Friday, September 20, 2019

Pontifical Requiem Mass at Farnborough Abbey

The Parisian church of St Eugène, home of the Schola Sainte-Cécile, is dedicated to a 7th century bishop of the Spanish city of Toledo, called ‘Eugenius’ in English and Latin; this dedication was also made in honor of the Empress Eugénie, the Spanish wife of the last French Emperor, Napoleon III, during whose reign the church was built. Following the overthow of the French monarchy in September of 1870, the imperial family lived in exile in England. Napoleon III died in early 1873; his heir, Louis-Napoléon, the couple’s only child, was killed in South Africa in 1879 while serving with the British Army during the Anglo-Zulu war. Two years later, Eugénie founded the abbey of Farnborough, partly to serve as a mausoleum for her husband and son; she herself was buried there as well when she died in 1920, at the age of 94. The crypt where their mortal remains repose is similar in design to the royal crypt of the abbey of St Denis just outside Paris, where Napoleon III had intended to be buried.

During the Schola’s pilgrimage to England last month, we visited Farnborough, and the Schola sang a Requiem Mass for the members of the imperial family and founders of their home parish. The Mass was celebrated by Abbot Cuthbert Brogan, in the Pontifical Rite proper to abbots, i.e., from the sedilia, rather than a faldstool. Here are some pictures of the Mass, courtesy of the Schola, as well as a video of the Introit and Kyrie. This post will be followed by another of some of my own photos of the church, which is very beautiful.

The Introit and Kyrie of the Requiem Mass for the Bishops of Langres by Nicholas-Mammès Couturier, canon and choir-master of Langres Cathedral (1840-1911).
The Absolution
After the Absolution, we went down to the crypt, the entrance to which is at the back of the church, where the Schola repeated the Libera me.
The granite sarcophagi of the Empress Eugénie (seen here) and her husband and son were donated by Queen Victoria, with whom she became close friends during the years of her exile.

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