In these last few days we have welcomed the relics of St Claude de la Colombière and St Margaret Mary Alacoque to the streets and the centre of London to mark the end of the Holy Year of Mercy.

Appropriately we received the relics of St Claude, a Jesuit, at Farm Street, where we were taken deep into the days of persecution of Catholics and the dangers that Claude and others faced as they brought the sacraments to the recusant community.

Later we visited the Queen’s Chapel at St James’s Palace, where he had celebrated the sacraments and preached on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as revealed to him by St Margaret Mary.

We were constantly reminded that it was in penal times and in an anti-Catholic city that the message of the mercy of the Sacred Heart had been first preached about. Claude had some diplomatic protection as the chaplain to Mary of Modena, Duchess of York, but that didn’t stop him from being cruelly taken, imprisoned and eventually exiled to France. The message of God’s mercy is as inconvenient and challenging today to our world as it was some 350 years ago.

As part of the journey of the relics we also visited the hospice at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth, the Oratory School in west London, the enclosed Carmelite Sisters in St Charles Square and the prison at Wormwood Scrubs. The graces given and received remain incalculable and eloquently answer the call of Pope Francis to go to the peripheries of our world.

These were days of mercy and extraordinary generosity from our missionaries. We had some 60 who joined us with five young people funding their own travel costs from Australia. They came because of a passionate belief in the power of prayer and in the intercession of the Holy Spirit bestowing a mandate to go out into the streets and meet the stranger and orphan and share with them of the mercy of God.

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