Province 4 Bard

Encounter with a saint – A true story by Bernard Fyles (St Helens 21)

Bernard’s Bits and Bobs-June 2020 Contribution

In 1991, we went on a coach trip across Europe to Budapest. Our friends, Liz and Geoff, were with us, as was our daughter, Rachel, who was still at school.

It’s a long way to Budapest, even though we broke the journey twice, so we were glad to finally arrive. We were, however, somewhat surprised to find that our hotel, a modern suburban Novotel, was surrounded by armed guards. What we hadn’t realised was that Pope John Paul ll was visiting Hungary at the very same time as us. Many of his entourage and other dignitaries were staying at the Novotel, hence the heightened security. Meg and I had travelled widely in the Soviet Union and were unlikely to be put off by the mere presence of armed guards. Others in our party were less relaxed about this turn of events.

We signed in and went to the lift to go up to our room, leaving the hotel staff to sort the luggage out. When the lift arrived, a cardinal and two bishops stepped out. This set the pattern for the next five days. Wherever you went in or around the Novotel, you bumped into high ranking churchmen of many nations and languages.

In the early evening, we went down to the restaurant for dinner. We hadn’t even ordered when the cry rang out in several languages “The Pope’s coming!”. We all flocked outside. The hotel was near a large crossroads where a smaller road crossed a major dual carriageway. All the traffic had been stopped and the area was stiff with policemen. It seemed that His Holiness was staying in a monastery to the west of our hotel, whereas his helipad was to the east of our hotel. He had passed by earlier that day and now he was returning.

His cortege now arrived. Six motor cycle outriders. A minibus full of fellows you wouldn’t argue with. A couple more outriders. The papal limousine with two armed lookouts standing on the back bumper. A few more assorted vehicles carrying various dignitaries. Another  minibus full of hard men. A last cluster of outriders. The Poles and the Italians went wild with excitement. Some even threw flowers. Other nationalities, including us, clapped vigorously. The Pope waved to all and sundry. As an unexpected holiday extra, it took some beating.

The locals were less enthusiastic. They weren’t in any way hostile. They just looked fed up. Here they were, going home after a day’s work, stuck in traffic, unable to drive on home or even cross the road. We could sympathise with them. It was obvious that the Hungarian government were determined to ensure that no harm would come to the Pope on their watch. So, security was very strict. We learnt afterwards that some of the police on duty were actually Czech officers, loaned out for the occasion.

Next morning, during breakfast, the same cry went up and the same procedure took place but going the other way. And so it went on for five days. We never actually attended a papal event but we did see John Paul twice a day for five days. I’m sure he must have recognised us by the end.


Now Jesus told a story upon a certain day. Two men went to the temple each one resolved to pray.

The first man was a Pharisee, a pious man but proud. He went down to the very front and said his prayers out loud.

“I thank you, Lord, that I am not like others here today. I say my prayers. I keep your law. I walk your holy way

I read your word. I help the poor. My wealth I give away. And so I know you’ll hear me, Lord, when I come here to pray”.

The second was a publican, a traitor to his race. He hung around the entrance door and dared not show his face.

With downcast eyes, he beat his breast, not even entering in. ”Have mercy on me, Lord” he said “and wipe away my sin”

And when these two went home again, their praying at an end, it was the humble publican who truly was God’s friend.

 A quote from psalm 124

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? Those with clean hands and pure hearts.Well, since coronavirus arrived, we’ve all got the first part right.

 May 2020 Contribution

Compiled by Bernard Fyles (St Helens 21)

At our circle, we always pray for the canonisation of Blessed Dominic Barberi and we ask for his intercession. In case you are wondering who he was and why he is important to us, here are a few key dates in his life.

June 22 1792
Born at Viterbo Italy

He joined the Passionist order. He lacked formal education up till then but rapidly made up for lost time.

March 1 1821
He was ordained priest in Rome. He served in Italy in a variety of roles but felt a strong call to serve in England which in those days was pretty much a foreign mission. Catholic worship was illegal in England until 1829 and Catholics were treated with great suspicion.

He founded the first Passionist house outside Italy at Ere in Belgium.

February 1842
He finally arrived in England and set up his first mission at Aston in Staffordshire. He travelled the country tirelessly, supporting the existing Catholic community and preaching the faith wherever he could.

October 9 1945

He received St John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church at Littlemore near Oxford.

January 1949

He came to St Helens to finalise plans for a new Passionist house. This is now the parish church of St Anne and Blessed Dominic.

August 27 1849

He died of a heart attack on Reading railway station. He was buried in the crypt of the new church of St Anne’s

October 27 1963
He was beatified. In 1972, his remains were moved into a special chapel in the new church at St Anne’s where he lies with two other candidates for sainthood, Ignatius spencer and Elizabeth Prout.


Who’s the man that’s walking with you?
Who’s the man that’s by your side?
Who’s the man bound for Emmaus?
This is Jesus,
who once died
but now he lives,
he lives again,
he lives for ever.
Jesus lives in you and me.

Twisted sayings.

Where there’s a will, ………I want to be in it.
If I agreed with you ………………we’d both be wrong.
War doesn’t decide who’s right ……………….only who’s left.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit………………. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
I didn’t say it was your fault………………………. I said I was blaming you.
You don’t need a parachute to skydive……………… You need a parachute to skydive twice.
I used to be indecisive………………….Now I’m not so sure.
I was always taught to respect my elders………………..but it’s getting harder to find any.

With thanks to my friend Maeve O’Neill

April 2020 Contribution

An alternative medical dictionary

Artery  –  the study of painting

Caesarean section – a district of Rome

Cauterize – made eye contact with her

Colic  – a sheep dog

Fibula – a white lie

Labour pains – getting hurt at work

Node – was aware of

Outpatient – someone who has fainted in the hospital

Recovery room – a place to do upholstery

Seizure – a Roman emperor

Five firsts


This was built in 1839 by Kirkpatrick  Macmillan, a blacksmith from Dumfries. The machine weighed 26 kg (57 lb) and the wheels had iron tyres.

 2.Dinner jacket

This was worn by the wonderfully named Griswold Lorillard at the Tuxedo Park Country Club in New York on October 10 1886.

3.Game of snooker

This was played at Jabalpur in India in 1875. The game was devised by Lt Neville Chamberlain who was serving there with the Devonshire Regiment. He did not go on to become Prime Minister.

4.Space flight

Four monkeys were hurled 85 miles into space at White Sands National Park in New Mexico in the autumn of 1951. They were known as Albert 1,2,3 and 4. They all returned safely.

5.Televised rugby league match

This was broadcast to the Midlands only in 1948. It was the final of the Rugby League Challenge Cup between Bradford Northern and Wigan. Bradford lost 3 – 8.

Kwiz Korner

 Last time’s answer – Winnie the Pooh and Henry the Eighth have the same middle name.

This time’s question – What is the centre of gravity?



What wood is this?

Olive or oak, cedar or pine?

Unsuited for the cabinet maker’s art.

Unfit for turning, inlay, elegance,

too warped for any honest use,

door frame or ladder or carrier’s cart.

What wood is this?

Sold cheap to minimise the grower’s loss.

Too many knots, too twisted,

no good except for firewood or a cross.

What wood is this?

Rough joints, rope lashings

hold it together for the task ahead

and the carpenter’s hands

that might have shaped it

as they shaped the world

are made to drag it through the streets instead.

What wood is this?

It is the wood of death,

the wood of life.

Bernard Fyles, St Helens 21

On this Site, we use functional/necessary cookies to make this Site function. Third party cookies e.g. Google Maps, You Tube or Facebook are controlled via your browser settings. Read our Privacy Policy -Cookie Policy.