The Society of the Holy Cross - or SSC from the Latin Societas Sanctae Crucis - is a Congregation of priests in the Anglican Communion, who live and minister under a common Rule of Life.
There are currently over 1,000 members around the world in parishes, missions, chaplaincies, schools and other areas of pastoral ministry, committed to witnessing to the Cross of Christ by their lives and ministry.
The Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) was founded in London in 1855 by a small group of Anglo-Catholic priests led by Father Charles Lowder.
At a time when the Catholic Revival in the Church of England was threatened by persecution and misunderstanding, these priests came together for support, mutual prayer and encouragement. Fr Lowder spelled out the objects of SSC:
"To defend and strengthen the spiritual life of the clergy, to defend the faith of the Church, and to carry on and aid Mission work both at home and abroad".
SSC has a shared vision of ‘a disciplined priestly life fashioned after a definite spiritual rule.’ This Rule of Life unites the Brethren in their various priestly ministries and lives. They consider their obligation to the Society as a close spiritual bond over that of any other voluntary society. This obligation to attend local SSC Chapter meetings and annual Regional and Provincial Synods. The life of the Society is experienced primarily through the local Chapter, and attendance at Chapter is an obligation unless prevented by genuine pastoral duties.
The Society has waxed and waned since the early days of Catholic Revival, but has always been an important source for priestly formation, discipline and fraternity. Many well known and loved priests of our Anglo-Catholic tradition have been brethren of SSC. Priests of the Society can be recognized by the small gold lapel cross they generally wear. On it is the motto of the Society - in hoc signo vinces - in this sign, conquer!
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Even in the eleventh century, when this story begins, the village of Little Walsingham was a thriving place, located mid-way between Norwich (then England's second city) and the wealthy town of King's Lynn.
Richeldis de Faverches was a Saxon noblewoman, married to the Lord of the Manor of Walsingham Parva. He died leaving her a young widow with a son, Geoffrey. We know that Richeldis had a deep faith in God and devotion to Mary. We know too of her reputation for good works in care and generosity towards those around her.