Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Westminster Cathedral 100th Anniversary

I tend to think of Westminster Cathedral as our daughter Church, my predecessor as parish priest here, Mgr George Wallis, was the Master of Ceremonies for its consecration. Luke Coppen points to a very beautiful flickr set of photographs of the liturgy.
I must say the liturgy has improved no end since the arrival of Archbishop Nichols, I like the fact that they have got rid of the temporary altar, although if you are standing at the back of the cathedral it is a bit strange to see a torso gliding across the top of the mensa and stranger to see deacon's heads lying, John the Baptist-like on the altar surface but it looks good when when the action is taking place in front of the altar and you see whole bodies there.
I understand the Archbishop has stopped that ghastly illicit practice of the canons concelebrating whilst wearing choir dress.
I just wish the sacristan would put out some decent albs, polyester and Pugin don't mix!

10 comments:

pelerin said...

Thank you Father for linking to the photographs. I attended the Centenary Mass there on Monday - the vestments were magnificent and I wondered whether they were Pugin designed or merely inspired by him. I have two sets of postcards showing the original ceremony which apparently ran over three days - I wonder whether any of them shows Mgr Wallis? Archbishop Nichols assured us that this time it would not be so long.

The body of St John Southworth had been moved to the centre aisle as it had been his Feast day on Sunday and it was the first time I had seen the statue of St Peter there 'dressed' with papal tiara and scarlet vestments ready for yesterday's Feast. Beautiful and it was good to see so many people stopping there to touch his toe with devotion.

Yes the liturgy was beautiful with the Credo sung in Latin and also the Pater Noster. I still get goosepimples when I hear the Priest intone as the Archbishop did 'Praeceptis salutaris moniti, et divina institutione formati, audemus dicere' signifying the Pater Noster will follow.

I am very pleased I went - I realised that I would not be here for the next centenary! Has anyone noticed the dates given on the pages of the photographs? 1910 - 2100!

parepidemos said...

Father, I suspect you are being mischevious. When you say "Pugin" are you referring to the building, the vestments or both? As you know, Westminster Cathedral is neither of Pugin's hand nor style, so I'm thinking that the reference must be to the vestments.

I certainly hope it's not lace that you are wanting for the albs. Whilst Pugin may have rejoiced in a certain amount of lace, the Gothic era (after which the vestments are styled) was not one of lace as one can see by looking at paintings from that period. As for polyester.....how can you tell that the albs are made from that (hideous) material? Or, am I correct about you simply being mischevious?

Old Believer said...

The Dedication feast is actually the 28th June. In the Old Rite it was interesting in Westminter as the Titular of the Cathedral was of course The Precious Blood on July 1st. So one had four Octaves at the same time (and sometimes five if the Sacred Heart was late): St John the Baptist, the Dedication, SS Peter and Paul and the Precious Blood. Are any churches that have the Visitation as title I wonder?

I agree with 'parepidemos' that whatever the albs were made of they were not defaced by lace. Apparels on the albs would be a nice touch. Those are surely a set of vestments that Bentley designed?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Parepidemos,
The High Mass set is Pugin not the building. I am not quite sure what the fabric is but they are obvious of the coat type and hang badly, they don't compliment those rather splendid vestments, they were not designed for those liturgical underclothes. Perhaps a cassock underneath might help.
I imagine that apparels were designed for that set, which would be better than lace, but even lace would be better than the mass produced off the peg albs.

It is about integrity.

universal doctor said...

Indeed Father. It was a magnificent occasion. The cathedral itself feels much more dignified and solemn since the arrival of Abp Nichols. The next urgent task is to scrap the GHASTLY diocesan vestments which now seem even more of a disgrace.

georgem said...

YOu have to hand it to WC. They do know how to put on a show. BUT so far and no farther. I just wish ++Nichols would take that one small step to celebrate the EF.
It doesn't look as though it will happen any time soon. I understand there is a planning application to knock down the wall behind the altar to make more space for celebrating Mass facing the congregation.
At least it's not as serious a wreckovation as CMOC's plan to move the entire altar and baldacchino forward - visions of the celebrants disappearing into the crypt as the floor gave way. (Bentley's revenge).
The Cathedral's use of a hybrid English/Latin Missa Cantata for Sundays and high days is rather odd, I always think.
However, the little gem is the 10.30 Saturday Latin (NO) sung with full choir and is quite well attended - and quiet. Curiously, several of the celebrants break into English to invite the sign of peace - just in case the dummies in the pews don't get the foreign stuff.

gemoftheocean said...

Uh, Fr. Dude, you're like, supposed to bring your OWN alb! You wouldn't, as a rule, borrow someone's swimtrunks, would you?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gem,
How New World!

Don't San Diego sacristies have precious linen albs, scholarly reproductions of originals from the middle ages, hand woven made by masters of the Arts and Crafts movement?
The albs that would have been designed for these vestments would have had at least 7 ells of linen in the skirt, they would have been designed to be gathered at the sides, whilst the apparels lay flat. Quite different from what we see in the photograph. It was really the rediscovery of the fuller alb that led Pugin to battle for what we call the Gothic Chasuble with the SCR, the battle which ultimately led to his madness and confinement.

georgem said...

Now there's a thought with the weather being so unseasonably hot. You could wear your chasuble over your swimming trunks, Father.
That would certainly get you top billing on the Bad Vestments blog. Except I fear someone might already have done it.
Someone asked how you can tell polyester from the real thing. It's the way material hangs and moves (or doesn't) which is the giveaway. And if you're generating a lot of static electricity polyester clings. Very nasty.

gemoftheocean said...

"Don't San Diego sacristies have precious linen albs, scholarly reproductions of originals from the middle ages, hand woven made by masters of the Arts and Crafts movement?"

:-D Not if they have any brains! Do you know how warm it can be here? I'm laughing that when in the UK it gets to, say 75F, you all go into fainting swoons. That's a normal temp here for a good part of the day for a good part of the year. Who wants to have to deal with traipsing around priests that keel over in the heat....especially when they are stupid enough to wear something that hot and heavy!

Besides, while you certainly DO NOT want polyesther in something as close fitting as an alb, (it doesn't breathe, for one thing) in my experience, most supply priests *bring their own alb*. Priests in residence at the parish each have their own. Who wants an alb of the wrong length, or to put something that close to ones body when father breaks-into-=a-smelly-sweat-eating-breakfast-or-
walking-in-from-the-parking-lot has had it on before him? So unless church is going to wash them after each use, [in a pig's eye], then YES, they will bring their own plain, simple alb, something that's going to get washed and worn a zillion times., Doesn't mean you have to get some polycrap. A good cotton will do nicely.

Now in the rochetta department, that's something a priest would get on his own if the occasion called for it. All sorts of fancy things.

FWIW, the Fraternity of St. Peter guys here do have albs that tend to be more elaborate, but it's still on the individual priest as to what he likes to wear. Here's a picture of a solemn high Mass in progress.

Back in the roughly northern and eastern parts of the country, yes, fancier albs were (and sometimes are) found -- here is an example. IT was taken after the 1st solemn high mass of a priest I know well who is very dear to me. I happen to know that each guy owned his own alb. The Sainted Msgr. S, calls this his "little lord fauntleroy" picture - and he absolutely would sooner be caught dead in a brothel than be seen an alb like those of one his friends are sporting. Given Fr. S is perhaps 5ft 3in. when he jumps up and down a bit, such an attitude is understandable, not wanting to be perceived as, shall we say "light in the loafers." Now his big bruiser friends could get away with it, and their albs would look okay on them, and no one wants to get punched in the nose by someone 6'4".