American college hosts exhibition of relics from Stonyhurst

 Priceless religious relics from Stonyhurst College are currently on show in the United States. The relics form the major part of an exhibition at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, which focuses on the preservation of religious objects by Catholics during the Penal Times. Such is the importance of the artefacts that Curator Jan Graffius travelled to the States with them. "It was a great responsibility because they are simply irreplaceable, but everything went according to plan and they all arrived safely." said Jan. Among the Stonyhurst relics on display are a trunk and vestments owned by St Edmund Arrowsmith, who was executed in 1628, a chasuble commissioned by King Henry VII, a chasuble embroidered by Helena Wintour, a daughter of one of the Gunpowder Plotters, an alabaster altarpiece, oil on copper paintings that decorated the Shireburn Chapel, several illuminated medieval Book of Hours, a pocket shrine made in 1623 and an illustration from a 1582 book showing Edmund Campion and his companions being dragged on hurdles to their execution. The exhibition contains more than 60 objects, mostly from Jesuit institutions across the United States and in England. "These objects, acquired at great risk, embodied the faithful's bonds with God, church tradition and each other," said Nikolas Markantonatos, the Assistant Director of Media Relations at Holy Cross. "When suppressed, many Catholics during this period came to identify their faith with the prayer books, paintings, and objects of ritual such as Mass vestments and chalices that they were able to obtain or to hide." Over the years Stonyhurst has become a treasure trove of these historically significant relics and 54 were packed up by specialist shippers at the College and Jan was at Holy Cross to supervise the unpacking. "It will be wonderful for a new audience in America to be able to see such wonderful objects relating to the faith of Catholics in England during penal times," she said. A documentary programme and interview with Jan will be broadcast on EWTN from North America on Wednesday, April 12, and from London on SKY (guide number 680) on Tuesday, April 18.

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