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Cathedral developments

The Reformation saw the destruction of many works of art and shrines, including that of St Chad at Lichfield Cathedral. Towards the end of last year a shrine to St Chad was reinstated in the Lady Chapel, complete with a relic provided by St Chad’s Roman Catholic
Cathedral in Birmingham. St Chad was the first Bishop of Lichfield and is the cathedral’s patron saint.This year marks 1,350 years since his death. Since 1972, increasing attention has been focused on the saint who has become a focus for prayer and devotion at Lichfield Cathedral. A ledger stone was placed on the site of the original shrine, and this was later joined by an image of St Chad together with a candle stand. The shrine itself was finally reinstated on 8th November, during a special ecumenical service. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham brought a small fragment of St Chad’s body to be placed in the shrine. Local  Roman Catholic families had been guardians of the relics before they were installed in Birmingham’s Roman Catholic cathedral in the nineteenth century. Vicky Osborn, marketing manager at Lichfield Cathedral, said the new shrine was “humble in design” and fitting not only of St Chad, but also of Jesus – “beautifully crafted in wood, mirroring Jesus the carpenter. The relic itself is housed in a cross that sits underneath the table of the Lord. Above the altar is a large, suspended corona symbolising the crown of glory. In the arcades of the Lady Chapel will be six new artworks depicting the life of Christ.” Also at Lichfield, work is to begin on the restoration of the central spire following a £249K lottery grant.

Exeter Cathedral has begun work on recreating the east cloister walk to link the south transept to the chapter house and Pearson building. The work is being funded by Exeter Cathedral’s 2020s Development Appeal, which aims to raise £10m on top of more than
£6m it has already be given in grants and donations. In preparation archaeologists have begun excavating the area and have discovered remains of an early Roman street with timber buildings and a stone-built house.

Christchurch Anglican cathedral in New Zealand has reached the end of phase one (clearance and stabilisation) in its reconstruction following severe damage in the 2011 earthquake. In March community leaders and project managers gathered inside Sir George
Gilbert Scott’s cathedral for the first time since 2011. Deputy Mayor Pauline Cotter admitted she was taken aback by how affecting the moment was. “The end’s in sight so it’s incredibly exciting,” she said. “It’s actually quite emotional when you come in, it’s been locked off for so long and to actually come inside, it took me by surprise by how I felt.” Now four years into the project, it will take another four years before work is complete. The Italianate Roman Catholic cathedral in Christchurch was more seriously damaged, and the ruins have now been completely cleared away. Plans for a new cathedral on a different site were put on hold by the Vatican at the end of March following an appeal by parishioners.

In Paris, work continues apace at Notre Dame, with an anticipated completion date of December 2024. In April, huge timbers were hoisted into place by crane, having been constructed off-site. These will form the base for the replica spire over the crossing which should be complete by the end of 2023. Inside, the cathedral is barely recognisable, much hidden by a forest of scaffolding. Some areas have been completed and visitors in 2024 will find a much brighter stone inside the cathedral.

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