This Advent, Newcastle Cathedral will host a series of festive activities inspired by St Nicholas, the holy figure who inspired Santa Claus and to whom the Cathedral is dedicated.
On St Nicholas Day, Wednesday 6 December at 6pm, the Cathedral’s patronal festival will see the renowned Choir of Durham Cathedral join forces with Newcastle Cathedral Choir (pictured above). This service will mark the beginning of a remarkable milestone: the 90th anniversary of the Friends of St Nicholas, a dedicated group committed to raising funds for the Cathedral.
Founded nine decades ago, the Friends of St Nicholas have a clear mission – to “maintain and beautify” the Cathedral’s heritage.
Lesley Lee, a Cathedral volunteer and the secretary of the Friends, said: “The Friends' groups emerged during the 1920s and 1930s, a time between the wars when cathedrals faced substantial financial challenges. Over the years, the Friends have played a vital role in supporting various conservation initiatives and funding enhancements for the Cathedral which would have otherwise been impossible.
“In the past couple of years, the Friends of St Nicholas has played a crucial role in conserving items like the exquisite silver verge (pictured right), which is used in services, and have contributed to the creation and publication of the Cathedral's latest guidebook.”
In addition to their invaluable support, the Friends offer a diverse programme of outings and events, allowing members to connect, share common interests, and take part in exclusive tours of local historical and cultural landmarks.
Lesley (pictured below) added: “We are always eager to welcome new members of all ages and people of all faiths and none who share an interest in preserving this fantastic building.”
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, families can get creative at the Cathedral's craft station and embark on a special trail using a free booklet that guides visitors around the Cathedral to discover images of St Nicholas and learn how his faith and generosity continue to inspire us today.
Historically, Nicholas of Myra was a bishop known for his acts of charity towards the poor. He is believed to have participated in the Council of Nicaea in 325, where pivotal Christian doctrines were established, many of which we still follow today.
The Very Reverend Lee Batson (pictured below right), who was installed as the Dean of Newcastle in October, said: “One thing that makes Newcastle Cathedral truly special at this time of year is that, among the 42 Church of England cathedrals, this is the only one dedicated to St Nicholas.
“The Friends have marvellously upheld the generous spirit of St Nicholas for nine decades, contributing to the preservation of this building. Through their gifts, we can continue to serve our diverse communities, tell the Cathedral’s story, and share in God’s joy together.”
For more information and to join in the festive celebrations, click here
To find out how to join the Friends of St Nicholas, click here