Her Majesty the Queen
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022
The people of St Thomas of Canterbury parish community join with the rest of the nation in mourning the death of Her Majesty the Queen. Confident in the gift of everlasting life given at baptism we now pray for her.
Incline your ear, O Lord, to our prayers by which we humbly entreat your mercy, that as you graciously numbered your servant Elizabeth, among your people in this world, you may now set her in a place of peace and light and grant her a share in the company of your Saints. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
From Rev Jo Richards, Rector of Saint Dunstan, Saint Mildred and Saint Peter, Canterbury.
We give thanks for the life of Queen Elizabeth, but also mourn her loss. Not only has she been a Christian witness but led by example, a true disciple of Christ who will be missed by many, all around the world. Someone who has just always been there.
‘Go forth from this world O Christian soul, in the name of the love of God the Father who created you, in the mercy of Jesus Christ who redeemed you, in the power of the Holy Spirit who strengthens you. Amen’
A Prayer on the death of her Her Majesty The Queen
Gracious God we give thanks for the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth
For her faith and her dedication to duty.
Bless our nation as we mourn her death
and may her example continue to inspire us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let Your perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace, and rise in glory. Amen.
A thoughtful greeting from Pope Francis to Queen Elizabeth.
Yesterday saw the start of a weekend of celebrations across the United Kingdom on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne.
Marking this milestone, Pope Francis has sent a telegram to the Queen offering his prayers and good wishes. In it, he says: “On this joyful occasion of your Majesty’s birthday, and as you celebrate this Platinum Jubilee year, I send cordial greetings and good wishes, together with the renewed assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will bestow upon you, the members of the Royal Family and all the people of the nation blessings of unity, prosperity and peace.”
In recognition of the monarch’s commitment to the care of God’s creation, Pope Francis is donating a Cedar of Lebanon to the Queen’s Green Canopy project. He expressed the hope that this tree, “which in the Bible symbolises the flourishing of fortitude, justice and prosperity, would be a pledge of abundant divine blessings” upon her realm.
The project invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”. As well as inviting the planting of new trees, The Queen’s Green Canopy will dedicate a network of 70 Ancient Woodlands across the United Kingdom and identify 70 Ancient Trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.
We invite readers to pray for the Queen and the people of her realm, and especially for unity, prosperity and peace. Let us pray, too, for the people of Lebanon to recover these same gifts.
From Revd, Jo Richards, of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury. Many Congratulations to John Morrison: Maundy Money
On the Thursday of Holy Week, known as Maundy Thursday, it is traditional for the reigning monarch to distribute money to deserving pensioners in a cathedral somewhere in the United Kingdom. This year, the chosen cathedral is, once again, Canterbury Cathedral, now that the Queen has distributed the Maundy coins all around the country in every cathedral. She commanded that the ceremony should take place in London only once in every ten years.
The word ‘Maundy’ comes from the Latin for ‘command’, mandatum. The Thursday before Easter Day has been a traditional observation from early Christian days in celebration of Jesus Christ’s command to “love one another” demonstrated by his washing of the disciples feet. The day marks the end of Lent, an old English word for ‘lengthen’ as the daylight increases, a period of forgiveness, prayer, reflection and study.
To qualify to receive Maundy money from Her Majesty the Queen, a recipient must be 70 years old or more, recommended by their Bishop and have made a significant contribution to life in their local community. Since 1957, a recipient may only receive Maundy money once in a lifetime.
The Queen honours the number of ladies and gentlemen for each year of her age. In 2021 this is 95, a total of 190 recipients.
Each recipient is given two purses, white and red. In the red one is a set amount of current coinage amounting to £5.50, historically representing alms, made up of £3 for clothing, £1.50 in lieu of provisions and £1 which represents a piece of the Sovereign’s gown which, before Tudor times, used to be divided between the recipients.
The white purse contains specially minted sterling silver coins in one penny, two pence, three pence and four pence denominations related to the age of the monarch. In 2021, a total of 38 coins. The style of the coins is largely unchanged since 1670 when Charles II added a year date to the coin distribution he started in 1662. The picture of the Queen on these coins is her 1953 Coronation year portrait designed by Mary Gillick. The coins were only ever debased from sterling silver by Henry VIII from 1544 to 1551. The design for the reverse of the Maundy money is a crowned numeral in a wreath of oak leaves. This has been the same design since Charles II.
British monarchs have been known to observe the distribution of alms and/or washing of feet since at least 600AD
As Her Majesty is unable to distribute the Maundy money in person in 2021, for the second year running, because of the coronavirus pandemic, each set will be sent from Buckingham Palace, having been blessed in the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, with a personal letter from the Queen.
In our Benefice, one of our Readers, John Morrison, has been informed by the Lord High Almoner that he has been selected to receive the honour of this year’s Royal Maundy during Holy Week. John is active in the Church of England as a national Peer Reviewer and is on the Provincial Clergy Discipline Panel. In the Diocese he is an Archdeaconry of Canterbury lay representative on the Archbishop’s Council, a member of the Diocesan Synod, the Canterbury Deanery Treasurer and is an active licensed lay minister (Reader) in this Benefice. He is also a Chaplain in the Sea Cadet Corps. John, this is a wonderful achievement, and congratulations from us all for this well-deserved honour, and for your ministry amongst us.
One part of St David’s Cathedral did not feature in our armchair pilgrimage – the Treasury. Strange, that, since we do like things that help tell the Story of Creation and Salvation, but thanks to Crispin Paine who visited for Religion & Collections, we can put that right now.
What story do your treasures tell? This cushion is not in the Treasury, but like so many of St David’s treasures is just doing its job in the Cathedral. But it invites us to sit and be comfortable in God’s presence and reminds us of the heavenly Jerusalem to which we are bound, a country as lovely as Wales but with better weather for camping! Can someone identify the tune, perhaps?
A note about the Charter mentioned by Dr Paine: ‘the City status of St Davids, while having ecclesiastical roots going back for centuries, was granted to all of St Davids by HM the Queen by Royal Charter on 1st June 1995’, according to the City Council. This charter put things to rights after it was discovered that there was no record of a city charter ever being granted. Rochester in Kent, however, lost its city status in 1998, when the city council was merged with Gillingham, and does not look like getting it back any time soon. Yet Rochester was the second English city, founded by St Justus in 604.
Another tribute to Jean Vanier from a long-standing community member; Eddies now works at the Irish chaplaincy, but is still present to the Kent community.
As I was told of the death, at the age of 90, of Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, there immediately came to mind my favourite story connected with the great man: an important story for me, and one which I discovered years later from Jean I’d actually misheard!
Jean was a son of Georges Vanier, a Governor-General of Canada, and he crossed the Atlantic at the height of the second world to join the British Naval College at Dartmouth. After the war, one of his tasks, together with a fellow young naval cadet, was to ‘entertain’ the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret on a long sea voyage to South Africa. I was touched to hear that when Jean went to Buckingham Palace in recent years to collect an award from the now Queen Elizabeth she said to him “hello Jock”, this being the name that those close to him used when he was growing up.
From this rather privileged background Jean found himself in 1964 in a village called Trosly in the North of France, moving into a dilapidated old house with two men, Raphael and Philippe, who he had met and befriended at a large institution and who he had invited to come and live with him. The house was named L’Arche, French for the ark, and it would grow into a worldwide network of 150 communities in almost 40 countries, where people with and without learning disabilities live and work and share life together. I joined the L’Arche community in Canterbury in 1988 and was there for 28 years, and it’s where I met my wife so I have a particular reason to be grateful for what Jean started.
In 2006 I was attending an event in Trosly for directors of L’Arche communities in Europe, at which Jean spoke to us. In one of his talks he recalled how he’d been visiting a prison in America where one of the guys had told him proudly (or at least this is what I heard at the time!) “I’m the best card-dealer in the State of Virginia”. Jean went on to say “you know, we all need to be the best something; but where do I want to choose to be the best?” I interpreted this as meaning ‘where do I want to choose to use my gifts?’ At that time I was coming to the end of my initial 4 year ‘mandate’ as Director and unsure whether or not to continue for a second 4 year term, but this story inspired me to do so.
I told this story often to people and I hoped I’d have a chance one day to say thank you to Jean. Years later I drove a minibusful of people from L’Arche Kent over to Trosly to visit Jean, who we knew could be in his final years. It was never easy to get to speak to him one-to-one but following mass in the lovely converted barn of a chapel I spotted that he was momentarily on his own in the courtyard and seized my chance. I went over and said I wanted to thank him for something he’d said years earlier that had been very important for me. “Oh yes”, he replied, “what was that?” I said he’d been speaking about the man in a prison who claimed to be the best card-dealer in the State of Virginia. “No, no, no!” said Jean, “the best car-stealer in the state penitentiary”! And we both roared with laughter.
God bless you Jean, and Thank You
And, by the way, if you want to see some archive L’Arche photos from the 1960s and 1970s (and even later!) then click here: Jubilee Blues
(Jean, seen here with Raphael and with Gabrielle who founded the first L’Arche community in India)