On the night of 14 November 1940, Reverend Richard Howard, Provost of Coventry Cathedral, was one of four firefighters who climbed onto the roof to smother with sand the incendiary bombs that were landing not just on the Cathedral but starting a firestorm across the city centre. At around 8pm a fire broke out inside the Cathedral and, despite extinguishing it, they could not control the other fires which ultimately led to its destruction.
Howard writes “As I went into the ruined Cathedral on the morning after the destruction, there flashed into my mind the deep certainty that as the Cathedral had been crucified with Christ, so it would rise again with Him. How or when, we could not tell; nor did it matter. The Cathedral would rise again.”
In this moving and detailed account of the years that followed, Howard describes how the building of the new Cathedral was planned; how the architects and designers were chosen; with what materials they worked, and what their designs mean. It closes with the sight of the new Cathedral finished and ready for Consecration.
Today, Coventry is a City of Peace and Reconciliation due in no small measure to the determination of Provost Howard to forgive those who had caused that terrible destruction. This brief and illuminating account of the Cathedral’s destruction and rebuilding is an historic and inspiring document.
Originally published by Coventry Cathedral in 1962 but long out of print, this new edition has been produced by Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation who believe this important document deserves a permanent place on the bookshelves of all those who love this city and care about peace. A new foreword has been written by John Witcombe, the Dean of the Cathedral, who says “Reading this book was an important part of inspiring and equipping me for my own work.”
Most Revd. and Rt. Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury says:
“The story of Coventry Cathedral has been of deep significance in my own life and ministry, and is one which continues to inspire and move all those who hear it. It is a story of hope which will be told and retold through the ages. But there is a unique power in this account by Provost Howard, who not only knew the Cathedral intimately but who lived and breathed the very moments of its ruin and regeneration. In his story, we read how the extraordinary events of November 1940 and their aftermath brought Provost Howard to a new and vital encounter with Jesus Christ and the meaning of the cross. As he writes, ‘On the night of its destruction, in an amazing and miraculous way, Coventry Cathedral became the living embodiment of the tremendous truth that, through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all crucifixions in human experience can issue in resurrection’. This truth is the beating heart of the Coventry story, which Provost Howard proclaimed not only to that city but to the world. I pray that each person who reads this moving story will be inspired to find new ways to live it out today.”
This book is published by Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation on behalf of Coventry Cathedral.
Postage within the UK is free.
The book is also available from all good bookshops and from Coventry Cathedral shop.