Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday at Armagh Cathedral

History was made today when Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh attended the Royal Maundy Service in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh. This is the first occasion that the annual service has been held in Northern Ireland. Over 400 people made up the congregation and saw Her Majesty distribute Maundy money to 82 men and 82 women representing the number of years of the Sovereign’s life. The main churches in Northern Ireland selected the recipients, all retired pensioners from across the community.

The history of the Maundy Service can be traced back to the 12th Century and there are continued records of the distribution having been made on Maundy Thursday from the reign of King Edward the First. During the service Her Majesty presented each man and woman with a red and white purse, traditionally the red purse contains an allowance for clothing and provisions and the white purse holds silver Maundy coins as many pence as the Sovereign has years of age.

The Very Rev Patrick Rooke, Dean of Armagh led the prayers. The first lesson John 13 verses 1-15 was read by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and Cardinal Sean Brady, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh read the second lesson, St Matthew’s 25 verses 31-46. The service was sung by the choir of St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh and the choir of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal.

Following the service Her Majesty walked the short distance to the Deanery and attended a reception hosted by the Lord Chamberlain’s office for those taking part in the planning and delivery of the Royal Maundy Service. Later Her Majesty was guest of honour at a lunch in the Robinson library in the Deanery hosted by the Most Rev Dr Alan Harper OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. The historic visit by Her Majesty The Queen to the City of Armagh brought to a close three days of engagements in Northern Ireland.

Source: The Northern Ireland Office:

Contributer: David John Drew/Poet Laureate DBWF

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