"I am here because God has wanted this from all eternity. Blessed be his holy Name."
Children from St Mary's Shrine family days have been working hard to prepare a short play on the life of Bl Dominic Barberi to be performed on Friday 7th July at 5pm. "A Gift to England" tells the story of the man who spent his life working for the conversion of England and ultimately received the Anglican John Henry Newman into the Church.
Seating space in the narthex is limited, but audience members are welcome. Refreshments in the cloister afterwards.
Pictured: the cast after a rehearsal
Here is an excerpt from the script:
Lotti: A man from Italy! I thought Italians were all papists. [Making sign of cross] Your mother isn't letting a...a...Catholic stay at her inn, is she? [Boys stop and kneel up to listen]
Bella: [Shrugs] Well, she couldn't really say 'no'. He's paying £12 to use the room 3 times a week. [Impressed glances and nods between the children.]
Edith: That's a lot!
Bella: I don't know where he got the money, though. He doesn't have a carriage, or even proper boots. He's going to walk the 8 miles from Ashton to Stone in just sandals.[Girls giggle behind hands]
Frankie: A Catholic! [Jumps onto A and shouts through his hands to the street. Villagers enter stage area.] A Catholic's coming here! A priest is coming to say Mass at the Crown. Come on, everybody! Let's go and have a laugh and hear what he has to say!
Villager: Good idea!
Villager 2: Yes, let's!
[Village people set off towards E to meet Fr Dominic, leaving Lotti and Bella.]
Bella: I don't think they'll have much to hear– the man can hardly speak a word of English!
[Girls shrug, laugh and set off, following the crowd.]
[Crowd lines the side from B all the way round the back of the stage, looking towards Fr Dominic's entrance from E, forming a gauntlet. Start jeering, pointing and laughing at him.]
Edith: [From A] Look, there he is! The papist priest!
John: [From B] What an ugly little man! Look at his weird clothes– and how patched they are!
[Villagers start pointing to Fr Dominic and chanting aggressively]
Mary: [From C] We don't want you here, priest! We've not had Mass in Stone for 300 years, we're not starting now!
[Fr Dominic walks in slowly, hat in hand, nodding and smiling to people in the audience, blessing L and R.]
Frankie: [From B] Let's get my Dad's cart and drive it up and down outside the inn. Clatter, bang, crash! Nobody will hear him then. [Runs to A]
Edith: [From A] Devil! Demon! Papist!
Fr Dominic: [Between B and C, picks up his rosary and starts passing the beads.] Dear Beloved, I beseech our Blessed Mozzer Mary to pray for you all. Our Farzzer who art in 'eaven, 'allowed be ziy name...... etc.
Mary: [From C] What did you say his name was– Fr Dominic? Father Demonic it should be. [Shoves Fr Dominic towards the stage at C]
Frankie: [From A ] This should slow him down– target practice! [Picks up a stone, throws it at Fr Dominic, who gasps and holds his hand to his bleeding head.]
John: [From A] Good shot!
[Frankie and John high 5]
Villager: [From platform] I wonder what he'll do now?
[All villagers have formed an arc around the back of Fr Dominic, who bends down to pick up the stone who holds it high with both hands and kisses it. People follow the path of the stone, gaping and looking at each other.]
Fr Dominic: [Centre stage, looking up to heaven.] Sank you, Christ, zat troo zis stone I might share a leettle in your sufferings on zhe cross. [Puts the stone into his pocket and pats it with a happy look.]
[People are subdued a little, and look confused. They stand back to let him pass through the crowd, exiting F]