Westminster Cathedral, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of its consecration on Monday 28 June 2010, will launch The Treasures of the Cathedral Exhibition next week, displaying precious artefacts to the public.
The Cathedral Church of Westminster, which is a mother church for Catholics in England and Wales, was designed in the Early Christian Byzantine style by the Victorian architect John Francis Bentley. The interior of the building contains fine marble-work and mosaics.
To mark the centenary, a Solemn High Mass will be celebrated in the Cathedral at 11.30 on 28 June. Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, will preside over the ceremony.
The Exhibition will open to the public from Tuesday 29 June. Adults will be charged £5, with an £11 family ticket and £2.50 concessions, says the Cathedral.
Westminster Cathedral’s foundation stone was laid in 1895 and the exterior of the building was completed by 1903. However, canon law stated that no place of worship could be consecrated unless free from any financial debt incurred during its construction, so the consecration ceremony did not take place until 28 June 1910.
The Treasures of the Cathedral will display some of Westminster Cathedral’s most precious artefacts including: vestments, chalices, communion plates, monstrants (used to display the Blessed Sacrament) and an altar front drape designed by the Cathedral’s architect John Francis Bentley. It will also tell the story of how the Cathedral was created and on display will be the architect’s model – judged by many to be one of the greatest architectural models in the UK.
Although it is a young Cathedral, Westminster’s collections span centuries. They include a fragment of silk from the tomb of St Edward the Confessor, a thirteenth-century ceremonial cross, a chalice used during the years when celebrating Mass in England was considered treason, an intricately decorated Edwardian altar frontal and an Art Nouveau monstrance. Mainly acquired for use in the Cathedral, they reflect the changing styles of the decorative arts but all are of the highest standards of workpersonship and beauty.
The exhibition will be held in the upper gallery of the Cathedral meaning that entrants to the exhibition will be able to obtain a rare glimpse of what Westminster Cathedral looks like from an elevated viewpoint.