Easter Meditation

Stonyhurst's Easter Meditation

This Easter Meditation from Stonyhurst College is a message of hope to people around the globe suffering during this pandemic. 

HM The King has shown his support for Catholics and Christians around the world through his contribution to this year’s Easter Meditation at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire. The Prince recites the poem God’s Grandeur, by the distinguished Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, that speaks powerfully of a promise of renewal – for the physical world in which we live, but also for our spiritual lives.

The Easter Meditation is made up of three sections (nocturns), with poetry and scripture, prayer, reflection and music. The film also includes precious artefacts housed in Stonyhurst’s museum that include The Holy Thorn (from the Crown of Thorns), which once belonged to Mary Queen of Scots, on loan from the Jesuit Province of Great Britain.

"We are honoured that HM The King will recite God’s Grandeur as part of our Easter Meditation. The poem is offered as a reflection on the journey from the darkness of Lent to the joy of Easter. We are delighted that through Stonyhurst, His Royal Highness will be able to reach Catholics and the wider Christian community around the world at Eastertide. Our meditation includes participation from pupils, highlighting the importance of the younger generation, whose stewardship of the planet provides our hope for the future." 

John Browne, Head of Stonyhurst


Stonyhurst Collections and Archives Objects

This extraordinary object is known as the Holy Thorn and has been believed for centuries to be a part of the actual Crown placed on Christ’s head when he was led to crucifixion. It has a fascinating, colourful and conflicted history.

The Crown can be traced from Jerusalem to Constantinople, to the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, and in 1558 a thorn was given to Mary Queen of Scots when she married the French king’s son, Francois. Through the subsequent turbulence of her reign in Scotland Mary kept the Thorn, taking it into exile and imprisonment with her in England in 1568. She gave it to Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, who left it to his daughter Elizabeth. From her hands the Thorn passed to John Gerard a 16th century Jesuit priest working in secret in England. Thence to our school, arriving around 1660.

The exquisite reliquary you can see inside its outer casing dates from around 1595, commissioned by Elizabeth Percy and her friends. It is made from gold, enamelled with items associated with the Crucifixion, such as the lance which pierced Christ’s side, and the dice used by Roman soldiers to gamble for his clothing. The freshwater pearls entwined around the Thorn are believed to be those of Mary Queen of Scots. 

The thorn is a powerful focus for meditation and prayer. Shorn of its rich trappings, focus on the thorn and try to imagine the moment when a crown of cruel thorns was pressed onto the brow of an innocent man, in Jerusalem some two thousand years ago.

Learn more about Stonyhurst College Collections and Archives

This beautiful and elaborately embroidered garment is a chasuble, worn by Catholic priests as they celebrate mass. It dates from the mid 17th century and was made by a remarkable woman, Helena Wintour, whose initials are embroidered at the lower edge of the chasuble.

Helena’s father and uncle were executed in 1606 for their part in the failed Gunpowder Plot, which involved Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes. Helena was around five years old. She spent her long life devoted to charitable works, prayer and creating a substantial group of glorious vestments which reflected her creativity and her devotion to her faith.

This red vestment was designed to be used at Pentecost, described in the Acts of the Apostles. This was the moment, after the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, when the Holy Spirit descended on Mary and the apostles in the form of a powerful strong wind and tongues of flame. The Holy Spirit gave the early Christians the power and courage to go out and preach the gospel in a hostile world.

The vestment is cared for by Stonyhurst and is on display at Stonyhurst College within the Collections and Archives museum (property of the Jesuit Province of Great Britain). 

Learn more about Stonyhurst College Collections and Archives

Gerard Manley Hopkins Podcast

Listen here

Dr Michael D. Hurley (University of Cambridge), Dr Rebekah Lamb (University of St Andrews), and Dr Jan Graffius (Curator of the Museum, Library, and Archives at Stonyhurst) discuss Gerard Manley Hopkins's "God's Grandeur".

The podcast offers an accessible overview of Hopkins's life, the literary and theological richness of his poetry, and some of the ways in which his religious, scientific, and creative imagination was shaped by his experiences at Stonyhurst.

Download on Soundcloud

God's Grandeur



The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.


And for all this, nature is never spent;

    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Easter Meditation Photography

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