St Etheldreda’s Church, Ely Place
The Bishop of Ely’s ‘place in London’ was a mansion that stood in and beyond what is now Ely Place, Holborn. Though the bishops and their palatial London home are long gone, their private chapel has survived from the late 13th century. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in England. Since 1874 the church has been in the care of the Institute of Charity (the Rosminian Fathers).
Mass is celebrated here daily and the church is open to visitors from 8am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and from 8am to 12.30pm on Sundays.
St Etheldreda’s website has an excellent history of the church and a brief biography of Etheldreda, the virgin queen of East Anglia.
The Blessing of Throats is a ceremony conducted annually at the church. Etheldreda is a patron saint of throat and neck ailments but the blessing is specifically associated with St Blaise, a 4th-century Armenian bishop who legendarily saved the life of a boy who had a fishbone stuck in his throat and was in danger of choking to death. The service takes place on or immediately after St Blaise’s Day, 3 February.