Great Britain & Ireland: Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa

Great Britain & Ireland: Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa

This year, the Custody of Great Britain-Ireland is celebrating the 800th anniversary of its foundation (1224-2024).*

This anniversary year is truly a time of renewal, of looking backward and forward. There were many brave and holy friars during these centuries who helped keep the Catholic faith alive through their service and charity. 

After a long absence caused by the suppressions of King Henry VIII in the 16th century, our Conventual Franciscan presence in Great Britain was reborn in 1907, thanks to the Province of Malta, which took up the mantle of missionary activity in England under the able leadership of Friar Bonaventure Sceberras (1876-1948). Friar Vincent Mayer of from the then Province of the Immaculate Conception in the USA arrived soon afterward and became a co-founder of the mission.

Friar Bonaventure Sceberras

Currently the Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa has six friaries, two in Ireland (Dublin and Wexford), and four in England (London/Rye, Manchester, Liverpool, and Oxford – a formation house). For many years, foreign friars have been invited to assist with ministry among the English, Scottish, and Irish people and among the many immigrants who found refuge here during and after the two World Wars.

-friar Joseph Wood OFM Conv.
Assistant General for the CFF 

The CFF (Conventual Franciscan Federation) includes Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, U.S.A. Friar Joseph Wood carried out a formal Canonical Visitation in the British Isles and Ireland over almost four weeks in February and March.

*The 800th anniversary is in recognition of the first friars arrival in Dover on 10 September 1224. Saint Francis of Assisi chose Friar Agnellus of Pisa to sail to England with eight friars. The friars made their way to Canterbury by foot the next morning. Five remained in Canterbury while the other four set out for London. Tow of the friars later went on to Oxford. In 1230, on of the English friars who had landed with Friar Agnellus of Pisa was sent to establish the Franciscan Order in Ireland.

Blessed Agnellus of Pisa