Welcoming St Chad back to Lichfield Cathedral

04th November 2022

As a relic of St Chad is so generously translated back to Lichfield, a part of the Cathedral’s heart is restored, and St Chad’s ministry of healing continues through the ages.”

Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber.

St Chad returns to Lichfield Cathedral after 500 years. 

It was destroyed in 1538, now, almost 500 years later, Lichfield Cathedral is preparing to reinstate the shrine of its founding father, St Chad for a 21st-century world.

Chad was the first bishop of Lichfield, Lichfield Cathedral’s patron saint, and a saint of an undivided church, and this year, 2022, marks 1350 years since his death.

His shrine was destroyed in 1538 but a ledger stone was placed on the site of the original shrine to mark its place in 1972, and, ten years later, an icon of Chad and a candle stand was placed there and became a focal point for prayer and devotion.

On Tuesday 8th November, Lichfield Cathedral will reinstate the shrine during a special ecumenical service, to create  a place of hope, healing and pilgrimage in these challenging times.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said:

“Reinstating the Shrine of St Chad serves to focus our attention on the life of St Chad, a man who lived by the example of Jesus Christ and in so doing, we are pointing to the faith we hold in Jesus, the one we share with our brothers and sisters around the world.

“We pray that the shrine will serve to bring people’s prayers and thoughts to Jesus as they encounter the wonder of this sacred space and the holiness that feels so tangible here at the Cathedral” he added.

A relic of St Chad, brought by representatives of St Chad’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham, will be given to Lichfield Cathedral to be placed in the shrine in a specially created reliquary.

Two fruit trees to symbolise the coming together of these two different factions of the church will be planted in the Cathedral grounds and all the churches, schools and institutions attending the service will be gifted with a special Verdun Oak sapling – grown from the Verdun Oak in the Remembrance Garden in Lichfield.

The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, the 99th Bishop of Lichfield, said: “This is an enormously significant event for both our Cathedral and the church across the wider Midlands for whom St Chad was apostle.

“The installation of the new shrine and relic of St Chad will be a sign of both healing and forgiveness. St Chad was a saint of the undivided church and this celebration is a potent symbol and step towards the unity that we pray and strive for as brothers and sisters in Christ. It also sends a powerful message of hope and reconciliation to our divided world.”

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Bishop Bernard Longley said:

“I am very grateful that our pilgrimage together as Anglicans and Roman Catholics has been strengthened by our common devotion to the memory of St Chad, as a share of his relic returns to Lichfield Cathedral.  

“St Chad reminds us of the unity we already enjoy through our baptism and faith in Christ – he encourages us to pray and work for the fullness of unity together,’ he added.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber said:
“This moment will represent years of patient dialogue and conversation. More importantly, it marks the growing relationships between all God’s people and especially with our Catholic brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

“We pray that this gift of friendship will be a sign and example that heals historic divides and moves forward in shared faith. Chad was Bishop of an undivided church and he is perhaps a fitting patron of the unity we all seek. 

“As a relic of St Chad is so generously translated back to Lichfield, a part of the Cathedral’s heart is restored, and St Chad’s ministry of healing continues through the ages.”

Artist’s impression of the new shrine – an altar-shrine with a golden corona of light suspended from the ceiling. Lichfield Cathedral has specially commissioned icons for the walls that tell the story of Jesus’ ministry, and golden vases will house the gospels and holy sacrament.