Source: Westminster Abbey
On Monday 15th June, to mark the reopening of churches for individual prayer, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby prayed together in Westminster Cathedral and Abbey to mark this 'moment of grace,' as the Cardinal said in his homily for Corpus Christi.
As the West Doors of the Cathedral opened for the first time in nearly three months, they were greeted by Acting Administrator Fr Daniel Humphreys and Precentor Fr Andrew Gallagher.
Proceeding into the sacred space, they knelt in socially-distant prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Leaving the Cathedral, they walked down Victoria Street to Westminster Abbey, where they were welcomed by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, and taken to the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor behind the High Altar where they all prayed in silence.
The Dean said after the visit: "In Westminster, we rejoice as we open the doors of the Abbey with the words 'Peace to this house'. We have talked so much about isolation in recent months. For many that has been a heavy burden. Today, the Abbey opens for private prayer; public worship will follow later. This is a good moment to be reminded, by the two Archbishops, that there is no isolation in prayer. Prayer brings us into the presence of God, into the communion of saints and into the company of the whole church. Today we are in the best of company."
Though the Abbey has been closed to the public since the end of March, clergy and residents have continued to worship in the precincts. The Abbey has also produced a podcast of readings, prayers and a short sermon on Sundays and festivals. HRH The Prince of Wales recorded a reading for the Easter Day podcast.
Westminster Abbey was founded by King Edward the Confessor but though his church was finally consecrated on Holy Innocents' Day, 28th December 1065, he was too ill to attend and died a week later. He was officially canonized as Saint and Confessor by Pope Alexander III in February 1161. The shrine, at which the Archbishops prayed today, which contains his mortal remains was completed in 1269 when Henry III rebuilt his ancestor's church.
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