Arundel Cathedral celebrates its 150th Anniversary

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There has been a Catholic community in Arundel for at least 1,000 years; last weekend’s anniversary celebrations offered an opportunity to reflect on Arundel Cathedral’s rich legacy as a place of sanctuary and spiritual renewal.

Arundel Cathedral marked its 150th anniversary last weekend with the celebration of Vespers on Friday 30 June, and Mass on Saturday 1 July, attended by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Maury Buendía, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and other Catholic Bishops from across England and Wales, the Duke of Norfolk, a number of dignitaries, and representatives from diocesan parishes and schools.

Arundel Cathedral plays a vital role in the spiritual life and mission of the diocese, having served Catholics both locally and nationally across three centuries. There has been a Catholic community in Arundel for at least 1,000 years with the present building, which was commissioned by the 15th Duke of Norfolk, beginning life as a parish church. Designed in the French Gothic style and built as an ‘expression of a spirit of renewal’ by architect Joseph Aloysius Hansom, the building took just over three years to complete opening on 1 July 1873.

Duke Henry’s church became a Cathedral in 1965 when The Diocese of Arundel & Brighton was established, with the dedication then changed to Our Lady & St Philip Howard. Bishop Richard Moth highlighted the important role and legacy of the Cathedral in the spiritual life of the diocese during his homily on Saturday. Speaking to the 650 people assembled he said:

“[Arundel Cathedral is] a beautiful place of worship, a place of sanctuary for the many who come here to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, to take courage from prayer at the shrine of St Philip Howard and to find rest in the midst of a troubled world. It is a sign, in stone and glass, of the presence of God in His world, dominating the skyline of this small Sussex town of Arundel, proclaiming faith in the Risen Christ.

“The image of life flowing from this place of worship is a potent description of the life of the Church. Over these last 150 years, the faithful have gathered here for the celebration of Mass and the sacraments and carried with them the grace of these encounters with the person of Christ – a constant stream of living faith, spreading through our society and the world around us.”

The Cathedral’s 150th Anniversary is being marked across the year with a rich and varied programme of events including an exhibition exploring the history of the Cathedral held at Arundel Museum, and concerts performed by a range of artists and musicians – including the Cathedral Choir.

The Cathedral commissioned award-winning composer and pianist Kristina Arakelyan to write an anthem to commemorate the anniversary, with the inaugural performance of the piece given during the Anniversary Mass on Saturday. Speaking about the commission, Arundel Cathedral’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, Elizabeth Stratford said:

“Kristina considered different texts but settled on Jubilate Deo – O be joyful in the Lord – which talks about serving the Lord with gladness and coming before His presence with a song. This felt very appropriate given the history of our Cathedral and the worship which has been offered there throughout generations, not least by Duke Henry’s own family.”

Guests at both Vespers and Mass enjoyed a Reception in the grounds of Arundel Castle, the seat of the Duke of Norfolk, following each celebration.