Thursday, 3 November 2011

New swashbuckling traditions

It's Oscott's new tradition (since my first year) that a public bonfire and fireworks display takes place on the sports' field, organised by a local pentecostalist group for the local community of Kingstanding. That's what happened again year, just after the conclusion of our three-day silent retreat. We at Oscott take these anti-Catholic demonstrations with much lightheartedness, of course, though the condition of our hosting the event is that a Guy is not burned on the bonfire! 

Guy Fawkes, a convert to Catholicism, was executed in 1606, along with many of the other conspirators, for plotting to assassinate the king and his parliament. I remember always being the most vociferous complainer at school about bonfire night, so, as is my own tradition, I've offered a rosary for the martyrs, who are not canonised.

After the plot failed in 1605, a service of thanksgiving was incorporated into the Book of Common Prayer, which came to become Bonfire night in our modern idiom, after the king ordered fires be lit to commemorate the failure of the plot. Bonfire night is, of course, on Saturday.

I braved the windy roof of the tower to take a few snaps for our loyal readers, so take a look. Taking pictures of fireworks is not easy, but hopefully you can make something out; you can just about see the chapel belfry on one picture!

Guy himself was arrested in Westminster, but some of the other conspirators fled to Stafforshire, one of England's Catholic heart-lands. Spurned by many Catholics (including some who were martyred themselves later; these men knew many of our canonised martyrs personally), they ended up in a house near Dudley. It's quite moving to think that they passed through this area, and died for the faith just down the road. You never know, they could have even ridden up from London on the Chester Road!

Who'd have thunk it? The Bishop of Rome himself would walk the same streets as they did four centuries later... Talk about time healing!

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