Holy Week Tuesday

Jerusalem Old City

In Jerusalem for his third day, Jesus spends his time teaching in the Temple where the wary chief priests ask him, without direct success, by what authority he acts and speaks.

The most famous incident is the trick question from the Pharisees asking whether they should pay taxes to Caesar.

Holding up a coin , Jesus says: “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God.”

This is what Christians remember when they have to disobey a law which goes against Christian teaching –such situations arose in Nazi Germany and communist states.

He also pointed out the old lady putting two small value coins in the collecting box saying: “This poor widow has put in more than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.”

Later, when sitting on the Mount of Olives, Jesus begins a long discourse.  In the evening Jesus and his small party almost certainly return to Bethany for the night.

Fig Monday

Ripe figs in June

Fig Monday is an old name for the Monday of Holy Week.

Dried figs were once eaten today in some parts of England.

Bethany, where Jesus is staying, means House of Figs.

Today Jesus pauses on the Jerusalem road to point to a fig tree lacking fruit. This is possibly a hint of the Temple’s reputation or its destruction to come.

Fig cakes will be eaten at the Last Supper on Thursday.

But the big event today is Christ’s famous clash with the bureau de change stalls in the Temple.

Palm Sunday processions

Woodcut in the March Magnificat prayer book

This weekend we start Holy Week.

Sunday is Palm Sunday when the main church service begins with an outdoor procession.

This is the liturgical re-enactment of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The original route will be walked this afternoon by a large ecumenical procession faithfully going downhill and through the nearest gateway into walled Old Jerusalem

But where our own procession starts in our parish is to us Bethany or maybe nearby Bethphage where Christ mounted the donkey.

Our church will become our Jerusalem for the week where we recall the events of the first Holy Week in real time.



Southwark Cathedral‘s procession starts in Borough Market at 11am.

St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield has its gathering just inside Bart’s Hospital gatehouse at 11am.

All Hallows-by-the-Tower starts at 11am in St Dunstan in the East (now a ruin and garden) in Idol Lane EC3. The procession will cross  the London Landmarks Half Marathon course on its way to Tower Hill.

Holy Trinity Sloane Street meets in Sloane Square at 10.45am.

St Mary’s, Primrose Hill meets on top of Primrose Hill at 10am to walk appropriately downhill to the church.


Winchester Cathedral congregation keeps a 900 year old tradition by gathering at the castle outside the West Gate at 10am to walk downhill to the cathedral.


Gloucester Cathedral meets at St Mary de Lode Church at 10.15am.


St Albans Cathedral congregation meets at 9.30am by the Clock Tower in the High Street. Expect a donkey.


At Ripon Cathedral the Blessing of Palms is in the market square at 10am with the new Bishop of Ripon Helen-Ann presiding. The procession, with Lily the donkey, makes its way along Kirkgate to the cathedral as hymns are sung .

York Minister meeting point for Blessing of Palms is St Helen’s Square (outside Betty’s tearooms) at 9.45am before the procession along Stonegate to the Minster.


CLOCKS CHANGE Don’t miss a procession. Clocks change this Saturday night. They go forward.

DATE CHANGE The 25 March date is usually the Annunciation but this year that celebration is postponed for two weeks until Monday 9 April.

St Joseph’s Day: Cream buns and sawdust

Infant Jesus with St Joseph in Our Lady of Salette Church near London Bridge Station

Today, Monday 19 March, is St Joseph’s Day when we pause to remember the Virgin Mary’s husband Joseph.

St Joseph was the father figure in Holy Family home where he provided for Mary and Jesus by working as a carpenter.

He is often a forgotten figure maybe because the Bible does not record what happened to him.

But he is remembered in Malta where today is a holiday.

And it’s Father’s Day in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

In Naples the special St Joseph’s Day treat is a cream doughnut.

Soup in Sicily is meatless Minestrone because it is Lent but bread crumbs are sprinkled on top to represent the sawdust from Joseph’s workshop.


Passion Sunday

Statues are veiled as we think about Christ’s last days before crucifixion

Today is Passion Sunday.

In the north-west of England it is the custom to enjoy Carlin Peas at lunch or nibble them from a saucer in the pub.

This reminds us where we are in the year, between Mothering Sunday and Palm Sunday.

In church the statues have been veiled.

All this tells us that we are at turning point in Lent.

By the end of this week we shall have entered real time to begin  recalling day by day the events of Holy Week from next weekend.

St Patrick’s Day was once drink free

St Patrick in Cornwall Road near London’s Waterloo Station

Within living memory Dublin was quiet on St Patrick’s Day with all pubs closed. It was a little like Christmas Day with Mass in the morning before noon followed by family lunch and a snooze.

Today 17 March is a break in Lent not only in Ireland. Even Edinburgh, which has St Andrew, is marking the day.

St Patrick was born about 400 and a century before St David.

In Wales St David’s relics are far from the capital and St David’s Day starts with a walk from St Non’s Chapel on the coast to St David’s Cathedral in St Davids.

So in Ireland there is a morning walk from Saul, where Patrick died in 461, to the Church of Ireland Down Cathedral where a wreath of flowers is placed on St Patrick’s outdoor tomb.

The cross community celebrations in Downpatrick include a free Irish stew lunch.

The statue includes one of the snakes allegedly driven from Ireland by St Patrick

Carlin Peas: Cooking instructions

Organic Carlin Peas available at Snowsfields Wellness

If you are keeping the north-west tradition of eating Carlin Peas this coming Sunday, Passion Sunday or Carling Sunday, you will need to soak them overnight.

Soak 12 oz carlin peas in cold water overnight.
Drain and put them in a saucepan of boiling water with a pinch of salt.
Boil for up to an hour or until cooked but not mushy.
Melt a little beef dripping, butter or oil in a frying pan. Drain the carlins and add to the pan. Fry for two to three minutes.
Serve hot with salt, pepper and maybe vinegar.

See earlier blog post for where to buy Carlin Peas.

But if you don’t find any in Borough Market try nearby Snowsfields Wellness, 12 Snowsfields, London SE1 3SU; open Saturday 10.30am-5pm. They have plenty of organic Carlin Peas.

Carlin Peas for Passion Sunday at Borough Market

Carlin peas ready to eat

In the north-east of England it is the tradition to eat Carlin Peas on Passion Sunday.

That is next Sunday 18 March so if you want to join in the custom now is the time to buy the peas.

Ken Bentley’s shop in Great Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire (Bentley’s Delicatessen, 31 Market Place) encourages the ‘Carling Sunday’ tradition.

The Health Warehouse in Darlington does a brisk trade.

Country Products at Tockwith in North Yorkshire supplies many shops and also sells peas by post.

There are also stockists in Bolton (try the market) and Whitby.

In London you should go to Borough Market where they are sold as ‘Lent food’. You will find them just inside Borough Market’s main gate on the Spice Mountain stall.

Their first delivery had just sold out this morning but more beans are expected.

Look on this site later in the week for the cooking instructions.

Spice Mountain in Borough Market

Mothering Sunday: It’s about mother church too


Flowers on Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday this weekend is likely to feature flowers, cake and even hugging.

The flowers will predominately be those Lent Lilies, or daffodils,  seen on St David’s Day at the beginning of the month.

But in some places not only will mother be given a hug but so will the church.

Expect to see church hugging, or clypping as Shakespeare would say, as congregations hold hands in the churchyard to form a circle round the church.

So Mothering Sunday is also the time to remember the ‘mother church’ which includes not just the main parish church but the cathedral.

On this mid-Lent Sunday we can pray for our mother living or deceased and the life of our cathedral.

Clypping at Staplehurst

St David’s Day

The first day of March is St David’s Day.

David is the only patron saint in the British Isles to be born in his own country.

So the focus is on St David’s Cathedral in his home city of St Davids.

There is no snow there but it is very cold  -about -2deg C.

This morning the Bishop is still due to lead a walk from St Non’s Chapel on the coast to the cathedral. The chapel is dedicated to David’s mother and is on the site of her son’s birth in about 520.

Welsh exiles will keep the day in many warmer places.

The Lent Lily, or the daffodil, will be worn at home and abroad.

Today’s Welsh food, despite Lent, features Welsh rarebit, Welsh lamb & leek stew and Welsh cakes.

London’s surviving Welsh churches are holding special St David’s Day services next Sunday 4 March:

The Welsh Chapel in Southwark Bridge Road SE1 celebrates at 11am with music and readings followed by refreshments.

St Benet’s, Queen Victoria Street EC4 in the City, is holding its annual St David’s Day service at 3pm. Welsh cakes are sometimes served with the tea afterwards.

St Davids Cathedral poster

Leigh Hatts