Monday, 27 August 2007
The Cathedral basks in late summer sunshine which, inexplicably, graces the Bank Holiday weekend. There is an unwritten rule somewhere, wearily subscribed to by most Britons, that all public holidays attract overcast skies and rain. This time, however, an exception has been made, and the holiday is set for fair, and, dare I say it, even barbeque weather!
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:14
Sunday, 26 August 2007
After weeks of rain, a warm and sunny day sent me up to the terrace to see how things were faring. 'Very well' is the answer. Although a few plants are starting to look tired (notably the petunias), there are developments in other areas.
By the pond, the fuschia is having a glorious late summer fling.
It has been a difficult summer for the plants, with incessant rain, cool temperatures and rough winds. I find it extraordinary how nature carries through.
In this beautiful space, the glories of God's creation are sung less formally, but no less beautifully, than in the great Cathedral nearby.
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:09
Saturday, 25 August 2007
Posted by Mark Langham at 07:28
Friday, 24 August 2007
Today the Cardinal celebrates his 75th birthday. We are filled with joy, and wish him Ad Multos Annos.
One of the privileges in working at Westminster Cathedral is the contact it brings with the Archbishop. Although his duties range wider, there remains a particular link with the symbolic seat of his authority. We chaplains are fortunate to see Cardinal Cormac regularly, to be present at the ceremonies where he presides and preaches, and to come to know him more informally.
As Administrator I have drawn greatly upon his advice, and his impressive ability to see issues in the widest possible context. The Cardinal is always supportive and frequently challenging, and with his guidance the Cathedral has undertaken new initiatives to spread the gospel and bring people to prayer.
But above all, for me and the Cathedral clergy, the Cardinal’s evident concern for his priests and people, his consistently positive outlook, and his unfailing approachability, have been an inspiration and a joy.
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:05
Thursday, 23 August 2007
The Sectional Meetings of the Congress took place in the Royal Horticultural Hall, in Vincent Square, just behind the Cathedral, and these photographs are kindly supplied by the management of the Hall. The formal record states:
The Chair was taken by the Cardinal Legate, who opened the meeting by reciting a short prayer to the Holy Ghost, after which he requested the Archbishop of Westminster to undertake the direction of the proceedings. His Grace, having read a selection from the numerous telegrams of sympathy and adhesion received from all parts of the world, called upon Abbot Gasquet to read his paper.
In the image above, Cardinal Bourne is making the opening address. Abbot (later Cardinal) Gasquet, great historian that he was, opened the Congress with a talk entitled The Holy Eucharist in Pre-Reformation Times.
In subsequent sessions, further papers included The Royal Declaration, by the Viscount Llandaff, on the very contemporary question of institutional anti-catholicism; Abbot Geudens on The Neglect of Sunday Mass; The great liturgist Adrian Fortescue on The Orthodox Church and the Holy Eucharist, and Canon Laurence Cosgrave on Guilds and their Relation to the Holy Eucharist.
The international aspect of the Congress was marked by a number of sessions held in nearby Caxton Hall in French, of a notable scholarly complexity; Revd Jule Lebreton on Le Dogme de la Transsubstantiation et la Christologie Antiochienne du Ve Siecle, or Dom Pierre de Puniet on Fragments Inedits d'une Liturgie Egyptienne Ecrits sur Papyrus.
Ten o'clock witnesses the filling of the spacious Horticultural Hall, a magnificently lighted oblong building with vaulted glass roof. the platofrm, which occupies the greater part of thre width of the hall, is backed by a rich drapery of red silk and velvet, a canopy in the centre of which are the papal arms. The front of the platform is gracefully decorated with alternating white and yellow flowers, with an abundance of green supplied by ferms and plants...
The room is rapidly filling up! ladies, perhaps, predominate, but men are plentiful, and bishops and abbots are greeting their friends. exclamations in french testify that our neighbours form acorss the Channel are anxious to improve their knowledge of our language and to promote the religious entente cordial. The appointed hour is already passed, but only by a few minutes, when the Cardinal Legate arrives looking none the worse for his great effiorts of last night. A bell is sounded, and the Cardinal legate recites the prayer "Veni Sancte Spiritus". Speaking in French he asks the Archbishop to undertake the direction of the first sectional meeting. The Archbishop rises to make some important announcements. innumerable telgrams have arrived form cardinals, arhcbishops, bishops, pilgrims at Lourdes, and societies in connection with the Blessed Sacrament from all parts of the world.
Posted by Mark Langham at 06:23
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
During the summer, the chapel is the scene of a great number of weddings, its beauty and intimacy. Much of the mosaicwork was completed by a team of female mosaicists, led by Gertrude Martin - here she is in 1913.
Posted by Mark Langham at 07:34
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Monday, 20 August 2007
I cannot find out anything more about the sculptor (FRBS = Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors). However, it is interesting to note that this fine image was exhibited in the year of the Pope's death, and, while somewhat overlooked, it is good to know that this great Pope is serenely contemplating us as we process out to Mass.
Posted by Mark Langham at 06:22
Sunday, 19 August 2007
An earlier posting about the consecration of the Cathedral in 1910 here explained the custom of tracing the greek and latin alphabets in piles of ash across the floor of the building, as seen above.
Yesterday, Miriam - our archivist extraordinaire - came across these relics of the occasion, hidden in the vaults. The greek letters can be seen in the photograph of the consecration, placed next to the piles of ashes. Each letter was copied into the ashes, traced with the tip of the Archbishops' crozier.
The two canvas rolls, one containing a greek, and the other a latin, alphabet are too small to have reached across the nave of the Cathedral, and so I wonder whether they were used in a chapel - perhaps the Lady Chapel - for a similar ceremony.
Posted by Mark Langham at 07:29
Saturday, 18 August 2007
Continuing the series of images from the Eucharistic Congress of 1908, the processions proved to be one of the most spectacular aspect of the event. On the penultimate day of the Congress, there took place the children's procession.
The record of the events relates: "The course was rather a long one for some of the little folk, and many began to show signs of fatigue as they reached the top of Victoria Street; but turning into Ambrosden Avenue, their spirits revived, and the children broke into shrill cheers as they saw the Cardinal Legate with the Archbishop of Westminster and other Cardinals about him smiling down upon them from the balconies of Archbishop's House.There were not a few spectators whose eyes were wet as they gazed on the scene before them - the children wildly enthusiastic and the Holy Father's representative looking with loving eyes and raising his hands in benediction."
It was a triumph of careful planning. The record continues: "Then arriving at the Cathedral doors, the little ones with their teachers passed in until the great building could hold no more. Cardinal Logue thereupon delivered an address.... Meanwhile, thousands of children for whom there was no room in the Cathedral were taken, some to the Horticultural Hall, where they were kept happy and interested by the humourous eloquence of Fr James Nicholson SJ, others to the Hall in Buckingham Gate, where Mgr Grosch gave them a bright and stirring address. In due time, Cardinal Logue visited the Halls and spoke at length to the children in each."Cardinal Michael Logue, Archbishop of Armagh, was one of the several distinguished guests at the Eucharistic Congress. In his address to the children, he said that he was delighted to see children in such vast numbers to take a leading part in such a memorable celebration in the centre of the great British Empire. They might differ in nationality and in many other things, but they were held together by the great golden bond of their faith. That faith was essential - the Cardinal said that to bring up children without faith was like trying to work a motor-car in the street without petrol.
Cardinal Logue quoted the text of St Mark, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." The proof of our Lord's love for children is contained in these words, and he reminded the congregation that Our Lord had "subjected himself to all the vicisstudes of infancy and childhood, and went through youth and grew up, to all appearance, like any other child." Then, said the Cardinal, the Lord set before us all children as an example, of innocence, of generosity, but most of all of obedience. He concluded with a warning that their age was one of materialism, and that it was not enough for them to love the Faith; they would need to be nourished frequently in Holy Communion.
Posted by Mark Langham at 05:12
Friday, 17 August 2007
Described as the 'British Piranesi', Muirhead Bone (1876 - 1953) was a scottish artist who specialised in etchings of buildings under construction. Although largely unknown today, in his time he was celebrated for his epic productions, and was Britain's first official war artist in 1916.
Yesterday, our archivist Miriam came across a second, earlier, etching in the Architectural Review for 1902. It shows the incomplete Cathedral (it was opened in 1904). There is as yet no organ, or organ screen, and at the back on the right, smoke comes from the chimney of a small hut. A fascinating record of the construction of this great architectural space.
Posted by Mark Langham at 02:09
Thursday, 16 August 2007
Some splendid views taken by Sarah, Cathedral Facilities Manager, on a recent tour of the Cathedral roof - at a lower level than the viewing gallery of the campanile, but enabling a great deal of detail to be seen.
Looking east, towards the Palace of Westminster, the great bulk of the Victoria Tower of the parliament buildings can be seen on the right. To the left, Westminster Abbey, with its white towers blocking the view of Big Ben. Note, at the extreme left, the Gherkin (officially '30 St Mary Axe').
To the south, the vast bulk of Battersea Power Station, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott (also responsible for Liverpool Anglican Cathedral). Every few years, we hear of plans to convert it to some commercial or popular use (cf Bankside Power Station, another Gilbert Scott building which has found a new life as the Tate Modern gallery). Nothing seems to be done, and this empty shell falls into further disrepair.
To the west, a fascinating view towards Kensington. On the right, the italianate campanile of Imperial College. Further left is the dome of the London Oratory at Brompton. Just below, and to the left, the smaller white tower of St Columba's, the principal Church of Scotland building of the capital. In the centre, just left of the crane, rises the open crownwork of the Victoria and Albert museum (London's best!). Alas, the monastic twin towers of the Natural History museum are lost in front of the tower block now rising to the left of the V&A. On the far left, lower down, is the bulk of the Victoria Thistle hotel, rising above Victoria station.
Posted by Mark Langham at 06:12