Requiem Mass for King Louis XVI


A Latin Requiem Mass in the Tridentine form will take place at St Mary’s Church Rye at 12 noon on January 21. This has the permission of the Most Reverend Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, and Canon David Frost. The solemn Mass of Requiem will be celebrated by Father Julian Large of the London Oratory. The Mass will be for the repose of the souls of the late King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette, both victims of the fury of the French Revolution.

The King was executed on January 21, 1793, and the Queen on October 16 the same year. They left two infant children: Louis XVII, aged only 10, who perished shortly afterwards in the cells of the Conciergerie Prison, Paris, and his sister Marie-Therese, aged 15, who was the only member of the family to survive.

A Requiem by Pierre Tabard (1645-1716) will be performed by the Victoria Consort, artists in residence at Pugin’s Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate. The choir was established in 2008 by students at Kent University and has performed a wide variety of sacred choral music in both concert and liturgical contexts. They try to recreate the spirit of Gregorian chants and polyphony and are phenomenally good.

As an unashamed royalist with half-French ancestry, I organised a similar celebration two years ago in St Anthony’s of Padua, though then in the modern form of the Mass. This time, clergy from the Brompton Oratory will be making full use of the high altar and the renovated organ of St Mary’s. This will probably be the first such Mass celebrated at St Mary’s since the time of Henry VIII. Everyone is welcome at this special service, which promises to be spectacular both in music and ceremony. Domine salvum fac Regem: God save the King.

Marie Antoinette: died on October 16, 1793. Only their 15 year old daughter, , survived
Marie Antoinette: followed the king to the guillotine on October 16, 1793
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