Press & Communications

24 Sep 2010

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams, attended a Service of Evening Prayer at Westminster Abbey on Friday 17 September 2010.

The ecumenical service formed part of the state visit of His Holiness to the United Kingdom and was also attended by the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu and the (Roman Catholic) Archbishop of Westminster the Most Revd Vincent Nichols as well as the leaders of other Churches of the British Isles.

Pope Benedict was welcomed to the Abbey by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr John Hall, who said: ‘Your Holiness, the Dean and Chapter welcomes you most warmly as the first pope to visit this Church dedicated to St Peter, which has been the kingdom’s coronation church since 1066, and which, for 600 years as a Benedictine Abbey, until the English Reformation, enjoyed a close relationship of mutual support with the papacy.’

The Dean invited His Holiness to lead a prayer at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

After processing through the Abbey church to the Sacrarium, The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury shared the Rite of Welcome and Exchange of Peace.
Dame Mary Tanner DBE, President of the World Council of Churches, read Philippians 2: 5-11 and the Right Revd John Christie, Moderator of the General

Assembly of the Church of Scotland, read Mark 10: 35-45.

After venerating the 6thcentury Canterbury Gospels which were brought to the Abbey from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, for the service, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury each gave an Address.

The Dean escorted the two church leaders to the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor where they prayed together before returning to the Sacrarium to pronounce a joint Blessing.

After the service His Holiness was presented with a bound copy of illustrations from the Abbey’s 14th century illuminated manuscript, the Litlyngton Missal, with a commentary by the Keeper of the Muniments, Dr Richard Mortimer.

Prayers were led by the Reverend Michael Macey, Minor Canon of Westminster.
The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey directed by the Organist and Master of the Choristers James O’Donnell. The organ was played during the service by the Sub-Organist Robert Quinney.

See also:

Address of the Pope

Address of His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury

The Order of Service (PDF, 159 KB)

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