Archbishop of Westminster and Bishop of London launch ‘The 1535 Society’ at the Tower of London

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On 22 October, at the Tower of London, The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and General the Lord Dannatt launched The 1535 Society.

The 1535 Society aims to promote an understanding of the role within British history of St Thomas More and the other Christian martyrs who lost their lives in pursuit of their religious beliefs. Its members will also, together, contribute to the restoration of the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London and its Crypt of St Thomas More.

The Archbishop and the Bishop, together with the Chaplain of the Chapel Royal HM Tower of London, The Rev Canon Roger Hall, said prayers both written by and for St Thomas More as part of proceedings.

The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula is the parish church to the Tower of London and is a Chapel Royal, directly under the jurisdiction of The Queen. It’s the final resting place of three queens of England as well as St Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher.

St Thomas More was Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII and was imprisoned in the Tower of London between 1534 and 1535. He was held in the Bell Tower, where some of yesterday’s proceedings were conducted, and his opposition to the Reformation led to his execution on Tower Hill on 6 July 1535. The 1535 Society is named in his honour.

In 2012, The Constable of the Tower of London, General the Lord Dannatt, launched an appeal to restore the chapel and to secure the future of the Choral Foundation. Contributors to The 1535 Society will help the appeal reach its £1.5m target and will, in particular, enable the restoration of the Crypt of St Thomas More.

General the Lord Dannatt said:

“The Chapel is a vital focal point for the Tower community and St Thomas More is a key figure in the Tower’s history. I am enormously grateful to the Archbishop of Westminster and the Bishop of London in joining together in honouring a saint of both main Christian traditions and other Christian martyrs, and in helping us give the Chapel and the Crypt the care that they deserve.”

The Archbishop of Westminster and The Bishop of London released a joint statement saying:

“We must never forget our past if we want to walk wisely into the future. That is why it is so important that we preserve this shrine to remind us of the dangers of religious intolerance and to recall men and women of faith to the primacy of love for God which leads to love of neighbour”.

St. Thomas More Prayer, The Bishop of London

O Lord, give us a mind
that is humble, quiet, peaceable,
patient and charitable,
and a taste of your Holy Spirit
in all our thoughts, words and deeds.
O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope,
a fervent charity, a love of you.
Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation
and all dullness in prayer.
Give us fervour and delight in thinking of you,
your grace, and your tender compassion toward us.
Give us, good Lord,
the grace to work for
the things we pray for.

The Archbishop of Westminster’s Prayer

O God, who in martyrdom,
have brought true faith to its highest expression,
graciously grant that,
strengthened through the intercession of Saint Thomas More,
we may confirm by witness of our life
that faith we profess with our lips,
and our unity be ever deepened.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula is a Chapel Royal under the jurisdiction of Her Majesty the Queen and is managed by the Chapel Council and an independent charitable entity, The Council of the Chapels Royal within HM Tower of London. The Chapel’s upkeep is jointly delivered by The Chapel Council and Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London.

You can view a set of images from the launch of The 1535 Society on our official Flickr photostream.