Blessing of Catholic Graves
The blessing of Catholic graves takes place on the Sunday closest to All Souls’ Day, which is celebrated on 2nd November. All Souls’ Day is a special day in the calendar of the Catholic Church when prayers are said for the souls of faithful departed loved ones. It is traditionally a day when graves are visited and tended, and candles lit in memory of deceased friends and relatives.
At the blessing service the clergy and members of the congregation of St. Augustine’s Church in Tunbridge Wells gather for a brief service in the Catholic section of the cemetery, near to the Bayham Road entrance. Following this a short prayer is said at each grave, and holy water is sprinkled on the grave, a reminder of the deceased person’s baptism. Although most of the graves that are blessed are in the Catholic section, graves elsewhere in the cemetery can be blessed on request.
The service takes place regardless of the weather, and concludes with much appreciated hot drinks in the chapel.
Canon Peter Stodart blessing graves in the Catholic part of the cemetery. Photo courtesy of David Walter.
Father Emmanuel Onwu blessing the grave of Isabella Burrowes, a St. Augustine's Church parishoner and the first person to be buried in the cemetery in 1873