28 Sep Our 140th Anniversary 1878-2018 Part 4
On the morning of September 29th, feast of St Michael, Archangel, the first Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Manning and attended by the friends and relatives of the Sisters and a large crowd of visitors, not all of them Catholic but all interested and respectful. After Mass came the solemn blessing of the monastery. The sisters gathered inside the large enclosure door and were joined from the outside by the Cardinal, clergy and congregation. A procession was formed and wended its way all through the house, every room being blessed with holy water as they went.
The nuns led the way back to the enclosure door and stood back to allow everyone else to leave. At this point, there was a touching human moment. The mother of one of the Sisters asked the Cardinal if she and the other mothers present might embrace their daughters for the last time. Permission was given and everyone present, including the Cardinal, was deeply moved to witness this final farewell. The Cardinal then solemnly pronounced the imposition of papal enclosure and, having spoken his final words to Mother Mary of the Blessed Trinity, “Now, Mother, sanctify your walls”, the great doors closed on the outside world.
For the rest of the day, the Sisters in turn watched in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, and the ceremonies concluded with Solemn Benediction at 4pm. The new Carmel was founded.
Alone now, in their precious solitude with God, the sisters settled into their Carmelite routine of prayer and work. There was much rigour and hardship in those early days for they were very poor and had yet to establish the work of making Altarbreads that would secure their income. But the nuns accepted it all as part of Carmel’s essential surrender and there was much joy in the simplicity of their lives. It was many years before they had the funds necessary to continue building but the monastery was finally completed in 1894. By then, Mother Mary of the Blessed Trinity had been succeeded as Prioress by one whom she had first received as a postulant in Paris, Mother Mary of Jesus. Under her leadership the community continued to flourish and between 1917 and 1938 a continuous succession of foundations went out from Notting Hill to spread the spirit of St Teresa throughout England, Scotland and Wales.