Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Coronation Cross Will Include Fragments From The True Cross

The Cross of Wales will lead the way in the coronation procession into Westminster Abbey on May 6. Recently blessed by the Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, at the Holy Trinity Church in Landudno, the cross will include fragments believed to be from the True Cross on which Jesus was sacrificed. Saint Helena was supposed to have discovered them in the fourth century. These shards were a personal gift from the Pope to the King. The inclusion into the coronation cross is an ecumenical gesture showing unity between the denominations.

The fragments have been made into a tiny cross encased into a rose crystal gemstone in the centre of the cross. Inscribed on the back are words from Saint David's last sermon in Welsh. Translated, they mean: 'Be joyful. Keep the faith. Do the Little Things'.

The Cross of Wales, made from recycled silver bullion, was commissioned by the King when he was Prince of Wales to celebrate the centenary of the Church in Wales.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Rushed Coronation of Henry III

AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
During the bleak autumn of 1216, civil war and turmoil beset the British Isles. Prince Louis of France had been invited to take the throne during the First Baron's War against King John, and he believed that he had a strong claim because his wife Blanche of Castile was Henry II's granddaughter. When King John died on October 19, the Prince's forces were in control of London. Barons were rebelling in the north, and Llywelyn the Great was gaining more influence in Wales.

Lying on his death-bed, the King asked his trusty friend, William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, to take charge of his little son, and keep him under his protection. Did the country really want a nine-year old King, and a Regency? After the death of the King, some of his former enemies 'returned to the flock', and supported a new reign. A Council was formed under William Marshall which decided to crown the new King, but a hasty coronation was needed before the country fell into further disarray. The state of affairs was so insecure that the Papal Legate had to excommunicate Prince Louis to prevent him being crowned! As Louis was in control of London thus cutting out Westminster Abbey, Gloucester Cathedral (then a Benedictine abbey) was chosen for the coronation.

There is a story that the young boy was actually carried to his coronation, a rushed affair, without the usual pomp and ceremony.  The young King swore the traditional oaths to 'protect the Church, deliver justice to his people, and drive out evil laws and customs wherever they were found in his realm,'1. and gave homage to the Pope. Supervised by Guala Bicchieri, the Papal Legate, Henry was annointed by Peter des Roches, the Bishop of Westminster, who crowned him with a circlet belonging to his mother. According to legend, King John had lost the royal crown in The Wash, a large bay off the east coast of England. His heavy coronation robes were also borrowed, and had to be cut to fit him.

Henry's Second Coronation

Henry saw to it that no expense was spared for his second coronation on May 17, 1220 in Westminster Abbey. This coronation cost the then huge amount of 760 pounds, and Henry's splendid regalia included a 'golden crown set with diverse stones', golden spurs, a silver-gilt rod, a golden sceptre and five swords.

The Re-Enactment of the Coronation of Henry III

1. Lewis, M. (2016). Henry III: The Son of Magna Carta. United Kingdom: Amberley Publishing.

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