Thursday, 31 May 2007
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Fr Tim is a demon on e-bay, and has picked up these recordings of the Cathedral choir; the one above of Sir Richard Terry. We have not yet heard it, but await to do so with interest. As he was the first Master of Music, pre-dating George Malcolm (who introduced the so-called 'continental' tone), Terry's choir will be fascinating to hear.
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:44
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Viewed in the right way, even the products of human technology and consumerism can be seen as channels of grace, reminding us of the great gifts of human ingenuity and creative skill given us by God. On Sunday, there was a visual symbol of this, with the reflection of the Cathedral imposed upon Cardinal Place opposite!
Posted by Mark Langham at 11:09
Monday, 28 May 2007
Today is a Bank Holiday, and (as usual) grey and very wet. But it is a day filled with memories, for twenty five years ago today Pope John Paul II visited Westminster Cathedral. It was the first (and only) visit by a reigning Pontiff to this country.
Those were, I remember, heady days. England was at war with Argentina, and the Papal visit was almost cancelled. It went ahead, but the Pope visited Argentina the following month. On the domestic front, Prince Charles had just announced his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer. At a personal level, I was sitting finals at University, and so could only follow the visit on television - although many friends made the journey from Cambridge up to Coventry to participate in the Papal Mass there.
The weather (unlike today) was glorious, and the visit was a great blessing upon the Catholic community of this country. Perhaps one of the most memorable events was the Holy Father's visit to Canterbury, where he knelt side by side with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the tomb of St Thomas a Becket - a vision of a unity which has yet to be accomplished. But for all those who recall those days, it was a thrilling and unbelievable occasion that will live forever in our memories. At Westminster, as the plaque at the foot of the sanctuary proudly records, the first Papal Mass was celebrated. I would be glad to hear from any of you who have memories of that day!
Posted by Mark Langham at 06:34
Above, final preparations for the visit. Hundreds of 'red cap' volunteers acted as stewards, while the Catholic Police Guild oversaw operations. Crowds had gathered early on the Piazza, while behind, in leafy Ambrosden Avenue, the balconies began to fill ...
Posted by Mark Langham at 06:20
One can only imagine the vast work involved in organising this Mass, the first of the Papal visit, and the first ever by a reigning Pontiff in this country. Every inch of the Cathedral was crowded - everyone had a special reason for being there!
Posted by Mark Langham at 06:04
The Holy Father ascended the balcony at the front of the Cathedral, to give his benediction to the crowds below. In the days before Cardinal Place, the opposite side of Victoria Street was still occupied by dismal office blocks; the Piazza was crowded, as was every available rooftop and balcony.
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:39
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:29
The records of the four people baptised by Pope John Paul during Mass at Westminster Cathedral. The Papal visit was devised around the seven sacraments - one of the most moving ceremonies being Anointing of the Sick at Southwark. Westminster, the beginning of the Papal visit, focused appropriately upon baptism.
Posted by Mark Langham at 04:46
Sunday, 27 May 2007
Sister Mericia produced this astonishing cake at lunchtime, notable not only for the Holy Spirit and its seven gifts, but also for the Grinling Gibbons chocolatework adoring it! This follows her glorious confections for Easter and Christmas. Needless to say, nobody had the temerity to cut it ..
Posted by Mark Langham at 17:30
The Cardinal today wore a chasuble from one of the most magnificent sets of vestements owned by the Cathedral; on a rich byzantine fabric, the chasuble is decorated with gold flames on velevt bands. The dalmatic boasts applied pendants set with moonstones.
Posted by Mark Langham at 10:07
The Sacrament of Confirmation was conferred at Mass last evening on the youth of the parish. As well as being a Diocesan and national Church, Westminster Cathedral has its own parish, and so this was a particular cause for rejoicing. While large Confirmations take place four times each year, for adults from around the Diocese who (for whatever reason) have missed receiving the Sacrament, this annual event is more intimate and focused.
Posted by Mark Langham at 06:49
Saturday, 26 May 2007
It is a huge privilege for any priest to celebrate a marriage; a special privilege also to be present and to bless a sixtieth wedding anniversary! This has happened to me twice recently, and I am keen to publicise these occasions. As well as being a great milestone for the couples concerned, it is a wonderful sign to the rest of us of the joy and blessings of married life - a message ever more imortant in our times. Above, Maria and Jack Parmenter celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary with a blessing in the Lady Chapel.
Here: Tom and Kathleen O'Driscoll, whom I blessed yesterday. They married in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Cathedral on 7 June 1957, having met previously at Sunday School! They are both an increasingly rare example of a couple who were born and have lived in the Cathedral parish all their lives. Indeed, Kathleen's parents also married in the Cathedral. Tom went to serve in the Royal Navy during the second world war, but came back to London afterwards to marry his childhood sweetheart.
Posted by Mark Langham at 01:54
Friday, 25 May 2007
Inspired, perhaps, by the arrival of great art at the Clergy House yesterday, I set aside some time to take some new photographs in the Cathedral for the 2008 Calendar we are preparing. As ever, the Cathedral and its contents provide endless new ideas and fresh expressions of faith. A preview, above, is of the statue of St Peter.
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:12
You will recall from an earlier posting that we hold several works of art by the australian painter Roy de Maistre. Yesterday arrived another, a large crucifixion from Hayes parish in west London, which they are donating to the Cathedral on permanent loan. The parish of Hayes has a considerable artisitic heritage, boasting a large altar-piece by Pietro Annigoni (now, I wouldn't mind having that on loan!).
The de Maistre is large - almost six feet high - and we will have an interesting time working out where to hang it. It is, however, good that we now have a sizeable collection of this artist's work.
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:03
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Tonight, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus performs Elgar's Dream of Gerontius - his setting of Cardinal Newman's glorious poem - to mark the 150th of the great composer's birth. It recalls the last performance of the Oratorio in the Cathedral, in June 2003, which itself marked the centenary of its first London performance, given at the newly constructed Westminster Cathedral in 1903.
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:14