Visit to St Albans’ Cathedral
Last year (2007), the Watford Bridge of Peace was selected to receive the Prevent Pathfinder Fund from the Home Office via the Mayor and the Watford Borough Council. The award was given to us to support and develop the Bridge of Peace in its aims to be ambassadors for understanding and tolerance across the community. Four events and some courses were held. Among those projects, one of the most memorable one was our visit to St Albans’ Cathedral.
On February 20th the Bridge of Peace organised a trip to St Albans. Muslim and Christian ladies (22 Muslim and 15 Christian women) went by minibuses to St Albans’ cathedral. Having visited the local Mosque earlier on, we decided that we would now visit a church. One Muslim lady suggested to visit St Albans’ Cathedral. All were excited to see that magnificent building that as Muslim they had seen from the outside but had never dare to go inside.
Thanks to one of our Christian Peace sister we made contact with the Cathedral and were welcomed by Canon Iain Lane, education and interfaith canon at St Albans’ cathedral. He showed us around and told us about the history of this prestigious building, one the oldest Christian worship place in the UK. He spoke also about the life of St Alban, the first Christian martyr in the UK dating from the Roman time. It was quite a sight to see all those Muslim women in their traditional cloths and hijab walking with the Christian women around the cathedral. One Christian lady was pushing a Muslim women in a wheelchair.
After lunch in the Cathedral’s cafeteria, one Muslim woman asked where they could do their prayers, if there was a specific place they should go. Puzzled by the enquiry and probably not having been asked that question before the Canon could not give a clear answer. Then to all our amazement, the Muslim women took off their coats and laid it on the cold stone floor of the cathedral and started bowing reciting their prayers. Some of our Christian sisters had tears in their eyes. What a sight to see Muslim women praying in this magnificent cathedral! How many centuries of prayers have been heard in those walls but how often those walls heard Muslim prayers? We all left the cathedral in high spirit having experience something very unique together. In the minibuses on the way back to Watford, we were all chatting and laughing together. One Muslim women remarked: ‘We are really sisters. We are one family’.
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