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Abbey hosts the Lighting of the Benedictine Torch

Wednesday, 2nd March 2011

Abbey hosts the Lighting of the Benedictine Torch

A Service of Blessing for the Benedictine Torch took place at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 2nd March at 12 noon.

In 1964, when Saint Benedict was proclaimed Patron of Europe, it was decided that the lighting of a torch would take place as a symbol of European heritage. The torch is now known simply as the Torch of Saint Benedict. Every year it has been the main feature of a pilgrimage beginning from the city chosen to light the torch and ending in Montecassino at the Shrine of St Benedict.

Westminster Abbey was the first non-Roman Catholic Church to host the lighting of the Benedictine Torch.

The service, in English and Italian, was conducted by the Dean of Westminster the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding:

The Benedictine community of monks, who built this great church to the glory of God, whose worship of God echoed around these walls and whose tombs and memorials surround us, flourished here for at least 600 years.
Four hundred and fifty years after the dissolution of the monastery, their prayers and example continue to encourage us as daily we worship almighty God in the opus Dei of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and as we celebrate the sacraments of our salvation, above all the sacrament of the Eucharist, of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is a particular joy here in the coronation church, so central to the religious and secular life of our nation, to light the Torch of Saint Benedict that symbolises the light of Christ that shines at the heart of British and European civilisation, the light of peace and goodwill for all men and women in these islands, in Europe, and in the world.


The Dean and Archabbot Pietro Vittorelli OSB of Montecassino washed each other’s hands as a symbol of welcome and hospitality.

Field Marshal The Lord Inge KG GCB PC DL read 2 Corinthians 4: 1-6 and the Right Reverend Timothy Wright OSB read Matthew 5: 1-16.

The Addresses were given by the Right Reverend Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield and Chairman of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome; and the Archabbot of Montecassino.

Prayers we led by the Revd Dr James Hawkey, Minor Canon of Westminster.

The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by Robert Quinney, Sub Organist. The organ was played by James McVinnie, Assistant Organist.

See also:

Order of Service (PDF, 113.89 KB)

Address given by the Archabbot of Montecassino


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I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.


Pamela - Rector's Secretary

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