A report from Fr. Finigan

His Hermeneuticalness reports on the doings in his future See of Westminster:

This evening, I had the privilege of attending dinner at the Travellers Club in London with HE Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and the Committee of the Latin Mass Society, together with the other sacred ministers for tomorrow’s Mass, Frs Wadsworth and Conlon of the diocese of Westminster, and Fr Hudson of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, together with Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe of the London Oratory. Fr Christopher Tuckwell, the new administrator of Westminster Cathedral was also there: we are all very grateful to him for his hospitality and for making available some of the Cathedral’s finest vestments and plate for tomorrow’s Pontifical Mass.

After dinner, Julian Chadwick, the LMS Chairman gave a rousing speech in which he noted that the visit of Cardinal Hoyos does much to fulfil the legitimate aspirations for which the society has worked over several decades.

Cardinal Hoyos replied in a moving and heartfelt address in which he expressed the hope that tomorrow’s Mass would be a sign to the Church throughout the world of the personal desire of the Holy Father that the richness of the traditional liturgy of the Church would benefit all. He was glad that the Mass is to be televised by EWTN so that it can be seen by people across the globe. He said that we should not refer to the "old Mass" since we go up to the altar of "God who gives joy to my youth" – he referred to it as the "Gregorian Mass" in order to emphasise its enduring youthfulness. It was evident that the Cardinal’s love for the traditional liturgy was personal and sincere. We toasted him with the "Ad multos annos."

(In the photo above, you can see Cardinal Hoyos in conversation with Fr Andrew Wadsworth, and, to the right, Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein, the Honorary President of the Latin Mass Society.)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. He was glad that the Mass is to be televised by EWTN so that it can be seen by people across the globe.

    Does anyone know when this telecast will be?

  2. Eboracensis says:

    The correct shortening of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos’s name is Cardinal Castrillon. Hoyos is his mother’s maiden name, which is customarily used in Spanish-speaking countries after one’s actual surname.

    Returning to the main news…this is truly an amazing event, and has the potential to make a major impact in the UK. I wonder how the Hierarchy will deal with it!

  3. Dan Hunter says:

    God bless His Eminence. Knowing that our Holy Father completely supports the Gregorian Mass, does anyone know when His Holiness will give publically offer the Grgorian Mass?
    There are some bishops who are claiming that since the Holy Father has not publically offered the Gregorian Mass, that he is more in favor of the Novus Ordo.

    We know that this is not true, but many, many Catholics are confused as to why His Holiness is not offering even ONE public TLM.

    God bless all.

  4. Dan Hunter says:

    The Mass is not on the EWTN television program schedule for the moNth of June.
    Maybe it is not to be televised by EWTN.

  5. Justin says:

    I have just returned from the Pontifical High Mass at the Throne for the Feast of S. Basil the Great celebrated by Dario Card. Castrillion Hoyos, President of Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. You will be happy to know that the Cathedral was overflowing – all seats were filled 30 mins prior to Mass, the side chapels were packed, and the side aisles and crossings were standing room only. Many of the congregants of the overflowing cathedral were youth, or families with children. I am 24 myself, and I would estimate that at least half the congregants (surely numbering more than 1500) were in my age group or younger.

    The famed Cathedral Choir (the actual Cathedral Choir) sung their pieces with the professionalism and technical wizardry superior to any Oxbridge college choir but with a passion, verve, and gusto that only the Westminster Cathedral Choir can muster and for which it is justly famous for worldwide. Saturday afternoon is the one free afternoon where the boys of the choir can spend time with their families, so the top line of the choir was necessarily reduced from a normal figure of about 20 boys to slightly more than half that due to unavailability of those with family commitments. This did not affect their singing one bit.

    The sanctuary was at it’s most beautiful – with the focus of Bentley’s magnificently designed high altar with baldaccino uninterrupted. The vestments were the finest in the Cathedral, with coped ministers. The Cardinal in full cappa magna was met at the West Door by the robed clergy in attendance – there were diocesan deacons, priests and monsignori, religious, priests of traditional orders, the Provost of the Westminster Chapter, and the Administrator of Westminster Cathedral – all in full regalia. Various Knights of Malta were also on hand to greet the Cardinal. Diocesan priests, religious sisters, and seminarians were also among the congregation. All genuflected as the Cardinal processed up to the Blessed Sacrament chapel accompanied to the Elgar’s glorious Ecce Sacerdos Magnus.

    Palestrina’s Missa Sacerdos et Pontifex was the Mass Setting, and the Propers were all sung according to Gregorian chant fromn the Liber, in the rather bouncy “house” style of which Westminster Cathedral is known for – rather different from the more sombre monastic style of the great Abbeys of England. A message from Card. Murphy-O’Connor was read after the Gospel welcoming Card. Castrillion Hoyos to the Cathedral. In his Homily the Cardinal spoke of how the participatio actuoso in the Mass was primarily one of internal conversion, of turning towards the Cross. He used the Gospel of the Day to highlight that whoever wants to be a disciple of Christ must take up his cross and follow him. He encouraged the congregation in our devotion to the extraordinary form and stated that his presence in the Cathedral is his personal support for the classical Roman rite. He quoted from the letter to the Bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum stating that both forms of the Roman rite enjoyed equal legitimacy and are to be mutually enriching. He made known that the Holy See is well aware of the devotion of large numbers of the faithful to the TLM.

    The Roman Canon was said in silence with the choir singing the Sanctus and Benedictus from Palestrina. Ave Verum Corpus by Byrd was sung after the Communion Antiphon, and the congregation joined in singing the hymn Adoro Te Devote. The distribution of communion took at least 15 minutes with kneelers set up at the front and the middle of the Cathedral. The choir, clergy, Cardinal and his attendants processed out to the grand Nave Organ booming Widor’s Marche Pontificale.

    I said a little prayer of thanks for our Holy Father and kissed the foot of the statue of St Peter, as did many others in the Cathedral.

    The Mass was recorded for the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales to be broadcast on EWTN at a later date.

  6. dominic says:

    I’ve just got back from the mass, which was sublime. Moreover, I don’t think I ever seen so many worshippers in Westminster Cathedral.

  7. Calleva says:

    Wow, Justin, you described it all so well, that I’m glad you beat me to it.

    The cathedral was packed and people were reduced to standing in the side aisles. There was a mix of ages and ethnicity – so much for the accusation that the TLM is wanted by the oldies only. My mantilla on its first outing (bought at Lourdes) kept slipping off, I have no idea how other women keep them on. More investigation needed. In any case there was a mix of dress styles so it didn’t matter.

    The music was indeed superb, and you will indeed see it all on EWTN (date not given). I was so proud of the choir who seemed to me to be flawless.

    I’m not used to the Extraordinary Form and didn’t realise that I wouldn’t hear most of the Latin – unless that is because the cathedral was so huge. We were given booklets which showed the liturgy had 2 confiteors and the second gospel.

    Yes, the cathedral is gorgeous, but the downer was that much of it is under scaffolding for restoration work and so its magnificence was somewhat dimmed. A real shame as EWTN doesn’t often show our national Catholic cathedral.

  8. elizabeth mckernan says:

    Having just returned from Westminster Cathedral I am still overwhelmed by the beauty and splendour of the Mass celebrated there today. The music was magnificent and it was difficult to believe that two hours had passed so quickly.

    The cathedral quickly filled up people having begun to arrive an hour beforehand. I was disappointed to see ugly scaffolding erected but as the Mass unfolded it seemed to melt away and became unoticeable. At one point the incense was lit up by a shaft of sunlight.

    The silence was complete. Directly in front of me was a young family – a babe in arms and two small girls. Both sat or stood on their chairs as if mesmerised by the beauty of the event. There was not one word of complaint from either of the little girls as they took it all in. I could not help compare their behaviour with children I have watched in the past at NO ‘children’s Masses’ where they are given colouring books and felt tip pens by their parents to occupy them during Mass. The devotion from their parents and from those around them was sufficient to convey to them the sense of awe and mystery.

    Visitors may have noticed that there is a ‘No Smoking’ sign in Latin now in the Cathedral. Also two other languages which I have not been able to work out. This is a new law in britain where all public buildings have to have a ‘No Smoking’ sign displayed – even churches and cathedrals! Incense appears to be still allowed!

  9. LCB says:

    Fr. Z.,

    I heard a rumor that the entire dinner was just a cover, so the Cdl. could interview His Hermenuticalness for the See of Westminster.

    Might not be true, but it’s what I heard ;-)

  10. Stephen Morgan says:

    Last weekend I had the joy of the Solemn Mass at Sma Trinita dei Pellegrini and next Saturday the Solemn Mass at Winchester Cathedral so I was hoping that it would be three Missae Solemnes in three weeks. It was not to be. Laid up in bed with a stomach bug, I had to miss this Mass. I’m so glad that it was so well attended.

  11. Levavi says:

    I am just back from the Mass! What a wonderful occasion. And so many people.

    I have started a new blog: levavi.blogspot.com where I have just put my take on it.

    What a terrific occasion!

  12. Justin says:

    “The music was indeed superb, and you will indeed see it all on EWTN (date not given). I was so proud of the choir who seemed to me to be flawless.”

    I know the feeling. Westminster Cathedral is my “home” parish – so to speak – and it was good to see that it wasn’t just an LMS event. Although the LMS are of course the main sponsors and organizers of this Mass, it still ‘felt’ very West Cath, with at least 3 of the Westminster Cathedral servers assisting the LMS complement, the presence of Fr Tuckwell in choro, the usual Cathedral choir singing their usual repertoire, etc.

    What was even more impressive about the choir today apart from being numerically reduced in their top line, was that it was conducted not by the famous Martin Baker who is on sabbatical this term, nor his assistant Matthew Martin, but by Thomas Wilson, Assistant Organist and Precentor. It seems that no matter who directs this choir, they always give a flawless musical reading. Incidentally, Simon Lloyd, last year’s Organ Scholar was very much a part of proceedings as well – he was part of the group of servers.

    I can’t wait for the broadcast on EWTN and watched by thousands more Catholics both in England and worldwide. The care taken over the liturgical ceremonies and the beauty of the music must surely be something to aspire to, whatever form of the Mass one is using.

  13. elizabeth mckernan says:

    Levavi – i should like to read your report on today’s Mass but cannot find it on the site you quote.

  14. pdt says:

    Even the BBC News seemed to catch the significance of the day:


  15. alypius says:

    I also attended the mass today, and it was every bit as beautiful as the other commenters have stated.

  16. Levavi says:

    My new blog: with high praise for His Eminence!

  17. Caecilia says:

    ‘The Mass was recorded for the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales to be broadcast on EWTN at a later date.’
    What is the reverence due to a Mass which is not being televised on ‘real time’? At the moment of Consecration in particular? Kneeling seems to be the appropriate attitude to adopt when the Mass is ‘live,’ but when it isn’t, the Sacred Species have been consumed, they do not exist anymore (terrible way of saying it, I’m no theologian).
    I guess the question extends to any picture of the Eucharist. What is the status of such a pic?
    Anyone any thought?

  18. Levavi says:

    Also, forgot to mention: when I was talking to a friend near the Lady Chapel afterwards (4 p.m.) a Cathedral steward told me to move along because there was a Mass just about to start! To which I said: “Was that one not good enough…?!”

  19. Mac McLernon says:

    Just back after the Mass (and a little socialising afterwards) and it was everything that your previous commenters have said… and more.

  20. Erin says:

    Justin your report is moving and very well written. Your report about the ages of the congregation though is completely false.

    “I am 24 myself, and I would estimate that at least half the congregants (surely numbering more than 1500) were in my age group or younger”

    I wish this were true but its just not! The age range was largely quite old. Perhaps there were a few more younger participants than one might expect at a normal Mass, but to say that at least half were around 24 or younger is a wild error. And the seats were certainly not filled 30 minutes before Mass. I arrived at 1.50 and got a seat without any trouble!

    If we are going to be successful in restoring the beautiful liturgy then we need to stop lying about the real level of demand. It will surely grow, but at present, it’s small. And old! Don’t forget, there were TV cameras there.

  21. Justin says:

    Erin – from where I was sat – by the first transept next to the shrine to Our Lady of Westminster – at least half (if not more) the great crowd of people standing (not sitting because the seats were already filled) next to me by the pulpit were definitely my contemporaries age-wise. It’ll be seen on camera I shall imagine, as they were directly in view of the recording equipment placed discreetly on the pulpit. This crowd was filled with younger members of the Brothers of the Little Oratory, a few young men from Newman House including their MC, some from the Royal College of Music (there were not a few violin cases stacked underneath the pulpit and scaffolding). I stand by that observation regarding age and the crowds at the Cathedral – indeed the ceremonies were recorded, and there were others present as well.

    I agree with you though that the numbers at the Cathedral does not mean necessarily that there is a great demand for the TLM – in England at least demand is very small compared to the USA or France. Indeed, I myself assist at, and am perfectly happy doing so, the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, albeit I am privilleged enough to live in London, where it is possible to find the ordinary form celebrated with extraordinary reverence. I suspect that not a few attending were like me – curious, appreciative of the classical form, but at the same time pragmatic and accepting of the newer form of the Mass but willing and eager to bring the ars celebrandi of the extraordinary form into the ordinary form. I think this is what is hoped for when the Holy Father speaks of the two sides coexisting in mutual symbiosis.

  22. Michael B. says:

    If I may note Fr. Z’s repeated instigations: “His Hermeneuticalness reports on the doings in his future See of Westminster:”
    It would be a joy to see the Pope act so boldly with appointments exactly like this in many important dioceses. Not just a joy, but proof positive of the Restoration of Tradition.
    Time is short, may it be as you say.

  23. Tracy says:

    Calleva: ” I don’t know how other women keep the veil on. ”

    The wearing of the veil successfully comes in time with practice. If you want, you could also use bobby pins to keep it in place. It took me a good six months to get the hang of it, without adjusting every 10 min or so.

  24. Calleva says:

    Thanks Tracy for the encouragement. I’m definitely going to use pins the next time that I get the lace out!

  25. Jack Regan says:


    I very much agree with Erin about the spread of ages. Myself and the friend I was with have been to a few TLMs lately and the age spread at most of them is largely very very old indeed and I have certainly noticed a huge disparity between the reported demand and the actual situation.

    At the start of Mass we were sitting around noting that the vast majority of the congregation were uniformly old and upper class – not that I object to either at all, but both facts were very striking. One of the TV cameras was trained right on us (4 young adults sat together) for quite a while and we all commented that their decision to train the camera on us (the only younger people in that part of the Cathedral) was probably so they could claim that there were more young people there than they were. We even said ‘I bet we’re going to be on EWTN as the young people!’ Let’s see if we are.

    Erin is entirely correct. In fact, I would suggest that the percentage of younger people was no greater than a normal parish Mass at all. Certainly this was borne out by a quick look around at my 8am parish Mass this morning.

    I find that numbers are always telling. I did counts at the other TLMs I went to. obviously it was not so practical to count the entire Cathedral, but I took a sample, which consisted of our row, the row infront and the row behind: Of about 90 people in those rows, only about 7 or 8 were arguably under 30!

    As you both say, let’s wait for the TV pictures. I have found in the past though that shots of the entire congregation are rarely published with respect to the EF though.

    It’s also worth saying a word about the general numbers. Yes, the Cathedral was overfull, by about 4 or 5 rows and that was nice to see. But this Mass has been very heavily advertised for the best part of a year. There were paid adverts in the Catholic press, posters in many parishes and a HUGE effort on the internet. There were groups from all over the UK and oversees, and it followed the LMS AGM. Frankly any less attendance would have been extremely embarrassing.

    Let me say once again, that I don’t object to the TLM. I am not a fan myself, but I enjoyed many things about yesterdays Mass. I will certainly go again to a sung Mass if the opportunity presents itself. I found many parts of it quite moving and beautiful. I’m still a NO fan at heart. Sorry. But I appreciate the good that the EF does for many.

    Without contradicting any of the above though, this ridiculous spinning of the numbers has to stop. As a I have mentioned before, I was at an EF Mass about a month ago. It was the only EF Mass in the Southeast outside of London that week. it was in an accessible location and a sociable hour, and it was well advertised. The attendance was 28, of which about 2 or 3 (if memory serves) were young.

    The demand for the EF in the UK is perhaps legitimate and genuine, but it’s not large. And it’s not that young!

  26. Genna says:

    I agree with everything already said about the TLM at Westmister Cathedral, not least about the stunning choir. It was as if the very stones and the marble and the soaring vaults were echoing back: “This is why I was built”.
    Two practical points: I wonder if trad and mod might have been married by “miking up” the celebrant/altar? It would not have affected the silent prayers or parts of the Mass said in a low voice, but it would have been possible to hear all else and I think would have greatly assisted those not familiar with the EF of which, looking around, I guess there were quite a few. My Missal, bought from a supplier in England, was invaluable with its explanation of the celebrant’s gestures, so I was able to follow where he was pretty closely.
    The LMS and the Cathedral authorities must have been taken by surprise by the full-to-over-flowing house. Only (!)700 Mass booklets were printed by the Cathedral. I learned this from the LMS when I rang beforehand to ask if it was possible for the TLM to be printed in pdf form so that those of us with pcs could download. It would also have saved a lot of printing costs. Perhaps in the future that may be possible.
    Two practical points done and dusted, but here are some memories of the Mass which will remain indelible: the intense and silent concentration of the congregation; the genuflections replacing those mean little bows; Communion distributed on the tongue by priests with (very young) servers holding plates; priests blessing non-communicants, without touching their heads, before picking up the next Host; the hearty congregational responses and the swelling sound of the Adoro Te Devote – who said Catholics don’t sing?
    And who could doubt that everything on this remarkable day was done for the greater glory of God?
    Will Cardinal Murphy O’Connor and his Bishops take note? We can only hope, but with the rather bland message of welcome read out in his absence, not any time soon.
    Still, a strong signal will be taken back to the Vatican, I’m sure. And, hopefully, might have some bearing on the choice of his successor.
    One more practical point – for Calleva. Get a thin Alice band, loop up to 9cm of the point of your mantilla over the band and secure the point to the rest of the mantilla with a few stiches. Result: a mantilla which stays in place, forever!
    Oh, well. Off to the local NO now and down to earth with a bump, but I feel I can be more generous in spirit today than I was last Sunday . . .

  27. Levavi says:

    Jack Reagan: “The demand for the EF in the UK is perhaps legitimate and genuine, but it’s not large. And it’s not that young!”

    This completely undermines the sensation of yesterday’s event. To dismiss 1000 people on the basis of Low Mass attendance elsewhere is ridiculous. Yesterday’s attendance at Westminster Cathedral was a gesture from the faithful at large.

  28. Jack Regan says:

    I am not dismissing 1000 people, merely trying to account for their presence and to make the point that such attendance is not the norm at EF Masses. both points are quite sound.

    And it was great to see 1000 (perhaps more) gathered. I did enjoy the occasion. Just not the creative accounting :)

  29. Justin says:

    “Myself and the friend I was with have been to a few TLMs lately and the age spread at most of them is largely very very old indeed and I have certainly noticed a huge disparity between the reported demand and the actual situation.”

    I wasn’t talking about the average age of a congregation at a TLM though. Like I’ve mentioned before, I very very rarely go to the TLM myself. For me – the OF is the mass of the church, and reform of the OF in continuity with the EF is the way forward. The demand for the TLM in the UK at least, is small – case in point, both yourself, and myself who were there do not attend the TLM on a weekly basis. This I would suggest is partly due to the fact that in several places the OF is celebrated as the Council Fathers intended – particularly in London.

  30. Levavi says:

    Jack: such attendance is not the norm because it is not every day that you get a Cardinal singing Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form in a Cathedral. I have only ever seen that many people in Westminster Cathedral on Christmas Eve…

    It is true that adverts helped to inform people, but to labour this point does indeed undermine the significance of the attendance. Nobody believes that this is the norm – at this point in time. Moreover, your observations underline how few people have been to this form of Mass…

    I believe that the LMS should try to get \”their\” Masses taking place on more important days than Thursday evening etc.

  31. Jack Regan says:

    Justin/ Levavi, I agree with much of your posts there. Indeed your first sentence levavi is pretty much the point I am making in a nutshell.

    Allow me, however to clarify one thing: My mention of the massive advertising effort surrounding the Mass is not an attempt to say that the attendance was not significant or special, but rather to make the point that it does not signify a huge desire for the TLM. You don’t get to advertise and push something so massively and then turn round and say ‘look how many people are interested in the TLM!’

    The ‘significance of the attendance’ lies in the fact that it was a special and lovely occasion. It does not lie in the reality of huge demand. That’s my point.

    I think I’ll leave it there. Good day all :)

  32. M. says:

    As regards the attendence, from where I sat, two thirds up the nave, it was quite clear that there were many people in the side isles and especially at the crossing, there were also people standing at the back and even a few standing in the main isle. I was seated by 1.25pm and at that stage all seats forward of mine were taken, except a large block which were reserved to the left just beyond the crossing. I think they were for the LMS but either they miscalculated or some of those people sat elsewhere. Those seats were opened up, I would guess at about 1.45pm, hence many who came fairly late got seats easily.

    As regards the age group, while Justin might, in his enthusiasm, be getting carried away to say up to half were in their early twenties and younger, I can vouchsafe that I was supprised at the number of young and middle aged people present, you just had a very wide spread of ageg roups. But I can say there was a very large number who could not have known the TLM first time round and THAT is significant. There were some very old people present and what was lovely to see was the natural way even the young and very aged interacted. The other point that struck my was that there were quite a number of people in there late teens who were their of their own volition, ie not dragged along by their parents.

    As to the publicity campaign, while it was widely mentioned on the internet it should be noted that there was no mention of the Mass on the Westminster Cathedral webite itself, apart from the music list, though all sorts of other events are listed.

  33. elizabeth mckernan says:

    M comments that there was no mention on the westminster website. I noticed this too when I looked to see what mention would be made. inside the cathedral I had a look at the news letter for the week and sadly noted it was not even mentioned. Mass celebrated by a prince of the church and yet ignored in their newsletter.

    Not everyone takes a Catholic paper and not everyone has a computer. if I had not had a computer I probably would not have known about this very special Mass. I wonder how many more would have been there if the details had been put in their newsletter?

  34. M. says:

    Mac, it’s The Hound, for some reason I come up as M. on this most admirable blog.

    AS to the numbers and age of congegation… at least two priest bloggers, of note , who assisted in choir, from where they could see better than us in the pews, have stated the church was thronged, incl. side isles and back, and the youth of the congregation was mentioned by both.

  35. Justin says:

    Elizabeth – It’s rare for the newsletter to advertise such events though. Even when Card Arinze was in London to give a talk at Westminster Cathedral, it wasn’t announced in the newsletter. Then again, how many people are aware that there is a monthly TLM at Westminster Cathedral in one of the side chapels? The newsletter rarely announces the important stuff, it’s normally about when the next parish fiesta is, or who the host for the next quiz night, etc – all the big stuff, e.g. cardinalatial events, choir concerts, new music commissions, etc. seem to be very word of mouth/blog driven.

    To be fair – this event was advertised on the BBC and the Daily Telegraph – so it’s not like it wasn’t national news.

  36. Habemus Papam says:

    M (the Hound), Elizabeth (Mac), It would be interesting to know how many people can be seated at Westminster Cathedral and do the maths from there. Obviously different vantage points when it comes to estimates but my distinct impression was of a cross-section of ages, genders, nationalities. Several religious Sisters. Several crying babies. Wonderful.
    As for being old and upper-class while I may be relatively the first I am certainly not the latter.

  37. Jack Regan says:

    In order to settle the age debate, I have been trawling the internet for photos… These are all the ones I can find

    (not many younger people here at all)

    (or here)

    (the first two photos here show a fair amount of young people, which bears out what people are saying about most of the younger people being at the front. It’s still not a huge amount though and these are the only ones I can find on the internet that show a younger congregation. The final three photos here though have far more people and far less young people.)

    (Again, not exactly a high school dance, is it? We’ve seen the top one before, but the rest are different.)

    The photos taken in the pub make things look a little younger:
    I was in that pub when these were taken. Very nice to be there too. It’s still nowhere near “half of those present around 24 or younger.” but it’s getting a lot closer, but then it’s a pub!

    The age spread here is no younger than at many parishes. As I said I enjoyed the day. It was a wonderful occasion, but please folks… stop massaging the figures :)

  38. Habemus Papam says:

    From information in ‘the-hermenutic-of-continuity’ and ‘thesensiblebond’ blogspots the number of people present at yesterdays Mass in Westminster Cathedral was in excess of 2000. The nave holds 2000.

  39. Jack Regan says:

    I have heard estimated varying from 1000-2000. Nobody seems that sure. personally I would estimate that the Cathedral was full plus about 5 rows.

    But that’s irrelevant really. Nobody is disputing that the numbers were high. The debate is about the age of those present. And partly about why attendance was so high too!

  40. Jack Regan says:

    I just had a look at thesensiblebond (thanks for the link) and that guy says this about the numbers:

    ‘I counted the twenty heads in front of me, and of those only seven were grey or balding. The rest of the people appeared to range in age from early 20s to mid-50s.’

    That would imply a third were older, and the rest were evenly spread between about 20-55. That sounds about right to me. A far cry from the majority being ‘around 24 or even younger!’

  41. Justin says:

    Fr Ray Blake who blogged about the event and was in choro in the sanctuary itself, so had a better overall view of the congregation than anyone of us – suggested that the under-40s seemed to dominate which confirms my estimate. He blogs and I quote:

    [b]”I was on the sanctuary assisting in choro, looking down the cathedral it was glorious to see a huge number of people standing at the back and in the side aisles, there was a good mix of ages but the under 40s seemed to dominate.”[/b]

    I have this to say – unless you happen to go to Newman/More chaplancies for Mass, the numbers of young adults in the 20s age group (not children) far outnumbered the usual attendance at an average parish mass – particularly any in Kensington & Chelsea or the City of Westminster.

    The numbers were high, the age group was widely spread. There appears to be differences in how we perceive the age spread – from where I was sat just in front of the statue of our Lady of Westminster – there were significantly more young adults both university students and young professionals – I even spotted a few Heythrop sweaters, although most were dressed smartly in jacket and tie.

    In numerical terms – the Cathedral seats 1500 or thereabouts. Bear in mind that approximately 200 seats were removed up front because of scaffolding. So the congregants seated would be 1300. I’d estimate that at least a few hundred were without seats filling up the crossings. It wasn’t the fullest I’ve seen the Cathedral – Good Friday and Easter Sunday – the Cathedral is positively heaving and full enough to be considered unsafe by the Fire Hazard people, but it’s definitely more people than on Christmas Midnight Mass, or any normal Sunday mass. Note that this is not a day of Obligation.

  42. Jack Regan says:

    That’s a slight climbdown from the majority being ‘around 24 or younger!’

    In any case, I stand by my estimates and I believe that the photos I posted above demonstrate my point. There is a great deal of grey hair and bald spots in those pictures.

    Perhaps as more photos and video appear on the internet, we will get a better picture.

    Until then, we might just have to agree to disagree :)

    Next time I go to one of these things, I am taking a camera and photographing EVERYTHING!!

  43. Mac McLernon says:

    Calleva – Lourdes mantillas are particularly slippery… I don’t wear the one I bought there at all now. Pins are essential if you have a Lourdes mantilla!

    The Cathedral is regularly reported as seating 2000 in the nave. There were a lot of seats empty as the Cardinal processed in, but this was because a coach-load of people had reserved the seats, and their coach was delayed. They took their seats about five minutes after the Cardinal had entered in procession. By the time Mass started, a lot of people were standing in the side chapels and at the back. A good idea of the age-range could be grasped when out on the Piazza. Every age range was well represented, and there were far more young people present than normal for a church event.

  44. Justin says:

    Jack –

    Look again at this photo

    This wasn’t at the front of the Nave, in fact it seems pretty close to the West Door to me. The spread of people directly on the Cardinal’s right and left would seem to bear out my impression of the age spread. Interestingly it seems to be males on one side and females on the other (I know one or two of the people in that photo!). Bear in mind I never said the congregants were 24 or younger – I said they were in my age group or younger – which to me means young adults like myself, and younger would be university students.

    The Cathedral also seems to be pretty full all the way towards the back (more than 5 or so rows). This in addition to those standing in the side aisles, spilling into the side chapels.

    I’ll accept that this is not an indication of the popularity of the TLM in the UK – for quite a few of my friends this was their first time at a TLM; and I suspect many more are like myself – attending on the odd occassion here and there, but ultimately more “Reform of the reform” in the mould of Arinze than Castrillon-Hoyos. But I think it speaks firstly of the slowly growing strength of the TLM movement – Fr Hunwicke whilst observing the post-Mass socialising in the piazza likened it to the Oxford Movement of the 19th century. This is a growth acknowldged both by the President of the LMS in his pre-Mass remarks, and by the Holy Father himself in his cover letter accompanying the MP. It is also very encouraging for those like myself working for the reform of the reform – it’s win-win for the church all around.

  45. Jack Regan says:

    I’m not sure what you’re responding to there, but I did not say where in the Cathedral that picture was taken at all.

    And, once again, I am not disputing the high numbers. Anywhere at all!

    As for that picture, since you raised it. In a quick scan, I count 58 people in that photo, of which probably less than 10 are under 40, including the child on the right and the baby in arms.

    ..since you raised it!

  46. Justin says:

    Hmm. To me around half the number of people in that picture are under 40. And the fact that it was taken near the west door, suggests that the younger congregants weren’t disproportionate up front where I was sat.

    Clearly we’re not going to agree on this at any rate. Impressions are just that – subjective. My impression from where I was sat, and from the post-Mass gathering at the piazza and the various pubs surrounding Victoria Street afterwards were as I stated – Chartres and Juventutem – where I feel old(!) had a strong showing in the Cardinal’s Arms(!!)

  47. Jack Regan says:

    Right. I have been through the pic, marked it and put it here:


    I marked the people who are *probably* over-40 with red dots, and the others with green dots. I reckon that there are 44 over-40 and 14 under-40. In other words, almost three times as many.

    But, yes, we may have to agree to differ.

  48. Justin says:

    Jack – I suspect you were slightly generous in your estimation of everyone’s ages. ;) Both the people I know in the picture will be pleased (or not) to know that they were upgraded from their age group!

    To be fair, I understand completely where you are coming from. The argument for proponents of SP shouldn’t be about how old or how young the supporters are, or even about how many people want it. We should be arguing that how more widespread promotion of classical roman rite is in the interests of orthodox Catholicism whether it be just older people who are attached to it, or young bolshies like myself who see it’s value.

    To be fair, I think it’s because the Bishops have been saying that it’s a ‘fringe’ movement pointing to the few numbers of congregants and poor demand (both correct in England’s case) that has resulted in many looking at the numbers as something important. What the argument should be is that regardless of numbers the Bishops should be actively encouraging all of us to cultivate a love for the EF which according to the Cardinal is in accord with the will of the Holy Father as a way of fostering more reverent and beautiful celebrations of Holy Mass, in whatever form is offered.

  49. Habemus Papam says:

    I mention the 2000 figure as it agrees with my own estimate. As for the age range, there were certainly many middle-aged and elderly but also a remarkably high number of under-30s. In the absence of an exit poll and accepting the fact that most Catholics look young for their years, I would estimate a third of each age group.

  50. Justin says:

    Jack – Vernon has updated (yay!). There are a few shots of the congregation. Go count, lol.

    There are slightly more exceptionally beautiful shots of the Mass. For some reason or other, I was under the impression that Fr Z was planning on attending.

  51. Artunduaga says:

    I must agree with Justin – my fiance and I are in our mid twenties and we saw
    (and know) many young Catholics who were delighted to be there and who love the

    If you would like to support the wider provision of the TLM in the dioceses of
    England and Wales, please sign the petition:

    Damian Thompson as well as other prominent Catholics such as Sir Rocco Forte
    and Prince Rupert Löwenstein have signed and there are currently 707 names.
    Here is the link to Damian’s blog about the petition.
    Unfortunately it was the subject of sabotage by opponents
    of the TLM earlier in the week, and we had to remove the public display of
    names and comments.

  52. Jack Regan says:

    “*I mention the 2000 figure as it agrees with my own estimate. As for the age range, there were certainly many middle-aged and elderly but also a remarkably high number of under-30s. In the absence of an exit poll and accepting the fact that most Catholics look young for their years, I would estimate a third of each age group.*”

    That’s certainly closer. Next time, I’m taking a camera and photographing everything!!

  53. Habemus Papam says:

    Jack, Lets hope that next time you can photograph the Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster in the Sanctuary!

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