Just got in from our fortnightly Fraternity of Priests meeting which was held at Chepstow this time with Fr Barry English (a very, very distant relation of mine) hosting. As we left, I asked Fr T if he fancied a diversion to see Tintern Abbey, so off we went up the Wye Valley.
It was about 3.30 when we got there on this, a coldish crisp October afternoon. There were very few visitors as I whisked us past the pay-desk with my lifetime Cadw card (ahem). The abbey was all the more beautiful for the autumnal colours and light, and the stillness. As we wandered over to the remains of the infirmary there was, in fact, nobody else in sight.
What a blessing to have such a place within easy reach of Cardiff. As I explained to Fr T that, no, the ruins were the result not of a fire but of the even more fiery Dissolution of the Monasteries, the pity of it all rose up once more in my mind. The loss of the religious houses was a great scar on our history, and although the wound is certainly softened by the beauty of sites like Tintern, somewhere. deep down, a Catholic heart must mourn.