30 April 2023
Visiting a new shrine
and five new icons in
There is always something new to see in Lichfield Cathedral. I have been visiting the cathedral regularly ever since my teens, and I am always delighted to see how this is a living space of prayer and worship and the home of a living community of faith.
It had been many months since I was last in Lichfield Cathedral, so last week, after viewing the ‘Library and Legacy’ exhibition in the Chapter House and attending the mid-day Eucharist, I was delighted to see the new shrine of Saint Chad in the Lady Chapel.
The new shrine celebrates Lichfield’s own saint as Bishop, Evangelist and Disciple, and an inscription reads: ‘Christ is the morning star who, when the night of this world is past, brings to his saints the promise of the light of life and opens everlasting day.’
Last year marked the 1,350th anniversary of the death of Saint Chad, and the cathedral marked the anniversary by reconnecting the cathedral and the community with Saint Chad’s story and his message.
The Shrine of Saint Chad was consecrated and reinstated at two moving services in Lichfield Cathedral six months ago (November 2022). It was 484 years since the original shrine was destroyed, and now a new Altar Shrine and a relic of Saint Chad has been received from Saint Chad’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham.
Bishop Michael Ipgrave of Lichfield and Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham both addressed the ecumenical service that marked the occasion. Their cathedrals share the patronage of Saint Chad, and Archbishop Longley spoke at Evening Prayer in Lichfield Cathedral of ‘the bonds of faith and affection that exist between our two dioceses and their respective cathedrals.’
The relic of Saint Chad was brought from Birmingham Cathedral accompanied by the canons of the Metropolitan Chapter.
The celebration was the fruit of lengthy conversations and reflected an ecumenical journey and growing respect and understanding for each other’s history and traditions.
Bishop Michael Ipgrave spoke of the friendship between two communities that ‘seek to follow Christ in the footsteps of St Chad, and that is a friendship which also links us with people of other Christian traditions today; this is a heartfelt celebration of ecumenical trust and partnership.’
He added: ‘Our society, like that of seventh century England, is fearful, divided and sometimes despairing. Our task is Chad’s task all over again: to evangelise our 21st century Mercia with the gospel of peace and hope, of forgiveness and healing for men, women and children in their brokenness and lostness, of a common good in which all can flourish and grow together.’
It is hoped that the shrine, together with the Lichfield Icons and the statue of Saint Chad, will strengthen the cathedral as a destination for pilgrims and for all who seek healing.
In addition, five new icons have been installed the Lady Chapel:
1, The Baptism of Christ
2, The Wedding at Cana
3, The Preaching of the Kingdom of God
4, The Transfiguration
5, The Last Supper
These icons have been used each week as a point of discussion during this year’s Lenten discussion in Lichfield Cathedral. These too will add to the cathedral’s role as a destination for pilgrims and for all who seek healing.