In 1637, some 315 people died of plague here in Ross-on-Wye. A stone cross was erected in their memory in the corner of St Mary’s churchyard. It is hard for us in 2020 to imagine what life was like in 1637, but no doubt the people then were trying to carry out their daily tasks despite the horror of the sickness around them. And just as it is for us today, facing the threat of infection from Covid 19, communities affected would have been isolated in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease.
Government restrictions imposed on us in recent months have controlled travel and limited the number of people who are able to attend a funeral, so the friends and families of those who have died – whether of Covid 19 or some other cause – have not always been able to come and say their final farewells in the way they would have wanted. This has made it harder for us as a parish, and as a ministry team, to support the bereaved as we would normally do.
Traditionally, November has been the month when we remember those we have loved but see no longer. Our annual All Souls Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving will be held on Sunday 1st November at 6pm, and all are welcome to attend either in person (please let us know if you intend to come).
In addition, we have decided, in association with the Town Council, to try to provide some other way for people to remember those who have died. We are inviting anyone who would like to mark the loss of someone they knew who has died during this year to place a small stone or pebble, marked if they would like with the name or initials of the person they are remembering, on the stone steps at the base of the Plague Cross during the period from 26th October to 11th November. The first stone will be placed there by the Mayor on Monday 26th October. Each day during this period, a member of the Ross Parishes Ministry Team will spend a short time at the cross in prayer. After 11th November, the stones will be moved near to the crosses in the Garden of Remembrance in the churchyard. We hope that this small symbolic act of remembrance will be a comfort to people in their time of grief.