Exhibition: Memory, Martyrs and Mission
The exhibition, located in the Crypt of the VEC, will explore three themes:
• Memory – key aspects of the history of the English Hospice and the VEC;
• Martyrs – who have been closely associated with that history;
• Mission – aspects of the work of missioners to England and Wales over the centuries and the role of the Hospice and the VEC in that history.
It will bring together a range of artefacts and documents from three places:
• the VEC;
• St Edmund’s College, Ware (English College, Douai, items);
• Stonyhurst College.
The greater part of the exhibits will be from the collections at Stonyhurst. A significant number of these items belonged to the VEC down to the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 and the removal of the College’s English Jesuit administrators.
To avoid potential confiscation of what could have been deemed Jesuit property, these items were removed by Fr John Thorpe, SJ (1726–1792), a Yorkshire priest who spent most of his life in Rome as the Roman agent of the English Jesuits. Prior to his death in Rome in 1792, Fr Thorpe left what he had removed from the VEC to the English Academy at Liège, the lineal descendant of St Omers, the English Jesuit college at Saint-Omer, then being operated by the suppressed English Jesuits.
When the community and scholars from Liège were forced to flee from the French Revolution in 1794, all the VEC items bequeathed by Fr John Thorpe were transported from Liège to Stonyhurst where they have been kept ever since. The majority of these objects
will be displayed at the VEC for the first time since 1773.
The exhibition will be organized under the following main themes:
• St Thomas of Canterbury (c. 1118–1170)
• From English Hospice to Venerable English College
• Douai-Rheims and the VEC connection
• Martyrs of the VEC
• Martyrology at the VEC
• Sodalities, with particular reference to the VEC Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, founded in 1581
• St Thomas More (including examples of VEC and St Omers plays on his life)
• Thomas Fitzherbert, SJ (1552–1639), Rector of the VEC, 1619–1638
• Domestic piety (exemplified by family prayerbooks of the Haydock family of Lancashire)
• Jacobites in Rome
• Benedict XIV (1675–1758), his pontificate (1740–1758), and links with the VEC
• Fr Lorenzo Ricci, SJ (1703–1775), Superior General of the Society of Jesus at the time of the 1773 suppression, imprisoned at the VEC in 1773
• Dr Robert Gradwell (1777–1833) and the 1818 reopening of the VEC
• Dr Nicholas Wiseman (1802–1865) as Rector of the VEC
• Cardinal Thomas Weld (1773–1837), the Weld family and VEC connections
• The VEC at St Mary’s Hall, Stonyhurst, 1940–1946
• The VEC today (a visual presentation organized by the seminarians of the VEC).