In a recent TV series, focusing on the daily life and ministry at Westminster Abbey, the viewer was able to see the daily life of the Abbey, the bits often overshadowed by its famous role in marrying, crowning and burying our Royal family. Faithful to the original Benedictine foundation the Abbey continues the great emphasis in prayer, welcome and hospitality, not least to over 5000 visitors and pilgrims on a daily basis.
In the final programme the cameras accompanied the Abbey choir on a visit to Rome to sing at a Papal Mass, a personal invitation given by Pope Benedict XVI after his historic visit to an ecumenical service of Evensong at the Abbey during his UK visit two years ago. Their visit turned out to be a splendid occasion and an occasion of great significance for Anglican-Catholic relations which, as expressed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, used the sharing of music as ‘a tangible sign of our will to walk side by side’.
Last summer our parish organist, Tim Hill, commissioned a new setting of the Mass from the composer Colin Mawby (sometime Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral) for use at St Martin in Roath. In addition to this sublime and varied piece of music, our Liturgical Choir were delighted to receive an invitation to sing as the visiting choir to the 1000-strong congregation at the First Mass of Sunday at Westminster Cathedral, mother church of the Roman Catholic community in England and Wales.
Having just watched the TV programme featuring the Abbey, and given that the choir would be performing at the nearby Cathedral, Fr. Irving Hamer (vicar of St Martins) decided to write to the Dean at Westminster Abbey for permission to celebrate Mass there. He received from the Dean, the Very Revd. Dr John Hall, encouragement and support for a parish visit and so our Pilgrimage from Roath to Westminster was set in place.
On Saturday 2nd February some 50 of us set off by coach or train for London. At the Abbey we assembled at the Great West Doors, scene to many a royal entrance, where we were welcomed by the Dean’s Verger and escorted to the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor. Here Fr. Irving celebrated a Mass at the altar of St Edward which lies alongside the imposing and ancient Shrine tomb, and we joined our prayers to those who have worshipped in this place for more than a thousand years. The Benedictine monks who first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century established a tradition of daily worship which continues to this day. It was a memorable occasion to be celebrating the Mass there as pilgrims from Cardiff as part of the living faith of this church, a place so central to the history of these isles.
The Abbey is a place of pilgrimage, and following Mass we knelt to venerate the relics of St Edward the Confessor, King of England 1042-1066, whose Shrine resides at the heart of the Abbey that he himself re-founded. A confessor is a saint who shows particular courage in publicly bearing witness to their faith in Christ, but without being a martyr in their death. Edward was quickly revered as a man of particular holiness, a kind of crowned monk. He was declared a saint in 1161 and was especially revered by subsequent kings whose tombs lie surrounding his own place of burial. It was this veneration to St Edward that led to Westminster becoming the coronation church and the burial place of so many other kings, queens, poets, actors, writers and statesmen.
After a tour of the Abbey, and some lunch and recreation time, we assembled at Westminster Cathedral before joining the Mass there at 6pm. Formally ‘The Metropolitan Cathedral of The Most Precious Blood’, this is a truly vast building, so different in style and architecture to the Gothic Abbey. Build on land originally belonging to those same Benedictine’s that established Westminster Abbey, this building opened in 1903 was inspired by the Byzantine architecture – a masterpiece of striped brick and stone on the exterior and dazzling mosaics and marbles inside.
ROATH ST MARTINS AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY AND CATHEDRAL
CANON HAROLD CLARKE
Canon Clarke wishes to thank everyone for making his Golden Jubilee Mass the splendid occasion it was. Thanks to Fr. Hamer for arranging and organising this, to Liturgical Choir for the music, to the Altar Servers and those Priests who came to Con Celebrate the Mass – to Bishop David Thomas for the Homily, to Carol for the Flowers and the Cakes and Julia for the Catering, to everyone present.
May God bless you all.
Left to Right:
Fr. Alan Rabjohns, Canon Derek Belcher, Fr. Colin Sutton,
Canon Graham Francis, The Ven Martin Williams,
Canon Clarke, Fr. Irving Hamer,
Bishop David Thomas, Fr, Robert Davies, Canon Mel Jones,
Fr. Haydn England-Simon,
Fr. Thomas Watkin, Canon Roy Doxey
June 29th 2012
The Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul
The occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Ordination
to the Priesthood of
The Reverend Canon Harold George Clarke
Solemn Con Celebrated Mass at St Martin in Roath
For over one hundred years Roman Catholic Christians and visitors of every faith and none have crossed the threshold of this holy place, sensing the presence of God and filling it with prayer and contemplation. We were pleased to join over 1000 worshippers on this occasion and share something of our Anglican patrimony with them as our Liturgical Choir took their place in the apse, behind the great baldacchino over the high altar, to sing the Mawby Mass setting and provide a cantor (George Curnow) for the occasion. They did St Martins, the Church in Wales and the wider Anglican Church very proud – and have been invited back to sing again!
This was truly an historic and ecumenical day for us at St Martin in Roath, a pilgrimage using music and prayer as a sign of our love for the wider Church as we walk together in faith. And we were left in no doubt of the love and beauty of God who in worship we touch, see and taste as strangers and pilgrims seeking the City of God.
Deo Gratias – Thanks be to God
Aled George – Churchwarden St Martin in Roath