Priests and people from eight different dioceses filled the nave of Rochester Cathedral on Holy Cross Day, 14 September, as they joined with Bishop Norman Banks for his Richborough Family Festival.
A congregation of over four hundred, including the Bishop of Rochester, first participated prayerfully in a festival Mass, concelebrated by many priest-brothers of the Society of the Holy Cross, which co-sponsored the day as it marked its patronal commemoration.
Younger members of the congregation read and led the intercessions, with gift bags for their junior siblings. All present also took home Richborough Family wristbands, accessories which proved highly popular! In his homily, Bishop Norman reminded the congregation that in the Cross we find life, health and salvation, and thus that we should look for strength to the crucified Saviour in times of trial and distress.
There was time after Mass to explore the cathedral and city, with some pilgrims opting to eat their picnics in the grounds of Rochester Castle, and there to enjoy the day’s fine weather. Other members of the Richborough Family visited the arresting “Knife Angel” installation in the cathedral garth, a peripatetic national monument against knife violence and aggression.
But before long it was time once more to worship, at a beautiful service of Choral Evensong with which the Festival drew to its close. Visiting musicians (members of “SiNG – the Travelling Evensong Choir”) sang Bruckner, Brewer and Goss, and the diocesan bishop invited Bishop Norman to pronounce the final blessing.
The celebrations continued for some in a number of local restaurants and hostelries, while others boarded their coaches to return to their parishes, full of faith, hope and joy.
A similar celebration is proposed for 2020, to take place at Canterbury Cathedral. Further details will be made available in due course