Relics and faith preserved

The Curator of Stonyhurst College will be sharing centuries of Catholic history when she gives the second annual lecture of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom on 10 September. Jan Graffius will address: 'Saving the English Martyrs - How Catholic families preserved relics from Becket to Plunkett'.

“The lecture will focus on the English relics entrusted to the Jesuits and St Omers by various Catholic families,” says Jan. “It will concentrate on the role of recusant families during the Dissolution in 'removing', hiding and preserving items such as the arm of St Chad, a piece of St Thomas Beckett's skull, the Holy Thorn, Thomas of Hereford's leg and the later relics of the Jesuit martyrs in the 16th and 17th centuries. I will look also at other historical artefacts and items saved from destruction, such as the Henry VII vestments.”

Since 2007, Jan Graffius has been involved in a conservation project working on the Martyr Vestments of Archbishop Oscar Romero and items belonging to the Jesuit Martyrs of the University of Central America. She was elected as Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in May 2013. Most of the items that she will be referring to in the lecture belong to the Jesuits in Britain, who are privileged to be keepers of the memory and culture of English Catholicism.

Founded in London in 1887, the special intentions of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom are the conversion of England and Wales and the support of poor Catholic parishes. It also has a programme of spiritual events, including an annual Requiem Mass. Its annual lecture explores the Catholic heritage of England and Wales.

For details of the lecture on Wednesday 10 September 2014, follow this link.

Photo: Jan Graffius with Mary Queen of Scots’ reliquary containing the Holy Thorn, copyright Chris Bull.