The coronation of King Charles III on Saturday, May 6, will be a historic moment for both the Catholic Church and the British monarchy, as well as the whole of the U.K.
For the first time since the Reformation, a Catholic prelate will be formally participating in the coronation ceremony, along with other Christian leaders across the country who have been invited to formally bestow a blessing on the new king.
The Order of Service, released by the Church of England, explains: “The progress of ecumenical relations since 1953 means that for the first time, this blessing is to be shared by Christian leaders across the country.”
The blessings will take place shortly after the archbishop of Canterbury formally crowns King Charles III, after which Westminster Abbey’s bells will peal for two minutes and then the official blessings will commence.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Catholic archbishop of Westminster, will say: “May God pour upon you the riches of his grace, keep you in his holy fear, prepare you for a happy eternity, and receive you at the last into his immortal glory.”
The other Christian leaders who will formally give a blessing include the archbishop of York, the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, the moderator of the Free Churches, the secretary general of Churches Together in England, and the archbishop of Canterbury.
In the run-up to the coronation, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, of which Nichols is president, are encouraging Catholics to pray especially for the new king using a prayer card they have issued.
On the prayer card, Nichols has included a personal message, which reads:
“The coronation of King Charles III will take place in Westminster Abbey. This will be the first coronation for 70 years in our countries; indeed, the first since our late Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, entered the ancient church as a young woman to take on the awesome responsibilities of monarchy.
“In his first address to our countries after the death of the Queen, His Majesty stated, in the context of the late Queen’s unwavering service, ‘that promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today.’
“None of us can imagine the incredible burden that His Majesty will assume as he is crowned King alongside his wife and Queen, Camilla. The world has immeasurably changed since 1953 with many more opportunities and challenges in the lives of all. As faithful citizens of our countries, we now pray for our King as he assumes the fullness of the high office of monarch.
“From Wednesday 3rd May until Friday 5th May, the Bishops of England and Wales ask each Catholic in our lands to pray for His Majesty and the Queen. We can do this in our daily prayer asking Almighty God to guide the King in his appointed tasks.
“We can also pray for him when we gather for prayer at Mass. This triduum of prayer will culminate on Friday evening when we have asked each Catholic community to offer a special Mass for the King before the Coronation on Saturday.
“It will be the culminating moment of our three days of prayer when we ask God’s continuing blessing on our new King and Queen. As we look towards the Coronation Day, which will be marked with joy and celebration across England and Wales, and the Commonwealth, let us commend King Charles and Queen Camilla to our Heavenly Father, that he may sustain them in their duties all the days of their lives.”