London to host Torch of St Benedict

Torch of St Benedict

Torch of St Benedict

London is to host the lighting of the Torch of St Benedict in March 2011 with ceremonies due to take place at Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

The Torch of St Benedict, a symbol of peace, hope and unity, is the main feature of an annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of St Benedict in Monte Cassino led by the Abbot and monks of Monte Cassino.

This will be the first time the Torch has visited a city in the UK. The Torch was first lit by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and since 1980 it has visited many cities including, in 2010, Köln and in previous years including Bruxelles, Jerusalem and Madrid. The message of peace, hope and fraternity symbolized by the Torch of Saint Benedict has also travelled to New York to strengthen the Benedictine message of peace following the 9/11 attacks on the "Twin Towers".


The Benedictine Torch will be lit on Wednesday 2 March 2011 at Westminster Abbey. On Thursday 3 March 2011 the Torch will be transferred to Westminster Cathedral where a Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols in the presence of Abbot of Monte Cassino, Pietro Vittorelli and the Archbishop of Spoleto - Norcia, Renato Boccardo.

The torch will then be part of a journey of pilgrimage to Saint Benedict's tomb at the Abbey of Monte Cassino, Italy, where it is due to arrive on the day before his feast day, Sunday 20 March 2011. En route, the Benedictine Torch will be received and blessed by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.

Westminster Abbey

At Westminster Abbey, at noon on 2 March 2011, leading political and religious institutions will be represented at an ecumenical celebration during which the rite of the lighting of the Benedictine torch will take place in the presence of the Rt Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey and Pietro Vittorelli, the Abbot of Monte Cassino.

Amongst those present will be the Vice President of European Commission, Antonio Tajani, the Ambassador of Italy in London, Alain Giorgio Maria Economides, the President of Region Lazio, Renata Polverini with the President of Regional Council Mario Abruzzese and the President of Province of Frosinone Antonello Iannarilli.

Westminster Cathedral

At Westminster Cathedral at 10:30 am  on 3 March 2011, Mass will be celebrated by the Archbishop of Westminster, The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols. Present will be all the Abbots  of Benedictine monasteries in the UK and a delegation of monks from the Abbey of Monte Cassino.

Archbishop Nichols will extend a special welcome to Italian migrants and also to the Polish community in recognition of the many Polish soldiers who fell in battle liberating the Abbey of Monte Cassino from Nazi occupiers in 1944.

Pietro Vittorelli, the Abbot of Monte Cassino, said: "The Benedictine Torch, which opens the celebrations for the Patron Saint of Europe,
is a reminder of our common European and Christian background."

"Over the centuries, Christian culture has shaped European history, and has been its light during its darkest periods. Today, the European Union represents a common political, social and cultural reality which is held together and strengthened by its own different national identities. The celebration of Saint Benedict will help us to remember the Christian origins of Europe and to better understand how this background has in the past and continues today to form Europe's culture and society."

Source: Archbishops House

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