An event of historic significance in the life of the Catholic Church took place at a private ceremony in France last month, witnessed by a small number of Tyburn Nuns, the order of contemplative Benedictines whose mother house stands just yards from the site of the gallows where more than 100 martyrs died during the Reformation.

The venue was a newly opened chapel within “Maison Garnier”, the birthplace of Marie Adèle Garnier, foundress of the order, in Grancey-le-Château, near Dijon.

Mother Marilla Aw, superior general of the Tyburn Nuns, approached two kneeling priests and presented each with a medal depicting the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady and also a crucifix which they kissed as she prayed aloud: “Escuchad, mis hijos, la llamada de Cristo como uds toman su cruz para seguir a Él …

Crucially, she referred to them as “mis hijos” – my sons – and it was from that moment that the two priests became Tyburn Monks, the first postulants of a male branch of the order which, from London, has spread rapidly around the world over the past century.

Even just five years ago, the prospect of such male equivalents lay beyond the imagination of the most senior nuns; and the way it came about is truly astonishing.

Fr Manuel Agudelo Marin, 52, and Fr Hector Nagles Santa, 53, are from Colombia, and were respected and valued in the diocese where they exercised a “very active pastoral ministry”, with about half a century of combined experience working in parishes, teaching in seminaries and assisting their bishop. After leading highly successful retreats in Spain and Latin America, centred on the living presence of Christ in the Eucharist, they found themselves transformed by a powerful devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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