Rorate Caeli

Papal Mass in Saint Mary's Cathedral Sydney

On Saturday morning, 19th July, His Holiness Pope Benedict was received at Saint Mary's Minor Basilica Sydney and celebrated Mass for Seminarians and young Religious from around the world. This Mass was also the occasion for the dedication of a new marble free-standing altar, the creation of sculptor Nigel Boonham. The most prominent feature of this altar is a depiction of Christ lying dead in the tomb. The choice by Cardinal Pell of such a representation of Christ has not been without criticism. Two years of restoration works preceded the arrival of the Pope to the Sydney Cathedral, but the predominant internal works were the provision of new timber furnishings and screens in the chancel and a splendid new floor of terracotta-coloured stone over the nave, transepts and ambulatories of the Cathedral.

The Mass itself was a most glorious celebration, easily surpassing other Masses celebrated by His Holiness outside the City of Rome. Music was provided by Saint Mary's Cathedral choir and a schola of seminarians. The Gregorian Propers of the Mass, together with the psalms for the dedication of an altar were rendered beautifully. Simply splendid and inspiring were the other hymns (Australian compositions from the early 1960's), polyphonic anthems and parts of the Ordinary. It was hard not to draw the conclusion that this was the Cathedral choir's finest hour. Most moving, however, was the gusto with which the entire congregation sang Credo III, the Pater Noster and the Te Deum, all in Latin to the Gregorian settings.

We are pleased to include these photographs, some by courtesy of the Papa Ratzinger Forum and the (Sydney) Daily Telegraph. One photo of interest shews the Papal vestments laid out in the sacristy prior to the Mass:

A seminarian and religious being presented to His Holiness:

The Sprinkling with Holy Water:

His Holiness preaching from the Cathedra:

During the singing of the Litany of the Saints:

His Holiness anointing the new altar:

At the Offertory:

The Procession leaving the chancel of the Cathedral:

A general view of the Cathedral chancel (all the timber-work shewn is new):

Detail of the new altar, designed and sculpted by Nigel Boonham: