Yesterday we learned that the bones discovered under a Leicestershire car park were indeed those of Richard III — news greeted here with whoops of delight only a (lapsed) medievalist can muster. Now, of course, we have a liturgical conundrum. When the bones are re-interred, will they be reburied according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England or according to those of the Catholic Church — and if the latter, which rite will be used? Richard III knew neither the Novus Ordo nor the Tridentine rite, so I suppose a case can be made for the Sarum Rite or that of York, or even the Domincan rite, which I believe is currently used at Holy Cross Priory, Leicester (geographically closest to the place of original burial). I see there are already epetitions about the subject.
On the day when Parliament debates the Same Sex Marriage bill and the country begins to come to terms with Chris Huhne’s fall from grace, that does seem slightly arcane. It is, however, a reminder of how fleeting is political power but what a heavy responsibility those who wield it bear. I think Richard would want us to pray for his soul, however his remains are re-interred. I also think we should pray for our present-day politicians, whether they believe they have souls or not. How they live their lives, the standards they uphold, their personal shortcomings and failures affect us all and the decision they are about to make today will have consequences that long outlast them.