Relics of St. Oliver in Lamspringe, Germany
While awaiting martyrdom, St. Oliver befriended a Benedictine monk, Fr. Maurus Corker in Newgate prison, London. President of the English Benedictines at the time he proved very helpful to St. Oliver, becoming in effect his 'anam chara' or faith friend. Fr. Corker provided St. Oliver with Mass requisites and so for the last few days of his life and to his great joy, St. Oliver could again celebrate daily, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Fr. Corker through influence or perhaps a little bribery of the prison guards also met St. Oliver and heard his confession around this time. After his death at Tyburn, St. Oliver's remains, minus the head and forearms were buried in a London churchyard. Some two years later, while still in prison, Fr. Corker arranged to have the remains exhumed in c1683 and they were smuggled to Lamspringe in Lower Saxony, Germany where it is recorded that they were interred with great ceremony in the crypt of the local Benedictine monastery. The new Abbey Church was almost completed by this time and Fr. Corker became Abbot of this monastery some seven years later. It is believed that it was via Lamspringe that Fr. Corker brought the Relic of the Head of St. Oliver to Rome and gave it to Oliver's old Dominican friend and correspondent, Philip Howard, Cardinal of Norfolk.
St. Oliver's remains were venerated in the crypt at Lamspringe for exactly two hundred years, until in 1881 after an awakening of interest in the Catholic martyrs of these islands, it was finally thought safe to transfer them to Downside Abbey, England. This community continues to faithfully venerate the martyr saint in a major shrine dedicated in his honour. Since the beatification ceremony ninety years ago, Hildesheim diocese and Lamspringe parish, still the proud possessors of major relics; continue to show their loyalty to St. Oliver by organising a 'St. Oliver Fest' in Lamspringe each year.
For several centuries, Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop and Martyr, was almost completely forgotten about in Ireland as a result of the harsh penal laws and the difficult famine times. Lamspringe never forgot however, and along with Siena Convent, Drogheda and the Irish College in Rome, St. Oliver's memory has been faithfully venerated in these locations right down to the present day. This loyalty is further shown by the initiative of six of the leading citizens of Lamspringe, including their District President and Mayor, who came to Drogheda in August 2009, with the aim of nurturing closer ties between the major shrines which are dedicated to St. Oliver, namely, Drogheda, Oldcastle, Downside and Lamspringe. A great debt of gratitude is therefore owed to the Diocese of Hildesheim and the parishioners of Lamspringe in Germany for the way they venerated and kept alive the memory of St. Oliver down through the centuries. Centuries which were difficult ones for the Irish people as they continued to struggle and to scrape for bare survival in both body and in soul.
The annual celebration in honour of St. Oliver is held in Lamspringe on the last Saturday of August each year at 5pm.