Saintly Places Songs of Praise


Saintly Places

Diane Louise Jordan joins the St Albans festival procession to discover the stories behind St Neots and St Bees. Hymns include Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Saintly Places. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Welcome to the cathedral city of St Albans

0:00:040:00:07

where I'm taking part in a pilgrimage procession to celebrate

0:00:070:00:10

the saint who gave this place its name - St Alban himself.

0:00:100:00:13

Now, have you ever thought about how many places are named after

0:00:130:00:16

saints and who those saints are?

0:00:160:00:18

If the answer's "yes", then this week's Songs Of Praise is just for you.

0:00:180:00:22

So this week: Stories from Britain's saintly places,

0:00:240:00:27

including the legend of the stolen Cornish bones,

0:00:270:00:30

Reverend Richard Coles tells me why we all have saintly potential,

0:00:300:00:34

and we've hymns and songs from across the UK.

0:00:340:00:37

The lives of Christian saints have always been part of Britain's history,

0:00:480:00:52

but as well as the countless churches named after them,

0:00:520:00:56

there are scores of hamlets, villages, towns and cities bearing their names.

0:00:560:01:00

And this city is one of them. St Albans,

0:01:010:01:03

where the locals hold a festival every summer

0:01:030:01:06

to celebrate the life of St Alban.

0:01:060:01:09

A pilgrimage procession leads from the city to the cathedral

0:01:120:01:16

with giant puppets re-enacting the key moments of Alban's life.

0:01:160:01:20

What do you know about St Alban?

0:01:200:01:21

That he was a worshipper of God

0:01:210:01:26

and that he believed in God

0:01:260:01:30

and that he really trusted in him and that he would not betray God.

0:01:300:01:34

He was martyred in the third century

0:01:340:01:38

and was the first British martyr.

0:01:380:01:41

I have come from Andover and we do a yearly pilgrimage

0:01:410:01:46

and our vicar decided that this would be a good one to do.

0:01:460:01:50

I'm learning as I go because I've never been here before.

0:01:500:01:53

Alban was a guy who was able to recognise truth when he saw it,

0:01:550:02:00

to make up his mind very quickly

0:02:000:02:02

and to commit everything to a cause he believed in.

0:02:020:02:05

Well, more about Alban later on,

0:02:050:02:08

and our hymns also remember the saints, whether in their title,

0:02:080:02:11

or in the churches where they've been sung,

0:02:110:02:13

or even the name of the tunes and our first hymn

0:02:130:02:16

is rather appropriately called For All The Saints.

0:02:160:02:19

'Across the home counties from St Albans,

0:04:370:04:39

'you'll find the Cambridgeshire town of St Neots.

0:04:390:04:42

'And I've come to find out how skulduggery with a skeleton

0:04:420:04:46

'may have led to the town's growth.'

0:04:460:04:48

-Hello.

-Hi, Diane.

0:04:480:04:49

'Liz Davies is the curator of St Neots' museum.

0:04:490:04:53

So, Liz, who was St Neot?

0:04:540:04:56

Well, St Neot was a Cornish saint

0:04:560:05:01

who lived in the 800s.

0:05:010:05:04

He died in Cornwall and was buried there

0:05:040:05:06

and the village where he was buried is still called St Neot.

0:05:060:05:10

So, Liz, why are we here in Cambridgeshire?

0:05:100:05:13

Well, we are here in Cambridgeshire because of bones like these.

0:05:130:05:17

In the 900s Leofric, a Saxon lord, and his wife

0:05:170:05:23

decided to found a priory in Eynesbury, which was here.

0:05:230:05:27

The bones of St Neot were brought here from Cornwall.

0:05:270:05:32

Some people said they were stolen,

0:05:320:05:35

and they were installed in the priory.

0:05:350:05:37

I don't quite get that. Why are bones so important?

0:05:370:05:40

Well, because the bones of the saint

0:05:400:05:43

were thought to have healing properties

0:05:430:05:46

and to be able to perform miracles,

0:05:460:05:49

and at that time, when people have no other means of curing themselves,

0:05:490:05:55

and people were incredibly religious and they looked towards God for help.

0:05:550:06:00

Where is this Eynesbury Priory?

0:06:000:06:02

Well, if you come with me, I'll show you.

0:06:020:06:05

We're here on the site of St Neots' Priory.

0:06:090:06:13

But today...

0:06:130:06:16

it's turned into a car park.

0:06:160:06:18

Because of the number of pilgrims coming,

0:06:200:06:23

this part of Eynesbury, really developed,

0:06:230:06:26

and that led to the town of St Neots.

0:06:260:06:28

This is a copy of a jewel from the Anglo-Saxon period

0:06:300:06:34

that was thought to show St Neot,

0:06:340:06:36

but now it's realised that actually it's not St Neot.

0:06:360:06:41

So basically what you're saying is there's not really that much

0:06:410:06:44

of St Neot in St Neots these days.

0:06:440:06:46

No, that's right, but people wanted to come on pilgrimage here

0:06:460:06:51

to get close to St Neot so that he would speak to God on their behalf.

0:06:510:06:55

And there are lots of reports of people being healed

0:06:550:06:59

and maybe there was something in it because if cures

0:06:590:07:03

hadn't been taking place, if miracles hadn't been happening,

0:07:030:07:07

then people wouldn't have kept coming to St Neots.

0:07:070:07:11

CHILDREN SING

0:07:110:07:14

-# O, when the saints go marching in

-When the saints go marching in

0:07:140:07:18

-# O, When the saints go marching in

-When the saints go marching in

0:07:180:07:23

-# Lord, I want to be in that number

-I want to be in that number

0:07:230:07:28

-# When the saints go marching in

-Saints go marching in

0:07:280:07:32

-# O, when the sun begins to shine

-When the sun begins to shine

0:07:320:07:36

-# O, when the sun begins to shine

-When the sun begins to shine

0:07:360:07:41

-# Lord, I want to be in that number

-Shine on your people

0:07:410:07:45

# When the sun begins to shine

0:07:450:07:50

# Oh, when the trumpet sounds its horn

0:07:500:07:54

# Oh, when the trumpet sounds its horn

0:07:540:07:59

# Lord, how I want to be in that number

0:07:590:08:01

# I want to be in that number

0:08:010:08:03

# When the trumpet sounds its horn

0:08:030:08:08

# Oh, when the saints go marching in

0:08:080:08:13

# Saints go marching Go marching in

0:08:130:08:16

# Oh, I want to be in that number

0:08:160:08:20

# When the saints go marching in

0:08:200:08:27

# Go marching in. #

0:08:270:08:30

Back in St Albans their annual pilgrim procession

0:08:310:08:35

is telling the story of Alban's life, culminating in his beheading,

0:08:350:08:39

thought to have taken place around 250 AD.

0:08:390:08:42

But do all the people of St Albans know about their saint?

0:08:450:08:48

I don't know anything about St Albans.

0:08:480:08:52

Nothing at all, I'm sorry to say, nothing at all.

0:08:520:08:55

So, any information you can give us would be very useful.

0:08:550:08:58

I know he was a saint and I know that he was executed,

0:08:580:09:02

but I found that out five minutes ago.

0:09:020:09:04

-Hello, I'm Diane.

-Welcome.

0:09:070:09:10

'Cathedral guide Julia Low is certainly able

0:09:100:09:13

'to tell me more about Britain's first martyr

0:09:130:09:16

'and the sacrifice he made for the man who'd led him to faith.'

0:09:160:09:20

There are many, many images around the cathedral of Alban.

0:09:220:09:27

But this one shows Alban and the man who converted him to Christianity.

0:09:270:09:33

He's known as Amphibalus

0:09:330:09:35

and here he is on the banner looking very patriarchal,

0:09:350:09:39

strengthening Alban for what's about to happen.

0:09:390:09:43

Alban was a Romano Briton, and, along with abiding by the Roman laws,

0:09:450:09:50

you've got your passport and that passport was in the form of a cloak.

0:09:500:09:54

Now, while Alban and Amphibalus were together

0:09:540:09:58

a decree came down from the Roman emperor

0:09:580:10:01

that Christianity was really to be sorted out and suppressed.

0:10:010:10:05

He helped his best friend get away.

0:10:050:10:08

He gave him that passport, that cloak,

0:10:080:10:11

and so Amphibalus could wrap himself in the cloak,

0:10:110:10:15

walk straight past the Roman soldiers,

0:10:150:10:18

and it was Alban who was taken before the governor.

0:10:180:10:21

Alban turned round and said, "There is only one true God that I worship."

0:10:210:10:26

That signed the death warrant.

0:10:260:10:29

That's when he was brought up here onto this hillside.

0:10:290:10:33

And that's where he was executed.

0:10:330:10:35

Now you're coming to the heart of the cathedral.

0:10:410:10:44

It's the shrine of Alban.

0:10:440:10:46

One-day pilgrims come here, light a candle and say the prayer of Alban.

0:10:460:10:52

There is a specific prayer to Alban.

0:10:520:10:54

On pilgrimage day we all carry a red rose

0:10:570:11:01

and all the roses are left here on the shrine,

0:11:010:11:05

and it looks magnificent.

0:11:050:11:08

That's our gift to Alban.

0:11:080:11:10

Why do people come here to pay their respects to a saint?

0:11:100:11:13

Look at the examples they set us.

0:11:130:11:16

This is about Alban, a very, very ordinary man,

0:11:160:11:20

but, gosh, did he do an extraordinary thing.

0:11:200:11:22

He was so brave and it's still happening today.

0:11:220:11:26

These people who give their lives for a cause are so brave.

0:11:260:11:30

And that's Alban.

0:11:300:11:32

I was caught up in drug addiction for about 15, 20 years.

0:13:390:13:45

And I think if I hadn't have been found by God

0:13:450:13:48

I certainly wouldn't be here now.

0:13:480:13:51

Matt Wrathall arrived in St Albans three years ago.

0:13:530:13:57

He'd recently become a Christian.

0:13:570:13:59

Then homeless and waiting for a room in a local hostel,

0:13:590:14:02

he felt drawn to the cathedral.

0:14:020:14:05

I suppose I felt then, and I knew then,

0:14:050:14:08

that this is the place that I kind of had to be.

0:14:080:14:11

The church call it a calling, I suppose,

0:14:110:14:14

and in more respects it's more of a bellowing.

0:14:140:14:17

-When did you next come here?

-Pretty much every day thereafter.

0:14:170:14:22

And I felt a lot of comfort from coming here.

0:14:220:14:25

On my own, talking to people,

0:14:250:14:27

and it is kind of very reassuring for me to be here,

0:14:270:14:31

in that environment,

0:14:310:14:33

given the environment I had been in before that.

0:14:330:14:36

When the priest had lived in his house some days...

0:14:360:14:38

'Matt's now a regular worshipper at St Albans Cathedral

0:14:380:14:42

'and this year he's taking part in the festival pilgrimage.'

0:14:420:14:46

Matt, what was it like to be actually part of the procession?

0:14:460:14:49

It feels good to be a part of somebody else's story

0:14:490:14:53

and to be able to help other people to understand that story.

0:14:530:14:56

It's been a massive eye-opener for me.

0:14:580:15:00

The help and the support I've got from people.

0:15:000:15:03

I certainly wouldn't have imagined I'd have ever been

0:15:030:15:05

the sort of person to go to a cathedral.

0:15:050:15:08

I suppose, for me, I thought it was very much...

0:15:080:15:11

yeah, you know, yeah, a bit stuffy.

0:15:110:15:14

And it's not really, it's a good place.

0:15:140:15:18

A good place, good people.

0:15:180:15:20

I know that, like St Alban, I was lost until I found Christianity.

0:15:220:15:28

I know most people that know me are still scratching their heads,

0:15:280:15:33

thinking, when is this bit of the story going to end?

0:15:330:15:37

And I sort of have to sort of pinch myself, to be honest with you,

0:15:370:15:40

to think where I was and where I am now.

0:15:400:15:43

The fact that I am thinking about going to university this year,

0:15:430:15:46

you know, and I'm helping other people in recovery as well now,

0:15:460:15:50

which is a big thing.

0:15:500:15:52

So, yeah, it is good. Well, it's great, isn't it? Yeah.

0:15:520:15:56

# King of Kings

0:16:040:16:07

# Majesty

0:16:080:16:11

# God of heaven

0:16:120:16:15

# Living in me

0:16:150:16:19

# Gentle saviour

0:16:210:16:24

# Closest friend

0:16:260:16:28

# Strong deliverer

0:16:300:16:33

# Beginning and end

0:16:330:16:37

# All within me

0:16:390:16:42

# Falls at your throne

0:16:420:16:45

# Your Majesty

0:16:470:16:50

# I can but bow

0:16:520:16:54

# I lay my all

0:16:560:16:58

# Before you now

0:17:000:17:03

# In royal robes

0:17:040:17:07

# I don't deserve

0:17:090:17:12

# I live to serve you, Majesty

0:17:130:17:21

# Earth and Heaven

0:17:260:17:30

# Worship you

0:17:310:17:34

# Love eternal

0:17:360:17:38

# Faithful and true

0:17:390:17:42

# Who bought the nations

0:17:440:17:47

# Ransomed souls

0:17:490:17:51

# Brought this sinner

0:17:530:17:57

# Near to your throne

0:17:570:17:59

# All within me

0:18:020:18:04

# Cries out in praise

0:18:050:18:09

# Your Majesty

0:18:100:18:13

# I can but bow

0:18:150:18:17

# I lay my all

0:18:190:18:21

# Before you now

0:18:230:18:26

# In royal robes

0:18:280:18:30

# I don't deserve

0:18:320:18:35

# I live to serve you, Majesty

0:18:360:18:44

# Oo-oo-oo-oo. #

0:18:450:18:48

Well, so far we've heard about the Cornish St Neot,

0:19:070:19:10

the Roman St Alban,

0:19:100:19:12

and now here's a take on a fascinating legend about

0:19:120:19:15

an Irish female saint that's given a small community in Cumbria

0:19:150:19:19

its saintly name.

0:19:190:19:20

On the most westerly tip of Cumbria

0:19:210:19:24

the village of St Bees is home to a 900-year-old priory

0:19:240:19:28

and a school whose pupils are well acquainted with their local saint.

0:19:280:19:32

ALL: Welcome to St Bees.

0:19:320:19:34

St Bees is named after St Bega.

0:19:340:19:37

And this is her legendary story.

0:19:370:19:40

Out there is the Irish Sea.

0:19:510:19:53

Bega was a young Irish princess betrothed to a Viking prince.

0:19:530:19:59

Her father wanted the marriage to take place,

0:20:010:20:04

but Bega definitely didn't.

0:20:040:20:07

She was a Christian and she didn't want to marry a heathen.

0:20:070:20:10

So she decided to run away from home.

0:20:120:20:15

Even though she was locked in her room, an angel visited her

0:20:150:20:18

and the angel gave her a bracelet which was able to open locked doors.

0:20:180:20:23

This allowed her to escape in a small boat to England.

0:20:230:20:27

When she had arrived here in Cumbria she lived as a hermit, but

0:20:290:20:32

she wanted to live out her Christian faith by starting a church.

0:20:320:20:36

But she needed somewhere to build a church.

0:20:380:20:41

It was the middle of summer time

0:20:410:20:43

and she went to the local landowner called Lord Egremont.

0:20:430:20:47

He said whatever land was covered in snow the next day, she could have.

0:20:470:20:52

The next morning was Midsummer's Day

0:20:540:20:56

but the whole land was covered in snow.

0:20:560:20:59

And so it meant that all this land became hers

0:20:590:21:02

and she built the church which has now become St Bees Priory.

0:21:020:21:05

This is all legend, but some say it's true.

0:21:080:21:12

What we do know is that this village was originally called Kirkby Beacock

0:21:140:21:19

which means a church by the settlement of Bega

0:21:190:21:22

The Priory has been here since 1120 AD.

0:21:240:21:26

Even today it remains a key part of our village community,

0:21:280:21:31

and of the school.

0:21:310:21:33

Every week we join here all together for a whole school service.

0:21:350:21:38

It is an amazing building with a lot of signs of Bega.

0:21:380:21:42

In almost every part of the UK there's a place named after a saint

0:24:040:24:08

and joining me in St Albans is Reverend Richard Coles

0:24:080:24:12

who's a bit of an expert on these saintly places.

0:24:120:24:15

Well, in the Middle Ages and before that,

0:24:150:24:17

it was very important for a place to have a sort of local hero,

0:24:170:24:20

if you see what I mean.

0:24:200:24:21

Partly because it put them on the map,

0:24:210:24:23

but partly also because there seems to be

0:24:230:24:25

a sort of impulse in people, in religious people,

0:24:250:24:27

to identify with other people.

0:24:270:24:29

Religion can sometimes get a bit abstract

0:24:290:24:31

and I think lots of times people like to see a religion

0:24:310:24:34

as it plays out in the life of an individual

0:24:340:24:36

so they can sort of focus on that and relate to that

0:24:360:24:38

and then around that sort of stories build-up,

0:24:380:24:41

communities build-up, and before you know it,

0:24:410:24:43

you've got an identity for a whole community.

0:24:430:24:45

So, who are all these little-known saints?

0:24:450:24:47

Well, there's loads of them.

0:24:470:24:49

There's a lovely saint called St Rumwald of Buckingham,

0:24:490:24:52

not very far from here, and he was actually,

0:24:520:24:55

he was born and came out of his mother's womb saying,

0:24:550:24:59

"I am a Christian, I am a Christian, I am a Christian."

0:24:590:25:01

He then preached a sermon on the brevity of life

0:25:010:25:04

and died aged three days.

0:25:040:25:05

Now, to you or I,

0:25:050:25:07

that would be a rather surprising activity for a newborn to do.

0:25:070:25:10

But it's a legend that was important to people then

0:25:100:25:13

because it gave them some sort of identity.

0:25:130:25:16

And, also, there is a kernel of truth in them that preserves

0:25:160:25:19

an essential truth, which is what's it like to dedicate your life to God?

0:25:190:25:23

To live your life in accord with the will of God,

0:25:230:25:25

and the grace of God and the light of God,

0:25:250:25:28

and that's what saints are about - people who anticipate heaven

0:25:280:25:32

through living a godly life in the here and now.

0:25:320:25:34

It's just really interesting

0:25:410:25:43

the way that saints were perceived then

0:25:430:25:45

-to how we perceive them now.

-Yes.

0:25:450:25:47

Now I think saintly behaviour would be harder to identify.

0:25:470:25:50

A lot of the saints of the past would be diagnosed

0:25:500:25:52

with mental health problems now.

0:25:520:25:54

Voice hearing, the sort of austerities they would practise,

0:25:540:25:59

going without food, going without rest.

0:25:590:26:02

And I think our eyes are not as open as they were to the strangeness

0:26:020:26:06

and the miraculousness

0:26:060:26:07

and the mysteriousness of how God works out in people's lives.

0:26:070:26:11

You're encountering this all the time in the most unlikely places.

0:26:110:26:14

Street homeless people, young people, the very old,

0:26:140:26:17

people on the margins of things who are pretty much overlooked

0:26:170:26:20

or ignored, and yet lived lives of extraordinary holiness,

0:26:200:26:23

if you've got the time and the patience

0:26:230:26:25

to actually sit and listen and see.

0:26:250:26:28

Are we all saints?

0:26:280:26:29

I think we all CAN be saints.

0:26:290:26:32

God wants us to bear the authentic likeness of his son, to restore

0:26:320:26:36

the goodness and grace and light and truth of Jesus Christ in us.

0:26:360:26:40

We are his hands, his feet, his mind, his words, his deeds.

0:26:400:26:43

If we give ourselves to God, God will use us,

0:26:430:26:47

frail, broken vessels that we are, for God's purposes.

0:26:470:26:49

And some people are really good at that and those are the people who we would acknowledge as saints

0:26:490:26:54

and see in them what it might be like to live entirely to God.

0:26:540:26:57

A life of blessedness and holiness -

0:26:570:26:59

it's a wonderful thing when you encounter it.

0:26:590:27:02

# Make me a channel of your peace

0:27:130:27:19

# Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love

0:27:190:27:25

# Where there is injury

0:27:250:27:27

# Your pardon, Lord

0:27:270:27:31

# And where there's doubt, true faith in You

0:27:310:27:37

# Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek

0:27:370:27:44

# So much to be consoled as to console

0:27:440:27:50

# To be understood as to understand

0:27:500:27:56

# To be loved as to love with all my soul

0:27:560:28:02

# Make me a channel of your peace

0:28:050:28:11

# Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope

0:28:110:28:16

# Where there is darkness, only light

0:28:170:28:23

# And where there's sadness, ever joy

0:28:230:28:30

# Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek

0:28:300:28:37

# So much to be consoled as to console

0:28:370:28:43

# To be understood as to understand

0:28:430:28:49

# To be loved as to love with all my soul

0:28:490:28:57

# Make me a channel

0:28:590:29:04

# A channel of your peace

0:29:040:29:10

# Oh, make me a channel

0:29:100:29:17

# Of peace

0:29:170:29:18

# Make me a channel of your peace

0:29:180:29:23

# A-a-a-a-a-h. #

0:29:230:29:34

Heavenly Father,

0:29:390:29:41

thank you for the stories our saints left behind,

0:29:410:29:44

to inspire and to teach us.

0:29:440:29:46

Thank you that the saints were ordinary people like us

0:29:470:29:51

and you can speak to us as you did to them.

0:29:510:29:53

And may God give us grace to follow his saints in faith and hope

0:29:550:29:59

and love, and the blessing of God Almighty,

0:29:590:30:02

the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

0:30:020:30:05

be with us and remain with us this day and evermore.

0:30:050:30:10

Amen.

0:30:100:30:11

When we look at the lives of the saints,

0:30:140:30:16

as we have been doing today, we realise that they were

0:30:160:30:19

just ordinary people, simply putting their trust in God.

0:30:190:30:22

And that's the story of our final hymn, Thy Hand, O God, Has Guided.

0:30:220:30:26

Next week, Bill takes the ancient pilgrim's path

0:33:020:33:05

to the holy island of Lindisfarne,

0:33:050:33:07

birthplace of the beautiful Lindisfarne Gospels.

0:33:070:33:10

He meets a graffiti artist inspired by medieval manuscript

0:33:100:33:14

and learns how to draw Celtic knots.

0:33:140:33:16

And the hymns come from Lindisfarne island's Anglican Church.

0:33:160:33:20

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:33:390:33:41

Exploring the reasons why certain towns and villages are associated with saints of old, Diane Louise Jordan joins the St Albans festival procession and discovers the stories behind St Neots and St Bees. Hymns, celebrating saints, include Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS