Portsmouth Retreat

Thursday 10th August 2017

St John’s Catholic Cathedral, Portsmouth; what a fascinating day. It was wet and cold outside but inside we had a good day of fellowship and learning.

St John’s Catholic Cathedral, Portsmouth; what a fascinating day.  It was wet and cold outside but inside we had a good day of fellowship and learning.Talk on Edith Stein

Fr Robin Ellwood started the day by giving a presentation on the Saints of Europe.  He asked us all if we knew who our own Saint was.  We found out that St Sara is the Patron Saint for laughter amongst other things.  We then had a moving presentation on Edith Stein; St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross whose Saint day is August 9th.  Born into a Jewish family, she was a campaigner for women’s rights, a university teacher and wrote many books.  She was baptised and became a Carmelite nun and ultimately was killed by the Nazis regime as being Jewish born she was arrested and imprisoned in Auschwitz where she died in 1942.  A modern Saint there are many writings and sayings that she has left us with.  “Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love.  And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.”

The lunchtime Mass was in Word and Sign.  For the people of Portsmouth this was a new and moving experience.  The Deaf Community signed the readings, lead the bidding prayers and the Deaf choir signed two hymns.

First reading at Mass           Deaf choir

After lunch the sacristan Nick gave us all a tour of the Cathedral.  With most of the Cathedral having been built in 1882 the area by the door was added later.  The plans for a 200m high spire had to be dropped when it was realised the new part of the cathedral was not built on solid enough ground.  So two smaller spires were installed instead.  Do you know why there are two points on a Bishop’s mitre?  That was something else we learned – one point represents the new testament, the other the old testament.

We finished the day by looking in the treasurer and at the original copes made for the Bishop and priests when the Cathedral was built.  Beautifully made in gold they are extremely heavy.  Fr Robin wasn’t keen on the idea of wearing one!

Tour of Portsmouth Cathedral


Many thanks to all those at Portsmouth Cathedral who all made us very welcome there.

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