Saturday, 7 July 2007

Consecration of the Cathedral, 1910

The consecration of Westminster Cathedral took place on 28 June 1910; in January of that year, Cardinal Bourne had appealed for the remaining debt on the building to be paid: by June no debr remained no the Building Fund. Monsignor Howlett, the then Administrator, writes:

"The great ceremony of consecration, which lasted from 7.30am to 3.00pm was unquestionably the most stately and impressive that has been witnessed in London for many centuries. Immense crowds hung round the precincts all the evening, unwilling to tear themselves from the newly hallowed temple of God."

Above, one of the sacred relics is borne in procesion on its bier.

The vast procession passing round the outside of the Cathedral. Note the members of the Catholic Police Guild.

The Archbishop anointing each side of the Cathedral door with Holy Chrism, before the entry of the relics ion the relic-biers. Note that the tympanum over the main door does not yet have its mosaic decoration.

Above and below, images of the most curious part of the ceremony (thanks to Fr Lee Kenyon for the photograph below, which incorrectly names the Archbishop as Dr Vaughan. Cardinal Vaughan had died in 1905; the similarity of his successor's name, Cardinal Bourne, has often been the cause of confusion!)

Ashes were strewn on the floor of the nave, in two lines about a palm in breadth, crossing each other. During the Benedictus, the Archbishop, taking his mitre and pastoral staff, began at the left hand corner of the Cathedral door, and with the tip of his pastoral staff traced the Greek alphabet on the ashes; then beginning in the right hand corner, he traced the letters of the Latin alphabet.

This ancient ceremony symbolised the instruction and cetechising of the newly-baptised in the elements of faith and piety. Early works of Irish Christian history mention missionary bishops having 'left an alphabet' in various places, and it is thought this refers to the same practice.

All the altars of the Cathedral were consecrated by members of the Hierarchy.

Below, the Archbishop sprinkles the upper parts of the outer walls of the Cathedral with Holy water during one of the three circuits of the building.mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Below, Archbishop Bourne walks in procession around the Cathedral.


Anonymous said...

Today, when a church is consecrated, are the ashes sprinkled?

Andrew said...

Dear Father, thanks for the wonderful photos. The ceremony must have been glorious.

Wouldn't the outside walls have been sprinkled with 'Gregorian water' instead of holy water?