Petition for a Catholic Requiem for King Richard III

richardiii_this-800x500From the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald:

Thousands sign petition calling for Richard III to have a Catholic burial

Three thousand people have signed a petition calling for Richard III to be given a Catholic burial.

The petition, addressed to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, is being organised by the historians whose efforts led to the king’s remains being found under a car park in Leicester.

Under present plans Richard III, who died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, before the Reformation, will be buried at the Anglican [That seems wrong to be.] cathedral in Leicester on March 26.

But Philippa Langley, leader of the Looking for Richard project, said the burial should take into account Richard III’s Catholic faith.

She said: “It seems this former king and head of state is to be treated as a scientific specimen right up to and including the point at which he is laid in his coffin.”

Dr John Ashdown-Hill, a historian who worked to identify the bones, has also called for a Catholic burial, saying: “There is a lot of evidence that Richard III had a very serious personal faith. If Richard III had not have died, maybe the Anglican church would never have existed.” [There’s an interesting point.  Richard was defeated by the Henry Tudor who became Henry VII, father of the monstrous Henry VIII.]

However, a joint statement by Leicester Cathedral and the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham said these concerns were “fundamentally misplaced”. [?!?]

The statement said: “There is no requirement in the Catholic tradition for prayers to be said at the coffining of human remains, including those of a monarch. The arrangements agreed between the university and the cathedral have the full support of the Catholic Church.”

Ecumenical services will surround the event, with Cardinal Nichols preaching a service of compline on the day the king’s remains are received into the cathedral.

The cardinal will also celebrate a Requiem Mass the next day at a nearby Catholic parish.

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  1. The Astronomer says:

    Typical, misplaced, oh-dear-let’s-not-offend-Anglican-sensibilities wishy-washy misplaced ‘ecumenism.’

    For the love of his immortal soul, give the King a Roman Catholic Requiem Mass.

  2. MrsMacD says:

    Wouldn’t he have already had a Catholic Mass and burial? “Oh what a tangled web we weave…” St. Joseph, patron of everything, pray for us!!!

  3. Charlie Cahill says:

    I did not read that the Anglican service is anything more than a prayer service held together with Catholics. Praying together is laudable.
    It would seem,as well, that a Requiem Mass is to be offered for him in a Catholic church the next day.
    After all these years one would hope that the king has received his eternal reward.

  4. Magash says:

    Richard’s body was found at what was believed to be Greyfriars Church. I have read that the body was buried without ceremony, but I don’t know if that means a burial Mass was never said.
    Charlie Cahill,
    As for Richard having gone to his eternal reward, that speaks to a very deep mystery. We believe that the Saints go strait to Heaven. Other who will go to their eternal reward must undergo the purification of Purgatory. But the Church has never claimed to impose temporal time on the hereafter. God exists outside time, and so it is incorrect the speak of God as subject to the passage of time, except of course in relation to the Incarnation, which is subject to time, as it happen in a specific time and place. Certainly our death is also subject to time, as it will happen in a specific time and place. After, we have no idea. We don’t know if the blessed souls in purgatory undergo immediate purification or spend subjective time in the purification process. For all we know they could directly to the end times once their purification is complete, after all we don’t pray to the souls in purgatory, as we do to the saints, but for them. We can pray for the saints because they share in the Beatific Vision, that is where their ability to hear are prayers comes from, not from their own power. So do they experience time as we do? We don’t know.
    The point here is that if Richard is in Purgatory a Requiem Mass may help him still and it would be a shame if he was to be denied it. But this does not seem to be the case as a Mass will be said the next day. It is really immaterial if the body is present at the Mass or not. It is merely an empty husk. A long empty husk in Richard’s case. He’ll get another at the end times.

  5. David in T.O. says:

    Richard III was of the House of Plantagenet; the Anglican Church would not have happened, not probably. In fact, the murder changed the course of world history. Think about it. If England had continued as a Catholic land one presumes it would have still engaged in world exploration as did the Spanish, French and Portuguese but what would have been the result? What would it have meant for Canada? If the French were still defeated at the Plains of Abraham would not all of Canada have been Catholic? What about Australia? More importantly, what of the United States? There would have been no pilgrims. Would the native peoples have been treated differently, more akin to how the French did in Canada? One would presume that the War of Independence would not have happened as it did, the Colonies may have developed more as Canada did, and the United States would have been Catholic.

    What would have been the impact on the rest of the world? On Islam? Would Luther’s heresies died out or been reduced t0 a sect of parts of Europe? Would the French Revolution occurred in the manner that it did? What lives were wiped out in England in its own Catholic persecution? What would the continuation of the Plantagenet line at the War of the Roses meant today for evangelisation of the world?

    It is incredible to think of the possibilities.

  6. Matt Robare says:

    It may or may not be a requirement, but wouldn’t it still be a corporal act of mercy?

  7. oldconvert says:

    Father, I had a quick look at the Leicester Cathedral webpage and, as usual, it’s one of those the Anglicans stole from the Catholic Church at the Reformation. So maybe Richard, if he is looking, will find the venue acceptable (if not the rites).

  8. William Tighe says:

    Leicester only became an (Anglican) diocese in the 1920s; the church chosen as the cathedral for that new diocese, St. Martin, goes back as a parish to at least the 11th century, while the present structure was built in the 12th, extended in the 15th, and restored in the 19th centuries.

  9. mburn16 says:

    ” So maybe Richard, if he is looking, will find the venue acceptable (if not the rites).”

    Actually, he probably wouldn’t recognize the Catholic Rites, even if given to him – he died prior to the Council of Trent.

  10. RoyceReed says:

    Sounds like a great excuse to get out the Sarum books.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    The Church has taught temporal punishment due to sin.

    Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions. Catholic Encyclopedia

    We need funeral masses not only to let go of the dead person, which in this case is not necessary, but to pray for the soul of the dead person, who most likely would go to purgatory.

    That the Anglicans claim this right to have an Anglican service instead of a Catholic one merely is one more public sign that the last acceptable prejudice is anti-Catholicism. Also, the English non-Catholics cannot admit that there is any value to Catholicism, which daily, is and should be more and more counter-culture in England and in other EU countries.

  12. RomeontheRange says:

    Just a moment — I saw a schedule for Richard’s funeral observances on a British news website a few weeks ago. It said he would be given a Requiem Mass in Leicester at a Catholic church (I think it was called Holy Spirit Church), this Mass to be celebrated by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and subsequently carried to (Anglican) Leicester Cathedral for a multifaith (bleh) burial service. I will try to find the link to confirm.

  13. RomeontheRange says:

    Yes, okay: here’s the schedule I saw; it’s said to be from the BBC originally.

    Sunday 22 March: Coffin leaves the University of Leicester, travels round local villages and is taken to Leicester Cathedral.

    Monday 23 to Wednesday 25 March: Remains of King Richard III will lie in repose in the cathedral.

    Monday 23 March: Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nicholls will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul for Richard III in Holy Cross Church,the Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre.

    Thursday 26 March: Richard III’s remains will be buried in Leicester Cathedral in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, senior clergy, other Christian denominations and representatives of other faiths.

    Friday 27 March: Tomb is revealed, to be followed by official celebrations across the city.

    There is also the following notation about the Requiem Mass from a site called kingrichardinleicester dot com:

    Monday 23rd March

    Leicester Cathedral will be open to the public to view the coffin of King Richard III

    Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul (a ‘Requiem Mass’) of Richard III in Holy Cross Church, the Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre, at 5pm. The Choir from St Barnabas’ Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Nottingham, will sing at this Mass, which will be open to the public.
    The only problem I think anyone could have with this Requiem Mass is that presumably, it will not be celebrated with the body present. This I suspect, will simply be because the crush of people in and around an ordinary-size church might pose a threat to public order. I’m not trying to be an apologist here — just trying to find a practical rationale.

  14. jhayes says:

    Here’s the Official Church position:

    Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said: “The death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 was a decisive moment in English history. Following his death, Richard III was buried in the Franciscan Friary in Leicester, and his body lay in its grave until it was discovered in 2012. It is now fitting that his remains should be reinterred with dignity and accompanied by the prayers of the Church in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval parish church of Leicester. We commend all who have died to the love and mercy of Almighty God, and continue to pray for them, as we shall for Richard III and all who have lost their lives in Battle”
    Monsignor Thomas McGovern, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Nottingham, said: “We very much look forward to welcoming Cardinal Nichols to the Diocese of Nottingham next March for the reinterment of Richard III, one of the last Catholic kings of England, in the city in which he was buried in 1485; we are very pleased that he will celebrate Mass for the repose of his soul in Holy Cross Church and preach in Leicester Cathedral. The presence of both the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury is a reminder of the good relationship that the Catholic Church and the Church of England enjoys today, as we all seek to be faithful to Christ’s wish that we ‘may all be one’ and overcome the divisions brought about at the Reformation by continuing on the ecumenical journey to which we are both committed.”
    Father David Rocks OP, Prior and Parish Priest of Holy Cross Priory, said: “Just as our Franciscan brothers at Greyfriars prayed over Richard III at his burial in 1485, so the contemporary Blackfriars of Leicester look forward to joining with the people of Leicester in the celebration of his reinterment in the city’s cathedral in 2015, and to taking part in the beautiful and fitting services and events that are planned.


  15. govmatt says:

    First, I support a requiem Mass for King Richard III.

    With that said, having an established church of the monarchy makes this a bit trickier. The Queen could claim that the Anglican Communion is the rightful successor to the Catholic Church in England in sole continuity with the predecessor entities. While we know this is wrong, the admission that Richard III was a “Catholic” would, no doubt, ruffle very fancy monarchical feathers.

  16. MrsMacD says:

    Is that bust wearing a biretta?

  17. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    What was – or is likely to have been – King Richard’s experience of Uses throughout his life? Would it be right to presume that, for the greater part of his life, his regular experience was of York Use? The admirable Herbert Thurston has a 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia about “York Use”. In his note on “Sources”, there, he includes, “MASKELL, Ancient Liturgy of the Church of England (3rd ed., Oxford, 1882), in which the text of the Ordinary and Cannon of the Mass as observed at Sarum, York, Hereford, and Bangor are printed in parallel volumes and contrasted with the text of the Roman Missal.” This is available at Internet Archive – I do not know which of the other works he refers to are available online, or about what the last century has added to ‘sources’.

    Among the differences of history might, presumably, be a different – or even no? – Council of Trent and Pian Missal. Might the absolutist tendencies associated with Gallican history (et al.) have run their course in a manner analogous to that in which they did, in fact, in any case?

  18. Stephen Matthew says:

    The only issue from a technical point of view that comes to mind is that Catholics should be buried in consecrated ground when possible. It seems it very much is possible in this instance, but will it be done? The Anglicans, given their ecumenical leanings, would probably think that a Catholic blessing of the tomb would be acceptable, so it seems this is really the only extra thing that should be insisted on. While it would be fine to think of King Richard III being buried in a Catholic Cathedral, that is simply not a practical option for political reasons.

    It would also be something if the older rites could be used, be it those of Sarum or York, but this is unlikely. Given it is a Dominican Church, I wonder if the Dominican Rite could be used (can a non-OP bishop celebrate the rites of the OPs?)? At least the Dominican Rite has a bit stronger continuity from the king’s time to the present.

  19. Per Signum Crucis says:

    A small point but readers will perhaps appreciate that the Requiem at Holy Cross precedes the reinterment at Leicester Cathedral. I’ve not done a pew count but I’m fairly confident that Holy Cross also holds more than the Cathedral under normal circumstances.

  20. Gladiatrix says:

    It wasn’t Richard III’s death that led to the founding of the Church of England but John of Gaunt meeting Katherine Swineford. If that event had never taken place, if none of the Beauforts had been born and if Henry IV hadn’t agreed to legitimise them English history would be very different. There would have been no Margaret Beaufort, no marriage to Jasper Tudor, no birth of Henry VII, no Bosworth Field, no marriage to Elizabeth of York, no birth of Henry VIII, no marriage to Katherine of Aragon, no divorce from her, no marriage to Anne Boleyn and no break with Rome.

  21. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Interestingly postulated! And if Henry VIII had obtained an annulment with Papal approval analogous to that of the marriage of Eleanor of Acquitaine and Louis VI, would the history of the ‘Continental Reformation’ have been very different, while England’s involvement in Franco-Imperial wars (so to call them) would have remained internal to a Christendom whose members were in communion with each other?

  22. Ed the Roman says:

    There is a point at which passage of time makes it useless to say “what would have happened if…”.
    Posit an un-murdered Lincoln. Safe to assume that Reconstruction is not as harsh. Does that really mean that white chauvinism recedes more quickly? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe there was another potential assassin that we have never heard of who would have killed Lincoln in 1866, or 7, or 8. Maybe he would have run for a third term. We can’t know.

    Which is why the chief use of “what ifs?” from bygone centuries is premises for sci-fi novels.

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