Leicester Cathedral has announced that both the Church of England and the Catholic Church will take part in services in Leicester Cathedral to mark the reinterment of King Richard III. Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, will be present as the former monarch is laid to rest during a week of events during the week of 22nd-28th of March next year.

The Diocese of Leicester writes that “Since the discovery of the body of Richard III in 2012, the Anglican Diocese of Leicester and the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham have worked closely to ensure that his re-interment in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval parish church of Leicester, will be celebrated with dignity and prayer.”

The major liturgies will be as follows:

• The remains of Richard III will be received into Leicester Cathedral on Sunday March 22, an invited congregation will pray a service of Compline where Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, will preach.

• On Monday March 23, Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul (a ‘Requiem Mass’) of Richard III in Holy Cross Church, the Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre. The Choir from St Barnabas’ Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Nottingham, will sing at this Mass, which will be open to the public.

• On Thursday March 26, the mortal remains of Richard III will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, with an invited congregation and in the presence of the Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and senior clergy from both dioceses, and other Christian denominations alongside representatives of the World Faiths.

• On Friday March 27, invited people from across the city of Leicester and the county of Leicestershire will gather in the Cathedral to mark the end of King Richard’s journey and the sealed tomb will be revealed to the public.

In addition:

• The regular pattern of morning and evening prayer and the Eucharist will be kept by Leicester Cathedral throughout these days as we prepare for the King’s reinterment. A number of these services will have a very special character. All these services will be open to the public.

• On Tuesday March 24, the Dominican friars will sing Vespers, the Catholic Church’s evening service, in Leicester Cathedral; this is in addition to the daily celebration of Mass and the divine office in Holy Cross Church.

• On Wednesday March 25, March, Father David Rocks OP, the parish priest at Holy Cross Church, will preach at the lunchtime Eucharist in Leicester Cathedral.

The Cathedral will be open for people to visit, to pay their respects and to pray from 23-25th March, and from Saturday 28th March the area around Richard III’s tomb will be open to the public.

There will also be a special service held at the Cathedral for Richard III Society members on Monday 23 March 2015. Brief details will be available in the September Bulletin.

The death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 was a decisive moment in English history. Following his death, Richard III was buried in the Franciscan Friary in Leicester, and his body lay in its grave until it was discovered in 2012. It is now fitting that his remains should be reinterred with dignity and accompanied by the prayers of the Church in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval parish church of Leicester. We commend all who have died to the love and mercy of Almighty God, and continue to pray for them, as we shall for Richard III and all who have lost their lives in battle. – Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

I am delighted that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster will be in Leicester for our celebrations surrounding the reinterment of Richard III. The presence of the Cardinal marks the historical continuity between the Catholic faith in this country and the Church of England. The presence of both Archbishops is a sign of the close partnership between our two Churches in burying King Richard with dignity and honour. -Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester

We very much look forward to welcoming Cardinal Nichols to the Diocese of Nottingham next March for the reinterment of Richard III, one of the last Catholic kings of England, in the city in which he was buried in 1485; we are very pleased that he will celebrate Mass for the repose of his soul in Holy Cross Church and preach in Leicester Cathedral. The presence of both the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury is a reminder of the good relationship that the Catholic Church and the Church of England enjoys today, as we all seek to be faithful to Christ’s wish that we ‘may all be one’ and overcome the divisions brought about at the Reformation by continuing on the ecumenical journey to which we are both committed. – Monsignor Thomas McGovern, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Nottingham

Leicester Cathedral has always intended to have prayer at the heart of Richard III’s reburial and we wanted to demonstrate our sincere ecumenical commitment which characterises the modern church. So we are delighted that both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop are to be with us. – The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester

Just as our Franciscan brothers at Greyfriars prayed over Richard III at his burial in 1485, so the contemporary Blackfriars of Leicester look forward to joining with the people of Leicester in the celebration of his reinterment in the city’s cathedral in 2015, and to taking part in the beautiful and fitting services and events that are planned. – Father David Rocks OP, Prior and Parish Priest of Holy Cross Priory

8 Responses

  1. Jasmine

    This is excellent news and will go a long way to reassuring those who had been concerned that Richard, a Catholic king, would be laid to rest with only Protestant prayers said over his resting place.

    It is good to see the harmonious way Anglicans and Roman Catholics are working together to ensure that Richard is interred with all dignity and honour.

    • Olga Hughes

      It is lovely to see them all taking part. I was just looking at the Holy Cross Priory website, it’s nice to see a local church involved as well.

  2. Terry

    Jasmine, one could also make the point that this is finally (and very cannily) a response to the widespread and sincere outcry from many, who drew attention to the lack of recognition towards King Richard’s own Catholic faith.
    Many of us will await further developments and announcements as the time draws closer…

    • Olga Hughes

      They were discussing Nottingham being involved quite some time back Terry. I also recall John Ashdown-Hill’s initial discussions with the Dean of Leicester mentioning that they could accommodate Catholic involvement (although the interview has moved and I can’t link to it). Why they’ve not kept people informed of what is going on over the last year I don’t know but the end result is more than satisfactory.

      I think rather than trying to see what is sinister in this we could instead think of the significance of a ceremony of national (and even international) importance having representatives from different churches involved. As someone who lives in another country I think it sends a remarkable message. The last time I think we saw something like this would have been the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
      In the end they are all priests and hold the same set of fundamental values. This display of unity should be celebrated.

    • Jasmine

      As Olga says in her reply, the RC Diocese of Nottingham has been involved with Leicester Cathedral from the very early days when Richard’s remains were identified. The Bishop of Nottingham is on record as indicating his involvement in early 2012. A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes which cannot be publicised until the final arrangements have been agreed by all involved.

      • Olga Hughes

        The Telegraph is saying the Archbishop of Canterbury will probably lead the services now, although I don’t think the Cathedral has confirmed that.

      • Jasmine

        I expect he will do something other than just sit there in all his Archbishop’s glory (LOL)

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