As Bishop and on behalf of the Nordic Catholic Church throughout Europe, I offer our deepest sympathy and prayers to our friends in the United Kingdom. The late Queen Elizabeth was unique in many ways, but especially as a monarch who owed so much to her Christian faith. We are glad to support the tribute written by Fr. Geoffrey, praying that she may be granted eternal rest and receive the promises of Christ.
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The British Queen Elizabeth reposed on the 8th September at the age of 96. This was the longest reign of any monarch in British history having lasted for over 70 years. Much space has been given in tributes from the world over for this remarkable woman, speaking of her kindness and loyalty, her dedication and commitment. But it was a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey who noted the importance of the late Queens’s sense of a Christian vocation.
For Christians, the enduring tribute must be this understanding Queen Elizabeth had of her own coronation as an act of consecration with the undertakings that were given in her vows and promises of duty and service. The coronation rite has its roots in the Old Testament anointing of King David and the translation of this into the later creation of a Christian Emperor under Constantine. In Britain the scholar King Alfred the Great (871-899) had some influence on the crowning ceremony of King Edgar in 973 AD which took place in the context of the Eucharist. The monarch wears a blue stole or sash as a deacon and the regalia of sceptre crown and orb were placed upon the altar and bestowed upon the monarch after the anointing with the oil of Chrism.
Queen Elizabeth II a thousand years later understood how in every sense this made her own coronation a Christian consecration under God. For her the solemn promises with the gift of the Holy Bible and the singing of the “Veni Creator” were in her own words a lifelong undertaking “whether that life was to be long or short”. How important is this in our age in which such ideas of service are less and less emphasised that every deacon, priest and bishop should take on board these same ideas of their own vocations?
Queen Elizabeth died on the day that the Church has since the second century, commemorated the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for as Mary was the icon of Mother of the Church of Christ, Queen Elizabeth has become the icon of Mother of the nation and not just the people of all the British Isles but of a family of other nations from all over the world and of English speaking people everywhere. Elizabeth II was not concerned about glamour and power but about service. Much of what she did, visiting the sick and dying, the victims of disaster, was not glamorous but undertaken in the spirit of service. How important too is this for our confused world that we thank God for this powerful image of womanhood and pray that “Elizabeth” may rest eternally in the arms of the God who guided her as Queen and Mother.
Fr, Geoffrey Neal, Vicar General