On Sunday, 1 February, at the Catholic Forces Cathedral of St Michael and St George in Aldershot a new sanctuary crucifix was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Richard Moth, Bishop of the Forces. The crucifix is constructed from material from twenty three different aeroplanes and helicopters in many of which, service personnel have died in the service of their country, from the days of the First World War to recent tragedies.
Among those present at the Mass and blessing was the Chaplain in Chief of the Royal Air Force, Venerable (Air Vice Marshal) Jonathan Chaffe, The Principal Catholic Chaplains to the Royal Navy, the Army and the RAF and Air Commodore Alan Opie, Head of Personnel Policy for the Royal Air Force who is a Trustee of the Bishopric of the Forces.
In his homily, Bishop Richard reminded the congregation which included personnel from all three Armed Services and their families that the Tree of Death on which Jesus died has become the Tree of Life for us and encouraged spending a little time each day at the foot of that cross.
He paid tribute to those service personnel who give up so much in their lives of service and live, in a very particular way, at the foot of the cross. “We rejoice today that we have a new, very striking Crucifix for our Cathedral Church and one that has a direct link to the service of those RAF personnel who have given their lives in Service," he said.
The crucifix was constructed by Chris Raw, a blacksmith at Fryup Forge near Whitby in North Yorkshire, assisted by Brian Harris and with help in the design from his aunt, Christine Raw.
The Venerable (Air Vice Marshal) Jonathan Chaffey QHC, Chaplain-in-Chief (RAF) said: “How fitting to mould the sacrifice of our Airmen from the aircraft in which they flew into the timeless message of the cross”.
Air Commodore Alan Opie, Head of Personnel Policy for the Royal Air Force and a Trustee of the Bishopric of the Forces, commented: "The crucifix is a truly stunning addition to the Cathedral. Superbly crafted from parts of aircraft that span the history of the Royal Air Force, it provides a fitting and deeply significant link to those of us who serve in the Royal Air Force and our colleagues who went before us especially those who lost their lives in the service of their country."