The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were welcomed to Bayeux Cathedral today by the Prime Minister of France as they attended the Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance.
The service concluded with the blessing of the cathedral’s new Bell for Peace and Freedom. Charles and Camilla along with other Heads of State and Government proceeded to the bell, located in the centre of the nave. The Cardinal said a brief prayer and asked Prince Charles to name the bell, “Thérèse-Bénedicte”. The Cardinal sprinkled the bell with Holy Water, recited a prayer, then rang the bell. The bell’s initial peal was followed by a Normandy veteran and the veteran’s grandson who is serving as a member of 32 Regiment Royal Artillery.
— ITV News (@itvnews) June 6, 2014
After a final blessing the Cardinal led Charles and Camilla as well as other attendees in a Recessional from the bell to the West Door of the Abbey. The Royal couple departed for the Sous Prefecture where Charles stopped to view the De Gaulle room.
The bell is named for St. Thérèse-Bénedicte of the Cross. St Therese, born Edith Stein, was a German Jewish philosopher born in the late nineteenth century who converted to Catholicism, becoming a Discalced Carmelite nun.
— DDay Normandy (@DDay_Normandy) April 23, 2014
In 1938 St. Thérèse-Bénedicte was sent by her convent to the Carmelite monastery in the Netherlands with hopes to ensure her safety. Unfortunately, St. Thérèse-Bénedicte was apprehended by the Nazis in August 1942 and sent to Auschwitz, where she died. In 1999 Pope John Paul II canonized her saint.
As part of the memorials marking the 70th anniversary of the Allied Landings the Diocese of Bayeux decided to commission a new bronze bell for Bayeux Cathedral. The bell is a symbol of peace and liberty.
French tradition calls for the bell has a principal “godmother.” The Queen and nine junior godfathers and godmothers (children from each of the Allied nations). It is tradition for the senior godparent, or their representative, (today it was The Prince of Wales who represented Her Majesty) to “name” the bell.