The 1st of March is significant in the life of the Diocese not just because it is the Feast of St. David, but also because four new Canons were installed as members of the Chapter of the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. David. The ceremony took place at the 12.00 noon Mass celebrated by the newly elected Provost, Monsignor John Maguire and in the presence of Archbishop George Stack at St David’s Cathedral.
Canon Barry English, Canon Michael Evans, Canon William Isaac, and Canon John Kelly join the Chapter, which was established at the foundation of the Archdiocese of Cardiff on 7th February 1916. The origins of Chapter Canons are lost in the mists of time. The monks of the ancient abbeys were dedicated to singing the Divine Office, the Opus Dei, and earning their living through scholarship, calligraphy, hospitality, agriculture and supporting the economy of the local communities in which they were established.
When Cathedral Chapters, comprised of Diocesan priests, were re-established in the 19th century they were mandated to ensure the worthy celebration of liturgy in the Cathedral Church, celebrate the Divine office and assist the bishop of the governance of the Diocese. This very soon became impractical because of the pastoral demands being made of the Canons in their role as parish priests. Very soon they employed a number of chaplains to carry out these duties for them. The remnant of this arrangement can still be seen at Westminster Cathedral in London.
The Chapter of the original Diocese of Newport and Menevia had,since 1860, consisted of the monks of Belmont Abbey. This was the case not least because of the hugely significant role they continued to play in the life and service of the Church both before and after the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850. Many of the bishops at this time were members of the order of St. Benedict. The Papal Bull ‘Cambria Celtica’ of 7th February 1916 transferred the bishopric of Newport and Menevia to Cardiff, made the church of St. David the Cathedral and erected the Archdiocese of Cardiff and established it as the Metropolitan See. The new Chapter of Canons was to be attached to this Cathedral. At the same time, in consideration of the historical privilege held by Belmont “Priory”, a second Chapter and another Cathedral were established at Belmont composed of the monks of Belmont. This arrangement only lasted four years. Archbishop Bilsborrow, himself a Benedictine, concluded the agreement with Rome that there should forthwith be only one Chapter of Canons and one Cathedral.
This rich history was solemnly marked at the opening of the Centenary celebrations of the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the Metropolitan Province of Wales during Solemn Vespers at St. David’s Cathedral on the 6th February. The celebrant was the Abbot of Belmont, Paul Stonham, and the service was sung by the monks of Belmont. Archbishop George preached the homily. The service was attended by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for South Glamorgan, the First Minister, the Lord Mayor of Cardiff and mayors of many other boroughs in the Diocese. The second part of the celebration was Pontifical High mass at St. Michael’s Abbey, Belmont, on Sunday 7th February at which Archbishop George presided and Abbot Paul preached.
The installation of our new Canons is part of that historic narrative and a fitting tribute to their work in the Diocese and in their parishes. Many congratulations to you all!
View Photographs of the Installation