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Stonyhurst College group heads to Washington to promote heritage project

Jan Graffius shows Cardinal McCarrick the-Crucifix of St Thomas More

Lord Nicholas Windsor is this week leading a group from Stonyhurst College, in Lancashire, on a trip to the USA to promote the Stonyhurst Christian Heritage Centre Project.

He is accompanied by Lord Alton of Liverpool, a life peer of the House of Lords, and Stonyhurst’s curator, Jan Graffius, who has with her a number of sacred artefacts from the Stonyhurst collection, including St Thomas More’s crucifix.

Lord Nicholas Windsor and Lord Alton are visiting Washington DC, Baltimore and Boston to promote their joint project and to considerably widen access to the extensive historic collection.

Earlier in the week the group attended morning Mass celebrated by the Archbishop Emeritus, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, at St Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington DC yesterday. Cardinal McCarrick expressed his support for the Christian Heritage Centre project and said that by properly appreciating and understanding our past “we will be equipped to face the considerable challenges which confront us today and which will continue to face us in the future”.

Referring to the martyrs, some of whose relics are found in the collection, he said: “learning that if your faith is worth dying for it is well worth living for”.

Cardinal McCarrick continued: “The ties which bind the daughter Church of America with the Catholic Church of England are of infinite value; something to be cherished and celebrated.”

The Stonyhurst collection is the oldest surviving private museum collection in the English-speaking world. Lord Nicholas Windsor and his wife, Princess Paola, are royal patrons of the Christian Heritage Project.

From its foundation in 1593, Stonyhurst was seen as a safe haven not only for the sons of English Catholics but also for precious vestments, manuscripts, silver and relics rescued during the turmoil of the Reformation.

The Stonyhurst collection embodies the Jesuit philosophy “the world is our house” and is now a testimony to the unique heritage of dialogue with other cultures and faiths which the College inherits from the Jesuit tradition.

The aim of the project is to enable English-speaking Catholics to re-connect with a crucial episode in their history and prompt all visitors to reflect more deeply on questions of faith, persecution and tolerance.

Stonyhurst College, a Catholic independent school, was founded in 1593 and famous alumni include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, satirist Chris Morris and former director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson.