(Celtic: Llyndin, Lake-forest)
The capital of England, on the Thames River.
Little is certainly known of its early history except that it was inhabited by the Celts at the time of the Roman invasion, 43 A.D.
It came under Saxon control, c.570, was made a bishopric, 604, and received its first charter, 1079.
After the Reformation the history of the Catholics in London is one of continued oppression.
Subsequent to the accession of Elizabeth the sacrifice of the Mass was prohibited, the penal laws against Catholics were enacted, more than 80 priests and laymen suffered martyrdom; the ancient hierarchy ceased with the death of Bishop Bonner, 1569.
An archpriest, with jurisdiction over all England, was appointed by the Holy See, 1598, but during the existence of the first Vicariate Apostolic, 1623-1655, 14 priests were executed after the departure of Charles I for Oxford, 1646.
A new persecution broke out later, culminating in the martyrdom of fourteen more priests and laymen after the Titus Oates Plot, 1678.
In the year 1688, the Vicariate Apostolic for the London district was erected.
With respect to Catholic places of worship London has always held a unique position.
Due to the presence of foreign ambassadors there existed "embassy chapels" belonging to the Spanish, Portuguese, Bavarian, Sardinian, Venetian, and Neapolitan embassies where Mass was celebrated daily for the public during the latter part of the 17th, and throughout the 18th, century.
The oldest of these is the Sardinian Chapel, founded, 1648, but replaced by a new building, Saint Anselm and Saint Cecilia, 1909.
Saint Mary Moorfields, erected 1686, was the first London Catholic parish church to come into existence after the Reformation, and was used as Cardinal Wiseman's pro-cathedral, 1852.
Saint Etheldreda's, Ely Place, was built as early as 1290-1299, suffered partial destruction during the Reformation, and was reopened, 1876.
The chief events concerning London Catholics after the erection of the Vicariate Apostolic, 1688, were:
- the petty persecutions conducted by common informers, 1767-1778
- the first Catholic Relief Act, 1778, and the consequent Gordon Riots, 1780
- the second Catholic Relief Act, 1791
- the Catholic Emancipation Act, 1829
- the Oxford Movement, 1833-1845
- the reestablishment of the hierarchy, 1850
- the erection of Westminster Cathedral, 1895-1903
- the Eucharistic Congress, 1908
- the steady growth of Catholic strength in all phases of activity in the city
New Catholic Dictionary