Meal for the poor to mark death

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The Independent Online
AT THE Benedictine monastic community at remote Ampleforth Abbey, Yorkshire, beloved by Cardinal Hume, the refectory table will have a special place reserved for him tonight but set only with a crucifix.

It was there that Hume, the former Abbot and language master, took his meals. For 30 days from his death the brother monks will exercise a special period of mourning.

Today will see the first of three special requiem masses for the repose of the cardinal's soul with the abbey holding further ceremonies on the seventh and the 30th and final day of mourning.

Each sitting at the refectory will include a meal prepared for the late cardinal but instead of being consigned to the rubbish bins of the kitchen it will instead be prepared for a "deserving soul" and offered to the poor.

Though Hume had made Westminster Cathedral his home since his reluctant elevation to Archbishop of Westminster and then cardinal, he is still fondly remembered by his fellow brother monks and the residents of this craggy North Yorkshire village.

It was this place that he had cherished as a retirement retreat where he could indulge his love of trout fishing and following Newcastle United.

Fr Geoffrey Lynch, who was Cardinal Hume's secretary when he was abbot at Ampleforth, said: "It's like a death in the family.

"He was a young abbot and a good abbot. He was not only active in teaching but was also involved in sport, especially rugby.

"I found him exactly the same sort of person when he became Cardinal as when I was secretary to him here. He was a very good monk."

And Tony Fawcett, a former pupil, who was born and bred in Ampleforth, said: "When I met him he had this curious combination of exuding an air of genuine holiness while at the same time being a man with his feet firmly on the ground."