We are very blessed in this Parish to have several relics of St Thomas Becket in the martyrs chapel of our church and at the end of next month, another relic of St Thomas a Becket that is kept in Esztergom, Hungary’s old capital, will be coming to the UK. and will be in Canterbury for the weekend of 28th and 29th May. What is St Thomas’ connection with Hungary? While studying in Paris, Thomas became friends with Lukas Banfi who later became Archbishop of Esztergom. After Thomas’ martyrdom, Archbishop Lukas founded a church and provostship on the hill named after St Thomas a Becket and dedicated it to the memory of the martyr. It is widely recognised that Margaret of France, Queen of England and later of Hungary, who had know Thomas Becket in the court of her husband, Henry II, was instrumental in bringing his relics to Hungary.
On Monday 23rd May at 5.30pm there will be a Mass at Westminster Cathedral and veneration of the relic. We have been asked to bring our own relic to be part of the veneration. The Hungarian relic will then be processed to Westminster Abbey. On Friday 27th it will be at Rochester Cathedral for evensong. On Saturday 28th the relic will arrive at St Michael’s Church, Harbledown around 3pm. From there will be a procession with the relic into the city and to the Cathedral where there will be a welcome service around 4pm. On Sunday 29th there will be Mass in the crypt of the Cathedral, celebrated by Fr Valentine Erhahon with Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigorous, Bishop of Szaged in attendance.
We don’t say that relics have any magical power but they are a material tangible connection with the Saint. In the fourth century the great biblical scholar, Jerome, declared, “We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore God.” Relics remind us of the holiness of a saint and his cooperation in God’s work. At the same time, relics inspire us to ask for the prayers of that saint and to beg the grace of God to live the same kind of faith-filled life.
I will be in Lourdes that weekend with a group from the parish so, sadly, I won’t be able to attend. I do encourage as many as can to meet at St Michaels on the Saturday and walk in with the relic or join the procession at Westgate. We are also looking for about 6 volunteers to help steward the processions
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