Some Notes on Tyburn Convent

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The Nuns of Tyburn are under the Rule of Saint Benedict. Their Congregation is dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and was founded at Montmartre Mons Martyrum which has become the Mount of the Sacred Heart.

Tyburn Convent dates from 1903, the Nuns of Montmartre having been asked, on their arrival in England, by His Eminence Cardinal Vaughan to establish on the place formerly called Tyburn Field a Sanctuary in honour of the Sacred Heart and as a memorial of the 105 Martyrs priests, religious of many Orders, laymen and women who, from 1535 to 1681, suffered at Tyburn in defence of the Catholic Faith and for their fidelity to the See of Peter. The Tyburn Nuns have the joy of thinking that this design of the Heart of Jesus had been foreseen more than three hundred years ago by a venerable confessor of the Faith, Father Gregory Gunne, who, dragged before the judges on June the 8th, 1585, publicly predicted a day would come when a Religious House would be erected at Tyburn.

Now, close to the site where formerly stood the gallows, is the Altar of Sacrifice and the Blessed Sacrament is perpetually exposed.

Tyburn draws daily many Catholics and even non-Catholics to the feet of the King of Martyrs. Moreover a triduum with special sermons is held every year preparatory to the Feast of the Blessed English Martyrs (May 4th) which is solemnly celebrated at Tyburn. Another triduum in honour of Blessed Cuthbert Mayne and Blessed Edmund Campion is held from November 20th to December 1st. On the last Sunday in April the Walk from Newgate to Tyburn takes place when many hundreds of pilgrims come in devout procession along the once-time Way of Sorrows on which the Martyrs were dragged on hurdles. From March 4th to March i2th, Tyburn is the centre of an annual Novena organized by the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, for the conversion of England and of individuals.

It has appeared very appropriate that the Divine Heart should be perpetually adored and should reign over the place where so many of His Martyrs had their hearts torn from their breasts after having been cut down while still breathing from the gibbet. It is the hope of all who know Tyburn and love the Sacred Heart that a worthy Sanctuary may here be built, to replace the present temporary chapel, where the King of Martyrs may be adored for many generations in the Sacrament of His love and that from these humble beginnings Tyburn may become to England what Montmartre is to France.

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According to the end of their Congregation, the Tyburn Nuns, consecrated to the Heart of Jesus, unite themselves to the intentions of that Adorable Heart burning with zeal for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls. They devote themselves to the Divine Praise and to the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and endeavour to obtain through the Sacred Heart of Jesus abundant graces for the Holy Church and all mankind.

They are placed under the maternal Patronage of the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary. After the Blessed Virgin, the special protectress of their Congregation is Saint Gertrude, the glorious Benedictine virgin, who so lovingly contemplated and magnificently glorified the treasures of the Heart of Jesus.

The Nuns of this Order are called primarily to the contemplative life. It is in union with the Adorable Sacrifice of the Altar and in the ineffable treasures which flow from the daily reception of the Holy Eucharist that they find their greatest support. No work must be preferred in the Congregation to the Work of God and the Eucharistic service. Every day, in union with the praises which the Heart of Jesus addresses unceasingly to the Holy Trinity, they offer to God the sacrifice of praise so closely bound to the Sacrifice of the Altar. The Gregorian chant is always used for the singing at Mass and Divine Office.

Night and day, before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, the Nuns offer their adorations in homage of honour, of praise and love, in gratitude and reparation, in supplication for the needs of the Holy Church, and for the extension of the Reign of the Sacred Heart throughout the world.

The ideal of their life is that it should be a continual Opus Dei by striving after perfection by prayer, sacrifice and zeal to this great end marked by the Holy Rule: “Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.”

If their white cowl symbolizes contemplation, eucharistic adoration and Divine Praise, the black habit, scapular and veil represent the poverty, penance and labour which they have likewise embraced.

The Community may also employ itself in works of zeal, properly so called, such as eucharistic and liturgical works, retreats, instruction of converts, provided these works be compatible with contemplative life and the enclosure.

The Benedictine Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre has this feature as yet rare among Benedictine Nuns of being under the government of a Superioress General.

Every Convent of the Congregation contracts a special obligation of devotedness for the conversion or the religious progress of the country wherein it is established. Consequently the Convent of Tyburn is devoted and that by a special Vow to the great cause of the return of England to Catholic unity. Under the protection of Our Lady and the Martyrs, the Nuns strive by prayer and penance to raise unceasingly towards the Sacred Heart of Jesus the great supplication which burst forth at the supreme moment from the heart of one of the most glorious heroes of Tyburn: “Jesus, convert England! Jesus, have mercy on this Country!”

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The Sacred Heart in increasing the number of the Tyburn Community has already enabled it to make two foundations: one in 1909 at Brussels on that hill of Koekelberg, where will stand the National Basilica erected by Belgium to the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; the second in 1916 at Royston, in Herts.

The Vow Made by the Community of Tyburn for the Conversion of England

(Renewed Annually)

O Jesus, Immortal King of Ages, Sovereign of Nations, Who envelopeth all mankind in the Love of Thy Divine Heart.

Humbly prostrate before Thee, we present in our hearts, England, the land which Thou hast so much loved, and which we love, and we adore Thee as her Divine Redeemer. We remember all the graces Thou hast lavished upon this Island, Thy Mother’s Dowry, and we unite our thanksgivings to all those offered to Thee in past ages, and which will be eternally addressed to Thee in Heaven by the Blessed Martyrs and all the other Saints of this Country.

The cruel ravisher of souls has tried to draw from Thee this nation for ever! How many tabernacles are empty! How many souls have strayed away! Thy Heart has been wounded! We will labour to repair the offences done to Thee.

Thou hast ever so loved this land! . . . Thou ceasest not to call her with an infinite love. May she return at Thy merciful calling, may she come back to the source of life, may she be Thy beloved daughter, faithful and devoted! Full of power, she will repair her errors by making known the love of Thy Divine Heart wherever her vast empire extends!

O Jesus, we desire to hasten that happy day by prayer, adoration, penance and zeal.

This Convent of Tyburn, devoted to the great ends of our religious family, has received as its own and most special mission that of representing England unceasingly before Thy Adorable Heart, and the Community has vowed itself to offer its adorations and prayers by night and day, in a special manner for England, and particularly for the return to the Holy Church of the children of this great nation, who are yet separated from the One True Fold. Lord Jesus, we renew to-day this Vow and this Offering, and we present them to Thy Sacred Heart through the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Holy Father Saint Benedict, whose children brought the Faith to this Country and the glorious Martyrs who shed their blood at Tyburn.

O Jesus, may the day soon come when all England shall sing: “Praise be to the Divine Heart through which salvation has come to us! To Him be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

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