This is Holy Week

People across the Archdiocese of Birmingham have started their Holy Week journey.

The ceremonies began with Palm Sunday and continue with the Sacred Three Days (Triduum) of Holy Thursday evening, Good Friday afternoon and Holy Saturday evening.

These are some of the most beautiful and precious moments of prayer in the whole year as we celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We will be capturing the celebrations at St Chad’s Cathedral, the Diocesan Mother Church.

We wish you all a blessed Holy Week and Easter.

Easter Vigil

The greatest and most noble of all Solemnities, celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley.

Beginning outside of the Crypt at St Chad’s Cathedral with the Blessing of the Fire and Preparation of the Paschal Candle. 

A procession into the cathedral with lighted candles for the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet). 

The Easter Vigil consists of four parts: The Service of Light, The Liturgy of the Word, The Blessing of Water (includes the Renewal of Baptismal Promises / The Rite of Reception / The Rite of Confirmation), The Liturgy of the Eucharist.

In the Liturgy of the Word, Holy Church meditates on the wonders the Lord God has done for his people from the beginning. 

In the Baptismal Liturgy we welcome new members into the Church; and with the Renewal of our Baptismal Promises the Church is called to the table the Lord has prepared for his people, the memorial of his Death and Resurrection until he comes again.

In his Homily Archbishop Bernard said: You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here.

In this telling of the Easter story three women who have been close to Our Lord point the way to us.  On the day after his death, the Gospel of St Mark tells us, they waited until the sabbath was over before preparing the burial spices and then coming together to plan what they would do next.  They were pragmatic - asking who would move the stone for them to enter the tomb of Jesus.  

In common with all the Lord’s disciples they must have felt utterly defeated - devastated that the Master had been arrested at the dead of night, condemned with no-one to offer a word in his defence and executed like a criminal.  For the disciples who had built their lives and their hopes on the promises of Christ, his death on the cross must have shattered their trust and left them dazed and bewildered about what to do now.

This year the besieged people of Ukraine and of Gaza are also dazed and bewildered – so are the families in Israel who still hope for the return of their loved ones taken hostage.  They long for some signs of hope – for an end to conflict and suffering.

Read Homily in full

Mass Participation Sheet

Photo Gallery

Easter Vigil Mass

Good Friday's Walk of Witness - The Way of the Cross

Our Ecumenical Walk of Witness for Birmingham City Centre once again started from the Church in Carrs Lane and finished at St Chad's Cathedral.

This year we meditated on the Stations of the Cross during our walk together, reflecting on two each time we paused, until reaching St Chad's where we concluded with the final four stations. This is a wonderful time of prayer, contemplation and reflection on the Stations of the Cross, with our ecumenical brothers and sisters in Birmingham.

The participation booklet is available in pdf format, with reflections and prayers included.

Walk of Witness Participation Booklet

Good Friday Solemn Liturgy

After the Walk, Arcbishop Bernard celebrated the Good Friday Solemn Liturgy. Mgr Tim Menezes, Cathedral Dean, gave the homily:

"As the crowds were appalled on seeing him so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human…

"Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly,

"He never opened his mouth.

"There is something about this day that is effortlessly dismal.

"It is as though we are in a tunnel where we cannot quite see back to the joyful entry into Jerusalem of Palm Sunday.

"And standing at the foot of the Cross with Mary, witnessing her Son’s agony and unable to protect him, even with our Christian knowledge of the Paschal Mystery which leads beyond Good Friday, the Church’s liturgy envelops us in the solemnity and shadow of this day… and it is important for us to accept it."

Good Friday Homily

Mass Participation Sheet

Photos from Good Friday's Walk of Witness

Walk of Witness 2024

Photos from Good Friday Solemn Liturgy

Good Friday - The Passion of the Lord

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday

During this Mass we recall the Institution of the Eucharist and Priestly Orders. 

The Homily was delivered by Fr Andrew Allman, Vice Rector at St Mary's College, Oscott: 

What was the first thing the Lord did on the day of His death? I have occasionally asked this question to groups. They tend to look a bit puzzled, then perhaps to say, “He woke up”, or “He had His breakfast”. But for the Jewish people, the day does not begin with sunrise or when we wake up. The day begins and ends with sunset: it is this moment which marks the transition from one day to the next. So, at this hour, the sun having set, we begin with Jesus a new day, the first day of the “Triduum” – the sacred three days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. On this first day, the Lord will celebrate the Last Supper, experience His agony in the garden, be arrested and tried, be scourged and mocked, and die on the cross. Before the sun sets again, He will lie buried in the tomb. 

Read Homily in full

After the Homily Archbishop Bernard Longley washed the feet of seminarians from Oscott and congregants in imitation of and representing Christ.

The Washing of the Feet reminds us all that we should imitate the Lord who came among us in love to serve and not be served. 

Following Mass, Exposition of The Blessed Sacrament took place in the Lady Chapel for silent prayer and contemplation – watching with Christ on the night before his Crucifixion. 

Concluding with Night Prayer of the Church (Compline).

Mass Participation Sheet

Holy Thursday Photo Gallery

Mass of the Lord's Supper, Holy Thursday

Palm Sunday

We began Holy Week by following in the footsteps of Christ with a procession at St Chad’s Cathedral.

Archbishop Bernard Longley was principal celebrant at today's 11.30am Mass.

It began outside, by the entrance to the crypt, with prayer, the reading of St Mark’s Gospel 11:1-10 and the blessing of palms.

A procession into the cathedral followed led by the choir and involving seminarians from St Mary’s College, Oscott, altar servers, clergy and parishioners.

The Homily was delivered by Canon Michael Dolman, Rector of St Mary’s College, Oscott.

Passion Sunday, or Palm Sunday as many people commonly know it, marks the beginning of Holy Week, a day we commemorate the triumphant arrival of Christ into Jerusalem just days before the crucifixion.

The Liturgical colour of the Palm Sunday Mass is red, symbolising the redemption in blood that Christ paid for the world.

Palms blessed on Palm Sunday are used in the procession of the day, then taken home by the faithful and used for personal devotion.

Mass Participation Sheet

Holy Week and Easter at St Chad's Cathedral

Palm Sunday Photo Gallery

Palm Sunday at St Chad's Cathedral 2024