Blessed Cyprian Tansi pilgrimage

Blessed Cyprian Tansi

Blessed Cyprian Tansi

As Catholics prepare to mark the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman next month, the last English-based priest to be beatified was celebrated in the annual Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi pilgrimage at Mt St Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire on Saturday.

It is 60 years since Blessed Cyprian entered the abbey where he spent the last 14 years of his life until his death in 1964.

The open air pilgrimage began with Mass, followed by Eucharistic Adoration, a Rosary Procession and Blessing of the Sick, in the grounds of the abbey where Blessed Cyprian lived, worked and walked.

Blessed Cyprian was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Nigeria in March, 1998 and in August that year the first Blessed Tansi pilgrimage took place at the abbey.

The subsequent pilgrimages took place at nearby Grace Dieu Manor until the decision by the current Abbot Joseph Delargy last year to bring the pilgrimage back to the abbey.

Blessed Tansi whose Ibo name was Iwene took the baptismal name of Michae when he converted to the Catholic faith as a nine-year-old.

As a young man, he worked as a catechist and school teacher before entering a seminary at the age of 22. He was ordained a priest for the Onitsha diocese in 1937 at the age of 34. From the moment of his ordination, Michael Tansi joined an energetic apostolic zeal to a life of profound prayer and demanding personal asceticism.
His care for the people committed to him in the diocese of Onitsha made him ardent in propagating devotion to the Sacred Heart, to Our Lady, and the Rosary. His belief in the value for the whole Church of the hidden life of prayer in a contemplative Order, led Fr Tansi to join Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in 1950.

He baptised and heard the first confession and administered Holy Communion  to the future Cardinal Francis Arinze who he inspired to be  a priest.

On becoming a Cistercian monk, he took the name Cyprian. Fr Cyprian worked in the refectory and bookbindery.

The transition to Mount Saint Bernard and the Cistercian life must have been difficult for him, but what always made him remarkable was the iron strength and tenacity of his will which was, from his boyhood, directed entirely towards God. No tragedy or trial could weaken his complete trust in God’s providence.

He used to say: “if you are going to be a Christian at all, you might as well live entirely for God”.

Fr Cyprian died in the Leicester Royal Infirmary on 20 January 1964, aged 61.
Other sayings of Blessed Tansi include:  “Just as a ticket is necessary for a traveller to enter a train so is baptism necessary for us to enter Heaven.”

“Let us remember in our daily joys and daily sorrows The God of the Tabernacle who delights to remain with the children of men.”

“While we have time let us lay up treasures in Heaven so that on the Day of Reckoning our reward may be great indeed”

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