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Knights and Dames celebrate Mass in Ely Cathedral

Two dozen Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem met to celebrate its annual mass in Ely Cathedral on Saturday May 24. Eastern Section President, John Prestage KC*HS, reports.

We robed in the Cathedral centre, before processing into the Cathedral along the nave which, at over 75m long, remains one of the longest in Britain, and onto the Lady Chapel.

Bishop Peter Collins joined us for the first time since his ordination as Bishop of East Anglia, and was the principal celebrant, assisted by our prior Bishop David Oakley, Fr Andrew Coy (Bishop David’s private secretary) and Fr David Finegan parish priest of St Etheldreda’s in Ely who was accompanied by Frankie Tomczyk as altar server.

The Lady Chapel resounded to the singing of the 60-strong congregation, including  guests and parishioners from the Ely parish. Our thanks to Fr David for his assistance in organising the mass.

Bishop David’s homily, without notes, was the most enlightening, reflective, and prayerful sermon I have heard in many years. It was so good I almost wanted to applaud when he finished!

After processing back through the Cathedral to the centre we moved onto the Almonry for lunch; an opportunity to meet our guests, visitors from other sections and prospective new members. We were able to enjoy our pre-lunch drinks on their lawn in the sunshine overlooked by the cathedral.

The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity is definitely worth a visit. The present building dates back to 1083, it was completed in 1342 and is acknowledged as one of the wonders of medieval engineering.

Until the Reformation it was the Church of St Etheldreda and St Peter, at which point it was refounded as the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely. The cathedral is built from stone quarried from Barnack in Northamptonshire, bought from Peterborough Abbey, whose lands included the quarries, for 8,000 eels a year.

In 1321, under the sacrist Alan of Walsingham, work began on a large free-standing Lady Chapel, linked to the north aisle of the chancel by a covered walkway. The chapel is 30m long and 14m wide, and was built in an exuberant ‘Decorated’ Gothic style over the course of the next 30 years.

The cathedral actually has its origins in AD 672 when St Etheldreda built Ely Abbey. This year marks the 1,350th anniversary of the foundation by St Etheldreda. Bishop Peter will be back in Ely to celebrate Mass in the parish church on St Etheldreda’s Feast Day, Friday June 23, at 7pm and then returns to the city on Sunday June 25 for Festal Evensong and Procession in Ely Cathedral at 4pm.

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre was established under the protection of the Holy See as a body in support of the Church across the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The English Lieutenancy is part of a world-wide organisation of 30,000 knights and dames, priests and bishops.

To find out more about the work of the Order please visit

Pictured above is Bishop Peter celebrating the Mass in Ely Cathedral and with, below, from the left Fr David Finegan, Bishop David Oakley and Thomas Kilduff KC*HS – Lieutenancy of Ireland.