A FUTURE SAINT ?
Althorp in Northamptonshire is perhaps best known as the one-time home of Lady Diana Spencer, who in time married the Prince of Wales. One of Lady Diana’s ancestors, the youngest of seven children, was George Spencer (1799-1865). In those very different times, and to the dismay of his family, George became a Catholic and eventually a priest in the Passionist missionary order, which did so much to revive the Catholic faith in England in the 19th century. George took the name ‘Ignatius’ when entering the Passionists (feast of Saint Ignatius on Thursday 31st July). He was much loved by his family who became reconciled to his being a Catholic. While living then in very simple style he in his turn became a preacher of understanding and warmer relations between Catholics and other Churches. He was a truly early ecumenical apostle. He walked everywhere, though suffering from arthritis. On 1st October 1865 he was walking to visit a benefactor, after completing a mission at Carstairs, but on the way suffered a heart attack and “died, as he wanted, alone and penniless in a ditch”. It was said of him that, “He accepted himself as he was a found grace in ‘less than perfect people in a less than perfect world’. Many have asked his prayers ever since.