Friday, August 05, 2011
Whan that August...
I can't quite believe how much I've enjoyed the three big churches I've visited so far, each so different.
Canterbury. Well, I have to say, I love a good story, and the history of Canterbury is absolutely full of them. I learned about St. Augustine of Canterbury, and Queen Bertha and King Ethelbert and the founding of the English church at Canterbury. (I totally think Prince Charles should choose a really good name like Ethelbert of Ethelred should he become king. He should NOT become George VII. And you can tell him I said so.)
According to the guides, Becket's grave was down below, in the Norman part of the Cathedral. I went down there, into the crypt, but you're not supposed to take pictures there, so I didn't. (You are allowed to take pictures in the Cathedral proper, though.)
But, of course, Shakespeare was writing great drama, and not history or historiography, so R2 was a lousy king, and probably didn't even speak fluent English for all I know. (I've read that Henry 5 was the first Plantagenet king to speak English as his first language. Anyone know?)
At any rate, Richard was Edward the Black Prince's kid, and Henry 4 was Richard's cousin, and Edward's nephew, so one of the stories the guide told as possible was that Henry had wanted to be buried across from Edward as a sort of penance for killing his son. (Richard is buried in Westminster, on the edge of Edward the Confessor's chapel. Been there!)
This second picture is from the lower bunk of his tomb, the momento mori part, that's supposed to remind us of what we'll become, even though we get to dress all fancy in life. And that's supposedly the point of sitting the current Archbishop of Canterbury (at whatever time) across from this tomb, so that he'll remember what's really important, and not get all nasty.
As I was getting towards leaving mode, a choir came into the Cathedral, and went into the choir area and started practicing. So I sat in the nave for a while, just listening. The choir area is behind this huge screen thing, and the building is massive, and yet, the music was beautiful and clear. I sat and tried to imagine what it would have been like to attend a mass and hear the monastic choir singing in Latin and such.
So I stayed for the Evensong service, which was held in the upper area, which meant we were sitting in the area where (I think) monks would have sat back in the day. It was pretty neat, and beautiful. I've now been to more church services (2) in the past month than in the past er, well, a long time.
I don't know if it's a new thing or not, but the Church of England seems friendly and inclusive, much more than I expected.
Posted by Bardiac at 5:03 PM