed John Henry Newman, “Lead Kindly Light” it was dark and the moon was out in a clear sky which really added to the atmosphere.

The highlight of the Vigil was when the Holy Father raised the Blessed Sacrament for Benediction and 80 thousand people of all ages knelt in silence. It was a truly prayerful moment.


There was a similar moment in Cofton Park when the Holy Father said the words of consecration the crowd prayed in silence.


Both pilgrimages were very inspiring and memorable and I am so glad I was able to go.”


Anne Akande (Banner Carrier - Hyde Park, London):

“I left the parish group as soon as we got to Hyde Park and went straight away to find the registration point for the banner carriers. After we were given instructions on what to do, we all lined up and the buzz in the atmosphere was beginning to increase. Then at about 4.00pm, we all raised our banners high and begun the procession to the altar. It felt so good to meet all the diocesan bishops in front of tens of thousands. After this we took out seats and awaited the coming of the Holy Father to begin our vigil with him in prayer.


The picture I will never forget came as we were watching the Holy Father approaching Hyde Park on the big screens; hundreds of thousands of people on the streets trying to catch a glimpse of him, some were running! These were Catholics, non-Catholics, and even non-believers! That was mind blowing. When the Holy Father arrives, Hyde Park erupted in song and cheer. The true witness to faith came during Benediction, when the Holy Father knelt down to pray and all the banner bearers lit the huge candles we had been given. And when he raised the monstrance, we all knelt and joined him in prayer. I felt so proud to be a catholic.


Finally, the Holy Father in his message, talked about the World Youth Day in Madrid next August and how he was hoping to see many of us there. I would like to encourage the parents of our parish to allow their children attend and possibly go with them. I was at the World Youth Day five years ago in Cologne; the same year the Holy Father became Pope and it was unforgettable. The young people are the Catholic church of tomorrow and I hope that parents can encourage their children to keep the faith because that is what moulds them into successful individuals.


Thank you for choosing me to carry the banner for the parish.”


Sheila Kearvell (Cofton Park, Birmingham):

The Universality of the assembled pilgrims was very uplifting and there was an atmosphere of calm and respect despite the rain, but as the Pope arrived the sun came out. The bidding prayers showed the diversity of languages: German, Welsh, Irish, French, Vietnamese and Punjabi spoken by the faithful in this country.


The Beatification Ceremony of Cardinal John Henry Newman is something I will never forget especially as his poem “The Dream of Gereontius” set to music by Elgar has been a great influence in my faith and we all joined in singing his hymn ‘Praise to the Holiest’ which shows God’s leadership of all mankind – the Pope, the Bishops and the Priests who all give their lives to lead us to God.


The Pope brought us all together in such a memorable way and we all thank God for the opportunity and privilege of being present through the encouragement and enthusiasm of our own parish priest and diocese.”




In the link below you will find videos and pictures of the visit: