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Famous Anglo German Tapestry Taken Down For Shrine Refurbishment (posted 9 August 2011)

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Famous Anglo-German Tapestry taken down for Shrine Refurbishment...

Picture: Removal of Tapestry
Removal of Tapestry

A refurbishment of the historic Shrine of St Richard at Chichester Cathedral is taking place throughout August.  This interesting project will include the temporary removal for cleaning of the large and striking Anglo-German tapestry (approx 7m x 4m), the addition of specially designed metal grilles and candle stands, and the cleaning  and restoration of the marble floor.

The refurbishment has generously been made possible by the Bishop Eric Kemp Memorial Fund.  Bishop Eric (Bishop of Chichester 1974 to 2001) died in 2009.  He often said he wished the Shrine could be restored and made more worthy of Sussex's own Saint, St Richard.

The Shrine of St Richard has been a site of pilgrimage throughout the ages.  Nowadays, the Shrine is a focus for prayer in the Cathedral where visitors can come and leave their prayers and petitions.  It is not unusual for over 200 prayers to be left at the Shrine each week.  Each day, these prayers are collected by the Cathedral Clergy and offered at Holy Communion service.

The Anglo-German Tapestry was placed at the altar in 1983 and was designed by Ursula Benker-Schirmer.  This vibrant work is one of the Cathedral's modern pieces and it is dedicated to two bishops of Chichester: St Richard (1245 - 1253), and Bishop George Bell (1929 - 1958), patron of the arts and founder of the World Council of Churches.  The tapestry was woven in Germany and at West Dean College, near Chichester and took 3.5 years from conception to completion.

St Richard was Bishop of Chichester from 1245 - 1253 and died at Dover on 3rd April 1253.  In his eight years as a bishop, Richard had become so beloved of the people of Sussex that the Cathedral immediately became a place of pilgrimage.  The people said his name Ricardus stood for ridens (laughing), carus (dear) and dulcis (sweet).

In 1930 an altar was placed at the Shrine and in 1991 a portion of the authenticated relic, probably of St Richard's arm, which had been preserved at the abbey of La Lucerne in Normandy, was interred beneath the altar.

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