Images from a May 2015 visit to Pugin’s Shrine Church of St Augustine, Ramsgate in Kent to accompany words from Dom Bede Camm, the Benedictine monk of Downside Abbey. Dom Bede went to Keble College, Oxford and was ordained in the Church of England in 1888, serving as Curate at St Agnes, Kennington before being received into full communion in 1890. He made his first profession as a Benedictine a year later and transferred to Downside Abbey in 1913. Dom Bede had a great devotion to the English Martyrs and, in 1904, published a two volume collection of their lives. He had an early hand in saving the newly-founded Tyburn nuns from financial ruin, helping them to secure their home, which they had put up for sale. He also designed the famous replica Tyburn Tree canopy above the altar of the shrine.
‘I was brought up, as are so many nowadays, in the firm belief that the Church by Law Established was the true representative of the old Catholic Church in England, the Church of Anselm, Dunstan, and More. It was the Beatification of our Martyrs in 1886 which first directed my attention to them, and in reading their history I soon found the whole fabric of this belief tumbling about my ears like a pack of cards. Why did these Martyrs suffer torture and death? Simply for clinging to the Faith of their Fathers. They had not changed their religion, they were not the innovators; they died because they held dearer than life the old Faith of old England. We cannot serve two masters; we must choose between the cause for which these men fought, that is the old religion, and the new religion of their persecutors. If we wish to have our part with More and Campion, we cannot serve the Church of Cranmer and Elizabeth.
...We have long ago forgiven the horrors of Tyburn: the only revenge that we desire is the divine vengeance of Christ’s Martyrs who cry beneath the Altar of God, “How long, O Lord, How long?” Their one desire on earth was the conversion of their dear England; that, we may be sure, is their prayer now. It is also our own’.
from A Book of English Martyrs, 1915, by Dom Bede Camm OSB, 1864-1942
Fr Lee Kenyon