An investiture Mass took place at Westminster Cathedral on Thursday in which twenty nine individuals, principally from across Britain and Ireland, were invested into two internationally recognised Roman Catholic and interfaith orders of knighthood.
Among the recipients were a London MEP, a member of the House of Lords, an EU ambassador, the heads of the Greek Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox churches in Britain, several charity workers and businessmen, an Anglican priest from Wales, a London based Melkite-Greek Catholic priest, an Alderman of the City of London and the head of a leading interfaith foundation.
The ceremony marking the investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George and the Royal Order of Francis I was presided over by the Rt Rev Thomas Burns, Bishop of Menevia.
Interfaith campaigner Anthony Bailey OBE who serves as the Order's delegate for Great Britain and Ireland together with former UK cabinet minister and delegation vice delegate Lord Murphy of Torfaen, represented the Rome-based grand master and grand prior Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino at the ceremony.
Among the other concelebrants at the mass were chaplains of the Order Bishop Hlib Lonchyna of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and Canon Christopher Tuckwell, administrator of Westminster Cathedral. The Abbot of St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough, Dom Cuthbert Brogan, Father Dusan Bezak from Slovakia and Archdeacon Meliton Richard Oakes of the Greek Orthodox Church were also present. The Cypriot High Commissioner to Britain Euripides Evriviades also attended.
Among those honoured were Archbishop Angaelos, OBE, Archbishop of London and Papal Legate of the Coptic Orthodox Church who was invested as a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I and Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain of the Greek Orthodox Church who received the Silver Benemerenti Medal of the Constantinian Order.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Watson of Richmond, CBE, London Conservative MEP Dr Charles Tannock, Rev Canon Dr Robert Gibbons, Don Bertrand de Comminges, Rev Sandra Howells, Dr John Kennedy CBE, Dr Martin Vorderwülbecke, Clare Head, Kevin Hart, Sean McClafferty, Lorna Woods of Slane, Kenneth Gibson, Professor John Ryan, James Drabble, Dr John McIntosh, CBE, Dr John Smail, William Jeffcock, Jeffrey Gilmour, Michael Sternberg QC, Chair of the Faith and Belief Forum and City of London Alderman John Garbutt were invested.
Dr Colin Smythe and former Irish senators Professor Richard Conroy and Dr Donal Lydon were promoted within the Order in recognition of their long service as former delegation charge d'affaires and as former vice delegates for Ireland.
During the evening a gala dinner was held at the historic Armourers' Hall in the City of London. The Rome based grand master of the chivalric order, Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro, attended as guest of honour. Archbishop Angaelos was the principal speaker and who spoke on the plight of the Christian communities in Egypt and the wider region and spoke of the laudable inter-faith role that the Constantinian Order and its delegate Anthony Bailey has undertaken over many years. The Archbishop also welcomed the announcement that the Constantinian Order in Britain has formed a charitable trust to carry its important work into the future.
Other speakers at the event were the Slovak Ambassador to Britain Lubomir Rehák who was invested as a Knight Commander of Merit of the Constantinian Order and Labour Peer Lord Murphy. Guests included Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia, the Earl of Dartmouth MEP, Prince Don Cristoforo Rocco di Torrepadula, Paul Pearson, Nikolay Matev, Victoria de Silva, Andrew Rogers and Kevin Grant.
The Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Britain, Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, himself a senior member of the Royal Order of Francis I, concluded the evening with a sung prayer in Aramaic.
The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers provided the guard of honour for the royal party and a message from the Delegation Prior and Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols was delivered to all those present.
The Private Secretary to the Apostolic Nuncio to Britain and Constantinian Order chaplain, Monsignor Vincent Brady, read the list of deceased members of the Order's delegation. This included special reference to the delegation prior, Cardinal Cormac, Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster and its chief chaplain of Ireland Cardinal Desmond Connell of Dublin who both passed away in 2017 and "who provided much valued spiritual advice to the delegation over many years". Anthony Bailey said in a statement to ICN.
Other deceased delegation members were remembered including Sir Desmond de Silva, Gerald Duke of Westminster, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Gilbert Viscount Monkton of Brenchley, Sir Sigmund and Lady Sternberg, John Victor Monckton, and Molly Marchioness of Salisbury.
The Constantinian Order and its sister orders has been active in the UK since its first known member, Admiral Lord Nelson was invested as a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Saint Ferdinand and Merit in 1798. The first known British subject to be invested into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George was Lieutenant Colonel John Pritchard in 1798.
For more information on the Order please visit www.constantinian.org.uk
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