The body of Father Gregory Winterton, who died peacefully in the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Harborne, on Wednesday 18 January 2012, aged 89, was received by Father Paul Chavasse at the Hagley Road gates of the Oratory Church, Edgbaston, at 6.30pm on the evening of Monday 23 January. It was a cold evening and the sombre silence was broken by the rush-hour traffic as it made its way past.
The simple plain coffin made of light American Oak (English Oak is not good for coffins because it warps too quickly) with a crucifix on top and six Oxy Silver handles (made up until the 1960’s), was gently lifted from the hearse under the supervision of Undertaker, Andrew Taylor of A B Taylor Funeral Services Ltd in Birmingham. Father Chavasse sprinkled the coffin with holy water.
Then accompanied by the Fathers and Brother of the Birmingham Oratory community, visiting priests, and Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Archbishop of Birmingham, the coffin was carried slowly through the darkened cloister leading to the Church and past the tablets on the wall to the memory of the departed Fathers. In the centre is the tablet to Blessed John Henry Newman 1801-1890, who composed its Latin inscription: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (Out of shadows and images into the Truth).
The coffin was placed on the catafalque under the dome in front of the sanctuary and then covered with a purple pall. Father Gregory’s beretta, purple stole from his confessional and chalice were then carefully put on the top.
The Parish Church was full including former parishioners who had travelled long distances to be present at the Solemn Vespers of the Dead, sung in Latin. It was a deeply moving and prayerful occasion that concluded with the words: “Requiescant in pace. Amen.”
*Please note that all the pictures included are my copyright but may be used with due acknowledgement: “Picture by Peter Jennings.”