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Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral
UK News

Cathedrals to remember those who've died during the pandemic on lockdown anniversary

by Chantalle Edmunds

Cathedrals and churches across the country will pause to reflect on 23rd March, exactly a year since the first coronavirus lockdown.

Exeter Cathedral will see its Bishop, Rt. Revd Robert Atwell, leading a reflection on the one-year anniversary in memory of those who have lost their lives during the pandemic. 

His reflection will include prayers and the lighting of a candle.

The service, which will be livestreamed via social media, will begin at 11:45am on Tuesday and will finish at noon with a minute's silence followed by the tolling of the Cathedral's bells.

More than 1,020 people in Devon have died over the last 12 months after contracting Covid-19. 

The Archdeacon of Plymouth, the Venerable Nick Shutt, said: "We think it is important to pause, to reflect and to remember what we have been through in the past year."

He has written to all funeral directors and crematorium staff in Devon on behalf of the Diocese of Exeter, to thank them for the work they have been doing to support grieving families during the pandemic.

Blackburn Cathedral will be lighting more than 4,000 candles in commemoration of all the lives lost in the county to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.  

Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said in a statement: "I encourage people of all ages in Lancashire to participate in this National Day of Reflection. It will be a sombre moment for all of us as we take the opportunity to prayerfully reflect on the past year and the many losses we've suffered as a result of the pandemic.  

"Many of our fellow citizens have been unable to grieve in the way they would expect to for precious loved ones who have died. Whilst we must give thanks and praise to God for signs of hope with the rollout of the vaccination programme, it is important to acknowledge how difficult this past 12 months has been for everyone. 

"That's why we have encouraged people in parishes across Lancashire to keep the minute's silence and mark this occasion in other ways, particularly in prayer and worship on the day.  

"Do join us in that prayer and silence. If you are not able to break for a minute at the allotted time, why not take a moment later in the day to reflect?"  

The National Day of Reflection is co-ordinated by Marie Curie and officially supported by the Church of England.

Over 80 leaders from religious groups including the Buddhist Society, British Sikh Nurses, Professional Women of Faith, Catholic Union, the Islamic Society of Britain, the Church of England, Commonwealth Jewish Council and Interfaith Matters signed an open letter backing the day.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally said in a statement: "Alongside all of the pain, the pandemic has also given us something, a renewed sense of community and a sense that we are looking out for each other. On the 23rd of March please join us in marking both of these - reflecting on those we have lost, but also reaching out to connect with those who have survived and will need our support and love in the coming weeks and months."

An online survey published this week of more than 2,000 adults, commissioned by the Church of England, showed that nearly three-quarters of people who wanted to attend a funeral over the past year were unable to do so because of the pandemic.

Four in ten people said they had lost someone close to them since March 2020 from any cause, including Covid-19.

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