Tu es Petrus

‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.’

Downside Abbey is a minor basilica dedicated to St Gregory the Great. This week was an important week for Catholics throughout the world as well as the wider Downside community.

Wednesday marked the Solemnity of the Apostles and Martys, SS Peter and Paul, united in the Church’s calendar.

Thursday marked the anniversary of the martyrdom of Blessed Philip Powell, a monk and priest of the Community of St Gregory, who suffered for the Faith on 30 June 1646. The collections at Downside preserve his crucifix, once in the possession of Abbot John Feckenham, the last Abbot of Westminster Abbey. Powell wore the cross around his neck as he climbed up to the scaffold at Tyburn.

Today marks the Feast of St Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland. The saint’s mortal remains are venerated in the minor basilica, in the North Transept. The abbey’s archives contain his ‘Prison Letters’ including the last letter he wrote, the night before he suffered martyrdom.

The minor basilica is open, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. for private prayer and visits.