|A Brief Parish History|
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The Catholic Faith is thought to have been brought to Leicester about the year 653, although the original Diocese of Leicester was not constituted until 737. By the time of the Dissolution in 1538 39, the city boasted many Churches and was served by several Religious Orders of men and women.
The development of the Faith in post reformation times is due to the Black Friars, the Dominicans, whose original Priory was founded in 1245 by Simon De Montfort, Earl of Leicester.
The first post reformation Masses were, however, said by Jesuit priests, who occasionally said Mass at the home of Mr. Byerley, in Elgrave. One of those who provided this service was Fr. William Bennett, S.J., who was later imprisoned, escaped, imprisoned again and eventually died from starvation and neglect in Leicester Gaol on October 30th, 1692.
A small chapel was established in Causeway Lane in 1798, and it is indicative of the dangers Catholics faced in those days that all who came to the chapel were scrutinized Fitz through "spy holes" and that the priest used to arrive disguised as a hawker carrying a basket of fruit or flowers.
The dedication of those early pioneers is illustrated by Fr. Thomas Norton, O.P., who, in one day, attending to sick calls, walked from Hinckley to Leicester and back, then to Coventry and back, a distance of 54 miles.
At about this time there were no more than seven Catholic Families in Leicester.
In 1817 the building of Holy Cross Church was begun. 1824 saw the opening of schools at Wellington Street and Belgrave Gate the latter being the beginning of the Parish of St. Patrick.
Emancipation came in 1829 and was celebrated with a Solemn High Mass and an out door procession.
Further Missions were eventually established Wigston in 1880, the Sacred Heart in 1886.
In 1896 the Mission of St. Peter was placed under the care of the secular clergy.