First it was the choir of Hereford Cathedral in Italy making history after being invited to sing for the Pope, and now its famous Magna Carta has gone on display in a church in a little town in the north west of the country – making history once again.
Hereford Cathedral has agreed to lend out one of its most prized possessions for an exhibition in the Basilica of Sant’ Andrea in Vercelli as the church celebrates the 800th anniversary of its founding in 1219.
Why? The foundation stone of the church was laid by Cardinal Guala Bicchieri – papal legate to England and instrumental in the creation and ratification of the 1217 Magna Carta, which brought to an end the civil war in the reign of King John.
Hereford’s Magna Carta was unveiled in the exhibition at a special ceremony in Vercelli before a large number of dignitaries.
The Revd Canon Chris Pullin, Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral, said:
“This is the first time this document has ever been displayed in Italy.”
“Bicchieri has a very important place in England as one of the people who helped to safeguard the Magna Carta.”
Glyn Morgan of Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust, said:
“We hope this will raise the profile of Hereford and encourage visitors from Italy to visit the cathedral, the county and the diocese over the coming year.”
Last June 13 boy choristers and 12 adults of Hereford Cathedral Choir were invited by the Pope to sing at a Papal Mass in front of a crowd of around 125,000 in St Peter’s Square to mark the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul.
Following the two-hour service, the choir, the Dean of Hereford Cathedral, The Very Revd Michael Tavinor and the Bishop of Hereford, The Right Revd Richard Frith, had a private meeting with Pope Francis in the gardens of the Vatican.