Thursday, 23 August 2007

Eucharistic Congress III - the Sectional Meetings

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.

The Catholic Times described the setting at the opening of the first sectional meeting:

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.

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