A Catholic Heritage Of Stone

A Catholic Heritage Of Stone

A Day of Pilgrimage – Saturday, 31st August

Procession to Aston Hall – 2pm

On Saturday, 31st August hundreds of people from Stone and surrounding areas, plus groups from further afield wishing to honour the memory of Blessed Dominic Barberi, will be celebrating a Day of Pilgrimage in this their Year of Faith. This is to celebrate 165th anniversary of his Requiem and the beginning of the revival of the Catholic Faith in Stone.

An assembly at 10.00 am will be followed by coffee and a talk about Blessed Dominic which will be given by Fr John Sherrington, CP, in The Church of the Immaculate Conception & St Dominic, Margaret Street, Stone. After which Bishop William Kenny will preside at Holy Mass.

Light refreshments will follow before the Pilgrims assemble in Margaret Street at 1.45 pm in preparation for the procession which will basically follow the route taken by Blessed Dominic when he was affectionally known as ‘the Father of Stone’. The pilgrims will then celebrate Benediction at Aston where they will be joined by the retired Priests whose home it is.

The Pilgrims will then have the opportunity to relax, enjoy some refreshments and take the chance to chat and socialise with each other.

The impact of this small man with a high pitched voice was detailed by Fr Julian Booth from St John the Baptist Church, Great Haywood in an article in The Catholic Today. He was born in Italy in a little town called Virtebo just 10 miles North of Rome the youngest of eleven children. He joined the Passionist Order in 1814, and while praying he realised his calling was to go to England and make it the main focus of his future ministry. He was ordained into the Passionist Order in 1818 and taught philosophy and theology in several languages, including English whilst in Rome.

During the 1820s and 30s he was acquainted with many English Catholics including Fr George Spencer, grandfather of Lady Diana Spencer and finally arrived in England in 1841, where he opened a Monastery at Aston Hall, nr Stone.

Walking from Aston to Stone to celebrate Mass and give talks at The Crown Hotel, his strange habit, bare feet and high Italian accent provoked regular attacks where he was pelted with clods of earth and stones. He was known to pick some up, bless them, and put them into his habit before continuing. Many of his services were disturbed by groups of drunken men encouraged to make noise and prevent his teachings. Unperturbed, he would often recite the Rosary for his ‘opponents’ who, in time, came to respect him.

Soon many lapsed Catholics returned to the faith with many new followers and following the donation of land by a Mr James Beech in 1843 he was able to build St Anne’s Chapel in 1844, designed by Pugin and used as a school during the week. This can still be seen in the grounds of the Convent, adjoining Newcastle Road.

A Corpus Christi Procession later that year is said to have attracted over 1000 people of which over half were non-catholic and later that year he received John Henry Newman and two of his Oxford friends into the faith. The desk Newman used to pen the words to ‘Be still my soul’ can still be found in the Convent today.