Tuesday, 6 March 2007

The Bartlett Era

This year marks the forthieth anniversary of the Administration of Canon Francis Bartlett, one of the most vigorous and distinctive priests to lead the Cathedral. During his time as sub-Administrator, he worked closely with his friend and colleague, Mgr Gordon Wheeler, in continuing the adornment of the Cathedral, and much of the marble decoration of the nave and galleries testifies to their energy.

In 1964, Francis Barltett left to become Rector of the Assumption Church, Warwick Street, but returned to the Cathedral in succession to Mgr Wheeler in 1967, where he was to remain for ten years. During that time, his family connections (his brother, Aelred, was an artist) enabled him to continue the decorative programme in the Cathedral. He also steered the Cathedral skilfully through the upheavals and opportunities following the Vatican Council.

In 1977, Mgr Canon Bartlett become parish priest of SS Anselm and Cecilia, a famous Church in London, and he died in 1992. I remember meeting him in his last few years - and wished I had known him earlier. His wit was legendary. One story, attributed to him (although I suspect apocryphal) tells how some Cathedral staff came to Canon Bartlett on the day of a major ceremony to report that vandals had painted on the outside of the Cathedral the slogan "Damn the Pope" (it wans't actually 'Damn', but you'll get the drift). Canon Bartlett told them at once to remove it, but they returned soon afterwards, saying that despite their efforts, they couldn't srub off the offensive graffiti. Within a few minutes, a procession that included the Cardinal was due to pass the wall that still proclaimed "Damn the Pope". "In that case", replied Canon Bartlett, "write 'Don't' in front of it!"

2 comments:

Michael O'Leary said...

I remember Canon Bartlett very well as Parish Priest of my Parish SS Anselm & Cecilia. As you rightly said he had a great sense of humour & used to tell us wonderful stories of his time at the Cathedral. He used to have everyone enthralled with his homilies (never any notes) which were sometimes very long but you never noticed the time as they were so interesting. Canon Bartlett retired as Parish Priest in 1985 & our Curate Fr.Hugh McAllese succeeded him. Canon Bartlett remained as a Curate at SS Anselm & St Cecilia's until he died in February 1992 & the first time I served at the Cathedral was at his Requeim Mass.

James Casey said...

Brilliant anecdote, however potentially apocryphal!