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Golden Jubilee of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King
Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in its golden jubilee year strikes the eye as it reaches towards the sky. Its crown reminds us that there is a power greater than those on earth and its lantern shines out at night saying that God does not rest but holds us in his care at all times. Sir Frederick Gibberd’s very modern design for a Cathedral speaks of the hopes of the Catholic people of Liverpool soaring upwards to heaven. Those desires place us alongside our Christian brothers and sisters in the Anglican Cathedral as we jointly witness to Christ rising above our city.
The architect broke new ground in Cathedral design when he introduced a circular plan centred on the altar to meet the needs of the liturgical changes following the Second Vatican Council. It was a brave move that is taken for granted now, but 50 years ago was very adventurous.
As a relative newcomer to Liverpool and the Metropolitan Cathedral, I am still discovering its delights and unique features. What other Cathedral has a statue to Abraham, our father in faith, or a Lady Chapel that isn’t blue! I love the red shaft of light that comes from the reconciliation chapel and I am struck by the bell tower with its sculpted crosses reminding us of how it was through Jesus’ crucifixion that we are redeemed.
There is so much to find and enjoy in our Cathedral; it may take the next fifty years to appreciate them all.
This month we celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the opening of our Cathedral on the Feast of Pentecost 1967. We are extremely grateful to the Catholic Pictorial for producing a special edition of the magazine with memories and photographs from their archives spanning the construction, the opening ceremonies and events and celebrations that have taken place here over the intervening fifty years. There are the highlights such as the visit of Pope John Paul II or the National Pastoral Congress or just the regular Parish or Diocesan gatherings as well as the occasional unusual item which have all helped to make this building a truly spiritual home and a sacred place, not just for the Catholic Community but also the wider populace on Merseyside.
This commemorative edition is not just a trip down memory lane but a reminder of the important role that the Cathedral has fulfilled in Catholic Life both regionally and nationally over the last fifty years. The building is a living symbol of our Catholic faith, it is a unifying force within the Diocese where we gather to celebrate our joys and sorrows.
Countless numbers of people have been part of the Cathedral’s story so far, they are the living stones bringing life to this grand modern edifice of concrete and glass. We have a great deal to celebrate and give thanks for at this time and there are a range of events and services for us all to take part in. I hope that all these commemorations will renew our appreciation of and support for the Cathedral so that our future will be as blest as our past.