To celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 94th birthday this year, British Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy, hosted a virtual afternoon tea to honor the Church’s contribution to tackling Covid-19 worldwide.
The June 16 tea was held in lieu of an annual private gathering in Rome, to celebrate and toast Her Majesty’s birthday.
ZENIT’s Senior Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Lubov, was ready with her Zoom login and chamomile. Those joining the tea party were primarily foreign ambassadors to the Holy See, Vatican officials, diplomats, religious superiors, and a couple of journalists.
More images from yesterday's virtual event to mark the Church's contribution to tackling #COVID19, including friends of the Embassy preparing scones and #Tea2ThankU (Pictured here: scones from the Australian Embassy to the Holy See and Sr. Alphonsa) pic.twitter.com/njpHDhb8xZ
— UK in Holy See 🇬🇧🇻🇦 (@UKinHolySee) June 17, 2020
The British Ambassador welcomed the invitees joining virtually. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, was a guest of honor and spoke of the Queen’s dedication to service and working toward the common good.
The Vatican Foreign Minister and British Ambassador highlighted various ways the Church and British Commonwealth have and do work together. Pope Francis cordially welcomed Queen Elizabeth to the Vatican in 2014, and Her Majesty has met five Popes in history.
Through his response and extraordinary Urbi et Orbi that rainy Friday night, “Pope Francis gave us hope in the dark days when the virus first struck,” Ambassador Axworthy said.
Today we pay tribute to Her Majesty The Queen on her official Birthday. Her Majesty has met with five Popes in history. This video looks back at those encounters – @RoyalFamily pic.twitter.com/lTJQ8YBil7
— UK in Holy See 🇬🇧🇻🇦 (@UKinHolySee) June 13, 2020
Archbishop Gallagher also reflected on the Pope’s commitment to tackling this pandemic and its consequences, especially through instituting the COVID 19 Commission. He stressed how false securities seemed to fall away at this tragic time, and helped one rediscover what’s really important in life. He also stressed how the Pope in various ways is trying to ‘roll out his field hospital’ to all those in need.
Thank you to everyone who marked Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday with us at an event to pay tribute to the work of the Catholic Church and other faiths in tackling #COVID19. We were joined virtually by @tariqahmadbt and in person by. Abp Gallagher, Sr Jolanta Kafka and Fr Sosa. pic.twitter.com/atXMmvN7cW
— Sally Axworthy (@SallyAxworthy) June 16, 2020
Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, President, Union of Superiors General (USG), spoke and praised the new types of pastoral attention priests have learned and lived even during lockdown.
There were also brief contributions from invited guests on the role the Church has played in tackling Covid-19, including Marta Petrosillo from Caritas Internationalis, who lamented that while it has not been feasible to help everyone who has requested it due to limited funds, that Caritas has still assisted nearly 9 million people. The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, also underscored the importance of religions working together at times of crisis.
One religious sister reflected on how in Congo, it was beautiful to see all the different religions, naming specifically Catholics, Muslims, and Orthodox, work together to combat COVID19 contagion.
Ambassador Axworthy concluded the birthday event quoting St. John Henry Newman’s poem ‘Lead Kindly Light’ and with the UK and Holy See National Anthems being sung by the BE Choir and the Pontifical Beda College choir.
The Hashtag for the event was: #Tea2ThankU
Long live the Queen…
"Afternoon Tea" – @UKinHolySee Event – P. Arturo Sosa USG President : "Religious life is called to care for the present and the future of #humanity , intimately bound up with care for the #environment " pic.twitter.com/brlS3k7WkX
— USG Unione Superiori Generali (@UnioneUsg) June 16, 2020
Across the world congregations and faith groups have been supporting some of the most vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis, so it was a pleasure to be able to thank the Catholic Church for their important work yesterday. @UKinHolySee #Tea2ThankU https://t.co/G8joXD73MQ
— Lord (Tariq)Ahmad of Wimbledon (@tariqahmadbt) June 17, 2020