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St. Saviour's Catholic Church is situated in Broadway, one of the most vibrant and beautiful villages of UK, where prayers and worship have been offered to excise the Almighty God over the years. We offer a generous welcome and gracious hospitality to all who come to the church, offering a varied ministry to all ages in the parish. The Parish is in the archdiocese of Birmingham led by Archbishop Bernard Longley.

Ancient Ruins
Broadway, situated within a short distance of Pershore's medieval Abbey of Our Lady and described in Domesday Book as "the land of St Mary of Pershore", has its own special place in the dowry of Mary. Dissolved by King Henry VIII in the sixteenth century and fallen into ruins, both Pershore and Evesham had become the homes of owls and bats, as the great Passionist, Blessed Dominic Barberi described all England's ancient monastic remains in the early nineteenth century. Even as he wrote, however, in God's wonderful plans the Benedictines were already returning to the lovely Vale of Evesham.

Dom John Augustine Birdsall OSB
During the penal times, a group of English Benedictines had found a home at Lamspringe near Hildesheim in Westphalia. One of these Benedictines was Dom John Augustine Birdsall. Born in Liverpool on 27 June 1775 and educated by the Dominicans at Bornhem, he entered the English Benedictine Order at Lamspringe in 1795. He was professed as a monk in 1796 and ordained a priest in 1801. As Prefect of Studies, he taught Peter Baines, the future Vicar Apostolic of the Western District in England. In 1803, however, the Abbey of SS Adrian and Dionysius was suppressed by the Prussian Government, although the monks were to be allowed to stay there until they died. By 1803, as a result of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the British Government were actually welcoming back the very religious orders they had forced into exile during the penal times. Accordingly, the Lamspringe monks took the opportunity to return to their own country. Dom Birdsall lived in Ampleforth until 1806 when he was sent to the mission of St John the Evangelist in Bath in the Benedictine Southern Province of Canterbury. In 1809 he moved to Cheltenham, where in 1810 he opened its first public Catholic chapel since the Reformation. On the death of one of his parishioners, George Taylor on 5 July 1813, he received a bequest of £1,350 to provide another Catholic mission with a church and a house. Since the sum was not really sufficient, however, Dom Birdsall allowed the interest to accumulate.

The Broadway Benedictine Mission
In 1822 Dom Birdsall was elected the Provincial of Canterbury and in 1826 was appointed President General of the English Benedictines and Prior of Winchester. It thus fell to him to defend the rights of the Benedictines against his former pupil, Bishop Baines and to save Ampleforth Abbey from extinction. At the same time, he decided to use Taylor's donation (by then, apparently, increased to £1,500) to buy land in Broadway in order to build a house and chapel there, with the intention of rehousing the Lamspringe community and providing a Catholic public school. Broadway at that time was a staging-post on the main roads from Wales and the West to Oxford and London and from Stratford to Leamington, with forty to fifty stage-coaches stopping there each day. Renting a large room in the Crown Inn, Dom Birdsall said Mass in Broadway for the first time on 17 December 1826. He continued to say Mass at the Crown until 1 April 1827. After that he used the house of a devout and wealthy Catholic, Mr. Collet, where he also lived. He began to build the chapel in Broadway on 13 May 1828, blessing the foundation-stone two days later, on Ascension Thursday. The chapel was roofed on 8 July 1828; the windows fixed and the floor laid in 1829. On 27 January 1830 the foundation-stone of the house was laid and on the following 23 November Dom Birdsall was able to sleep in this new Benedictine foundation. In that same year he was appointed titular Abbot of Westminster. He said Mass at Mr. Collet's for the last time on 19 December 1830 and the first Mass in the new chapel on 1 January 1831.

The Chapel Of SS Adrian And Dionysius
The chapel, dedicated, like the abbey in Lamspringe, to SS Adrian and Dionysius, was officially opened on 8 September, the feast of Our Lady's Birthday, 1832. In the meantime Dom Birdsall had carefully placed under the Altar a glass bottle containing a document recording the munificence of George Taylor and the date of the blessing of the foundation-stone. When this bottle was later discovered by the Passionists, they set into the sanctuary wall a small, brass plaque recording Mr. Taylor's piety and generosity." The Benedictine monastery was officially opened and the first clothing ceremony took place in 1834 on 9 October, the patronal feast of SS Adrian and Dionysius.

The German College
Behind the monastery Dom Birdsall built another wing, the "German College", which was intended especially for young men who were particularly interested in learning German and French, as well as in literature, the arts and science and in being trained to discuss the important topics of the day." Indeed, Dom Birdsall seems to have been regarded as an intellectual authority for between November 1824 and July 1827 he was consulted by William Cobbett who was then writing his History of the Protestant Reformation. By 1836, however, Dom Birdsall had found himself in financial difficulties. He went to Germany, possibly to try to recover some of the losses from Lamspringe Abbey but whilst he was at Hildesheim his right eye became seriously inflamed and he lost its sight. He then took rheumatic fever and pleurisy. After eight weeks' illness he returned to Broadway, He never recovered, however, and died in Broadway on 2 August 1837. He was buried in the cemetery beside the chapel. Unfortunately, the school then declined, partly perhaps because the construction of the Great Western Railway had deprived Broadway of its significance as a staging-post. By 1844 the monks had been dispersed to other Benedictine foundations. It seemed that the attempt to make a new home for the Lamspringe community had failed but at last in 1878 they were refounded at Fort Augustus Abbey on the shores of Loch Ness.

Served From Cheltenham
From 1844 Broadway had no resident priest and Mass was celebrated only once a month by Dom J. Kendal OSB from Cheltenham. The Catholics of Broadway, however, although few in number were staunch in their Faith. Deprived of Sunday Mass they might be but they need not lose their devotions too. On other Sundays, therefore, they came along to their chapel and there Dom Birdsall's old friend, William Varley read them a sermon from a book supplied by Dom Kendal.



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