We are delighted to report that Confrère Tony Hilton CLJ, of the Commandery of John of Gaunt, was invested as a Knight of St Gregory at the Church of The Holy Family in New Springs, Wigan, last Saturday, having been proposed for this award by his colleagues from the North West Catholic History Society in recognition of his many good works, including the production of a number of seminal books: The Lancastrian Catholic Heritage (1984), The Recusant Historian's Handbook (1993), Catholic Lancashire (1994), and Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (2006).
The Papal Equestrian Order of Saint Gregory the Great is an order of merit bestowed on “gentlemen of proven loyalty to the Holy See who, by reason of their nobility of birth and the renown of their deeds, or the degree of their munificence, are deemed worthy to be honoured by a public expression of esteem on the part of the Holy See”.
The warmth and affection in which Tony is held by his friends in the Society was exemplified by the address given by Michael Mullet, Emeritus Professor of History in the University of Lancaster, in which he outlined the breadth of Tony’s scholarship. Tony is a member of the congregation at The Holy Family and a similar respect and affection was apparent when his parish priest, Fr Kevin Foulkes invested him with the insignia of his rank. Many of his friends from the History Society and the Order of St Lazarus as well as fellow worshippers in the church congregation were there to support him on this auspicious occasion.
The English translation of Tony’s citation reads:
“BENEDICT XVI SUPREME PONTIFF gladly acceding to a request made to Us from which we have gathered that you are most deserving for what you have done for the Holy Catholic Church and its affairs, and in order that We might give a clear sign of Our pleasure and appreciation, We choose, make and declare you, John Anthony Hilton of the Diocese of Salford, a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great. We bestow on you the right to use and enjoy all the privileges which are attached to this high dignity.”
Given at St Peter's in Rome on 22nd October, 2012
Signed and sealed by the Cardinal Secretary of State."
One of the privileges granted to Tony in that declaration is the right to ride his horse down the aisle of his church! Tony did not avail himself of that opportunity but, since the service was held in Wigan, he did insist that the buffet afterwards should include pies.
In the photograph: (left to right) Canon Christopher Cunningham SChLJ, Chaplain of the Commandery of John of Gaunt; Kenneth Hargreaves KSG, Tony’s sponsor; Tony Hilton; The Revd Fr Kevin Foulkes.
More pictures can be viewed here: johnofgauntcommandery.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/ja-hilton-ksg.html