Requiem Mass for Italy September 1918

John Roper Parkington, and Uncle Manuel (Bidwell) are both in the congregation.

REQUIEM AT WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL.

The flag of Italy floating from every high point in London on Wednesday was a sign that the hearts of our people were beating in sympathy and with admiration for Italy, in her work and trials and losses in the war. It was a day marked by great gatherings and demonstrations, the first of which was appropriately a Solemn High Mass of Requiem at Westminster Cathedral for the repose of Italy’s sons who had fallen in the fighting on the Carso, the Asiago Plateau, and the Piave. ” Westminster Cathedral,” says the Times, ” lends itself to thoughts of Italy and of the noble dead. Its grand and simple lines and the bareness of its walls are in stern keeping with the solemnity of the hour, and the unwonted sunlight of the morning ,threw into strong relief the Italian baldachin and marble-lined sanctuary, suggestive of Italy’s own beautiful and finished achievements which stand out in the great fabric of her hopes.” Before the sanctuary a catafalque had been erected, covered by a pall on which lay the Italian colours, and around it stood a guard of ten Royal Carabinieri under the command of an officer.

Outside, in the precincts of the Cathedral, on the facade of which floated the Italian and British flags, stood crowds of people, whilst within a great multitude had gathered long before the hour appointed for the service. The congregation included many distinguished figures. Facing the catafalque on the left hand were seated the Duke of Connaught, representing the King; the Hon. Sir Sidney Greville, on behalf of the Prince of Wales; and Colonel Streatfeild for Queen Alexandra. On the right of the catafalque were the Lord Mayor of London, with his guest, Don Prospero Colonna, Prince of Sonnino, Syndic of Rome; the Sheriffs of the City of London, and the Mayor of Westminster, in their State robes. There was a large number of the Corps Diplomatique present, most of whom wore full uniform, and they were accommodated with seats immediately behind the Royal representatives. Prince Borghese, the Italian Charge d’Affaires, occupied the first seat on the right, and next to him were the French and Japanese Ambassadors. The Government was represented by the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Balfour, Mr. Bonar Law, and many others, and there were also present Mr. Asquith, Lord and Lady Edmund Talbot, the Duchess of Norfolk, Lady Mary Howard, Sir John and Lady Knill, and Sir Roper Parkington. The personnel of the Italian Embassy and the officials of the Italian Red Cross Society superintended the seating of the congregation, and the Royal representatives and other distinguished mourners were received as they arrived by Mgr. Howlett, Administrator of the Cathedral.

Cardinal Bourne

The Cardinal Archbishop presided at the Mass, which was sung by the Bishop of Cambysopolis, and gave the Absolutions at the close. Amongst the clergy present were Bishop Keatinge (chief Catholic Army Chaplain), Bishop Bidwell, and the Canons of the Metropolitan Chapter. The music was rendered by the Royal Carabinieri Band, which before the Mass played selections from Pergolesi’s ” Stabat Mater,” and the National Anthem as the Duke of Connaught, representing the King, passed up the nave to his appointed seat. During the Mass the beautiful Requiem of Francisco Anerio was sung by the choir, under the direction of Dr. Terry. Of this music the Daily Telegraph said on Thursday :—” There is surely little that for transcendent beauty can equal Anerio’s ‘ Mass of Requiem,’ and when this is sung, as it was yesterday, it creates an effect that is overwhelming in its poignancy, and by its simple yet magnificent grandeur, and, as it were, appropriateness. It is truly wonderful, for, even though the years roll on, staling so much that is mundane, this glorious music remains unsullied, untouched, unstaled.” Our contemporary also summed up its description of the scene and the function as being ” all inexpressibly beautiful.”

At the close the National Anthem of Italy was played by the Carabinieri.

The above text was found on p.22, 28th September 1918 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

Also death of Fr Raymond Stanfield and the Count of Torre-Diaz in the same issue