'C.H.' Reporter BRITAIN'S second largest Catholic Cathedral— the largest is Westminster—opens today, Friday with the first of a week of splendid ceremonies.
St. George's, Southwark, the whole length of its 247 ft. gleaming in the purest white Painswick stone arcading, is the noble setting for two Pontifical High Masses, one this morning, the second this evening, to mark its final resurrection from the debris of war.
Yesterday, Thursday. the stone High Altar, which contains within it the remains of the pre-war altar, was consecrated by Bishop Cowderoy, who nearly five years ago began the work of reconstruction of this £400,000 gothic gem.
The venerated statue of "Our Lady of St. George's", which Was crowned by the Bishop in December, 1954, now occupies a place of honour in the Lady Chapel under the organ gallery to the south of the sanctuary. No one knows its origin, but the image, probably of catty 18th century Flemish make is believed to have come into the possession of Fr. Thomas Doyle, who built the original Cathedral.
Students from Mark Cross and Wonersh Seminaries rendered the music at the Dedication service yesterday, the Cathedral being reserved for the clergy exclusively, but this morning, when Bishop Cowderoy pontificates as Cardinal I Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney. presides at the throne, an augmented choir will comprise that of the Cathedral and those of the Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon, and the Salesian College, Battersea. They will also lead the great congregation in the singing of a Je Deum of thanksgiving.
This evening, at 7.30, the Apostolic Delegate is to sing Mass. Both Masses today are Votive of St. George.
For a week, until Sunday, July 13, inclusive, when midday High Mass is being televised by the B.B.C., the celebrations will continue with daily High Mass in the evening at 7.30. But this Sunday big crowds are expected for an outdoor procession of the Blessed Sacrament at 4 p.m., when Benediction will probably be given from the balcony over the entrance for people unable to enter.
It will be recalled that generous subscriptions have been received towards the new Cathedral from the Queen. Prince Philip and the Queen Mother. I learnt earlier this week that a message is expected from the Royal Family in connection with the opening of St. George's. Last Monday, Mass was said for the last time in the adjoining Archbishop Amigo Hall, which has served for many years as pro-Cathedral. It will soon revert to its old position of parish hall.
In a foreword to a is. booklet issued to mark the opening. Bishop Cowderoy states that his plans are to go ahead with the completion of the Cathedral, still lacking its 183 ft. tower, daily chapel, mortuary chapel, baptistry and stone pulpit. as soon as the present debt, amounting to £30,000, is cleared.
There is a temporary wooden pulpit on the epistle side, which can be moved if the acoustics necessitate a change of site. Once the ideal place is found, then the permanent pulpit will be set up.
The remarkable generosity of the Irish is revealed in the amount stated by Mgr. Canon Bogart, the Administrator, to have been received from them, not less than £40,000. The new chapel of St. Patrick is being blessed this Sunday by the Bishop.
For the assistance of visitors to St. George's this next week the following data may be of interest: The nearest Tube Station is Lambeth North.
Tomorrow, Saturday: Votive High Mass of Our Lady for the school-children of the Diocese, midday.
Sunday: Bishop Cowderoy sings Mass at 10.30 a.m. after blessing St. Patrick's Chapel. Outdoor Procession or the Blessed Sacrament, 4 p.m:
Monday: High Mass for Legion of Mary, 7.30 p.m.
Tuesday: Pontifical Requiem for Archbishop Amigo and others buried in the Cathedral vault, 7.30 Wednesday: (Feast of SS. John Fisher and 1 homes More). High Mass for the Knights of St. Columba, 7.30 p.m.
Thursday: High Mass for the U.C.M. and C.W.L., 7.30 p.m.
Friday, July 11: High Mass for the Children of Mary, 7.30 p.m.
Saturday, July 12: High Mass for Religious Sisters, 11.30' a.m.
Sunday, July 13: Televised High Mass for the Catholic Parents and Electors Association with sermon by the Bishop, midday.
There will be special preachers at all these Masses.