St. Patrick’s Soho

After a little time scoping out the location of some Wren churches in The City, I took the tube to the Soho area.

One the recommendation of His Hermeneuticalness, Fr. Finigan, I strolled over to St. Patrick’s on Soho Square to see if I could find the pastor, the PP, Fr. Sherbrooke.

On entering the church, I discovered an Italian Archbishop, whom I had met before in Rome, saying Mass for a group of pilgrims.  A priest who is living at St. Patrick’s came in at that moment, providentially, and offered to show me some interesting vestments in the sacristy.

To my delight I found two chasubles which had been preserved by a recusant family.  They had belonged to Queen Catherine of Aragon, poor thing, and were used in her chapel.  Card. Pell had helped to pay for the restoration.  Research was done on them at the Victoria and Albert to help date and find their provenance. 

You can see the rose, an eagle and a pomegranate.

Then I had an interesting experience.  Someone came to the door pretty intent on having a confession heard.  Since I knew the language in question, I offered to hear the confession and, having been given a stole by the priest, went off to the box.  On getting out of the box, someone else showed up.  Etc.  Finally, returning to the sacristy I heard that that was the confessional which figured in a well-known story about Fulton Sheen who had spent a lot of time at St. Patrick’s between the 20’s and 60’s.

You just never know.

Afterwards, I had the pleasure of taking some tea with the priests in the rectory.

St. Patrick’s seems like a very busy place.

Then it was off to grab a quick bite and hit the tube to Clapham Park.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Good stories about confession always make me misty-eyed. Thank you, Father.

  2. Matt says:

    Great story. It must feel so gratifying to help others with matters as important as confession.

  3. Jack says:

    Which story about Bsp Sheen is this ? The only one I know is that they almost kicked him out of seminary for ten pin bowling in the corridors :)

  4. MargaretMN says:

    I did not know about St. Patrick’s. I attended Mass at the St. Anselm and Cecelia on the Kingsway (near Lincoln’s Inn Fields) when I didn’t go to the University Chaplaincy on Gower St. when I lived in the West End.

  5. Jack007 says:

    I’d love to hear the Sheen story as well.
    My favor story about Fulton Sheen and Jozef Stalin as altar boys.

    Jack in KC

  6. Jack007 says:

    I’d love to hear the Sheen story as well.
    My favorite is the story about Fulton Sheen and Jozef Stalin as altar boys.

    Jack in KC

  7. Roland de Chanson says:

    Tu, Pater felix, coram angelis ambulas, etiam in regionibus haereticorum! Sancte Patrici, virtute Dei adiuvante Sancto Michaele Archangelo, ab insidiis Anglicanorum defende nostrum catholicissimum blogistam, cuius anima in vestibulo inferorum maximo cum periculo nunc pervagatur.

    Per iocum aliquantulum dico – commoratione tamen bene fruaris in insula Sanctorum Thomae a Becket, Thomae Mori, Iohannis Fisherii, omniumque martyrorum Catholicorum.

    Teque itinere tuo ducat spiritus mox sanctificandi Iohannis Henrici Cardinalis Newman.

    Quid tamen? Nulla Missa “formae extraordinariae” in ecclesia illius Apostoli Insulae sanctorum et doctorum? Qualis contumelia intoleranda! Difficillimus ascensus ab Averno.

    The Latin above is here Englished for the sectarians of Mrs. Windsor, Defendress of the Faith:

    You, fortunate Father, are walking with angels, even in the precincts of the heretics! Saint Patrick, by the power of God and the assistance of St. Michael the Archangel, protect from the snares of the Anglicans our most Catholic blogger whose soul now in the greatest danger wanders about through the vestibule of Hell.

    Just a bit of a joke – but may you enjoy your stay in the isle of Sts. Thomas a Becket, Thomas More, John Fisher and all the Catholic martyrs.

    And may the spirit of the soon-to-be-sainted John Henry Cardinal Newman guide you in your journey.

    But what? No extraordinary form Mass in the church of the Apostle of the Isle of Saints and Scholars? What an unbearable outrage! Most difficult is the ascent from Avernus.

  8. Jack (UK) says:

    Nice one Roland :) but seriously it is culturaly much harder to be a Catholic in the UK than say in Italy, Portugal or Spain. For an Italian to visit the Shrine of a Saint entails nipping down to the local Cathedral, here it means travelling half way across the country.

  9. Jacki says:

    Obviously you were in the right place at the right time, and open to the Holy Spirit. All priests should be willing in this regard – many souls are drawn back to the Church this way.

  10. Roland de Chanson says:

    Thanks, Jack.

    What a tragic loss to the Faith was England. I don’t want to stir up the dregs of past grievances but how much more harmoniously might Clio have sung without the discordant accompaniment of politics and religion. Recent events rip the seamless garment yet again asunder.

    I am ill at ease at what Catholicism confronts not only in the UK but in the USA and in mainland Europe. Modernism marches on. Schism looms hic et ubique.

  11. Bill in Texas says:

    Another church I visited 3 years ago is St. Stephen Walbrook — Wren’s prototype for the dome of St. Paul’s.

    I was disappointed about the Henry Moore altar and the other changes that have been made to turn it into a “church in the round”, but the rest of the church is beautiful.

    Hope you get a chance to visit there (just keep looking up at the dome, and the columns, and ignore the altar).

  12. Jack (UK) says:

    Hi Roland, I know exactly what you mean, the Magic Circle (libral bishops but too orthodox to be modernist) has pretty much controlled Westminster for the past 40yrs, however the signs are that Nicoles is starting to dismantle them, aided and abeted by the Holy See.

  13. St. Patrick’s is a wonderful parish. You are right, Father, that it is incredibly busy. It’s parish right in the heart of London. I think of it as a real ‘Gospel Parish’ as they work closely with those on the edge of society just as Christ spent his own ministry trying to draw people closer to himself.

  14. Jeremy UK says:

    Re the wonderful Catherine of Aragon, she is buried at Peterborough Cathedral with a touching plaque from Aragon above and the legend “Catherine, Queen of England” above it on the grill – she waited 500 years for that, since H VIII unjustly deprived her of the title. You can reach Peterborough in about 45 mins from London on the East Coast line: can easily be done in a day trip. Well worth seeing. Peterboro was an old Benedictine abbey of course.

  15. EJ says:

    The story told by the Archbishop on his televised program is fabulous as only he and his humor and gestures can tell it! In essence if I remember correctly in involves a very hesitant woman who had not been to confession in a very very long time… the Archbishop promises that he wont “say” anything to the woman to make her feel obligated to go into the confessional… so true to his word, when she looked the other way for a moment he quite forcefully “pushed” her into the confessional! Hilarious as he tells it.

  16. RichR says:

    What a wonderful reason to be multi-lingual! Hearing confessions in a pinch.

    Love it.

  17. Scott says:

    Doesnt one need to have faculities in a particular diocese to hear confessions.?
    Or am I misinformed
    I thought faculities were given by the bishop

  18. Sandy says:

    Such beauty in these old churches (the one yesterday also)! These sights give me a feeling of being connected to those of our Faith who have gone before us. It’s fun to go along with you on your trip, Father!

  19. Veritas says:

    I once attended a conference on the edge of the Soho area. One speaker, an American, said that he had never encountered such friendly people as on his way to the hall he had been continually accosted by pretty young women.

  20. EDG says:

    Beautiful vestment. BTW, I think its story is even more touching. The eagle is the double eagle of the Hapsburg dynasty (Catherine was a Hapsburg) and I suspect that the two flowers are not a pomegranate (although the pomegranate is sometimes a symbol of Spain) and a rose, but a rose and a thistle, the symbol of the Tudor dynasty (Henry was a Tudor). Tragic, when you think what might have been.

  21. ETMC says:

    Scott: *Doesnt one need to have faculities in a particular diocese to hear confessions.? Or am I misinformed I thought faculities were given by the bishop*

    I’ve heard that currently, most (if not all) priests have faculties to hear confessions throughout the world.

  22. ETMC,

    I am sure that I will be corrected if this is incorrect–Tim F? Traditionally, faculties received to hear confessions in one diocese from the local ordinary sufficed to hear confessions anywhere so long as the local ordinary had not reserved the right to grant to himself or the priest intended to stay in the diocese for an extended period of time (I believe the rule was one month).

    NOW HOWEVER, at least in the United States, nearly all if not all bishops have required that priests visiting there diocese must receive a specific grant of faculties before they can hear any confessions at all (penitent in danger of death is a separate case). And many also require faculties for any public Mass.

  23. Matthew says:

    Was the language in question “American”?

  24. St Patricks is awesome. I’m going to be living there helping out next year which will be fun. Alas the Church will be closed for renovation for much of the year.
    my blog:
    Robert Colquhoun

  25. Reginald Pole says:

    Sorry, EDG,
    Catherine was not a Hapsburg: she was the daughter of Fernando de Aragón and Isabella de Castilla, los Reyes Católicos. The Hapsburgs enter the picture when their other daughter Joanna (Juana la Loca) married Philipp der Schöne, the son of Maximillian von Hapsburg, the Holy Roman Emperor. It was Juana and Philipp’s son Charles V that united the crowns of Spain with the Hapsburg empire.

  26. Cardinal Pole! Would that you had been Pope, good sir!

    I’ve read that Isabella’s life was marred by family tragedy after family tragedy near the end, and yet she stayed close to God through it all. Is she up for beatification/veneration?

  27. Mr. H. says:

    Wonderful photos, Father.

    Thanks for sharing them.

    Mr. H

  28. EDG says:

    Reginald Pole,

    That is true, and I should have been a little more specific. She was the product of two Spanish kingdoms, Castilla and Aragon, and was of the house of Trastamara, but the house of Hapsburg entered Spain with the marriage in 1496 of Felipe el Hermoso and Juana la Loca. Felipe died in 1506 and Catherine married Henry in 1509. Juana Loca was clearly not going to take the throne and was in what we could call a “conservatorship” at that point, and it was assumed that her first born son (the future Charles V) would inherit. Charles did indeed become king of Spain in 1516.

    Catherine’s marriage to Henry (her second, after her marriage to his brother Arthur) occurred in 1509, but it lasted for a number of years, during which time Charles (Charles I of Spain and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) assumed power in Spain and Austria. In fact, one of the things held against her was her supposed loyalty to the Holy Roman Emperor because of this relationship and her alleged treasonous dealings with him. The double eagle begins to enter depictions of Spanish royalty at that time, and IMHO this is the only explanation for its use in those vestments.

  29. Tim Ferguson says:

    Oh dear, Fr. Augustine, if diocesan bishops in the US are requiring a new grant of faculties for hearing confessions in their diocese, I’m at a loss.

    Canons 967 and 968 seems pretty clear – in part, (c. 967, 2): “Those who possess the faculty of hearing confessions habitually whether by virtue of the grant of an ordinary of the place in which they have a domicile can exercise that faculty everywhere, unless the local ordinary has denied it in a particular place.”

    It would seem contrary to the law for diocesan bishops to wantonly refuse EVERY priest the permission to exercise their legitimate faculty to hear confessions.

    I know that bishops are fraught with concern about liability, in light of the Dallas norms (and I believe that many have been worked up to concern by lawyers who see all the faithful as simply so many potential litigants). Still, I hope that such is not the case.

  30. irishgirl says:

    What a lovely vestment-and from Catherine of Aragon’s day, too!

    Jeremy-I have Lady Antonia Fraser’s book on the six wives of Henry VIII. The last chapter mentions the resting places of all the wives. It said that when her tomb was going to restored, the donations came from women in England, America, and other parts of the English-speaking world. And they all bore the name of Catherine or its variations.

    Catherine had a lot to put with in her marriage to Henry, that’s for sure!

  31. irishgirl says:

    I meant to say, ‘put up WITH’….

    Oy….my brain was ahead of my fingers, as usual!

  32. DerJimbo says:

    Katherine of Aragon spelled her name with a “K”, not a “C”. You can see evidence of this at Hampton Court Palace, where stencilled and painted examples of the royal monogram of Henry VIII and his wife still survive. In addition, one of the symbols used by the couple was the pomegranate, so it is possible that this is what is depicted on the vestments.

  33. Emilio III says:

    DerJimbo, actually she spelled her name “Catalina”. :-) It would have been expected that Christian names be translated according to local usage, since the name was not actually “hers”, but really belonged to Catherine of Alexandria (who presumably spelled it Αἰκατερίνη). Spelling would normally be subject to local usage rather than the subject’s preference, so neither K nor C would be wrong.

  34. John Hudson says:

    I am very fond of St Patrick’s, Soho, and always try to stop in there to pray when I am in London (I usually end up going to Mass at the Oratory or the Cathedral, but have attended the 6:00pm weekday (novus ordo) Mass at St Patrick’s and it is reverent and by the book). One of the things I particularly admire about St Patrick’s is that the church is open late into the evening on Fridays and Saturdays and the Holy Sacrament is exposed for adoration. This in a neighbourhood where so many are in need of prayer.

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