Visita Iglesia for Holy Week Next Year... in England - Good Catholic Churches?

I’m planning to go on vacation in April to May to the UK and since Holy Week falls on April next year, I have plans to visit seven Catholic churches in England - obviously a mainly Protestant country - on Good Friday. It’s a Filipino tradition called Visita Iglesia.

I want to take this tradition when I travel to the UK next year and I was wondering if any of you guys (most especially the Brits out there) know any beautiful Catholic churches in England, specifically near the London area or south England area. I could go to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham if strength and distance permits however.

A need a bit of some segway advice too:

There’s this reliquary housed in the British Museum which contains a relic of the Crown of Thorns and I want to venerate it when I visit there. However since Britain has a secular society and a history of anti-Catholicism, what’s the best way of venerating the relic without being too obvious? It is a public place after all. I’ve PM’ed a British CAF member about this and he/she says that the English wouldn’t actually mind if I do venerate it because they’ll be minding their own business. However I still need advice.

The Wikipedia article you referenced states that whatever was meant to be displayed in the reliquary is now long gone, if I read it correctly, so no veneration is necessary or correct.
I am quite sure that the Catholic bishops of England would not allow a genuine holy relic to be in the British Museum, and not in a church.

It would be difficult to fit in visiting seven churches in one day I suspect, but why not go on to the Westminster or Southwark Catholic diocesan websites and they would list the London churches.

Your friend is quite right about minding our own business. The UK (and especially London) is multi-cultural. I have never come across any anti-Catholicism, but burqua-wearing Muslims sometimes have hard time as London is on a high-security alert more -or less all the time.

I would definitely recommend you visit Walsingham in Norfolk, however it is the countryside with no train station so you need to plan your travel carefully and I recommend you book to stay at least one night.

While you are in London I would recommend:

Westminster Cathedral

The Brompton Oratory

Tyburn Convent built at the site where many Catholics were martyred

Our Most Holy Redeemer and St. Thomas More Chelsea

St Patrick’s Soho Square

St Etheldreda’s in Holborn

St. James Spanish Place Marylebone

Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory
(Which is the Central Church for the new Ordinariate created by Pope Benedict)

There’s more but that should get you started! If you want to venerate relics in a museum what are you hoping to do exactly? Brits are generally polite and tolerant so won’t mind if you are discreet.

Excellent list provided by Kindness.
I’d also vote for the Jesuit Church in Farm Street.
If it is relics you are after, the nuns at Tyburn give tours of relics collected and donated, kept in their crypt. This is one of the greatest secrets of London, and is a sure foundation of Faith for the permanent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament upstairs. There are no regular visiting times, so write first.

Another suggestion is Aylesford Priory a Carmelite priory where Our Lady gave St. Simon Stock the Brown Scapular. It’s a beautiful place, I imagine you can get a train from London - it is in Kent a county outside London about an hour away.

I’m currently planning my trip now and I’m including your list into my itinerary. :thumbsup:

Problem is, how am I going to visit these eight places in one day… Advice anyone?

My picture of Westminster Cathedral

I don’t see how you can do it, to be quite honest, unless you are hiring a car… The travel would take too long, and also, there’s always the risk that any church will be closed after services. You need to find out whether they have an evening service as well as the Passion, as that will give you more scope.

So churches in England during Holy Week can close, unlike here in the Philippines where they are practically the only buildings open?

Hiring a car for travel in central London would not be a good idea, since it is the slowest way to get about due to the ludicrously heavy traffic! :slight_smile:

Tube, where available, is fastest; bus is the most enlightening because of the sights on show, but can be very slow; taxi is a lot more expensive than either and generally is not markedly faster, if at all. A one-day travelcard (reasonably priced, and available from all travel outlets in the city, as well as some stores) would allow you to take unlimited journeys on bus and tube to get from one place to another.

Some of the churches listed are not that far away from each other, but you would have to allow 30-60 minutes for each journey, and to make each visit worthwhile - as opposed to all-too brief - you would have a very long day, and as paperwight says, might struggle to fit them all in (it would also be advisable to check opening hours at each church to ensure your planned arrival time is appropriate). You might need to be a little more selective.

Check a map of London and look at nearby tube stations or bus stops and see whether it seems workable or not. Transport for London is a good place to plan journeys:

Hope this helps.

In Christ,

Catholic churches in London are generally open. I don’t think you’ll have any problems with the ones suggested.

Most of these churches are within walking distance of each other. The best way between many would be by bike. If you can take or hire one, great. The tfl website will also have the bikes, known as “Boris Bikes”, which you can hire for £2 a day, so long as individual journeys are less half-an-hour.

One other thing: if you were able to hit the Cathedral for Choral Vespers, or the Oratory for a major Mass, you will be rewarded by the music.

I wish I was coming with you!

By the way, I’m making an excursion to Oxford during my vacation, and a while before I stumbled upon the Oxford University Newman Society ( and Oxford’s Catholic Chaplaincy (

Anyone from Oxford or anyone who has been there?

The Newman Soc is the Catholic Student’s society. The Chaplaincy looks after them. Not much to see there, and it is really just for students at the University.

The Oxford Oratory, St Aloysius, is the place to go, just off the top of St Giles. You’d walk up St Giles as a tourist anyway, so just keep going on the Woodstock Road for fifty yards. You’ll pass the two remaining Catholic Halls on your way, but you’re not likely to visit them.

Oxford was one of the great institutions of the Catholic Church in England. It remained High Church, Royalist and Tory till quite late. The 19th C Catholic revival identified itself as “The Oxford Movement”, centred on Oriel College. Don’t look for the Roman Church there now, but visit as many of the College Chapels as are open, and pray for England. You will see there the Catholic Tradition, too good to destroy, even for the modern-day Low Church and atheist types who hold sway these days.

Are you going up and down from London in one day?

No, I’ll visit Oxford in another day. My visita iglesia would only be around London on Good Friday. I’ve got two months of vacation anyway and I have lots to do in my itinerary for my entire visit in the UK.

Know any good Catholic churches and spots in Edinburgh and north Wales? :smiley:

The overwhelmingly important place in North Wales is Holywell. The story is too long to give here, but google will find it for you. It survived destruction by Tudor iconoclasts possibly because it had been built-up and endowed by Henry VIII’s saintly grandmother, Margaret Beaufort. This ancient shrine has a get-your-kit-off well to plunge into. (Not obligatory.)

I know London and Oxford very well (have lived in both) and Edinburgh a bit. I would completely disagree with the idea that

I agree with whomever suggested Boris bikes as away to get around central London.

Oxford doesn’t have a vast quantity of Catholic churches to visit, although the Oratory is nice (and the University Chaplaincy is definitely not), but it does have loads of other religious stuff. College chapels, as mentioned. Littlemore, where Newman served, and Iffley, which has a beautiful Norman church, are both villages very close by. The University and most of the colleges have fantastic collections of manuscripts, ephemera etc. in all sorts of areas, depending on what you’re interested in.

Apart from the churches on Good Friday, London also has a rich tradition of religious history, including a lot of late Roman and medieval Catholic sites. Some of them are ruined (and are still very interesting to visit) but quite a lot are still standing, at least in part, as Anglican churches. Thomas More is buried in the Tower of London.

When you actually get to London, Westminster Cathedral and a lot of the other churches in the area stock a mini leaflet (free) called Catholic Churches in Central London, which lists all the churches within a smallish area of central London (I think it covers about 16 of them) with their full address, nearest tube station, and Mass times. It’s very useful, but only available as a hard copy.

Other churches which I like in London (the ones already listed are all great):
Notre Dame de France, Leicester Square
Ss Mary & Michael, Commercial Road (east London)
Carmelite Priory, Kensington (west London)
Our Lady & St. Dominic, Haverstock Hill (Dominicans - north-west London)

Only the first one is really close to the others listed, but given that you have more than one day, you might want to visit them another time!

I personally think the Dominican Tenebrae liturgies are amazing and if you’re in London for the rest of the Triduum they would be a fabulous way to pray. I’ll see you there :smiley:

By the way, does anyone know any beautiful Eastern Rite Catholic churches in London?

We rarely have those in the Philippines so it’s interesting to go into one of the Eastern Rite churches. :slight_smile:

Sadly not. We have lots of eastern rite Catholics of varying sorts, but all the ones I know either meet in Latin rite parishes or have taken over buildings which were not purpose built as eastern rite churches. I would be interested to hear if there are any in purpose built churches that I don’t know of. There are plenty of pretty Orthodox churches.

You have the Ukrainian Cathedral just behind Oxford St:-

There is a good list here:
Most are far from the centre.

The real corker is not Catholic, but worth a visit: the Russian Orthodox church off Ennismore Gardens. This is the “red” Russian church, abandoned by many exiles due to the support it received from the Soviets. There was a bit of a thaw after the fall of the USSR, but Putin has continued the adoption, as some exiles see it. So there is a new Russian church in Chiswick.

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