Page 1, 9th July 1948

9th July 1948
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Page 1, 9th July 1948 — PONTIFICAL MASS IN RAIN—DRENCHED RUINS
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PONTIFICAL MASS IN RAIN—DRENCHED RUINS

By a Staff Reporter London south of the river and the spreading, sprawling diocese of Southwark, had a special date to keep on Sunday, for it was the 100th anniversary of the opening of St. George's Cathedral.

The many months of work that had gone into the preparation for the day had not ruled out possibility of rain---and a temporary tent roofing had been erected over much of the shell — all down the principal nave and part of the side aisles.

But he would have been a pessimist indeed — the man who anticipated the pitiless. relentless downpour that lasted from early morning till the final burst that prevented the procession of the Archbishop and clergy back through the street to Archbishop's House.

NOT DAMPED BY RAIN

The depressing weather, however, did nothing to dampen enthusiasm or cool devotion of the sodden congregation, the lucky portion of whom sat in comparative comfort beneath the awning with only occasional gusts of wind to blow across them. Outside, receiving the full onslaught was the ombrellad, macintoshed crowd —colourful enough with the gay modern plastic coats and headscarves of the girls.

Backing this human " rim " were the dripping, grey ruined walls. still with the scarred Stations, the broken ironwork of the windows to which still hung tattered pieces of blackout.

Such was the setting for the great ceremonial of High Mass— and we all forgot everything except the focal point—the sanctuary and high altar—a glowing centre of warmth and light and colour—a miracle of transformation that had been wrought in the ruins.

STATELY PROCESSION It was towards this beautifully reconstructed sanctuary—hung with the Papal yellow and white, red-carpeted, flower-decked and candle-lit, flanked by two red and white shields of St. George. that the stately procession of dignitaries, students, choir and the cathedral chapter, with the Archbishop in full pontifical robes, blessing the people as they knelt on the broken tessellated floor, made its Way.

Then. with as full ceremonial as ever marked a service in the cathedral itself. the Mass went forward. magnificently sung in Plainchant and conducted by Fr. Coffey, Southwark's own Master of Liturgical Music.

Loudspeakers carried every word the Archbishop said. not only to every corner of the " shell," but out into Westminster Bridge Road—and every syllable was as clear as a bell. Mass concluded with the Papal Blessing and a message was read from His Holiness the Pope.

Two items of historical interest. The golden chalice which was used at the Mass was that presented 100 years ago to the cathedral by Pope Pius IX and the red pontifical vestments were the gift of that great Catholic benefactor, Sir George Bowyer, in the early days of the cathedral's history.

IRISH GIFT

There was a guest of honour at the Mass. He was Mr. Dulanty, High Commissioner for Eire, whose people have sent over i36.000 towards the rebuilding fund of St. George's.

This gift was acknowledged with grateful thanks by the Archbishop when he preached at Pontifical Benediction in the evening—still with the

rain falling steadily. "The Irish." said His Grace, " have shown us a wonderful example by their magnificent and generous gift."

After a day of such strenuous

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