FROM Passion-inspired artwork set in 12 shipping containers
across the north-east of England to 500 new poppy fields in Devon,
the closing days of Lent are being observed in a variety of ways
around the country.
The Queen, or her representative, visits a cathedral or large
church on Maundy Thursday every year, with the members of the Royal
Almonry - including the Lord High Almoner, at present the Bishop of
Worcester, Dr John Inge - to present specially minted coins to men
and women aged 70 or above. Today, she and the Duke of Edinburgh
will visit Blackburn Cathedral to continue the custom, which
originated in the 13th century, when the reigning monarch would
give food and gifts to the poor, and wash their feet.
It will be the Queen's first visit to Blackburn Cathedral; and
to mark the occasion the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery has
opened an exhibition of the special coins, some dating back to
Queen Victoria's reign. It includes examples of Maundy Money given
to local people over the years.
In a variation on the custom of foot-washing, the Dean of
Manchester, the Very Revd Rogers Govender, will today polish the
shoes of shoppers at the Arndale shopping centre in the town.
An ambitious BBC production, The Great North Passion,
consists of 12 art installations in shipping containers placed
across Northumberland, Middlesbrough, Tyneside, Gateshead, and
Sunderland. On Good Friday, thousands will gather in Bents Park,
South Shields, for a re-telling of the story of the Passion,
involving local dancers, singers, and graffiti artists. The
shipping containers will then be joined together with others to
form a giant cross.
A similarly grand Lenten project has been unfolding in the
diocese of Exeter, where 500 churches and church schools have been
sent poppy seeds. These will be planted to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. The seeds come
from the village of Northlew, which lost a greater proportion of
its male population during the War than anywhere else in
The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Nick McKinnel, said:
"Filling our churchyards and church schools with poppies this year
is a fitting way of marking the centenary of World War One."
The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, is to officiate at an
interdenominational baptism service outside York Minster on Holy
Saturday. The Archbishop and other church leaders will baptise 13
people from churches in the area by full immersion in tank of
"If you want to be baptised into Christ's death and
resurrection, and haven't been [baptised] before, come along to the
Minster on Holy Saturday," Dr Sentamu said. "All are invited -
bring a towel, and take your step forward in faith."
The Church of England has launched its own Easter campaign on
Twitter, asking users to tweet messages beginning #EasterMeans, to
say what Easter means to them.A number of bishops will
alsocontribute their own #EasterMeans messages.
The campaign follows on from the successful #ChristmasMeans
initiative which a C of E spokesman said reached some four million
people over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year.
Another Passion play will take place twice on Good Friday - at
noon and again at 3.15 p. m. - in the shadow of Nelson's Column, in
Trafalgar Square, in London. Together with doves, donkeys, and
horses, the Wintershall Players, a group of volunteer dramatists
from across London and the south-east will perform a play, The
Life of Jesus.
Peter Hutley, the owner of the Wintershall estate where the
company is based, said: "The two performances of Jesus's Passion in
the centre of London, in such an historic venue, [will] bring
theBible story to life in a creative way, and Jesus to the hearts
of the enormous crowds on a very special day. They will discover
the real reason for Good Friday, and that it is not just another
Also looking beyond bunnies and chocolate is the Anglican
charity Us., formerly known as USPG It has been encouraging
churches during Lent to study the Communion's Five Marks of
Mission, drawing inspiration from the Anglican Church in Burma.
Us. is also asking for donations to its Lent appeal, which will
support the Burmese Church in health- outreach programmes. Funded
by Us., the Church has trained 80 rural health workers in one
diocesealone, to travel to isolated villages, and provide health
advice and basic treatment.