Friday, 7 July 2017

Novena for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: 8 - 16 July 2017

The novena from the National Shrine of Saint Jude for Our Lady of Mount Carmel begins on 8 July. The novena is for the nine days leading up to the Feast of Our Lady of Carmel, which falls on 16 July. You can pray the novena in private, with your friends or family, or in a group.

Statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, National Shrine of Saint Jude

O God, 
you have given us Mary as our Mother
and, through the Order of Carmel, 
we learn to call her sister.
May we imitate her goodness and faith
and be ever joyful in the wonderful things
you have done for us.
May Mary watch over and protect us
on our pilgrim way to your holy mountain,
Christ the Lord.
We make our prayer through the same Christ, 
Our Lord. Amen.

Make your special request now

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be...

Once again, a shared Mass will be celebrated at the National Shrine of Saint Jude in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and all mothers and grandmothers. Simply add the name(s) of a mother, or grandmother via our special page.


Monday, 3 July 2017

Pilgrim Visits from Faversham - Part 1

One of the many advantages of visiting the Shrine of Saint Jude in Faversham is that pilgrims have additional opportunities to add to their Christian experience after a visit to us. This blog is going to include a semi-regular look at some of the pilgrimage sites you can visit whilst down here – the Shrine of Saint Jude can then simply be the start; middle or end of your pilgrimage.

Before, I carry on, I must not forget to mention, our very own peaceful and beautiful sister-shrine at Aylesford. We will be returning to Aylesford at some point, but I suspect that most of our blog readers are already very well aware of our sister-shrine, so I wanted to discuss some other places of pilgrimage first.

First up: Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury. The city is easily reached from Faversham – either by train, bus or car – or like I did once upon a time – you can walk. It is the closest city to Faversham and the grandest. For many centuries, Faversham was part of a pilgrimage route to Canterbury – and many a king passed through our special town on their way to Canterbury.

The city is a popular tourist destination: consistently one of the most-visited cities in the United Kingdom.

Canterbury has been occupied since Paleolithic times and served as the capital of the Celtic Cantiaci and Jute Kingdom of Kent. Many historical structures fill the area, including a city wall founded in Roman times and rebuilt in the 14th century, the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey and a Norman castle, and the oldest extant school in the world, the King's School. Modern additions include the Marlowe Theatre and the St Lawrence Ground, home of the Kent County Cricket Club. There is also a substantial student population (Fr. Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm - Prior at Faversham was a student at the University of Kent, Canterbury, as was I!).

Founded in 597, Canterbury Cathedral was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the twelfth century, and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170.

This was a pivotal moment in the history of the cathedral, when the archbishop, St Thomas Becket, was murdered in the north-west transept (also known as the Martyrdom) on Tuesday, 29 December 1170, by knights of King Henry II. After his martyrdom, pilgrims flocked from miles around to visit the Shrine of St Thomas Becket – including King Henry II. Fictional pilgrims are portrayed in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Unfortunately, the shrine was destroyed in 1538, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, on orders from King Henry VIII. The king also ordered that Becket's bones were to be destroyed, and ordered that all mention of Becket’s name be obliterated.

Nevertheless, and fortunately, King Henry VIII failed to obliterate his name or interest in St Thomas Becket.  As such, for the modern day visitor, it is possible to visit a candle which marks the place St Thomas Becket’s shrine was situated (with some stunning windows behind). Surrounding the Shrine is the tomb of King Henry IV and his wife; and the Black Prince. 

It is also possible to visit a modern sculpture marking the spot of St Thomas Becket's martyrdom. It was installed in 1986, and the dramatic sculpture represents four swords for the four knights (two metal swords with reddened tips and their two shadows). The design is the work of Giles Blomfield of Truro. 

Before the sculpture was installed, Saint Pope John Paul II knelt and prayed with the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1982 and a plaque (see above) can be seen here. 

In addition to places associated with Saint Thomas Beckett, the visitor can see the tombs of King Henry IV of England; the great medieval hero, the Black Prince; and various tombs of some Archbishop’s of Canterbury - plus much more. As a small aside: King Henry IV's son, King Henry V had two Carmelite friars as confessors during his reign: Stephen Patrington and Thomas Netter.

King Henry IV and Queen Joan of Navarre (through the bars, you can see the candle for St Thomas Becket)
Canterbury Cathedral is one of the most beautiful places to visit for prayer and peace – we highly recommend a visit if you are in Faversham. Please do let the Cathedral know that you were at the Shrine of Saint Jude - and they will let you in as pilgrims. I always think it very surprising (but often very true), how peaceful cathedrals are - and they serve as a great opportunity to be proud of our Christian heritage.

Next time on this blog, I will be writing about Saint Augustine’s Abbey, once again in this great city and another important pilgrimage site.

Let us pray (taken from the Roman Missal):

O God, for the sake of whose Church the glorious Bishop Thomas fell by the sword of ungodly men: grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his aid, may obtain the good fruit of his petition. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Matt Betts, Shrine of Saint Jude

Photo of Canterbury Cathedral is from Wikipedia; all other photos taken by Matt Betts.


Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Giving Machine

Are you purchasing items online? If so, you could help raise money for the National Shrine of Saint Jude and the Order of Carmelites every time you make a purchase – at no cost to you! All you need to do is sign up to our Giving Machine page, here, and add the National Shrine of Saint Jude as one of your beneficiaries.

Or, alternatively, you can send us an email to, and we'll do it for you!

You can then shop via the Giving Machine at any of the 400+ top on-line shops who have teamed up with them. Each of those shops then gives a donation to the Shrine, so we can support the Carmelites for many years to come. All those who join up with the Giving Machine and add the Shrine will be entered into a draw to win some gifts from the Shrine. Thank you

THANK YOU to our 50 friends who have already signed up!


Monday, 26 June 2017

Photo of the Month - June 2017

Our photo of the month is from the Shrine Information Centre situated in the grounds of the Shrine. Pictured is the statue of Saint Jude by Adam Kossowski surrounded by letters of congratulations to the Shrine on its Diamond Jubilee from Buckingham Palace, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the then Mayor of Faversham, and the Prior General of the Carmelite Order in Rome. Underneath the statue is a photo of our VIPs at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Click on the picture to see a larger version.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Happy Solemnity of The Birth of Saint John the Baptist

Happy Solemnity of The Birth of Saint John the Baptist.
Almighty God and Father,
you sent Saint John the Baptist to the people of Israel
to make them ready for Christ the Lord.

Give us the grace of joy in the Spirit,and guide the hearts of all the faithfulin the way of salvation and peace.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Our image shows one of our saints prayer cards: The Holy Family and Saint John the Baptist. The card was first printed in the 1950s, see:


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all fathers. Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Pictured is our statue of Saint Joseph.