Alfred Hope Patten

1885-1958, Anglo-Catholic priest and restorer of the Shrine in 1922

Your name has a certain gleam to it –
eccentric sounding, as you were yourself,
misfit farmer’s boy, dodger of tests,

perhaps the printed word oppressed you
unlike the sensory glory of High Church.
You loved the drench of incense,

the cleansing douse of holy water,
a precision of vestment and gesture
that held you, just as you would hold

this English village up again to God,
Alfred, the great restorer of the shrine –
small wonder your middle name was Hope.

That same year saw the BBC born, and
Walsingham finding its spiritual focus –
reception is still poor there: prayer is not.

As for Patten, think of the shoes and sandals
that have trod, have trod the ancient
pilgrim way, in all our muddle and love;

we are still praying for you, saint of the odd
and fussy; father of restitution, May devotions –
of somehow making good.

Sarah Law

Sarah Law lives in London and is a tutor for the Open University and elsewhere. Her latest collection, Therese: Poems, is published by Paraclete Press. She edits the online journal Amethyst Review for new writing engaging with the sacred.

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