What happens at the installation of our new Archbishop?

With a few short days to go to the installation of Archbishop-elect Mark O’Toole as the 8th Archbishop of Cardiff, let us take a look at what happens on the day.

The installation of our new Archbishop will take place in the context of the celebration of Mass.  The Mass is the central action – ‘the source and the summit’ – of our Christian life and is always at the heart of any major occasions in the life of the Church.  We unite at the installation Mass around the Bishop as successor to the Apostles and through whom the grace of the Sacraments is dispensed in the local Church.  As the appointment of a new Bishop is always at the gift of the Pope who is the successor to St. Peter, the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador) will be present. And as a sign of the Universal Church, Bishops from England and Wales and other far-off places will also be present to witness this historic occasion.

Archbishop-elect Mark was ordained to the Order of Bishop on 28th January 2014 when he was appointed the Bishop of Plymouth.  Therefore, there is no Ordination or Consecration; when a Bishop is transferred from one Diocese to another, the ceremony is one where the Bishop takes ‘canonical possession’ of his new Diocese. Canonical Possession is the term used for the authority of the Bishop having full governance in a Diocese and is assumed by the reception of the Bishop in his cathedral where he presides over the celebration of the Eucharist (the Mass) for the first time.

The Mass is scheduled to begin at 12.00pm on Monday 20th June 2022. Given the scale of the event, physical attendance in the cathedral is by invitation only but will be available on livestream.  Among the congregation will be various civic and ecumenical representatives, as well as Archbishop-elect Mark’s mother, brother, family members and friends.  Also present will be various representative from across the diocese and members of the Bishop’s former Diocese of Plymouth to mark a handing over of the Chief Shepherd.  There will be various processions beginning approximately 40 minutes before the start time until everyone has taken their positions inside the cathedral.

At 12.00pm our Archbishop-elect will approach the doors of the cathedral, which will be closed, and in a scene reminiscent of the State Opening of Parliament, he will knock on the door seeking welcome into the local Church of the Archdiocese of Cardiff.  Once the doors have been opened, the Archbishop-elect will kneel at the threshold, before being invited in.  He will be presented with the Metropolitan Cross, which he kisses in reverence and recognition of the call of the Lord to this place.  He will then be offered the aspergillum (holy water container) which he uses to bless all assembled and processes to the altar.

Once the Archbishop-elect arrives at the altar, he will make an act of devotion to Our Lady of the Taper that has journey from the Welsh National Shrine.  He is then seated in a prepared chair and the Apostolic Nuncio call for the reading of the mandate (the papal bull) from Pope Francis to confirm that Mark O’Toole as the Archbishop of Cardiff.  The papal bull is then presented to the provost of the cathedral who shows it to the chapter of Canons as the senior priests of the Diocese, and then to all assembled before accepting the Holy Father’s appointment;  the provost then escorts the new Archbishop to the Bishop’s chair (the cathedra).  Archbishop George Stack will then come forward and hand Archbishop Mark the pastoral staff (crozier) saying “With prayerful confidence and trust I hand you the shepherd’s staff, as a sign of the office of shepherd and your ministry”, at which point Canonical Possession has been completed and Archbishop Mark O’Toole is officially the Chief Shepherd of the Archdiocese of Cardiff as its 8thArchbishop.  After this, Archbishop Mark approaches the foot of the Sanctuary and is greeted by representatives of the civic, ecumenical and Church life of our Archdiocese.  The celebration of Mass continues as usual with our new Archbishop presiding.

The ceremony will be repeated in St Joseph’s Cathedral, Swansea a few days later as Archbishop Mark takes possession of the Diocese of Menevia, uniting both Dioceses in persona episcopi.


The livestream of the Installation Mass will be available through the buttons available on this post.