- This year marks the centenary of the Consecration of the Cathedral: what do you mean by consecration?
That’s right, the anniversary being celebrated this year is that of the consecration and not construction of the Cathedral. After a long period of building works, the edifice was solemnly “consecrated” as a place of worship in the Catholic religion with a liturgical celebration rich in symbolism led by the Bishop of Nîmes at the time, Monseignor Félix Béguinot. Through this act of consecration the venue became a “holy place”, a place where the Catholic community can come together to worship God, a place where those who are baptised may listen to the Word of God and meet Christ through the sacrement, a place which gives the Church a face and brings everyone together. A special oil called “holy chrism” is used in the consecration liturgy to annoint the pillars and altar.
- What are the highlights planned for this centenary?
We need to remember that in the heart of the city, the Cathedral is the mother-church as it is the bishop’s church. It is here where key dates in the life of the diocese, the Princely Family and the State are celebrated. Throughout the year the calendar will be marked by several types of rendez-vous: special “Centenary Days” which will take place around a particular theme (for example, Nations Day, Young People’s Day, Haiti Day, and so on); “Centenary Music” concerts featuring works linked to our artistic and spiritual heritage; and a “Cathedrals Night” with other cathedrals across the world. A number of services will also be among the highlights, notably the special “Centenary Mass” on 11 June and the closing event on 8 December when we will hear for the first time organ works commissioned for the occasion.
- Can you tell us more about specific events?
As we celebrate the centenary of our cathedral, we must not forget the one in Port-au-Prince in Haiti which collapsed during last January’s earthquake. Our aim is therefore to collaborate in the reconstruction of this building. All activities of our centenary will have the practical purpose of showing our solidarity with the Catholic community in Port-au-Prince. For Haiti Day we will welcome the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince to Monaco as well as the Papal Nuncio in Haiti.
A competition has also been launched to create the “centenary chasuble”. All professional and amateur couturiers from Monaco and elsewhere are welcome to take part. Taking into account what is required by the Church, each will have free rein to design a chasuble, the vestment worn by the priest when celebrating mass. This initiative shows how productive and creative the collaboration between the art world and the Church still is today.
There are also several exhibitions on this year: the first “God’s Art” (L’art de Dieu) is on in the Grimaldi Forum from 17 January while photographs of the Cathedral will be on show in the gallery at Parking des Pêcheurs [carpark]. A more historical exhibition of images and documents from the archives will take place in the Cathedral itself and we invite everyone to rediscover our roots and how we can experience and be uplifted by our faith in today’s world.