The Tablet Blog
Not so fast, Leicester Cathedral - Richard III was a CatholicElena Curti
4 February 2013, 9:00
Historians argue endlessly about whether Richard III was a hero or a villain, but what can be said with confidence is that he was a Catholic.
Now that it has been determined that the remains recently disinterred from a Leicester car park are indeed those of the last Plantagenet king, then a final resting-place should be in a Catholic church.
Given that Richard was first buried at the church of the Greyfriars in Leicester it would make perfect sense to place his tomb in the nearest Franciscan friary. This turns out to be the Franciscan parish of Our Lady and St Edward in Nottingham, a small modern friary with a brick church built in the 1950s. It's the last place once might expect to find a royal tomb but then, maybe that's a good reason for Richard to be there.
Another thought is Westminster Cathedral, which has plenty of cardinals' tombs, but no monarchs. Richard's tomb would be a great tourist attraction and it would be conveniently close to Westminster Abbey - and the final resting-place of the man who deposed him, Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII.
History has been far kinder to Henry than Richard, proving the maxim that it is indeed the victors who determine the record. Henry's claim to the throne was much weaker, something he shrewdly addressed by marrying Elizabeth of York.
Had Richard prevailed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, there would have been no Henry VII, therefore no Henry VIII and no Reformation. England today might still be a Catholic country.
There is some evidence of Richard's piety. It is said that he endowed a college for 100 priests in York, though he did not live to complete the project. He was also a generous benefactor of York Minster.
Leicester Cathedral is laying claim to be the site for Richard's tomb since the Greyfriars' church falls within its parish. After the remains were found Leicester's then Dean, the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, pointed out that it has the only cathedral memorial to King Richard.
On the cathedral website, she stated that if the identity of the remains is confirmed 'Leicester Cathedral will continue to work with the Royal Household, and with the Richard III Society, to ensure that his remains are treated with dignity and respect and are reburied with the appropriate rites and ceremonies of the Church.'
The 'appropriate' rites would surely be a Catholic funeral with a full Requiem Mass, and only a Catholic church will do for Richard's tomb.
Elena Curti is the deputy editor of The Tablet.
Lew Barnes(descendant of John Plantagenet)
2 June 2013 3:03 (46 of 46)
Let him be interred in York Minster with a Catholic service and a suitable tomb.
29 April 2013 20:45 (45 of 46)
The one thing that has really upset me is that there has been no respect or any thought about the Spirituality of Richard's Soul.What have we learned from this dig about this man who was a king form this project. Nothing
27 March 2013 2:34 (44 of 46)
He must be interred in York...... as was his wishes.
13 March 2013 11:04 (43 of 46)
I have been following the discovery and identification of the remains of King Richard III eagerly and believed that the Cathedral in Leicester would be a fitting resting place. I have been discouraged, however, to read the reports that the Cathedral's standards will only allow for a slab, rather than a proper tomb to commemorate him. The tomb that has been designed is handsome, yet still modest, in my view. There would be no other monarchs interred there, so the design will not form a precedent. The Town worthies speak of Richard as providing a magnet to draw tourism to the Town. Surely only providing him with a slab in the floor to commemorate him is not really adequate to express his significance. It should be remembered in my view, that modest as Richard's original interment was, Henry VII paid for an effigy tomb to mark his grave ten years after Richard's death. Surely he deserves at least as fine a memorial now!
13 March 2013 5:59 (42 of 46)
Sorry but Richard III has NO living descendants! He was undoubtedly Catholic. His Book of Hours was for use not show, and he added his own chosen prayers. He was committed to prayers for the dead (making Chantry foundations for his dead relations), and he attended daily mass in his own chapel. We don't KNOW where he wanted to be buried (but in my book I suggested St George's Chapel Windsor). There is no evidence that he wished to be buried in York. His original burial at the Leicester Greyfriars was probably at the friars' request - his family had links with the Franciscans - but he was actually buried by servants of Henry VII, so the lack of respect can't be blamed on the friars or on the people of Leicester. When Viv was Dean of Leicester I discussed with her Richard's Catholicism, and she was happy to take account of it by liaising with the diocese of Nottingham. At the time I was happy with that, because Richard was to have an honourable tomb. But now that Leicester Cathedral seems to have no room for a tomb and want to shovel him under the floor I am thinking again. What about the (Dominican) Priory of the Holy Cross in Leicester? It's a large building. Does IT have room for a proper tomb? Otherwise lets go for Westminster Cathedral.
1 March 2013 12:31 (41 of 46)
Richard's living descendants should make the choice. No-one else has the right.
22 February 2013 14:26 (40 of 46)
Yes! The body should be buried as an entity!
18 February 2013 7:23 (39 of 46)
I thought that the Tablet accepted ecumenism. Yet here we have a regular Tablet writer claiming that the RC Church in England is the one lawful inheritor of the medieval Church and that the Anglicans are alien intruders. This is bad theology and bad history.
17 February 2013 20:14 (38 of 46)
The reburial of the remains of Richard III is governed by the law of burial in England and Wales, the Burial Act 1857, and the specific terms of the section 25 licence issued by the Ministry of Justice on 3rd September 2012. Together with the appllication for exhumation and a covering letter, these documents are now in th public domain. The licence was issued to the University of Leicester Archeological Service, and para. 2(3)requires that ' The remains shall, no later than 31 August 2014, be deposited at Jewry Wall Museum or else he reinterred at St Martins Cathedral or in a burial ground in which interments may legally take place. In the meantime shall be kept safely, privately and decently by the University of Leicester, Archaeological Services under the control of a competent member of staff. '
16 February 2013 13:30 (37 of 46)
In 1485 there was was one Christian church. Martin Luther was born in 1483, so to say Richard was Catholic is the same as saying that he was Christian. Who knows what his views would have been on protestantism? Henry VIII was still Catholic, despite his break with the Pope: there were still cardinals here (Wolsey, to name but one). But two of his children were brought up as protestants because their mothers were. Richard was acknowledged to be a champion of justice & to hate corruption, so I'd love to know what his thoughts would have been on the popes with whom he was contemporary, namely the Borgias. I may detest Henry VII, but I don't think even he could hold a candle to the way the papacy was conducting itself in the late 15th century. And I don't think that Anglican funeral rites are significantly different from Catholic ones anyway. The only real argument between them is over transubstantiation, the rest is negligible. What I'm trying to get at is that he should be buried with Christian rites, the minor doctrinal differences between the Anglican & Catholic churches are irrelevant. Had he been buried in York to start off with, the service would have been conducted by the Archbishop of York. That post has been uninterrupted, except for the brief mental aberration we call the Commonwealth. And just for the record, the Anglican Church didn't nick the catholic churches & cathedrals. The church in England changed.
Pauline M Webb
15 February 2013 13:24 (36 of 46)
I love it!. I often used to think it was funny, the way the ancient world squabbled about who had which relics of which saint, and even used to kidnap them sometimes. 'Funny people in those days' I thought , we are so much more sensible now.....and here we go again. Of Course Richard loved York, he was the head of the Yorkists, vs the Lancastrians. That's who he had been fighting for the throne. Tribal fighting was the name of the game. He was found in Leicester, let him stay there - I bet if he had a choice, he'd go for the Cathedral - more kudos.
14 February 2013 20:49 (35 of 46)
I suggest that he should be interred in the ruins of Leicester Abbey (to keep Cardinal Wolsey company).
14 February 2013 20:04 (34 of 46)
First and foremost Richard the Third loved Yorkshire . His first burial was a disgrace . He was thrown into a hole naked and bound. Thats how much respect that town gave him . He always envisaged being buried in York Minster . It doesnt matter a jot that it has been stolen by the C of E . He should be buried there with the service being conducted in the rights of the Catholic faith but also with the assistance of John Sentamu the Archbishop of York. As a York born and bred woman I long for the return of the King . God bless him.
13 February 2013 7:26 (33 of 46)
Such depressing comments, the frightening, unpleasant years I spent in Northern Ireland are easily explained by the bigoted attitudes and comments on here. I can only wonder at the reaction of Christ to such petty divisions between his followers.
12 February 2013 13:30 (32 of 46)
David Greenwood What a completely ridiculous comment. Did you think about it at all. And if the official religion of the UK today was Mormonism, Islam or Buddhism would that mean that he should have a funeral from one of those religions? Of course not. He was a Catholic and should be buried as such.
Philip H. Simmons
11 February 2013 18:08 (31 of 46)
The friars gave him an appropriate burial, so perhaps to continue history, one should consider as to whether to consult the appropriate, once again. Alternatively, as our reigning monarch. Perhaps Queen Elizabeth 2nd. might also make some input on this delicate issue?
11 February 2013 9:04 (30 of 46)
mr greenwood the roman catholics sense of entitlement you are missing the point richard the 3rd was born and raised in thre roman catholic faith not the coe which did not exist then he should be buried acoording to the rights of his faith not yours as would be his wish and intered in a roman catholic catherdal
11 February 2013 2:16 (29 of 46)
This whole discussion is wonderful and enlightening. I never thought of it but Richard was Catholic.
10 February 2013 20:49 (28 of 46)
If King Richard III should have a Catholic funeral, the C of E should do it as it is Catholic, just not Roman. And if it must be a Roman Catholic Mass, is the 2013 Roman Catholic Church the same as the RC Church in 1485? The Catholic Church that does not require belief in Papal Infallibility should conduct the Mass as the Church of which King Richard was a communicant did not require such a belief. One must remember that the Queen at her Coronation was given the ruby ring, symbolizing the Catholic Faith that she must uphold. Which Church, the Anglican or Roman, is closer in belief to the Church of which King Richard was a communicant? But then what does the Anglican Church today believe? Impossible to say!
10 February 2013 14:41 (27 of 46)
It is about time that Catholics in the UK stood-up for our faith and rights. The Act of Settlement 1701, which is still in force, excludes Roman Catholics, or those who marry Catholics, from succession to the English throne. The act was prompted by the failure of William and Mary, as well as of Mary's sister Princess Anne, to produce any surviving children, and the Roman Catholic religion of nearly all other members of the House of Stuart. The line of Sophia of Hanover was the most junior among the Stuarts, but consisted of convinced Protestants. Sophia herself went to England to campaign for the act, though Queen Anne barely outlived Sophia, whose son duly became King George I and started the Hanoverian dynasty in 1714. This is the disgraceful background to this act that discriminates against Catholics to the present day. Richard III was a Catholic King, not a protestant one. The Tudors made an illegitimate grab for power, unrecognised at the time by other European monarchies, and Henry VII seized the throne after Bosworth. Whether it is a funeral service, which I believe it should, or a re-interment, it should be conducted by the Archbishop of Westminster - he needs to stand-up for British Catholics, not play politics - at Westminster Cathedral and Richard III taken down the road to Westminster Abbey to be laid to rest with his wife.
10 February 2013 12:52 (26 of 46)
Perhaps the whole world could access Richard. Cremate his remains, include it in the paint on a hard disk, put that hard disk on a server, and then put the data on that server in the internet, say, his life, and then he could truly become a king serving his subjects again.
9 February 2013 2:31 (25 of 46)
I find it sad that so many will argue over the interment of someone who died 500 years ago. He was buried and prayed for by those of his era. History has moved on and inane comments about whether or not certain events would have unfolded to one side or another's liking are pointless. X happened not Y and his burial will not change that. Who knows, without the Tudors perhaps England would have been absorbed into the Hapsburg's realms and been relegated to historical obscurity. We can what if forever.
8 February 2013 20:02 (24 of 46)
Richard III significantly predated the Reformation and cannot really be said to belong on one side of the dispute or the other. To suggest that if Richard had prevailed against Henry Tudor, England would have remained a Catholic country is ludicrous and reveals a significant ignorance of history. Henry the VIII's theology was predominantly Cathlic even after his split with Rome and was constantly at odds with his advisors and religious authorities over the scope of reforms that would take place in the CofE. Queen Mary, a staunchly Catholic Monarch, come to power after Henry VIII, yet England did not stay Catholic. The abuses of the Church, the translation of the Bible into English and the spread of Reformation theology amongst the nobles and intellectuals made the Reformation inevitable. This is evident from the fact that the Monarchs were unable to contain the scope of the reformation resulting in the brief rule of Oliver Cromwell and the subsequent glorious bloodless revolution.
7 February 2013 21:20 (23 of 46)
King Richard was Catholic and thus is entitled to that persuasion's rituals. Face it, the CofE is founded on pure adultry and Henry's vanity.
David K Jones
7 February 2013 17:31 (22 of 46)
I just can't believe the staggering arrogance of the leader of Scarborough Borough Council in saying that the people of Leicester cannot be trusted with the bones Richard the Third. Leicester Uni found them Leicester soil is where he lay in peace for 500 years, Leicester has every right to bury him with dignity near to where he died; not in York!
7 February 2013 14:42 (21 of 46)
As a republican I guess I should not really are where he goes but it does seem absurd to hand him over for reburial to the church founder by his killers son!
7 February 2013 12:22 (20 of 46)
How desperately depressing are some of the comments here. Beyond death we will be nothing other than Christians. What matters is that God recognizes us as those among the number of the baptized. So long as we retain a dualistic, 'we're the real thing, you're not' attitude we shame the name of Christ, we betray the Gospel, and we declare ourselves unworthy of receiving the sacraments - no matter which part of the Church we belong to. I feel like weeping.
6 February 2013 18:41 (19 of 46)
How very mean-spirited you nearly all are. I am in agreement with David Greenwood's first comment. Added to that, it's utter nonsense to pretend to be following Richard's 'wishes'. He has already had a funeral. However badly his corpse was treated after Bosworth, including the political gesture of the rough burial, it's almost inconceivable that the friars would not have performed the appropriate rites for him after the circus had moved on, and kept him in their prayers whatever his supposed crimes. This is a reinterment, not a funeral. I see the people of Leicester (whatever their origins or beliefs) as the descendants of the friars. They seem to be rejoicing that they've found him and now want to take care of him reverently and appropriately. I hope this event proves to be a boost for the community in promoting a deeper understanding of British history and Leicester's place in it. I hope the ceremony is well-judged, dignified and accessible to as many Leicester folk as possible. And afterwards, at some point, I very much look forward to exploring the Visitor Centre.
6 February 2013 17:25 (18 of 46)
His wishes I am told was that he wanted to be buried at York. It seems sensible that the reinterrment should take place there.
5 February 2013 19:52 (17 of 46)
I'm an Anglican and I totally agree that Richard should be buried in accordance to his beliefs. He was a Catholic in life and he's a Catholic in death.
5 February 2013 19:12 (16 of 46)
Richard III was baptized, was brought up and lived in the Roman Catholic faith. Now for the promotion of tourism he will be buried in a CofE Cathedral, who no doubt will establish a visitor exhibition and charge people to come and visit the grave of the last Plantagenet King. I say, return this true Kind of England to the care of his faith and bury him with the dignity he deserves.
Fr. Dennis RC
5 February 2013 17:00 (15 of 46)
Why not just have Catholics and Anglicans each give the man a full funeral, rather than settle on some truly weird and anachronistic multi-faith burial service? Everybody except a few crazies will be satisfied, and I doubt the king will voice any objections.
5 February 2013 8:21 (14 of 46)
Elena Curti misses the point that Vivienne Faull, who was until recently Dean of Leicester and commented on the find at the time, is now Dean of York. Maybe a journalist should ask her what she thinks now?
5 February 2013 6:50 (13 of 46)
The idea that a man, King or otherwise, will end up in the cathedral of another faith is bizarre and cannot be justified.
5 February 2013 1:37 (12 of 46)
Peter: Perhaps a trade is in order. The Church of England can give back to the Catholic Church all the monasteries, convents, and properties it stole, and the Catholic Church will let you do with the body as you will. And then afterwards, we can play a game of Anglican chess: where the bishop is often confused for a queen.
4 February 2013 22:21 (11 of 46)
I am personally an atheist, however if this were the remains of a person of, for example Hindu Faith, then a non Hindu Faith service or burial would be deemed totally inappropriate. Richard the Third should therefore not just be interred with a Roman Catholic ceremony and burial but consideration might be given to the old form Latin Rites as would have been appropriate '“ a ceremony in the vernacular would not have taken place in 1485
4 February 2013 20:08 (10 of 46)
The Sacrament of Ordination has not been validly conferred except within the tradition of the Church which Jesus created built on Peter. The Bible was not finished being written until the end 1st century and was not compiled until late 4th century. Christianity began and continued because of the tradition not sola scriptura or Henry VIII which came in 1500 years later.
4 February 2013 16:58 (9 of 46)
Is it any wonder the church is so splintered and divided. A certain amount of credit must go to CofE as they are more concerned with just getting the job done. The Catholics on the other hand are behaving like spoiled children. If the University hold the licence then put them in the university chapel. I think the University is pre reformation ergo: of Catholic origin, but the Anglican cathedral was only endowed in the 20C
19 October 2012 12:25 (8 of 46)
'The CofE can do Requiem Masses if that is what is required.' Not valid ones, it can't. I agree with Ms Curti - a Catholic funeral and a Catholic burial place is appropriate. Richard would have had no truck with protestantism and would not have wished to be buried according to its rites.
16 October 2012 21:53 (7 of 46)
I'd hope that King Richard III, had he had the opportunity, would have judiciously and fairly chastised protestant England and made it Catholic as it was of old.
15 October 2012 13:02 (6 of 46)
What a wonderful ecumenical opportunity. Celebrate the burial with a Roman Catholic mass, with participation from other churches' clergy. Either Westminster Abbey, where Richard's companion monarchs mostly lie or Middleham Parish Church - close to the castle he knew as home for many years. Or York Minster.
9 October 2012 21:02 (5 of 46)
Three points: 1. Leicester Cathedral is not the only one to have a memorial to to Richard York Minster had a stained glass window installed in his memory. 2. A Catholic Mass was held in the Minster to dedicate the window. 3. Surely Richard should be laid to rest where he wanted to be ie York Minster. m
6 October 2012 16:03 (4 of 46)
Not so fast Elena Curti either. Perhaps a quick check of the legislation might be useful. As with any human remains, those at Leicester were exhumed under a 'section 25' licence in accordance with the Burial Act 1857. Their 'custody and possession' is with the University of Leicester and the licence may state when and where they are to be reburied. Since not many former monarchs are exhumed, the law in this area is uncertain, but it could be argued that their fate could be decided by the body having 'custody and possession', i.e. the University or Leicester, or by someone who could prove to have a better claim, i.e. Michael Ibsen, the 55-year-old Canadian furniture maker living in London, whose DNA is being used as a comparator. More information on www.lawand religionuk.com.
30 September 2012 9:12 (3 of 46)
If Richard III were alive today who can say with certainty what religious persuasion he would follow. If the Tudor dynasty had not come into being who can say there would not have been an English Reformation under a successor of Richard? What is certain is that Richard III was a King of England. If the remains found in Leicester are identified as being those of King Richard then a State re-burial would be appropriate. As so many monarchs lie at Westminster Abbey that, to me at least, would seen the place for Richard to finally lie. Celebration according to the Use of York would be a fitting liturgical context. Some years ago Bristol Cathedral celebrated a Requiem in the Sarum Use for the sailors who died on the Mary Rose.
29 September 2012 15:32 (2 of 46)
Surely nothing to do with a sense of entitlement; never mind bizarre. I'd go for Westminster Cathedral because, although it was not there at the time of the King's death, it would come nearest to reflecting the historical situation, and would indeed enable those of us who enjoy both the Abbey and the Cathedral a short walk between to reflect on our history.
29 September 2012 10:13 (1 of 46)
Bizarre and another example, albeit minor, of the Roman Catholic church's sense of entitlement. Ecumenism is truly only skin deep. Richard III was the king of all England and would have expected his body to have been dealt with according to the rites of the church of all England. It is true that when he died that church was the Roman Catholic church. But now the Church of England holds that position. You may wish that wasn't so, but that is neither here nor there. Frankly, as long as his remains are treated with reverence, then why should you care ? Btw - the CofE can do Requiem Masses if that is what is required.