Proudly Witnessing to Fitzrovia
Recently, All Saints Church in Margaret Street took to the streets of Fitzrovia to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, which proved to be the biggest and best attended in recent years, despite being in mid-August.
The Feast of the Assumption is the major annual celebration of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and this Grade 1 Listed church, which has stood in between Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road for more than 165 years, celebrated in style.
Starting with a High Mass, the Preacher Fr Richard Peers, Director of Education in the Diocese of Liverpool, took as his text Paradise Lost, by the Puritan poet John Milton, (as 2017 is the 350th anniversary of the first publication of this epic work).
He suggested, to a packed church, that Mary shows us in her song, her Magnificat, that giving birth to Jesus will always mean that she is on a journey with him, and that the Assumption teaches us that this is the route we can all follow, and to return to Jesus.
He added that Mary is also honoured not just for giving birth to Christ, but because she is the first believer. She is the first to say ‘yes’ and surrender her will and plans to God. If only we could believe, and say ‘yes’ to Jesus and surrender to His plans for us. This is what Milton knew as he described, in his account of creation.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.
After the Mass, the choir, with brass and drum accompaniment and a dozen clergy and servers, then led the congregation in procession, out amongst shoppers of the West End, with banners, crucifix and a flower-decked statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. Many people in the streets stopped to admire and photograph the grand procession, some joining in with the walk of witness to be led back to All Saints for a large celebration. More than 200 people attended the Mass and processed with Our Lady through the milling crowds of shoppers on Oxford Street.
Fr Alan Moses, Vicar of All Saints said:
“This is the third year (and best attended) on which we have taken our major annual celebration of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, onto the streets. On this day we thank God for Mary, the first Christian, and ask her prayers for all persecuted Christians.
“Our procession is an act of prayer and witness on behalf of Christians suffering persecution in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the World. We leaflet passers-by so that they understand what we are doing and to raise awareness of this important cause.”
Cedric Stephens, Head Server at All Saints, reflected these comments, by adding:
“This simply illustrates the confidence of this parish in carrying such a powerful act of witness onto the streets of central London – where thousands of people can see and engage in our action in the local area.”
Photographs below are just a selection of what can be found on the All Saints’ Facebook Page. More information on the services and the church can be found on its website.
All photos are provided courtesy of Andrew Prior.