Richard III – A Very Ecumenical King?

Richard III – A Very Ecumenical King?

Nottingham, England, Mar 25, 2015 / 02:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- KingRichardIII 

In preparation for the reinterment of the remains of Richard III, a 15th century English king whose body was only recently rediscovered, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has offered Compline and a Requiem Mass for the late monarch. “This evening we fulfil a profound and essential Christian duty: that of praying for the dead, for the repose of their eternal souls,” Cardinal Nichols preached during a March 23 Requiem Mass said at Holy Cross Priory in Leicester. “The prayer we offer for him this evening is the best prayer there is: the offering of the Holy Mass, the prayer of Jesus himself, made complete in the oblation of his body and blood on the altar of the cross, present here for us on this altar.”

Richard III was born in 1452, and reigned over England from 1483-1485, when he died in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York; he was succeeded by Henry VII, founder of the House of Tudor. His corpse was buried without pomp, and subsequently lost. It was found in 2012 under a parking lot in Leicester, 30 miles south of Nottingham, on the site of Greyfriars, a Franciscan friary dissolved during the English Reformation.

His body has been kept at the University of Leicester, and was processed to Leicester Cathedral, an Anglican church, on Sunday. That evening, Cardinal Nichols led a Compline service at the cathedral, during which Richard’s coffin was sprinkled with holy water, and incensed. “This sprinkling with holy water is a reminder that King Richard, at the beginning of his life, was baptised,” the cardinal reflected. “He was thereby called to live as a follower of Jesus Christ.” “The deepest intentions of Richard have always been hard to fathom. Yet that is often true for many of us. Within the depth of his heart, amidst all his fears and ambitions, there surely lay a strong desire to provide his people with stability and improvement.”

Cardinal Nichols noted Richard’s achievements, including a development of the presumption of innocence, the concept of blind justice, the practice of granting bail, and translating laws into the vernacular, while adding that “nevertheless his reign was marked by unrest and the fatal seepage of loyalty and support.” “All of this reminds us, if we need reminding, that baptism does not guarantee holiness of life or saintliness of nature. But it gives a fundamental and enduring shape to a journey through life, in all its struggles and failures.” He recalled Richard as a man of prayer and “anxious devotion,” who composed a surviving prayer and established chapels. “We pray that, being brought into the presence of that Divine majesty, Richard may be embraced by God’s merciful love, there to await the final resurrection of all things in the fullness of time.”

Until its reburial, Richard III’s body will remain at Leicester Cathedral. More than 20,000 visited the cathedral to view the coffin. The reinterment will be held at the cathedral on Thursday, led by Justin Welby, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

On Monday, March 23, Cardinal Nichols said a Requiem Mass at Holy Cross Priory, a Dominican parish in Leicester. He wore a chasuble known as the “Westminster Vestment,” which is believed to be from Richard III’s own wardrobe. The chasuble’s embroidery matches that described from his inventories, and has been dated to the third quarter of the 15th century. The Mass was attended by several bishops from across England and Wales, as well as by Tim Stevens, the Anglican Bishop of Leicester. Msgr. Thomas McGovern, administrator of the Diocese of Nottingham – which includes Leicester – commented that “it is fitting that, after 530 years, Richard III’s mortal remains are once again laid to rest, this time in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval Catholic parish church of Leicester, not far from where they were first buried by the Franciscan friars after the Battle of Bosworth.” “Just as Mass would have been offered for the repose of his soul by the priests who buried him, we do him the same service tonight, asking Almighty God to receive him into the kingdom of heaven with his sins forgiven. May he rest in peace.”

Cardinal Nichols remarked during his homily that “during this week, Mass is being offered in many Catholic Churches for the repose of the soul of King Richard III. Rightly so. That is exactly what he would have wished, having himself set up at least one chantry chapel for Masses to be celebrated for the dead of both sides of the Battle of Towton in 1461.” “This evening we pray that the merciful judgement of our loving God is extended to him in every degree, for we know that it is only the gift of God’s mercy that protects us from the demands of God’s justice … We offer this holy Mass that even while his remains are lying in the Cathedral nearby, his soul is united with God in the glory of heaven there to await the final resurrection of all things in Christ.” “This was the hope he held in his heart. This is the hope we hold for ourselves and our loved ones too. We share this one hope and the faith and love which accompany it. In this grace we pray for this dead King and we pray that the kingship in Christ, given to us all, may truly guide our lives and make us builders of that eternal Kingdom here in our world today.”  Source

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Comments (25)

  • gabriel syme

    I am not sure what would appall King Richard more – his body being interred in a non-Catholic religious building, or his Catholic tributes being led by Cardinal Nichols (who is also in the press currently for supporting attempts to disfigure Christ’s own teachings).

    I have felt that the whole affair has been very disrespectful to the King – he was a Catholic and yet he has been co-opted by Anglicans. It is clear that the pressing issue surrounding this reburial has been to uphold the creaking, threadbare protestant identity of England (what remains of it), rather than to afford a man an appropriate burial and resting place in accordance with his own religion. Surely all men are entitled to that, regardless of whether they were a King or a pauper?

    This episode has shown up the cobbled together, post-reformation excuse for Christianity in these islands for what it is. One cannot escape ones own history and isn’t it remarkable how timely reminders can come from the most unlikely of places – in this case, from underneath a Council car park – to explode efforts to gloss over and forget the Catholic patrimony which still forms the bulk of English history, and that of the wider UK. You can’t keep a good faith down.

    I suppose the Anglicans realised that to respect the Kings religious identity, would have been to highlight the apostasy and erroneous thinking behind their own. And they could not countenance that, for it may upset Her Majesty at Her breakfast. it is disappointing, but not surprising, that the “Magic Circle” of England and Wales seem to have accepted this meekly, happy to play a supporting role and failing as usual to fight for the true faith.

    I presume Cardinal Nichols expects his own funeral to be a grand affair at Westminster Cathedral, after which he will rest in the crypts there? I wonder how he would feel about the ceremony being co-opted by the local zoroastrians, for their own non-Catholic purposes?

    Rest in peace, King Richard – you deserved better from the Catholic Bishops of England.

    March 27, 2015 at 9:17 am
    • editor

      Gabriel Syme,

      Well said. Cardinal Nichols should, once again, be hanging his head in shame. The question of a Catholic burial was aired in the Catholic press but clearly not a big deal for the hierarchy. Still, they have to be consistent. If it really doesn’t matter what religion people follow in life, why should it matter in death?

      March 27, 2015 at 9:57 am
    • Michaela

      Gabriel Syme,

      After watching the video of the dancing priest below, it might be just as well Richard was given an Anglican burial. It’s probably been more dignified than Cardinal Nichols would have organised.

      March 28, 2015 at 4:34 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    I don’t know much about Richard III or any other English king really, but his reputation seems to be not the best. I found this article just now and am open to learning more about why he is thought to have been a monster. If so, would he have merited a Catholic burial?

    March 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm
    • Therese

      Margaret Mary

      I would urge you to get a copy of Josephine Tey’s book “The Daughter of Time”*, which is a forensic examination of the lies and propaganda with which King Richard’s reputation was trashed for centuries. It is written as a detective story, and is enthralling.

      * I love the title, which is apt – for Truth is the Daughter of Time!

      March 27, 2015 at 4:35 pm
  • editor

    I’m sorry to interrupt this thread but since it seems to be slow anyway in taking off and there is a link, really, in that I’ve just viewed a video of the new Mass that I KNOW King Richard III would never EVER consider to be a true Mass. Am I alone in my determination?

    And this on the Feast of the Annunciation! Unbelievable!

    March 27, 2015 at 4:41 pm
    • crofterlady

      My goodness, where was that? The congregation look like monks. The “dancer” seems very effeminate.

      Btw, I noted in the SSPX magazine that no Masses were listed for the Annunciation.

      March 27, 2015 at 5:02 pm
      • Nicky


        If you click on the YOUTUBE word, it takes you through to the original video where it says “Published on 26 Mar 2015 – French Provincial Minister Michel Laloux expressed himself in dance during our morning Mass for the Annunciation”

        He looks like a Franciscan, so must be the French Provincial of the Franciscans, although I’m not sure.

        It’s horrendous stuff – it’s really unbelievable that any priest would even think of dancing around like that before Mass.

        March 27, 2015 at 11:18 pm
      • Athanasius

        These are the Franciscans Pope Francis prefers to the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Horrendous sacrilege!

        March 27, 2015 at 11:33 pm
      • leprechaun


        With respect, of course, if you still have your copy of the March/April SSPX newsletter, you will find on page 13 that 12 Masses were offered in 11 Chapels on the Feast of the Annunciation.

        For the record, the Mass at 11:00am in St. Anne’s, Leicester was offered specifically for the repose of the soul of King Richard III whose remains were interred in the Protestant cathedral of St. Martin in Leicester.

        At the time, the local Dignitaries were suggesting that as a result, revenue from tourism would amount to about £1.5M – and thus we see why it was so important to them to provide a resting place for his remains.

        March 28, 2015 at 8:01 pm
    • Michaela

      That’s a disgraceful performance. There’s something wrong with those people who could just sit through than sacrilege without batting an eyelid. I’ve got up and walked out of church for a lot less.

      March 28, 2015 at 4:35 pm
  • crofterlady

    Margaret Mary, I am always wary of historians’ slants. They can make falsehood truth and truth falsehood with impunity. I well remember studying History for my Baccalaureat in France. Upon my return to the UK I decided to do a few A Levels, one of which was History. Being a clever clogs, I chose the same periods for A Level History as I had done for my Baccalaureate and guess what? The dates were the same, the historical persons were the same, the battles were the same BUT, the slants were completely different! In France, the English were the dreadful baddies and in the UK, the French were demonised.

    So, as I said beware of historians! One only has to read about the Reformation to see the lies peddled by the establishment.

    Therese, what is the gist of that book you mention?

    March 27, 2015 at 4:45 pm
    • Frankier


      I have always maintained that if you want to learn the true history of Britain you would have to go and study in a foreign country and especially not one with whom they were friendly, if such a country exists.

      When I was at school and being taught by Irish nuns we were never told about the famine. I never even knew until recently that many Irish families came to where I was brought up to flee the famine and find work in the iron works and the coal mines.

      I have heard plenty about them fleeing to America and other parts of the world but never realised that some of them lived in the house where I was born.

      I thought my father was among the first around 60 years later.

      March 27, 2015 at 5:30 pm
      • Nicky


        I find that kids today can tell you all about the holocaust during WWII, yet going by your experience, probably nothing about the Irish famine. It’s very odd indeed.

        March 27, 2015 at 11:14 pm
      • Frankier


        It’s not that I didn’t know about the famine when I was young, it was just the fact that we were never taught about it at school, just in the home. I found out about Irish families coming to the area where I was brought up because of the availability of census records now on the Internet. In fact, the population of the area went from a virtual handful of people to a few thousand between the censuses of that time.

        I heard it said that the Irish would rather that it wasn’t discussed.

        It’s true what you say though, children know more about the holocaust than they do about not only the famine but Irish (and Scots) history in general.

        The odd thing about the Scotland of today is that you can talk about Irish history but you can’t sing about it.

        March 28, 2015 at 12:27 am
    • Therese


      One of Tey’s regular characters was a detective called Grant. Whilst recuperating in hospital a friend brings him a book with a portrait of Richard III, and he becomes interested and decides to see if he can prove/disprove whether Richard actually murdered the princes, by using modern detective methods, by seeking out historical documents, and by asking whether there was motive, and opportunity.
      Some of the points she raised:

      He had no reason to kill the princes (Henry VII had much more reason!).
      There was no evidence that they were missing before Henry VII took over.
      There was never any formal or legal accusation that he had killed the boys.
      The princes mother, Elizabeth Woodville, and her daughters, remained on very good terms with Richard

      Richard was devoted to his brother, and to all his family. His motto was Loyaulte me lie (Loyalty Binds Me), and he lived up to that.

      It’s well worth a read.

      March 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm
      • Michaela


        That’s really very interesting. What a great idea for a novel and shows up the propaganda against Richard III – a bunch of lies.

        March 28, 2015 at 4:33 pm
  • Rod George

    The English Hierarchy should have insisted that King Richard be given a Catholic burial in a catholic church together with rites that would have been recognisable in his time. The response of the Cardinal and Bishops was to say the least feeble.To have an English Catholic King buried in a protestant church with protestant rites was a travesty of justice. Once again in England the fort has been betrayed by those that should have defended it.In answer to Margaret Mary opinion on King Richard is divided but he was a catholic and as such was fully entitled to a Catholic burial.

    March 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm
    • Nicky

      Rod George,

      Too true, the English Hierarchy should have insisted on a Catholic burial for the good King Richard III. As you say, in a rite that he would recognise. None of the Catholics of his era would recognise the Mass today. They’d think they’d stumbled into a Protestant communion service.

      March 27, 2015 at 11:15 pm
  • Steve

    Has anyone heard about funeral undertakers interring Catholic ashes after an earlier cremation

    March 28, 2015 at 8:13 am
    • editor


      Not sure what you mean. If Catholics opt for cremation, which again is a novelty of recent times and hasn’t actually been encouraged by the Church, we must still bury the ashes. We cannot scatter them here, there and everywhere, as has become the custom.

      Does that answer your question?

      I see you’ve posted the same question over on the German Bishops thread so I’ll delete it there – there is more connection to issues surrounding cremation/ashes/burial here than on the German Bishops thread! If only just – they’ve all but killed off the Church in Germany!

      March 28, 2015 at 2:59 pm
  • Summa

    The Church forbids cremation of bodies of the departed, except in cases of epidemics. It is a pagan custom that has become favoured by modern materialists and atheists, as a sign of a denial of immortality. If Catholics ask for cremation, they may not be buried in consecrated ground.
    (My Catholic Faith, Mst Rev Louis LaRevoire Morrow BB, Bishop, 1954)

    Cremation is forbidden by Tradition unless in times of epidemic. It is a pagan practice, encouraged by materialists and atheists as an attack on immortality. Those requesting Tradition may not be buried in consecrated ground. (My Catholic Faith 1954 p153)

    March 28, 2015 at 7:46 pm
  • editor


    My post acknowledged that in recent times – Paul VI I think it was – permitted cremation. That’s all I meant.

    March 28, 2015 at 7:57 pm
  • editor

    R E M I N D E R . . .

    Remember to put your clocks forward one hour tonight.

    N O T I C E . .

    I’ll be closing down the blog in a few minutes. We’ll re-open on Easter Sunday.

    A very peaceful and prayerful Holy Week to everyone.

    March 28, 2015 at 10:04 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    Regarding the burial of Richard III in Leicester, here is my email to Tim Stevens, the bishop of Leicester:

    Your Lordship,

    I am sending a final email to register and express my indignation and disgust that the Church of England is exercising a stifling and oppressive stranglehold over spiritual life in England, by obstinately refusing to give Richard III his birth right, a Catholic burial. The Church of England is a completely false and sinful Church that bears no similarity to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I build my Church’, the sacred and eternal words of Christ, promising the Church would always be guided by Peter and his successors. Peter did, I am sure you will be aware, became the first Bishop of Rome, and Pope Francis is his successor. Who are you or Justin Welby the successors to? You are certainly not the successor to St. Cuthwine, the first Bishop of Leicester, and Lord Welby is not the successor of St. Augustine of Canterbury, not least because you are not Catholics, but also you are not validly ordained Priests. I refer you to Apostolicae Curae from 1896, which declared the Anglican ‘orders’ ‘absolutely null and utterly void’. Not only did the ‘church’ of England alter the rite of ordinations, they also have a defective intention, viz., the intention to create a Priesthood different from the sacrificing priesthood of the Catholic Church and to reduce ordination to a mere ecclesiastical institution, an appointment or blessing, instead of a sacramental conferral of actual grace by the action itself. You also do not unite under the Holy Father, a prerequisite for belonging to the Catholic Church. As St. Cyprian said ‘He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother’. Likewise, St. Ignatius of Antioch was also responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning “universal”, “complete” and “whole” to describe the church, writing: ‘wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church’.

    The Anglican Church obviously is not part of the Catholic Church, as it is not under the authority of St. Peter’s successor, the Pope. Likewise, the Church of England does not bear the four marks of the Catholic Church. You are not One, due to different doctrines in each province and with no central authority, you are not Holy, as you teach error and false doctrine, you are not Catholic, for the reasons stated above, and because the Anglicans are not throughout the world, and you are not Apostolic, for the reasons stated above. Likewise you do not bear the three attributes of the Catholic Church. You are not Infallible, as there have never been any dogmatic pronouncements, and there is no supreme authority, you are not Indefectible, as the Anglican Church changes with the wind in terms of its beliefs, viz., with women and homosexual Priests, and the Devil has clearly overcome your Church with false doctrine and you do not have Authority, as there is no central figure to teach doctrine, and the CofE is a self defined ‘broad Church’ with a variety of viewpoints. In short, there is no single doctrine in the Anglican Church with so many divisions. Our Lord said, in Mark 3:25, ‘And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand’.

    I wonder what Richard III would think of a Church that does not hold to Catholic doctrine i.e. on Purgatory, the Saints, Blessed Virgin, the Seven Sacraments etc., and one that does not recognise papal authority? Likewise, what would he think of women and homosexual Priests. England may be a Protestant country, but Richard III was born decades before the Protestant Reformation, and was a devout Catholic.

    Cardinal Nichols and the hierarchy should also be ashamed at going along with Richard III’s burial in a Protestant Church. They should do their job and defend his rights as a Catholic.

    York Minster is the best place for Richard’s burial, although it is a Catholic Church under illegal Protestant occupation, because although the Protestants may have ‘re-consecrated’ it, they do not have the power, as they are not true Bishops or Priests. A Catholic Funeral Mass in York Minster would satisfy me.

    I hope you will take my views into account, and I send my best wishes and prayers.

    Yours sincerely

    His Reply:

    Thank you for your email. The Catholic hierarchy has entirely endorsed our plans at every stage. However I note your concerns.

    +Tim Leicester


    So it seems that the Catholic hierarchy has a Protestant spokesman!

    April 5, 2015 at 10:37 am

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