On the solemnity of Corpus Christi on 3 June, “one of the great Feasts of the Church, full of resonance” Cardinal Vincent Nichols inaugurated the diocesan shrine of the Blessed Sacrament at the newly restored Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane during a Pontifical Mass.
The Cardinal said: “It is my privilege to be here today to declare this newly and beautifully renovated church to be our Diocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. In doing so I pray that so many, young and old, will come here to raise their voices “in songs of love and heartfelt praise”, find again a “home for every heart where restless yearns cease”, a “shelter blessed”' and discover a true glimpse of our “Godhead's majesty”, to borrow the words of a previous parish priest”.
Remarking on the beauty of the renovated church, the Cardinal described its extravagance as “an outpouring of that love. In ways beyond words, that beauty will call people into this sanctuary, into this glimpse of heaven, and speak to their hearts with its message of eternal comfort and calm, in a world so often lacking in both.’
Recalling that his predecessor Cardinal Manning, who, on visiting the newly-opened church on 20 October 1847, proclaimed it to be a “sanctuary to be specifically devoted to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament”, he added: “Here, he knew, disciples of the Lord could come to meet him, in that most simple and direct manner: being before him in the Blessed Sacrament in an intimacy of gaze and heart that both refreshes the soul and stirs it into action.”
“The Blessed Sacrament is the source of our mission,” Cardinal Nichols affirmed. “There are two things always to remember about this Sacrament. Flowing from the celebration of the Mass, which brings into every present moment the one, unique saving death of Jesus, this Sacrament becomes the holding forth of his self-giving for all time. And what is more, this Sacrament opens before us a glimpse of heaven, the return of Jesus who has entered the day of ‘the new wine of heaven’ and is longing to lead us too into its joys. In this sacrament we are constantly being given the greatest gift on earth, the gift of Jesus himself and our hearts are constantly being opened to the promise of future glory. This is the cause of our great joy today.”
He continued “From this holy shrine, we are sent out. We are not to linger too long in its embrace, but rather, strengthened here, we leave in order to fulfil our share in this great gift. This was the hope of Cardinal Manning, too.”
After Mass, the Cardinal led the Blessed Sacrament Procession around Covent Garden in an act of witness by the faithful, with visitors and tourists looking on.
The Mass was the climax of a week-long celebration of solemn ceremonies for the re-opening of the church, which closed five years ago for restoration and renovation work.