Ely Cursillo are hosting a nationaI Ultreya! celebration at Ely Cathedral on 5th September, which will attract reps from 30 or so Dioceses across the country. It promises to be a celebratory and friendly day, and it is open to all – do come if you can.
The event is the annual national gathering and Eucharist held by British Anglican Cursillo. As it visits a different cathedral each year, we are delighted to host it in Ely’s 900th year. Starts 9.30am with registration at St Mary’s Church, then in the Cathedral at 10am with welcomes, morning worship, a lay witness talk and a gospel response from Cursillo’s national Spiritual Director. Then we break into small faith-sharing groups and have picnics. After lunch, we have a colourful walk of witness around the local vicinity, and then celebrate Holy Communion together in the afternoon.
Bishop David will preside and preach. Closing light refreshments at the Cathedral Centre.
It is free but please do book in advance so Ely Cursillo can cater for the right numbers (refreshments and also orders of service, etc). You can find the programme and booking form on their website and send bookings by email.
Lay Director – Ely Diocesan Cursillo
What is Cursillo? Read on:
Back home from a glorious Etheldreda Day Procession in Ely. Actors, musicians and modern day dignitaries all muddled up with parish parties, tourists and passers by. It was quite hard sometimes to work out who was in the drama and who was ‘for real’ – especially as at one point I became Bishop Hugh of Balsham (Bishop #10) founding the University while Bishop of Anthony appeared in the drama in his own right as the 68th Bishop of Ely.
I enjoyed a camera war with the Bishop’s excellent press officer Own Spencer-Thomas, pictured right,grinning because he had just photographed me (in full fig) photographing him photographing …
And of course Peter our valiant Eel Catcher made it to Ely in time after his 4-day punt (into headwinds, he told me, and quite hard work), and delivered his eels to the Bishop along with the strangely shaped basket which is of course specially designed for catching the critters.
No eels were harmed in making this programme, and the Bishop assured us that those given to him would soon be enjoying their watery environment again.
Everybody else will be remembering Etheldreda on the 23rd, but here in her own place, Ely, we are keeping the feast today (we put it on the nearest Saturday for practical reasons).
Etheldreda (aka Æthelthryth and Audrey –see below) was the daughter of Anna, king of East Anglia,. She remained a virgin through two marriages, fleeing the second to found the Ely community in 673. So although we are celebrating the 900th anniversary of the (Norman) diocese this year, the Cathedral can fairly look down its nose at its upstart scion.
Etheldreda died slightly gruseomely around 680 from a tumour on the neck, reputedly as a divine punishment for her vanity in wearing necklaces as a girl, but actually because of a plague. At St Audrey’s Fair cheap necklaces of silk and lace were sold, hence “tawdry” from St Audrey.
17 years later her body was disinterred and the tumour found to be healed and the body incorrupt, and a major pilgrimage/tourism industry was launched that has shaped the Cathedral as we see it.
So today the Cathedral website makes its own pitch to the tourist pilgrim of today: I’ll be there!
We will be re-enacting her story with drama and medieval music beginning in Jubilee Gardens at 11.30 am with Etheldreda arriving in Ely by boat, and then walking up through Cherry Hill to the Cathedral to gather around her shrine. The procession will be followed by a Eucharist in the Lady Chapel.
• See Etheldreda arrive by boat at the Isle of Ely
• Discover how she came to marry the Prince of Northumbria
• Find out why she left her husband and fled to Ely
• See the miracles which happened on the way
• Find out why people flocked to her Shrine after her death
• Meet Hervey, the first Bishop of Ely
• See the Eel Catcher deliver live eels to the present Bishop
• Dress up in medieval clothes & or just enjoy the action.
Come and join the Mayor and Town Crier in procession as we celebrate the beginnings of the story of the Capital City of Fenland. As those of you who accompanied us last year will know, this is a terrific event to invite friends and family of all ages, with a spiritual challenge for all our lives.
who bestowed such grace upon your servant Etheldreda
that she gave herself wholly to the life of prayer
and to the service of your true religion:
grant that we, like her,
may so live our lives on earth seeking your kingdom
that by your guiding
we may be joined to the glorious fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ely Cathedral and its environs are just full of fantastic photo-opportunities. Here are a few that I spotted this sunny weekend – tracery in Bishop Alcock’s Chapel, a statue of Etheldreda, decorated chimneys on the monastic range fronting High Street, and one of my favourite bishop portraits – what an expression! His effigy is positively lolling along the aisle.