“The queen followed the mass on TV, her smile is the light of a faith open to diversity”

Speaks the Bishop of London, Sarah Elizabeth Mullally who officiated the Jubilee rite in St Paul. And the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell alludes to a passion for racing

LONDON – In the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral, early in the morning while the security service blocks the access and the “people of Elizabeth” animate the streets of the otherwise silent City since this Jubilee brings two days of Bank holiday (offices closed), Dame Sarah Elizabeth Mullally, Bishop of London, the Anglican bishop of the thanksgiving mass for the queen’s 70-year reign, drinks coffee. She was a former nurse before putting on the cassock, she still does not wear the solemn and bulky vestments of 1935, when they were sewn for the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth’s grandfather, George V.

She will then wear them to welcome the Windsors – Charles, Camilla and the rest of the royal family – in the basilica of which she is the “hostess”, 133rd bishop in St Paul’s history. Where is it
Admiral Nelson mourned after Elizabeth I gave thanks for the British victory over the Spanish Invincible Armada. The great fire in London of 1666 sent to ashes the old basilica which was later rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. But as is the tradition of the Anglican Church, religion and daily life, old and new mix without too many formalisms. And if the queen cannot be at mass due to the “slight discomfort” of the night before, “I’m sure she’s watching us on the telly,” the bishop tells Corriere. Beyond the role of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, what is the queen’s religious sense? “You have a deep religious sense, you are so sorry that you cannot be here today and I am sure you have taken the decision not to come very very reluctantly … but you will follow us from home.”
Already, after all, the small screen accompanied Elizabeth from her early years as queen, since an accomplice Philip who convinced her to trust or rather to rely on the new medium even on the day of her coronation, he often had her as an ally. And instead, that smile that despite difficulties (a year ago the death of Philip then health problems) is never missing from the queen’s face: how do you explain it?

«It is precisely his faith that opens that smile on his face, and he is one with the vocation he feels profound to do his duty as a moral guide of the country. A role that he has played tirelessly all his life, trying to be an example ».
An increasingly multi-ethnic country, with many faiths: Prince Charles has often hinted that when it’s his turn he wants to be the guide not only of the Anglican Church but of all faiths.

“But even the Queen has always been well aware of this: after all, the Commonwealth, with its wealth of diversity, has for centuries brought many cultures and many faiths into the country. In short, the queen has a very open vision and she has the talent to speak to the hearts of the people, guided by the light of faith “.
That light in faith evoked by Elizabeth even when in the darkest darkness of London closed in the lockdown of the first pandemic wave she spoke to the world via video from Windsor, trying to console, to urge us to look confidently at a guiding light towards the future.

«And so, for her faith is a gift. Now I have to go and get ready – the bishop closes – and they are tiring vestments to wear also because we did not think of a female bishop at the time ». Then the mass begins, concise because it is tailor-made for the fragile queen who also received the greetings of the North Korean Kim Jong Un (after those of the Pope and presidents from all over the world) who is not in St Paul. And after all, the mass of Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee on 22 June 1897, celebrated in this same churchyard because the queen-empress was too old to climb the steps, lasted only 20 minutes. Short and full of humor as Elizabeth II likes: “We are happy and thank the Queen for always being in the saddle,” says Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York. “We know that you love horse racing, well life is not a matter of sprinting like at Epson rather of constancy but it is precisely with your constancy in difficult times that you continue to serve the country. And we know he is watching us on TV but alas, Majesty, I have no idea who will win the Epson derby ».

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