“How do we understand and celebrate the chapters and mysteries of our lives? What keeps us going in tough times and where do we find hope?”

Faith was a 24-hour invitation on Saturday 11 September to explore these big questions through the beliefs of people of faith, and of non-religious world views, through music and theatre. The faith event was co-produced by Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company with City Voices and Coventry Faith communities.

Faith centres and spaces across Coventry opened their doors for an Open House, sharing more about their beliefs, practices and work in the community. About 20km (12 miles) of interwoven blue ribbon was used across the city to represent the tie between faith buildings in the city. Artist Tom Piper, who designed the poppy memorial at the Tower of London, created the 'visual representation' of the ties between faith groups.

Catholic Churches taking part included Christ the King, St Osburg, St Mary and Benedict's and St Stanislaus Kostka. Faith:Open House

Photos of Open House and the city centre

Coventry City of Culture 2021

Included in the plays across the city was 'Bless Me, Father' by Alexandra Johnson at Christ the King. The short play was livestreamed and a recording is available here:

It tells the story of Alex and Sean, a newly married couple who have moved to Coventry from Ireland in the 1970s. They each speak with their priest about adjusting to life in Coventry, from the unusual food to the generalisations made about their identity. This was followed by refreshments and discussion on the play.

The day ended with an evening ceremony in which people congregated in the Millennium Square to light one of 500 flames to create a city-centre 'tapestry of lights'. At the close two processions of 70 torches were carried out of Millennium Place to mark a moment of shared collective hope from those of faith and of non-religious world views. There were taken to Swanswell Park and Coventry Cathedral where the torches were installed to naturally burn out.

Photographs from the Festival of Light

Coventry City of Culture 2021

Canon Tom Farrell, Catholic Dean of Coventry, said that he was very pleased that Coventry City of Culture had decided to acknowledge the important influence of Faith on Culture. The weekend was a great success and he was pleased that the Catholic community, as well as other faiths, had been invited to contribute.

More information on Coventry City of Culture 2021

Words and pictures by Con McHugh