Friday, 30 November 2007

Nave Works 2008

Our architect has produced this computer generated image, giving a first glimpse of the disruption that will be caused by scaffolding next year. £1 million's worth of urgent work is needed on the vaults, and so from Easter to Advent scaffolding will be erected in the nave. Work will be undertaken in three stages, so the construction will move down the Cathedral from dome to dome.

It will be a difficut year, and raising the funds will occupy much of my time, but this work is urgent and essential.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Out for a Stroll ...

An interesting image of Cardinal Bourne returning down Ambrosden Avenue to Archbishop's House after 12 o'clock Mass on Sunday 2 July 1922. To his left is the Bishop of Verdun, Rt Rev. Charles Ginisty, and to his right Archbishop Fumasoni-Biondi, Secretary of Propaganda Fidei at Rome.

Note the contemporary ladies' fashions, the Canons in their summer cappa parva, and that even the altar servers (members of the Guild of St Gregory) wear buckled shoes.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The Westminster Mandarine Harvest

Behold the first ever crop of citrus fruit (to my knowledge) grown in Clergy House! I arrived back from pilgrimage to find the Mandarines ready for picking.

It's pretty paltry stuff by the standards of sunnier climes; but to be able to do this in London, in late November, is quite an achievement.

Not as sweet as they might be (which is undoubtedly results from the weak sunshine), they were nevertheless pleasant and juicy - as reluctantly and finally acknowledged by the titular Bishop of Lindisfarne, who tried the first one. However, their probable fate will be entrusted to our Sisters, who might manage to make a teaspoon of jam from them.

There remain tangerine, lime and lemon trees, which are all proceeding well.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Solemn Vespers Broadcast on BBC Radio 3

A link to the BBC website here, for the live broadcast of Solemn Vespers for the Feast of Christ the King last Sunday. The celebrant was Fr Slawomir Witon, and the preacher was the sub-administrator, Fr Christopher Tuckwell.

A Visit to Saint Cecilia

Although I was absent for the feast of St Cecila last week, I am delighted to publish these pictures, taken earlier in the year at her shrine in Rome. Visiting the eternal city with Matthew Martin, the Assistant Master of Music, I took him into Trastevere, to the shrine of the patron saint of music.

Matthew tried the organ in the basilica, which he played with usual dexterity - although, sadly, the instrument was not in great condition.

The basilica of Saint Cecilia is of considerable interest, as it is built over the bath-house of a roman dwelling (which many be visited in the crypt) where, by tradition, the saint met her end. Her body was placed in a tomb in the catacombs which was opened a few hundred years ago. Sketches were made of the saint's incorrupt body, and from these the beautiful sculpture which adorns her shrine. Londoners will know it well from the good copy at the London Oratory in Brompton.

Monday, 26 November 2007

The Boys in Blue

Len Mabiongo and Joseph Massoussa are the long-standing (in every sense!) and much loved cleaners of the Cathedral. They undertake this vast daily task with immense good will and dedication, although the results of their labours are often taken for granted by those who use the Cathedral.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

A Short Break

I will be travelling with a group of pilgrims for a week. Please forgive the break in entries until 26 November

The Feast of St Edmund

St Edmund, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, is one of the patrons of the Diocese of Westminster, and his relics were displayed throughout the day.

Born in Abingdon, near Oxford, in 1180, Edmund Rich studied at Paris, and later lectured at Oxford University. Famed for his preaching, in 1234 he became Archbishop of Canterbury, and was held in high esteem for his charity and humility, but also for his staunch defence of the rights of the Church. Eventually forced to flee England through political intrigue, he moved to France, dying at Pontigny on 16 November 1260. So many miracles were attributed to his remains that he was canonised only six years after his death. In 1873, Cardinal Manning led a national pilgrimage to his tomb.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Confirmation Candidates at Tyburn

Fr Slawek recently accompanied our confirmation class to Tyburn Convent, built near the site of the martyrdom of so many Catholic faithful. The sisters received our young people with great warmth, and they spent a half day of recollection there.

As well as its many other roles, Westminster Cathedral is a parish church, and we must ensure that we care for the spiritual needs of those who live in our large resident community.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

A Visit to the Holy Souls' Chapel

To mark the month of the Holy Souls, a visit to the Chapel where we pray especially for them. It is a precious Catholic belief that the souls of the dead await in Purgatory their final purification before entering heaven, helped by the prayers of the living.
As befits its sombre theme, the walls of the chapel are clad in dark marble, and the vault decorated in ghostly silver, rather than gold, mosaic.
Above the altar, Christian Symons' altarpiece, finished in 1904, represents Christ in Judgement. His gaze is at once tender and intense. He displays his five wounds, a reminder of the dedication of the Cathedral to the Most Precious Blood.
Above, the archangels Raphael and Michael escort penitent souls through the flames of purgatory, until they rise, purifed, to the glories of heaven.
The figure of the first Adam is shown ensnared in the serpent ...
..while, opposite, the second Adam - Jesus Christ - tramples the same serpent underfoot.

In the west wall, a mosaic by Symons shows the Burning Fiery Furnace from chapter three of the book of Daniel, here represented as an image of Christ walking with the souls of the faithful, so that they are unharmed by the purifying flames of purgatory.
This mosaics of this chapel are the only part of the Cathedral to have been designed by Francis Bentley, himself suggesting the themes to Symons in precise and detailed instructions.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

And Now we Are One

To celebrate a year of the Cathedral weblog, some of my favourite pictures, in no particular order ...

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

A New Generation

Alan Alvarado is a first year seminarian at the Diocesan Seminary who visits the Cathedral each week for pastoral work. Amid the wide range of experiences available at the Cathedral, Alan helps especially with catechetics and the First Holy Communion programme. He also shares in our community life and prayer.

We are so fortunate to benefit from his enthusiasm and vision, and it is a great privilege for our community - parishioners and clergy alike - to have some role in the formation of a future priest. Please keep him in your prayers.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Pictures from Remembrance Sunday

Father Slawek took some memorable shots of yesterday's Requiem for the Fallen. Above, the choristers each wore a poppy.

A bugler stands ready in the sacristy. Below, we were honoured to welcome members of the Services at the Mass - for the first time, these included a detachment from the Royal Marines.

Chaplains from the three Forces concelebrated the Mass. The preacher was Mgr John Walsh, principal RAF chaplain.

Mass concluded with the traditional Act of Remembrance, including the Last Post, two minutes' silence, Reveille and the National Anthem. Below, Thomas Wilson, precentor, accompanies the bugler to the apse, and the Last Post is sounded.