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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Vicar to bless the beer aboard real ale train

* Father Lee Taylor blesses the Llangollen vicarage in Abbey Road earlier this year.

Llangollern's new vicar is to bless the beer aboard a real ale train due to steam out of the town’s railway station later this month.

Father Lee Taylor, who took over at St Collen’s and three other churches in the Valle Crucis Mission Area last Christmas, reckons reviving the ancient ceremony which goes back to medieval times is a good way of taking the church out into the community.

So when the special train leaves the platform on the evening of Saturday March 30 Father Lee will be on hand in his full regalia to say some specially chosen words over the local brews that will be on sale to lovers of real ale.

He said: “Back in medieval times it wasn’t unusual for priests to be called upon to bless all sorts of things, such as cheese, workmen’s tools or crops planted for harvest.

“It’s a way of the church responding to various activities in the community and a fun way of celebrating something that’s very good.”

Father Lee, whose mother was landlady at a couple of pubs back in his native Bolton, added: “The beer blessing itself goes back to 1614 and inaugurated in the time of Pope Pius V.

"There also a link with St Collen's because on the church roof is a depiction of a men with barrels.

“I’ll be performing the ritual in both English and the original Latin and I’ll be using holy water and incense - and then I’ll be joining the other travellers for the odd pint or two.

“Saint Arnold of Soissons, whose feast day is on August 14, and Saint Arnulf of Metz, whose day is on July 18, are bothe patron saints of beer and hop-pickers, so if any pubs or hotels in Llangollen would like their beer blessed on those days then let me know."

This won’t be the first time that Father Lee carried out his beer blessing ceremony.

Back in 2016 he hit the national headlines when he blessed the casks at his local pub when he was part of the clergy team at Croydon Minster in London.

And soon after he arrived in Llangollen a gathering of parishioners and friends watched him bless his new vicarage in Abbey Road.

Llangollen heritage railway’s business manager, the aptly-named Liz McGuinness, has raised a glass to Father Lee’s plans.

She said: “This is a great idea. We are so pleased that Lee is taking time out to re-enact an age old tradition. This will be great fun and we are really excited about it.”

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