Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the granting by Pope Paul VI of what is widely known as the Agatha Christie Indult, which allowed the continued use of the traditional rite of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, as amended in 1965 and 1967, in England and Wales. This concession, unique in the Catholic Church, enabled the liturgical celebration of, with some changes, “the Mass the martyrs died for” to remain as part of the life of the country. Not until 1984 was the privilege extended to the whole Church, followed, of course by further relaxation of restrictions before the definitive grant of Summorum Pontificum.
The story of the Indult is set out at Agatha Christie indult This includes a list of all the signatories to the letter requesting the Indult, which makes very interesting reading in itself.
A memoir of those years from a member of the Latin Mass Society can be read at The 1971 English Indult - A Recollection | Latin Mass Society
There are further reflections on the Indult and in particular on Dame Agatha’s influence in obtaining it and on her own religious beliefs at How Agatha Christie Saved the Latin Mass, at The Famous "Agatha Christie" Indult, at The Agatha Christie Indult* and at The day Agatha Christie captured the attention of Pope Paul VI
A good way to mark this significant and, currently very pertinent, anniversary in this month of November would be to not just offer thanks for the Indult but to pray for the repose of the souls of the signatories and of the great Cardinal John Heenan.
There is an interesting historic irony that this grant to the Church in England snd Wales should have been given on, of all days in the year, November 5th …. but then perhaps that is all part of the splendidly counter-cultural nature of the Indult, and the way in which it is recalled.
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