Visitors to Rochester Cathedral can currently view a wonderfully colourful memorial to local people who have died during the COVID pandemic. A large patchwork quilt is spread out and each segment tenderly remembers loved ones who have died from the virus.
The quilt is a touching memorial to Kent’s sad losses and its multi-colours are even more poignant for their almost optimistic brightness and their contrast to the more sombre atmosphere of its religious setting.
But as a first-time visitor to the cathedral, the quilt represented also represented a significant change of tack – and one which is hugely overdue.
Walking around the cathedral I was bombarded with all the memorials on the walls and nooks and crannies. Bishop this, Canon that, Lord or Lady something, Mayor something else. Among all these were an array of military big-wigs who died in the Great War or earlier Empire Wars and other VIPs whose great virtues are emblazoned in curly-whirly script and often in Latin.
I tried hard but I couldn’t see any memorial or even a line etched on any wall that spoke of the ordinary men and women of Rochester or elsewhere in Kent. Rochester Cathedral has stood for a thousand years and not a jot on the walls for anyone who wasn’t someone. I could be wrong, there could have been a little plaque somewhere about a local Joe or Josey but if there were then it was extremely well hidden.
So, the quilt was a very welcome sight – not just as a colourful and respectful object of remembrance for the many who have lost their lives to COVID, but as a very long-overdue statement that everyone is someone, in life and in death, and that every church or cathedral ought to reflect this on their walls.