News Analysis

The Extraordinary Form returns to St John Fisher’s cathedral

Rochester Cathedral (Getty)

For the first time in 485 years, the Traditional Latin Mass will be offered on the feast of the English cardinal, bishop and martyr St John Fisher, in the cathedral where he lived and ministered for 31 years before he was martyred by Henry VIII.

The Mass, said according to the Missal of 1962, will be offered by Fr Thomas Lynch, parish priest of English Martyrs, Strood, at 12 noon on Saturday June 22, in the St Ithamar Chapel of Rochester Cathedral.

Fr Lynch said: “It will be an honour to offer the Holy Mass in the rite that St John Fisher would have said in his own cathedral. I also appreciate the goodwill of the cathedral staff for giving permission. It’s a particularly joyful moment as we thank God for the work of Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, and welcome his successor Bishop John Wilson to our archdiocese.”

Rochester is England’s second oldest cathedral after Canterbury. It was built by England’s first Catholic King, St Ethelbert, in 604 and consecrated by St Augustine of Canterbury. Fisher was Bishop of Rochester from 1504 to 1535. His feast day, shared with his fellow martyr St Thomas More, is held on June 22 in the newer liturgical calendar.

A number of Catholic and ecumenical events have been held at the cathedral in recent years, including a Mass in the New Rite offered in 2012. But it is believed that this is the first time the Old Mass has been offered in the cathedral since the 16th century.

A good turnout is expected at the Mass, especially from younger Catholics: in recent years, a growing number have moved into the Kent area to buy homes and start families.