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Pope Francis

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Seminary follows footsteps of persecuted English priests

2009-10-30

It’s a deep look at the history of the Venerable English College showcased in its crypt that dates back to the 1330’s.

Rev. Andrew Headon
Venerable English College

“I wanted to bring the church into the crypt to tell something of the seminary and of the college.”

Like its transformation from a hospice to a seminar in 1579.

The exhibit illustrates the secret journey Jesuit priests made from Rome to England during the reformation in the 16th century.

The reformation started when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and build the Church of England, destroying monasteries and friaries, in the process and eventually making it illegal to be a Catholic Priest.

But seminaries like the Venerable English College were founded and continued training English priests.
Missionaries would then travel to back to England to defend their faith, putting their lives at risk.

This collection of frescoes tells the story of how many were caught, tortured and martyred.  

Father Andrew Headon talks about how even this seminary wasn’t free from those who wanted to persecute catholic priests.

Rev. Andrew Headon
Venerable English College

“They didn’t have facebook they didn’t know what they looked like, they sent in spies into the college and communities as well so they could be recognized when they got back to England.”

The exhibit also shows a recreation of a prison cell, where some were held captive.

Visitors can also get an idea of what it was like for many priests who had to hide in “priest holes”.

Rev. Andrew Headon
Venerable English College

“It’s difficult to put ourselves in their feet and to know what was going in their minds, some of them must have been so fired up they were ready to give their lives today rather than tomorrow.”

The new exhibit coincides with the re-opening of the church at the Veneral English College which dates back to 1888.

For the past two years, every piece of marble, mosaic and painting has been restored.

During the reformation students at the college would sing Te Deum under the masterpiece after they heard a brother was martyred.

In all 44 from this college were martyred over the span of 100 years.

Rev. Andrew Headon
Venerable English College

“It’s an exhibit like no other not only does it inform, but it’s also challenging, it’s a pilgrimage a mission in itself.”

A mission that will be open to the public until July 2010.

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