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Wednesday, 25 April 2007

St Cecilia's Abbey Church centenary

This year, St Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde, celebrates the centenary of the Consecration of the Abbey Church on 12 October 2007 by Bishop Cahill. Expelled from France in the persecutions at the turn of the century, the sisters took refuge on the Isle of Wight and soon settled there for good.

They were originally at Solesmes and the community still cherish their link with the great Gueranger. The Abbey is thriving: the "Chronicle" records a 50th and a 70th jubilee as well as a forthcoming perpetual profession. I say Mass there about once a year on a visit to the Island and stay afterwards to talk to one of the sisters who was a contemporary at Oxford. She was professed in the same year that I was ordained to the priesthood.

The sisters chant Mass every day and all the office in Latin according to the Novus Ordo. As I mentioned before (Mass at St Cecilia's), celebrating Mass there is daunting because their singing is so perfect, but immensely uplifting because of the full choir with postulants, novices, simply professed and perpetually professed all gathered around with Mother Abbess at the centre.

In addition to short pieces of interest particularly to friends of the community, the "Chronicle" always features several articles on patristic or liturgical subjects which show a depth of scholarship combined with a solid spiritual life nourished by the liturgy of the Church.

The image above is my own photo of the interior of the Abbey Church. On the back cover of the Eastertide 2007 "Chronicle" there is this wonderful photo of the workmen on the scaffolding just after the Church had been completed:

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