LARGE crowds of pilgrims are expected in the North York Moors National Park village of Ugthorpe on Sunday for the annual rally and mass to honour Father Nicholas Postgate, the English Catholic priest who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

Father Postgate, who was born in 1596, in the nearby village of Egton, was hanged, drawn and quartered at York in August 1679 for his faith.

He was one of the last Catholics to be put to death, after being arrested while carrying out a baptism at a house at Littlebeck, between Pickering and Whitby.

He carried out clandestine masses in the National Park area by hanging a white cloth on hedgerows where he was to officiate.

Since 1974 an open-air service has been held, alternately in Egton Bridge and Ugthorpe, in his honour.

His portable altar stone, used at his secret masses, hangs at the front of the altar at St Jospeh’s Catholic Church, Pickering, where it is now venerated.