Saturday, March 08, 2014

Westminster Cathedral

London The Unfinished City
As yet, unfinished.

Saturday March 8, 2014.

Westminster Cathedral is one of those places, in the Unfinished City, that I had heard a lot about, but had never visited. So I rectified that by paying it a visit. As it is a working Cathedral there are services running, so it is worth picking a suitable time ti visit.

The exterior of the building is impressive, but doesn't look intimidating, as it stands at the back of a small plaza.

However, once inside, you begin to feel dwarfed by the sheer scale of the building, which is cavernous. The ceiling, which seems to be hidden in a small haze, caused by the smoke from a multitude of candles, seems further away than the altar. And the pillars, which are covered in marble at their lower region, barely seem strong enough to hold up the massive triple-domed roof.

There is also an amazing model of the Cathedral and an exhibition that shows some some religious artefacts that have been acquired by the cathedral, since it opened.

A trip up to the top of the bell tower allows you to see London in all of its glory, that easily rival those of the more popular tourist sights.

Brief History

The full name for the cathedral is, the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and is the mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. It is also the seat of the Archbishop of Westminster.

The cathedral opened in 1903, Under the laws of the Catholic Church, at the time, no place of worship could be consecrated unless free from debt and having its fabric completed. The consecration ceremony took place on 28 June 1910, although the interior was still unfinished.

In 1977, as part of her Silver Jubilee celebrations, Queen Elizabeth II visited the cathedral. This was highly symbolic as it was the first visit of a reigning monarch, of the United Kingdom, to a Catholic Church in the nation since the Reformation.

On 28 May 1982, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in the cathedral.

On St Andrew's Day, 1995, Queen Elizabeth again visited the cathedral, but this time she attended Choral Vespers. This was the first participation of the Queen in a Catholic Church liturgy in, Great Britain.

On 18 September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the cathedral.

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