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Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool, England
Worshipper: Don Bosco.
Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool, England.
The cathedral is nicknamed Paddy's Wigwam thanks to its tent-like
appearance with a spiky skyward protrusion in the middle that
is supposed to be a lantern tower. Construction began in 1962
and the completed cathedral was consecrated in 1967. Architectural
flaws began almost immediately to appear, leading to the architect
being sued for £1.3 million. Repairs were undertaken leading
to major changes in the original construction scheme. The main
entrance is reached by a steep flight of steps, with a coffee
shop at the bottom to prepare you for the trek. The building
has enormous stained glass windows, most of which give the cathedral
a very dated, sea-like green aura inside. If you like more traditional
Christian architecture, head to the beautiful crypt and don't
look up as you make your way there! Each year the crypt plays
host to the Liverpool Beer Festival, which attracts visitors
from all over the world.
The cathedral is the mother church for the northern province.
It has a diverse congregation, including many students and immigrants
owing to its location. Notice boards indicate that the building
is open every day to tourists at no charge. Mass is celebrated
and the divine office is sung each day. The cathedral apparently
has an orchestra and several choirs attached to its choir schools
(St Edward's College and Runnymede-St Edward's School).
Liverpool is perhaps most famous as the birthplace of the Beatles.
It won the European Capital of Culture award in 2008 and maintains
a strong musical heritage. The cathedral is located near Liverpool's
three universities. The Anglican cathedral is a stone's throw
away, connected by Hope Street. When corporate reunion of the
Anglican Fellowship and Catholic Church seemed realistic in
the 1960s, this seemed the most appropriate name for the new
road. Today, it should probably be renamed Golgotha Way.
The Most Revd Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, was principal
celebrant and preached. Concelebrating with the archbishop were
the Rt Revd Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury; the Rt Revd Msgr
Guy-Marie Bagnard, Bishop of Belley-Ars (France); the Revd Msgr
Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady
of Walsingham; and at least 20 other priests.
The date & time:
Friday, 6 July 2012, 12.00pm.
What was the name of the
Mass to Celebrate the Visit of the Relics of Saint John Mary
Vianney. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney (1786-1859) was a French
priest noted for his efforts to restore the role of the Church
in French life after the French Revolution. He was canonised
in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. When his body was exhumed in 1904 as
part of the process of canonization, it was found to be incorrupt
despite not being artificially preserved. The relic, consisting
of the saint's heart enclosed in a gold reliquary with glass
windows, had arrived from France at Manchester the previous
day at the start of a four-day tour before being returned to
How full was the building?
Over half full. The BBC estimates over 1000 people venerated
the relic that day. It would be fair to say most of them attended
this mass. The reliquary was later positioned for veneration
on a table in the sanctuary flanked by two candles and two burly
Did anyone welcome you
No. But I had skirted around the welcomers to duck into the
gift shoppe to buy a Rosary. I like to be left alone before
mass to pray, so this was no problem.
Was your pew comfortable?
Wooden pew with acceptable kneelers. Perfectly comfortable for
the couple of hours I spent there.
How would you describe the pre-service
Prayerful and focussed.
What were the exact opening words of the
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
What books did the congregation use during the
A service sheet produced for this mass contained all responses,
hymns, and plainsong used throughout.
What musical instruments were played?
The cathedral's large organ, which appeared to have a mind of
its own at times, and the cathedral choir provided the music.
Did anything distract you?
My fellow worshippers were distraction enough. To my right was
a gentleman who loudly sighed and tut-tutted throughout. To
my left were a veiled nun and a lady wearing a mantilla, both
of whom seemed absolutely delighted by the whole mass. There
were also some people in curious semi-academic dress, who may
have been stewards, who seemed to manage always to draw attention
to themselves whenever they did anything.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Probably the highest mass that the cathedral has experienced
since the introduction of the Novus Ordo! Incense but
no bells; Latin Gregorian chant; a sung canon; traditional hymns;
and a solid performance of two anthems by the choir. Delightful
yet not overdone.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
15 minutes, I believe, although I didn't time it precisely.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
1 The archbishop's preaching was fluent despite his using
a script. The content, however, was quite a different matter.
Neither any of my companions nor I had any idea what he was
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The archbishop seemed to be saying that we should pray for the
Lord's labourers, although he also rambled on about healing
and how to recognise a shepherd when you see one.
Which part of the service was like being in
The humble outward display of true inward piety from so many people was extremely moving.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Quite frankly, I feel (as do many) that the cathedral's decor
is a disgrace, and the constant self-important faffing of the
stewards always managed to distract me at key moments.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was buffeted along by the crowd! The bishops had positioned
themselves at the entrance to the cathedral, where they were
greeting people as they left.
How would you describe the after-service
There wasn't any.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 I am led to believe that the worship is not always
of this standard. Also, I crave solid preaching.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Absolutely. St John Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests,
and I am sure the visit of the relic will inspire holiness in
priests and inspire more vocations.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The intimate few moments I was able to spend in front of the
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