Blessings of the Basilican Umbraculum and Tintinnabulum; and new Choir Kneeling Hassocks – 17th December 2017
Christmas came early for the Cathedral community and the St Mary’s Cathedral Choir as three gifts were received and blessed by His Grace, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP at the 10:30am Solemn Mass on Sunday 17th December 2017.
The Umbraculum and Tintinnabulum, which were donated by The Friends of St Mary’s Cathedral, are both symbols of a church’s rank as a basilica and its link to the Pope’s authority over the Roman Catholic Church. The title and dignity of a minor basilica was bestowed upon the Cathedral by Pope Pius XI on the 4th August 1932 so it has taken the Cathedral 85 years to finally receive these significant features. Historically, the Umbraculum was once used to provide shade for the Pope on a daily basis and when inside the basilica, it is placed to the right of their main altar. When the Pope visits a basilica, the Umbraculum will be opened to signify his presence. Distinctively, the Umbraculum is also in the traditional colours of the Pontificate (red and gold), however the material used to make the canopy itself distinguishes between a minor and major basilica. An Umbraculum for a minor basilica is made out of silk, whilst an Umbraculum for a major basilica is made of velvet. As St Mary’s is a minor basilica, the Cathedral obtained the silk version.
The Tintinnabulum (Latin for “little bell”) consists of a small golden bell surrounded by a golden frame with an inscription of the basilica to which it belongs too. If the Pope were to say Mass in the basilica, the Tintinnabulum would be used to lead the Papal procession. During the Middle Ages, the Tintinnabulum’s primary function was also to alert the people of Rome of the Pope’s presence.
Both the Umbraculum and Tintinnabulum are now on display at the Altar of St Peter for the general public to view.
The project for the new Choir Hassocks began in 2008 when Mrs Christine McCarthy approached His Eminence, Cardinal Pell with the idea of pulling together a volunteer group to sew and create kneelers for the music choir stalls as a gift to celebrate the Music Department’s 200th Anniversary in 2018. 10 years later and the Hassocks are finally complete. Our very own and talented Assistant Sacristan, Ben Pollock was the creative artist behind the design of each Hassock, artistically painting and transferring the stained glass window designs onto the mesh for the Volunteers.
In keeping with tradition, these handcrafted kneelers reflect images of angels playing musical instruments from 14 of St Mary’s Cathedral stained glass windows. The Hassocks will now be used by our very own Cathedral Choir during Mass and choral services.