The note had been left undisturbed for 50 odd years

A papal blessing more than a century old has been found in an attic in Yorkshire.

The handwritten blessing was sent by St Pius X in 1908 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Young Men’s Society in Wakefield.

It was written four days after the pope had received a request for a blessing from Fr Timothy Courtney, a Jesuit priest who was director of the society at the time.

Norman Hazell, who found the note in his attic, said it had probably been there for 40 or 50 years.

Mr Hazell, who has been president of the Catholic Young Men’s Society for more than 50 years, said the blessing likely came into his possession some time after a dinner marking the centenary of the society.

The blessing has now been handed to St Austin’s church in Wakefield. It was presented to Mgr David Smith, parish priest of the church, at a Mass last month.

Mr Hazell told the Wakefield Express: “It was quite uncommon in those days to receive [a papal blessing]. Nowadays everyone gets a blessing, when a young Catholic couple get married, they are provided with a nice picture of the pope signed by a cardinal.

“But Fr Courtney took it upon himself to write to Vatican City asking the Pope if he would give a blessing. He must have been amazed when the pope wrote back in his own hand. It was Pope Pius X, who has since been canonised. He was a wonderful pope, such a good pope.

“For him to write from Vatican City to a church in Wakefield, Yorkshire, is just amazing. I was delighted when I refound it.”

The pope wrote: “As petitioned for, we most lovingly impart the apostolic benediction upon our beloved son, the director [Fr Courtney], and to all the likewise beloved young men enrolled in the society.”