Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien received a great welcome as he arrived as the Papal Legate of Pope Benedict XVI at St Columba’s Church Long Tower on the feast of St Columba and the centenary of Long Tower.
Cardinal O’Brien arrived in cappa magna, seen in Derry for the first time since Vatican II. The particular cappa magna worn by the cardinal initially belonged to Cardinal Heard, the first Scots-born Cardinal appointed since the Reformation. The cappa magna then passed on to Cardinal Gray — then to Cardinal Winning — and now is in the possession of Cardinal O’Brien with this solemn event being the first occasion on which he has worn it.
Rev Thomas Philip Donnelly (senior priest of the diocese), Pontifical Mission to the Papal Legate, and Rev Michael Canny (Administrator, St Eugene’s Cathedral) accompanied the cardinal.
(Read the entire report at the site of the Scottish Catholic Observer here)
While the cappa magna is not a strictly liturgical vestment, it is still a part of the prelatial choir dress, and perhaps the one that most vividly typified the prelatial dignity. That its use has been taken up again by Cardinal O’Brien may be taken to show the ongoing influence of the re-assertion of a hermeneutic of continuity in the Church, which is also shown by a passage of the Cardinal's homily, reported by the observer:
Cardinal O’Brien said that the centenary celebrations were part of the ‘great river of Christianity of which the late Pope John Paul II spoke in the Year of Columba 1997.
That river of Christianity began with the birth of Jesus Christ; it has continued through the centuries with the ministry of men like St Columba in Ireland and Scotland; and continues right up to our own time.’