Our Parish Church is dedicated to the Ascension of our Lord and not to any patron saint. So, strictly speaking we do not have a patronal festival, we have a Feast of Title. There are lots of cathedrals and churches who have titles rather than patrons: Christ Church Cathedral in Canterbury is the most notable one in the Anglican Church, the Cathedral of the Precious Blood in London, the Transfiguration, and Holy Cross. These titles are perfectly OK but you cannot have God the Creator and Saviour as a patron. So most of these churches have added a saint or two as patrons. Canterbury Cathedral has a beautiful chapel of Our Lady of Canterbury, but later could add the famous martyr, Archbishop Thomas Becket. The Cathedral of the Precious Blood in Westminster has Our Lady of Westminster. So, there is no reason why we cannot do the same. It only requires the Parish Council to approve of such a measure.
There are two saints we ought to consider because of their historical connection to this parish. The first is obviously St Clare of Assisi, the dedication of the church that was at Murarrie, and the members of that church generously allowed that church to be closed to help with the financial difficulties of the parish. The second is Saint Boniface of Crediton, as there was a church in our parish, some time ago, dedicated to him. In this way, we keep alive the spiritual history of parish and the faithful who served in it before us. Most of you may not know anything about Boniface, but he was an Anglo-Saxon bishop from Devon, who was a missionary that converted the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. He ended his career as the first Archbishop Hamburg, but he died a martyr at the hands of pagans.
However, we can add one more – Our Lady of Walsingham. Her shrine was once great in England but destroyed by Henry VIII, who looted all its accumulated valuables. Eighty year ago, the Anglican vicar of Walsingham, Fr Hope Patten, restored the shrine and it is now the most popular pilgrimage destination in England. This place also helped and encouraged parishes like our own to restore the full Catholic traditions of the Anglican Church. To me, it seems logical that these would be worthy additions to our parish calendar and giving us some patron saints, after the feast of the title of our church.