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Westminster Cathedral celebrates centenary

A morse (a clasp for a cape) set with 61 amethysts. Made in 1890 it was presented by Mrs Crawford in 1895. Used during installation of an archbishop.

A morse (a clasp for a cape) set with 61 amethysts. Made in 1890 it was presented by Mrs Crawford in 1895. Used during installation of an archbishop.

Today,  28 June, Westminster Cathedral celebrates the 100th anniversary of its consecration. The Catholic Cathedral Church of Westminster, which is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, was designed in the Early Christian Byzantine style by the Victorian architect John Francis Bentley.

To mark the occasion, Solemn High Mass will be celebrated in the Cathedral at 11.30am 100 years to the day of the consecration. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, will preside over the ceremony.

The centenary will also be marked by an exhibition: 'Treasures of the Cathedral' which will be held in the refurbished Guild Room, from Thursday 1 July 2010. It will display some of Westminster Cathedral's most precious artefacts.

Later this year, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 18 September 2010 as part of his visit to Britain.

Canon Christopher Tuckwell, Administrator of Westminster Cathedral said: "The exhibition is a very exciting event and I hope that, by making available to the public some of the lovely things normally stored out of sight, it will arouse a greater interest in the Cathedral and its artefacts."

"Every significant era, especially this one, is an opportunity for all of us in the Catholic community to re-consecrate ourselves to the service of Almighty God."

"I consider it a tremendous honour to be the Administrator of Westminster Cathedral in the year in which we celebrate our Centenary and in which we look forward to the visit in September of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI" .

Westminster Cathedral's foundation stone was laid in 1895 and the exterior of the building was completed by 1903. However, canon law stated that no place of worship could be consecrated unless free from any financial debt incurred during its construction, so the consecration ceremony did not take place until 28 June 1910.

Treasures of the Cathedral will display some of Westminster Cathedral's most precious artefacts including: vestments, chalices, communion plates, monstrants and an altar front drape designed by the Cathedral's architect John Francis Bentley. It will also tell the story of how the Cathedral was created and on display will be the architect's model - judged by many to be one of the greatest architectural models in the UK.

Although it is a young Cathedral, Westminster's collections span centuries. They include a fragment of silk from the tomb of St Edward the Confessor, a thirteenth-century ceremonial cross, a chalice used during the years when celebrating Mass in England was considered treason, an intricately decorated Edwardian altar frontal and an Art Nouveau monstrance. Mainly acquired for use in the Cathedral, they reflect the changing styles of the decorative arts but all are of the highest standards of workmanship and beauty.

The exhibition will be held in the upper gallery of the Cathedral so that entrants to the exhibition will be able to obtain a rare glimpse of the Cathedral looks like from an elevated viewpoint.