Cardinal Vincent celebrated a Vigil Mass for the Feast of St Patrick on Monday 16 March at St Patrick’s Church in Soho Square. Leading the concelebrants was Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, the parish priest.
The Mass was sung to a Gaelic setting and included the Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter and Panis Angelicus by Cesar Franck.
In his homily Cardinal Vincent reflected on three aspects of St Patrick’s life relevant to us in the modern world. Firstly he reminded the congregation that Patrick was a slave brought over to Ireland from England. In the modern world, slavery still exists and the Cardinal compared Patrick’s life with that of St Josephine Bakhita who was enslaved, freed and became a religious. St Josephine is the inspiration behind the Santa Marta Group combatting human trafficking worldwide and our own Caritas Westminster Bakhita House for women who have been trafficked.
Secondly he reflected that Patrick was a migrant to Ireland as a Christian missionary and not welcomed by all sectors of Irish society at the time. Cardinal Vincent compared this to the importance put on the issue of immigration and welcoming migrants in our time. Finally, he recounted the traditional story of Patrick’s confrontation with the pagan King of Leinster and what this story can tell us about religious freedom, another important issue in the modern world. The Cardinal concluded by commenting that some of the issues that Patrick faced centuries ago have not gone away in the 21st century and are still prevalent in our society.
At the end of Mass, shamrocks were blessed by the Cardinal for the congregation to take away and wear the following day. Traditionally the three-leafed shamrock was used by St Patrick to explain the three persons of the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland and has been associated with him ever since.
For photos of the Mass, please click HERE.
**céad míle fáilte means 'a hundred thousand welcomes' in Gaelic