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CHAPLAIN'S MESSAGE: St Edward the Confessor (1003 – 1066 AD)

thumbnail image The modern basilica and airport at Knock, in the west of Ireland, was the idea and life’s work of the local priest, Mgr James Horan. Shortly after this project was finished, he died while on pilgrimage to Lourdes and was the first person to be flown back to his new airport and buried alongside his new basilica. A similar story of building and burial can be told of St Edward the Confessor. Edward was born around the year 1003, at Islip in Oxfordshire, the son of the Saxon King Ethelred II, known as ‘The Unready’, and Emma of Normandy. In 1042 Edward succeeded to the throne, and in 1045 married Edith, daughter of the ambitious and powerful Earl Godwin (the father of King Harold). Although Edward’s reign was mainly peaceful and he was a peace-loving man, he nevertheless showed great courage, strength and determination as an effective ruler, in contending with Godwin’s opposition and attempts to take over control of the kingdom.

Tradition holds that Edward was an unworldly, ascetic and devout man. Although some scholars criticise him for a loss of power under his reign, certainly the country knew 20 years of peace, for which the people were grateful. Even though he was King, Edward was renowned for his accessibility to all, and for his kindness and generosity to the poor and the remission of odious heavy taxes. As the preacher and writer, Mgr Ronald Knox, once said of St. Edward, “His ambition could be satisfied in finding a poor man his dinner.” Such a love of others is never forgotten and is a true measure of a person’s life.

In religious matters, Edward strengthened and supported the links between the English Church and the Papacy. Also, he ordered the building of the great Abbey of St Peter in Westminster, on the site of a small existing monastery which he refounded and endowed with considerable funds for its construction and more. This has given us not only the place for the coronation of monarchs, but as the centre of royal government and law, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Hall.

Westminster Abbey’s completion and consecration came as Edward lay dying, in 1066, and very soon he was laid to rest within its walls. Known as a holy man, King Edward’s tomb soon became a shrine and was visited by pilgrims from its earliest days, travelling great distances to ask his help and intercession. St Edward’s tomb survived the destruction of religious shrines and images during the reformation because King Henry VIII was keen to show his succession from King Edward, in order to strengthen his own authority. Edward was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England and the last King of the House of Wessex. He is known as ‘Edward the Confessor’ because he confessed his Catholic faith every day by the way he devoutly lived his life. His greatness lies not in the crown that once adorned his brow, but in the simple love that characterised his life. He was canonised in 1161 by Pope Alexander III and his Feast Day is 13 October.

Fr Michael Donaghy

See also: College of Chaplains


thumbnail image The October Oremus is now published and available for collection from the stand near the main doors of the Cathedral. It can also be viewed online at the Cathedral website. Your copy of Oremus is free, but any donation which you can make towards its production costs is much appreciated.


thumbnail image This will be celebrated here at the Cathedral on Saturday, 19 October at 3.30pm with Solemn Vespers. HE Cardinal Vincent Nichols will be the celebrant and the Archbishop of Canterbury will preach. All are welcome.

Another event takes place, at the London Oratory:
On Thursday, 17 October at 6.30pm there will be a Solemn Pontifical Mass in honour of our new saint, celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols. All are most welcome to attend.


thumbnail image The Passage is the Cathedral’s charity working with homeless people. As part of its service most of the people visiting the centre take a shower. The Passage needs to provide a bath/shower towel. The stock of towels is low. Could anyone with old towels no longer in use but still in good condition donate those towels to The Passage. They may be taken to St Vincent’s Centre in Carlisle Place on weekdays 8.30am to 4.30pm or 9am to 12.00 noon at the weekend.

The Passage raises funds through collecting in Underground Stations. If anyone would like to help with this, particularly first thing in the morning, we would be really grateful. Please contact collections@passage.org.uk if you would like to help


thumbnail image Croissants and Christianity: coffee morning with faith and fellowship for those with bumps, babies and toddlers. Join us on Monday morning from 10am to 11.30am in the Hinsley Room off Morpeth Terrace. We have a cup of tea and chat while children play, enjoying an opportunity to pray the rosary together, share common concerns and lend each other spiritual support in an informal and friendly context, often benefiting from input from one of the Cathedral priests. It is free and runs during term time and occasionally during school holidays. The Hinsley Room is on the left as you walk down Morpeth Terrace to Francis St, accessed via an iron gate and up a path alongside the little garden.


thumbnail image The Passage, a Cathedral charity working with homeless people, is holding a fundraising concert at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday, 5 November at 7.30pm on the theme Magic of Italian Opera with Petroc Trelawny as presenter. The music includes Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves and Nessum Dorma with soloists Joyce El-Khoury, Michael Fabiano, Clare Presland and Simon Thorpe. For more details call 020 7592 1856 or email tickets@passage.org.uk.

Related links: Link to The Passage Website Email for The Passage


thumbnail image ACN’s Westminster event takes place on Saturday, 26 October commencing with Mass at 10.30am in Westminster Cathedral. This will be followed by an afternoon of talks in Cathedral Hall from guest speakers and will include the launch of Persecuted and Forgotten? Report 2019 copies of which will be available to take home. Tickets are £10. For further information please email catharine.crowson@acnuk.org or see acnuk.org.

Organ Concert: La Revolte des Orgues

thumbnail image Wednesday 20 November 2019, 7.30pm. Tickets priced at £15.

Tickets are now available at the Gift Shop and from Ticketmaster (0844 844 0444/www.ticketmaster.co.uk) for the nine-organ extravaganza by the late, great Jean Guillou: La Revolte des Orgues. This will be the UK premiere of this seldom-heard piece, which combines the power of nine organs and percussion in Westminster Cathedral, involving organists from around Europe and the UK. There will also be popular organ works by Bach, Vivaldi and more.


thumbnail image This talk for the Catholic Union by Fr James Hanvey SJ (Oxford and Rome will take place on Friday, 25 October at 7pm at Farm Street Church Hall, and will be followed by a Drinks Reception. All are welcome. Please register at info@catholicunion.org.uk or 020 8749 1321 or on Eventbrite.


thumbnail image Join Westminster Youth Ministry for The Summit at Westminster Cathedral, an evening of inspiring speakers, live music and Eucharistic adoration. The Summit is aimed at 13-25 years from across the diocese and will be on Friday, 18 October, from 6:30 to-8pm. The evening will include exposition and a talk by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, as well as inspiring speakers, including Brenden Thompson of Catholic Voices, and a live praise and worship band. Families, classes, youth groups, confirmation groups and whoever else are all welcome. For more information, visit https://dowym.com/events/the-summit-westminster-cathedral/ or email youth@rcdow.org.uk.


thumbnail image The Cathedral Café will re-open on 14 September from 10am-4pm for drinks, lunches and snacks. Please do pay a visit the next time you are in the Cathedral. Normal opening days Tuesday-Saturday.


thumbnail image Meditations take place in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St Pauls Bookshop each weekday from 12.30 to 1pm. All are welcome.


thumbnail image The Holy Land
The Guild of the Blessed Sacrament’s Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, led by Fr Andrew Gallagher, will be from 18-25 November 2019, cost £1,445. For further details, contact Pax Travel on 020 7485 3003 or info@paxtravel.co.uk.

Passion Play of Oberammergau, Munich and Salzburg
A pilgrimage to see the world famous passion play that takes place every 10 years, combined with discovering the rich cultural history of its surrounding area, led by Fr Andrew Gallagher and Fr Kevin Moule, 14-20 September 2020. More details available from Clergy House Reception or Pax Travel at info@palxtravel.co.uk, or 020 7485 3003.

Related links: Email: Pax Travel


thumbnail image American taxpayers can receive a US income tax deduction for their contributions to support the work and heritage of the Cathedral by directing their contributions to American Friends of Westminster Cathedral, Inc., a non profit 501(c)(3) Organization (EIN # 13-2983174).

They will also enjoy special events and receive newsletters about Cathedral activities. Donations may be made through bequests and charitable trusts.

Contact Ms. Una Chang, President, American Friends of Westminster Cathedral, Inc., P.O. Box 92, New York, New York 10185-0092, e-mail UChang1@aol.com

Related links: Click here for email


thumbnail image This takes place in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel every Monday to Friday following the 1.05pm Mass until 4.45pm.