St Paul’s Cathedral has launched a virtual book of remembrance for coronavirus victims in the UK.
People of all faiths and beliefs have been invited to contribute to the project, which is called Remember Me and is expected to eventually manifest as a physical memorial at the cathedral.
As of Friday, family, friends and carers of those who have died can submit the name, photograph and a short message in honour of a deceased person on the Remember Me website.
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“’For centuries, St Paul’s Cathedral has been a place to remember the personal and national impact of great tragedies, from the losses of war to the devastation of the Grenfell Tower fire,” said the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Very Reverend David Ison.
“We have heard so many sad stories of those affected by the pandemic, and all our thoughts and prayers are with them. Every person is valued and worthy of remembrance.”
“Remember Me is an opportunity to mourn every person we have lost to the effects of this terrible disease, an encouragement to offer compassion and support to those left behind, and an ongoing recognition of the impact of the pandemic on the UK.”
Designs have been approved for a new inner porch in the cathedral’s north transept and, subject to funding, this will serve as a physical memorial for all who have died as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
To launch the project, the cathedral’s choristers have recorded a special version of Mendelssohn’s Lift Thine Eyes, part of Psalm 121, to serve as an anthem for the book of remembrance.
The Prince of Wales, who has recovered from coronavirus, has recorded a video message in support of the project.
“For too many among us, this has brought tragedy and heartbreak. For some, relatives have not been able to be present at the time of their loved one’s passing,” Prince Charles said.
“For many, the loss of their loved ones has been made all the more agonisingly painful by the necessary restrictions on funerals, travel and gatherings. For all of us, there has been anxiety in the present as we have wondered what the future will be.”
He added: “This virtual book of remembrance is here to help us remember; not just to recall our loss and sorrow, but also to be thankful for everything good that those we have loved brought into our lives, and all that they have given to others.”
St Paul’s community has experienced loss during the pandemic, with the mother of Oliver Caroe, surveyor of the fabric of the cathedral, dying on 5 April due to coronavirus, aged 81.
Mr Caroe, whose job was famously held by the architect of St Paul’s Sir Christopher Wren, said about his mother, who had worked as a GP and a police surgeon: “When my mum was sent off in an ambulance, we feared we would never see her again.
“Not having any of the closeness, face to face conversations or rituals that you would normally have in place with someone over their last days adds to the deep emotional impact.”
He said his mother’s family and friends were planning a party in her honour: “In the meantime, I hope the Remember Me memorial will help us all look ahead, past the immediate, painful horizon, in hope.”
The idea for the memorial project stemmed from a conversation the Dean had with the Bishop of London Dame Sarah Mullally in mid April, when she mentioned an online book she had come across, and he decided to create a virtual book of remembrance.
Additional reporting by PA