Images of the Pontifical Mass on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Holy Cross Day) with the celebration of Confirmations. The service took place on Sunday 15 September at conclusion of the five-day mission led by Bishop Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford, in Houghton Regis.
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, usually celebrated on 14 September, recalls three historical events: the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine; the dedication of churches built by Constantine on the site of the Holy Sepulchre and Mount Calvary; and the restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem by the emperor Heraclius II. However, in a deeper sense, the feast also celebrates the Holy Cross on which Our Lord Jesus Christ died as the instrument of our salvation. This instrument of torture, designed to degrade the worst of criminals, became the life-giving tree that reversed Adam's Original Sin.
Inscribed upon the Cross we see
in shining letters, 'God is love';
He bears our sins upon the tree;
He brings us mercy from above.
(Thomas Kelly, 1769 - 1855)
The Sacrament of Confirmation is a response to God’s love for us, and a special way of receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of the Bishop’s hands in preparation for a life of Christian faithfulness and service. Confirmation is also a step of personal faith: the candidates confirm that they take on for themselves the promises made at Baptism, confirming their faith and their membership of the body of Christ, the Church.
We are pleased to report that Central Bedfordshire Council has granted planning permissions to All Saints’ for the construction of the Memorial Path in the churchyard linking Bedford Square gate to the south door of the church.
We envisage the new path to become a dignified place of remembrance in the beautiful surroundings of All Saints’ churchyard. To this aim the path will be flanked by memorial plaques (or slabs) which can be sponsored and personalized with the names of loved ones, as well as their years of birth and death.
It has been a long time coming, as collection of sponsorship money began in three years ago. The delay has been twofold. First, our planning application had been returned last year because the planning officers wanted more information and more accurate drawing about the project. This has now been approved thanks to the work of our architects – Michael Dales Partnership. Secondly, urgent works of restoration to the fabric of All Saints’ have had to take priority in order to make the building weatherproof once again. These works are currently on the way.
We are now seeking again approval from the ecclesiastical authorities, and putting the project out for tender for a second time.
If you wish to contribute to this project you can sponsor a memorial plaque today – details on the Memorial Path page.
Major works of restoration to the fabric of All Saints’ Parish Church have begun last month and they are expected to last until December 2019. These works are essential for making the outer wall of the Grade I listed building weather-proof and thus ensuring the conservation of the unique heritage of All Saints’.
The striking checkered pattern of All Saints’ is going to be meticulously restored and repointed in many parts by resetting flints and replacing eroded stones with local Totternhoe clunch. Clunch is a type of chalk employed in construction in our area since Roman times, and it is the same type of material that was used in the middle-ages for the construction of Parish Church. Minor internal works will ensure that space at the back of the nave could be used more flexibly – a short length of heating pipes is going to be placed under the floor and the back pews will be relocated or removed.
The works are being carried out by Weldon Stone Enterprises of Weldon, Corby – an experienced firm which specializes in restoration and conservation of churches and historical buildings – under the directions of Matthew Stevens of Michael Dales Partnership – a local architects’ practice currently working with over 120 Churches across the diocese of St. Albans, Oxford & Peterborough.
The building site and church premises are alarmed, monitored by CCTV, and lit where necessary to deter antisocial behaviour and heritage crime in the churchyard whilst the works are carried out.
This is the first substantial project of this type which the Parochial Church Council (PCC) have embarked on since the restoration of the tower in the early 90s. It has been made possible thanks to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund which is sponsoring most of the works. Other two charities are also contributing; the All Churches Trust, and Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust. Houghton Regis Town Council was among the first bodies to donate towards this restoration when it was still being planned back in 2016.
Even though this project will total to over £250,000 the PCC is currently seeking further funding for other works linked to this project. For example, a new drainage system needs to be installed (£68,000), and glasswork is in needs of extensive renovation (£80,000).
Donations are always gratefully received as All Saints’ does not receive any money from government or the Church of England. There are many ways in which you can support our work and make a lasting difference in the preservation of the heritage of Houghton Regis. Visit our Giving Pages to find out more. Additionally, you can donate online, or send a cheque to
Restoration and Renewal,
FAO Fr Diego Galanzino SMMS,
The Clergy House,
Houghton Regis, LU5 5SJ
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi (literally meaning “The Body of Christ”) was celebrated in Houghton Regis on Saturday 22 June. Our Parish and the Parish of the Holy Cross, Marsh Farm, came together to mark this great celebration.
This feast calls the whole Church to give special thanks to God for the inestimable gift of the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Jesus' Body and Blood. For this reason the Blessed Sacrament is traditionally taken in procession at the end of the main Mass. One of the hymns sung at Corpus Christi describe the Blessed Sacrament in this way,
O Bread of Heaven, beneath this veil
Thou dost my very God conceal:
My Jesus, dearest treasure, hail!
I love Thee and, adoring, kneel;
Each loving soul by Thee is fed
With Thine own Self in form of Bread.
The Celebrant and Preacher was Father Norman Banks, Bishop of Richborough, and a number of other priests attended the celebrations in choir; including Father Richard Brown SSC, parish priest of Marsh Farm.
The Pontifical Mass was followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the churchyard and Bedford Road, and by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. BBQ and refreshments were also available after Mass. Photos below by Myles Pluss.
The Parish Church of All Saints’ has been awarded support by the National Lottery Heritage Fund for its restoration project (Delivery Phase). Made possible by National Lottery players, the project began last year with an initial grant of £25,700 and it now has been awarded full funding for the second phase in the sum of £224,300.
This project has a two-fold aim; to make critical repairs to Houghton Regis Parish Church and to engage local people in their exceptional heritage.
The first and main part of the project will begin on Monday 3rd June. It aims to carry out essential conservation work to the outside of our Grade I listed building; the outer structure of the church is in desperate need of repair – its striking chequered pattern of flint and Totternhoe stone needing extensive renovation and having been breached in places.
The second part of the project will also begin in the coming months. This aims to put in place an educational programme with a number of cultural activities to engage local residents in the unique historical, cultural, and spiritual heritage preserved at All Saints’. The project will involve recruitment and training of volunteers to keep the Parish Church open for tourists and visitors longer during the day, as well as promoting inspiring and interactive visits from our local schools.
All Saints’ Parish Church has been listed by Historic England in the Heritage at Risk register since October 2016, and it will continue to be listed in it at least throughout the Delivery Phase. However, support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund is a great boost of confidence and precious financial help for our parish which is currently engaged in a wider Restoration and Renewal Project estimated at an extra £300,000 over the National Lottery support (for example, glasswork conservation alone is estimated to cost £80,000). This is also a great boost of confidence for our town which is already benefitting from the excellent work done at Houghton Hall Park and also supported by the National Lottery.
For more information please contact the Parish Priest, Father Diego Galanzino SMMS, or visit our website allsaintshr.co.uk/restoration
Notes to editors
Grants for Places of Worship applications are assessed in two rounds. This press release concerns the second round. The Parish Church of All Saints was initially been granted round one development funding of £25,700 by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2018.
About All Saints’ Houghton Regis
All Saints’ is the Parish Church of Houghton Regis, in the Diocese of St Albans. The current building, built between 14th and 15th centuries, replaces an earlier church and it is the only listed building in Houghton Regis to be regularly and freely open to the public. More information about the building’s heritage, the parish community, and its tradition can be found on our website.
About the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk. Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund
The Easter Vigil, which is the greatest and most noble of all solemnities, marks the end of the emptiness of Holy Saturday, and leads into the celebration of Christ’s victory over Death and Hell. The word ‘Alleluia’ (meaning “God be praised”) which has been silent throughout Lent, returns.
Alleluia! sing to Jesus!
His the sceptre, his the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph,
his the victory alone! (William Chatterton Dix)
By most ancient tradition, this is the night of keeping vigil for the Lord (Ex 12:42), in which, following the Gospel admonition (Lk 12:35-37), the faithful, carrying lighted candles in their hands, should be like those looking for the Lord when he returns, so that at his coming he may find them awake and have them sit at his table.
The Vigil is arranged in such a way that after the Lucernarium (or lighting of the Paschal Candle) and the Exultet (or Easter Proclamation), we will meditate on the wonders the Lord God has done for his people from the beginning., focusing on the theme of “Renewal”. After this, we will be invited to renew our Baptismal commitments to the life the Christian life before being called to celebrate the Eucharist, the living memorial of his Death and Resurrection.
Main Service - Celebration of the Passion
Today’s liturgy centres on Jesus’ Passion (his sufferings) and death on the Cross for our salvation. In order for us to enter more deeply into this great mystery, the “Celebration” is marked by deep silence. Please use these quiet moments to recollect yourself in the presence of Our Crucified Lord, accompanying him in spirit through the pain he endured - like the Mary and John did at Calvary.
Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine:
never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine.
This is my friend, in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend! (Samuel Crossman, 1664)
On this and the following day, by a most ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Sacraments at all, except for Confession and the Anointing of the Sick. Holy Communion is distributed from the Sacrament reserved last night at the Altar of Repose. The church remains stripped of all decoration. It continues bare and empty through the following day, which is a day without a liturgy: there can be no adequate way of recalling the being dead of the Son of God, other than silence and desolation. But within the silence there grows a sense of peace and completion, and then rising excitement as the Easter Vigil draws near.
Family Service - Stations of the Cross
Maundy Thursday marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred "Triduum” of Holy Week. These three days are the holiest days of the Christian year. The name "Maundy" comes from the Latin mandatum, ‘commandment’, because of the use of John 13.34 as the Entrance Antiphon;
‘I give you a new commandment; that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’
At this Mass, the Priest washes the feet of twelve members of the congregation to symbolise Christ’s washing of his twelve Apostles. This Mass stresses the importance Jesus puts on humility and service within the Church. Also emphasised are the fundamental importance of the Eucharist and the sacrifice of Christ’s Body, which we now find present in the Blessed Sacrament.
O Bread of Heaven, beneath this veil
Thou dost my very God conceal:
My Jesus, dearest treasure, hail! (St Alphonsus)
At the conclusion of the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is transported to the Altar of Repose and we are invited to continue adoring the Lord Jesus present there until midnight, just as the disciples were invited to watch with the Lord during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.
After tonight, no Mass will be celebrated again in the entire Church until the Easter Vigil celebrates and proclaims the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.