Cathedral in Rochester

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I would like to tell you today about a beautiful Christian temple that has existed in Kent since 604. The beginnings of the cathedral are closely related to the beginnings of Christianity in England. The first builder was Bishop Justus, an Italian who came here at the request of Pope Gregory the Great, in a second missionary mission aimed at converting pagan Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. Since then, this first Saxon building has undergone many architectural transformations. The  rectangular body of the cathedral practically no longer exists, only the markings on the temple floor and on the road outside the building testify that it once stood here. Norman Bishop Gudgulf began work on the building in 1080. He came to England with victorious William. Norman and Gothic elements coexist in the temple. Norman elements can be found in the nave, crypt and the facade itself is a beautiful example of Romanesque decorative art.

In the 13th century, the cathedral became a popular pilgrimage site after the death of William of Perth, a Scottish baker, very devoted himself to God. He abandoned his profession to go on pilgrimage to holy places. On his way to Canterbury,  when he stopped at an inn in Rochester for the night he was attacked and killed by a blow to the head. Some crazy woman found him, weaving flower wreaths and placing one on his and the other on her temple.  Apparently this helped cure her madness. She ran to the local monks and told them what had happened, and they laid the body in the cathedral, where it reportedly contributed to other miracles. Wilhelm became the first Saint in Rochester and in older days people would walk on knees to his grave on so-called pilgrim steps.

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In 1215, the cathedral was conquered and desecrated by supporters of King John in the so-called the first war of barons who fought with the king to make him sign the famous Magna Carta, which limited the king’s power and gave the lords great privileges and freedoms.

The following centuries brought considerable reconstruction in the cathedral, which took on more Gothic shapes, including an impressive window in the west facade. In 1490, the current choir was built from the smaller chapel of Our Lady, as the last addition to the existing temple. During the Reformation, the cathedral was converted into an Anglican temple, and during the Cromwell revolution the cathedral was plundered again. Restoration work from the late 19th century restored the cathedral’s former glory.

Admission to the cathedral is free and you can often find volunteers distributing leaflets and providing information about the cathedral.

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