Martyr's eye returns to Worcester for school anniversary celebrations


Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcestershire will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this month with Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Birmingham and the veneration of a relic of the Jesuit martyr after whom the college is named - his right eye! The college is also planning to erect a memorial plaque on the site of his execution and to publish a history of the school.

The votive Mass of Blessed Edward Oldcorne will be celebrated on 12 July by Archbishop Bernard Longley and other celebrants including Jesuits who have been connected with the school over the past 50 years. But the principal Mass of celebration will be on 19 July when past pupils, staff, governors and others associated with the school will be gathering at the school in Worcester; there will also be a celebratory meal in the evening.

Chaplain Father Paul Johnson says the school is planning a display of past events, with photographs and reports associated with the school's 50 years, which visitors will be free to view and enjoy. "As part of that display we hope to have a letter which Edward Oldcorne wrote and there is the magnificent life size painting of the man himself on display,: said Fr Johnson, who also explains that in due course a memorial plaque will be erected at Redhill on the site where Edward was martyred in 1606. "It's about a mile from the school and on a piece of land that is open to the public,"  he said. "Currently it has a cross and plaque speaking of St John Wall, but we're planning to add another memorial to Edward and to Ralph Ashley too."  Ashley was a Jesuit brother who was executed with Edward Oldcorne. A history of the school is also in the process of being written.

Edward Oldcorne was born in 1561 and after his ordination to the priesthood in 1587 entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). He became implicated in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and was executed the following year. It is said that the force of the executioner's blow was so extreme when he was decapitated that one of his eyes flew out of its socket. It has since been preserved in a silver casket and kept at Stonyhurst College. The relic will be available for people to see and venerate as they find fitting at the anniversary Mass on 12 July. Edward Oldcorne was beatified in 1929 and the school in his name was opened in 1963. The college has composed a prayer and produced a prayer card for his canonisation and is hoping to develop a national shrine to him, ideally in the nearby parish (St Joseph's) in which he was arrested.

"We are encouraging people to use the prayer for Edward Oldcorne's canonisation," said Fr Paul Johnson. "We are hoping to develop a national shrine to Edward, ideally at our parish in St Joseph's since it was within this parish that he was arrested at Hindlip Hall, but this is a long term plan - unless someone has a spare £100k to start us off! The key, for us, is that we're now actively promoting the canonisation of Edward and encouraging people to pray for his intercession."

It is important that Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College knows numbers for the dinner on 19 July for catering purposes. People associated with the school's 50 years and wishing to attend the Masses and/or celebratory dinner should contact Rosie Delord, on 01905 361875 or email office@blessededwardoldcorne.worcs.sch.uk

For more information on Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College see: www.blessededwardoldcorne.worcs.sch.uk/site/

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