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13 November 2014

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You are in: Birmingham > Faith > Features > The meaning of Easter

Rev. Brian Doolan

Rev. Brian Doolan

The meaning of Easter

Rev. Brian Doolan - former Dean of St. Chad's - tells us about the cathedral's history and wonders if we've forgotten the true meaning of Easter.

St. Chad's Cathedral

St. Chad's Cathedral

St. Chad's Cathedral, tucked away in the heart of Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, was the first Catholic Cathedral in the country to be erected after the Reformation.

The building itself was originally constructed in 1841 by the gothic revival architect Augustus Welby Pugin and is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Birmingham which covers five counties - Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and the West Midlands.

Hosting Holy Mass and Confessions at regular times on a daily basis, the cathedral's parish covers much of the city centre together with the Jewellery Quarter and Newtown.

Inside St. Chad's

Inside St. Chad's

Its interior is rich with medieval furnishings and wood carvings collected by Pugin, as well as a unique collection of stained glass, metal work and vestments made by the Jewellery Quarter's own John Hardman & Co.

"We have a strong musical history," says Father Brian Doolan. "Our choir was founded in 1854 and its legacy lives on today. They sing at High Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, as well as other occasions during the year."

Busy time

The Easter period is the busiest time of the year for St. Chad's.

"Most people assume that Christmas is our most hectic period but it’s Easter by far," explains Father Brian.

Inside St. Chad's

Inside St. Chad's

"The Catholic Church has celebrated Easter since the beginning; Christmas is a relatively new festivity. Holy Week has a variety of masses every day, from Palm Sunday through to the 29th April for the Fourth of Easter."

While Christmas may have become a time of excess and consumerism, it's fair to say that the majority of people are still aware of the festivals origins in the Christian belief of the birth of Christ.

This is not so for Easter: research shows that a significant amount of young people are completely unaware of its religious significance.

But why?

"I think that it's a case that Christmas is a lot more accessible to most people," Father Brian explains.

St. Chad's Cathedral

St. Chad's Cathedral

"Yes, it's heavily commercialised now but I do believe that young people are still aware of the religious background of the event. It's accessible. The image of a mother giving birth to a baby in a stable – everyone can picture that and relate to it. Nativity plays are still very common.

"But Easter is different largely because of its association with the death of Christ.  People can't relate to a resurrection idea as easily.

"As a society in popular culture I think we are increasingly afraid of death. There's a huge push to live as long as possible nowadays. The irony is that we've celebrated Easter since the beginning; Christmas is a relatively new festival.

"We believe that death is the beginning, not the end. Easter is this celebration. I think that is its true value."

For more information about St. Chad’s, visit: www.stchadscathedral.org.uk

last updated: 09/04/2009 at 15:02
created: 05/04/2007

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