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Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Jesuits plan year of anniversary celebrations
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¬†The Jesuits in Britain have announced a year-long programme of events to mark several significant anniversaries. Worldwide, the Society of Jesus is celebrating the 450th anniversary of the death of its founder, St Ignatius Loyola, and the 500th anniversaries of the birth of his companions, St Francis Xavier and Blessed Pierre Favre. However, in Britain, 2006 is also the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of four English Jesuits, so a series of pilgrimages and liturgies are being planned to commemorate them. The year will be launched at Heythrop College on Saturday, 3 December 2005 with a lecture on St Francis Xavier, given by Professor Hugues Didier of Lyon University. There will be subsequent lectures on the historical and contemporary aspects of Jesuit mission engagement (17 June) and on the future of missions and inter-religious dialogue (2 December 2006). A Novena of Grace (a venerable Jesuit devotion) will take place in Jesuit centres in the UK from 4 ≠ 12 March, and on the Feast of Our Lady Queen of the Society of Jesus (22 April), the British Provincial will preside at a Mass at Farm Street Church in honour of Ignatius, Xavier and Favre. To mark the 400 years since the martyrdom of Jesuits Ralph Ashley, Henry Garnet, Edward Oldcorne and St Nicholas Owen, a pilgrimage to Holywell in North Wales is being planned. In the late summer of 1605, a party of 30 pilgrims, including the four Jesuits, visited the shrine of St Winifride. They were later captured, tried for treason and executed. The Holywell Pilgrimage is scheduled for Saturday, 20 May. The Chair of the Jesuits' 2006 Committee, Brother Alan Harrison SJ, says the fact that so many anniversaries coincide provides an exciting opportunity for the Order: "It is an opportunity to celebrate Ignatius and his founding companions, and to remember the sacrifice the 1606 martyrs made for the Faith. But it's also a chance for us to emulate them by deepening our own religious commitment. From St Ignatius we learn about the qualities of spiritual leadership; in St Francis Xavier we see a tireless desire to spread the Gospel; from the gentle Pierre Favre we discover the skills of helping people find God in their life; and from the English Jesuit martyrs who were prepared to endure torture and violent deaths rather than renounce their Faith, we learn courage and trust in God in times of great difficulty. We hope many people will be moved to join us during the course of the year for the lectures, the liturgies and the pilgrimage," Br Harrison added.
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