Celebrating St Cuthbert’s Day

Evensong and Procession at the Shrine of St Cuthbert
Evensong and Procession at the Shrine of St Cuthbert

Durham Cathedral posted a few pictures of their celebration of St Cuthbert’s feast day this year (yesterday) on facebook. I thought I would share this one. This is from the evensong service after the procession at Cuthbert’s shrine in the Cathedral.

A picture of the shrine below comes from their facebook page. I wish I could see the banner on the wall better. I think its St Oswald on horseback with his raven. Oswald’s skull is still in the casket with St Cuthbert. The pre-Reformation status of Cuthbert holding Oswald’s head is along the wall near the top of the grave. It was damaged during the Reformation.

Shrine of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral
Shrine of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral

The shrine is an enclosed chapel behind the main alter but also near the back center of the cathedral. There are more alters along the back wall behind the chapel. It seems to be a pretty unusual plan, or better yet a survival of a pre-Reformation floor plan. It’s possible only because of the huge size of Cathedral. The only one I saw remotely similar was the tomb of the Black Prince and kings in Canterbury cathedral but those were much smaller. (I have to say that the sight of all the Black Prince’s war gear displayed in church really put me off.) I saw lots of large coffins/sculptures in the middle of the floor in many English churches, but not walled off like this one.


2 thoughts on “Celebrating St Cuthbert’s Day

  1. Awesome pic! So, Cuthbert’s remains and Oswald’s head are buried together there, under the darker tile (or whatever it is) on the floor there? And what is the painting on the ceiling? Christ, I assume? Someday I would love to see this in person. Have you ever been?

    1. Yes, the new(er) coffin is under the dark pavers with his name inscribed on it. Oswald’s head (or rather pieces of it) are in the coffin with Cuthbert where they were put when they first took Cuthbert and fled the Vikings. Yes, its a tapestry of Christ hung from the ceiling, from what I remember. These are the Cathedral’s pictures. Visitors are not allowed to take pictures in the Cathedral. I visited there about a decade ago now.

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