On Saturday 2 July, Bishop Nicholas celebrated Mass in Westminster Cathedral which was offered for the Fallen of the Battle of the Somme, the centenary of which was marked on 1 July.
In his homily, Bishop Nicholas reflected on what this day, 2 July, would have been like 100 years ago. 'Exactly one hundred years ago, politicians, generals and countless families were coming to terms with the casualties of that fateful first day of battle. Some 20,000 had been killed and another 40,000 were wounded or reported missing...it is shocking to think that each one was someone’s son or sweetheart, an absent presence among relatives and friends, in so many cases still spoken of today. The campaign has left an indelible mark on our national memory.'
Recalling some testimonies of survivors of the Somme, he reminded those present that 'the battle lasted four and a half months along a 25-mile front. All in all there were around 420,000 British, 195,000 French and 650,000 German casualties.'
On the day when we offer Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop Nicholas called on her intercession for those men: 'On this day, let us ask Mary for her maternal intercession, that all those brave, brave men of the Somme may now be at peace; and that we, who stand so much in their debt, never forget to honour their memory and learn from their legacy.'
The full text of Bishop Nicholas' homily is available here.