April 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 82
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    LONDON ( - The annual pilgrimage to Tyburn in central London where more than 100 martyrs were hanged, drawn, and quartered in the 16th and 17th centuries is to be axed following complaints that it disrupts shopping in Oxford Street.

    For the last century, hundreds of pilgrims have followed the two-mile route from the Old Bailey to Marble Arch along which the martyrs were dragged on hurdles or taken by cart to a gruesome death at the gallows. But this year's walk, next Sunday, will be the last.

    Organizers are under pressure from police to reroute the procession away from Oxford Street, which has become increasingly busy on weekends. And they feel that if they can no longer walk in the footsteps of the martyrs, the event loses much of its significance.

    Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood, who is one of the leaders of this year's Great Jubilee walk, said it had become a "casualty of our age."

    "It is very regrettable," he told The Daily Telegraph. "It is a sign of the growing secularism and commercialism of our age, exemplified by such things as Sunday opening. Life today is full of so many things, but it is good to have time to pause and remember. We all respect the tremendous integrity of the martyrs and, of course, many Protestants as well as Catholics died during those times. In many parts of the world, there is more martyrdom now than ever before."

    Mother John Baptist, a 77-year-old nun at Tyburn convent near the site of the executions, at Marble Arch, said the news had come as "a great blow" to her cloistered community.

    "In the past people used to stream to Tyburn to see the executions," she said. "Now people stream here from all over the world to visit the shrine of the martyrs. People are being attacked in different ways today. You don't have to risk your life, but you can be jeered at for honoring the martyrs."


April 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 82

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