The coronation of King Charles III will take place in Westminster Abbey. This will be the first coronation for 70 years in our countries; indeed, the first since our late Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, entered the ancient church as a young woman to take on the awesome responsibilities of monarchy.
In his first address to our countries after the death of the Queen, His Majesty stated, in the context of the late Queen’s unwavering service, “that promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today.”
None of us can imagine the burden that His Majesty will assume as he is crowned King alongside the Queen Consort. The world had changed significantly since 1953 with many more opportunities and challenges in the lives of all.
A Historic Occasion
The Coronation on Saturday 6th May will be an historic occasion for the nation, and also for the Catholic community. For the first time in over 400 years, a Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, will take part in a Coronation service in the United Kingdom, and will also offer a blessing alongside other Christian leaders.
The Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will represent Pope Francis with the newly-appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía. The Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, Mark O’Toole will also attend the Coronation, as will Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen, Scotland and the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin.
For many this will be seen as remarkable progress, as seventy years ago it would not have been permitted for any Catholic to enter a Protestant church, let alone to take part in a Coronation service. King Charles III is known to welcome a multi-faith society and the presence and greeting of the faith leaders from the other major religions present at the Coronation will reflect this.
For many centuries prior to the Reformation, a Coronation of a monarch was a Catholic ceremony. The ceremony still contains elements that would be familiar to most Catholics as they are found in our liturgies and the celebration of the sacraments.
Relics of the True Cross
Pope Francis has given King Charles a relic of the True Cross, which will be incorporated into the newly-made Cross of Wales that will lead the Coronation procession at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, 6th May.
Archbishop Mark O’Toole, the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff and Bishop of Menevia, said:
“With a sense of deep joy we embrace this Cross, kindly given by King Charles, and containing a relic of the True Cross, generously gifted by the Holy See.
“It is not only a sign of the deep Christian roots of our nation but will, I am sure, encourage us all to model our lives in the love given by our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
“We look forward to honouring it, not only in the various celebrations that are planned, but also in the dignified setting in which it will find a permanent home.”
The Bishops of England and Wales encourage all Catholics to pray for His Majesty King Charles and the Queen Consort as they approach the Coronation, that they may be sustained in their tasks and duties to the realm and the people of the United Kingdom,
O God, to whom every human power is subject,
grant to your servant our sovereign Charles
success in the exercise of his high office,
so that, always revering you and striving to please you,
he may constantly secure and preserve
for the people entrusted to his care
the freedom that comes from civil peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
V: O Lord, save Charles, our King.
R: And hear us on the day we call upon you.
V: O Lord, hear my prayer.
R: And let my cry come before you.
V: The Lord be with you.
R: And with your spirit.
Almighty God, we pray,
that your servant Charles, our King,
who, by your providence has received the governance of this realm, may continue to grow in every virtue,
that, imbued with your heavenly grace,
he may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil and,
being blessed with your favour may,
with his consort and the royal family,
come at last into your presence,
through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life
and who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Archdiocese wishes to thank every parish in Southwark for the celebration of Mass to pray for the King and Queen Consort in the lead-up to the Coronation. We wish all clergy, religious and laity a joyful celebration over the Coronation weekend.
Source: with thanks to CBCEW and Marcin Mazur