Our Vicar is also a
Prebendary – why?
Today this is
mainly an honorary appointment to mark service to the Diocese and has the
Cathedral as its focus as ‘mother church to the Diocese. Cathedral titles vary and some have
‘Prebendaries’ and other have ‘Honorary Canons’.
The Rev. Martin
Rutter was appointed as a Prebendary of Lichfield Cathedral on St. Chad’s Day,
2nd March 2016 “to mark all your faithful service in the
parishes and diocese”, as the Bishop of Wolverhampton read in the citation.
Martin has been appointed to the stall of Gaia
Minor. Gaia was a hamlet in the Parish
of St. Chad in Lichfield. There is
still a Gaia Lane just to the north of the cathedral. In 1140 the prebend was split to provide two
seats – Gaia Major and Minor.
is a Prebendary?
In the early days of the Church a Bishop would
oversee a wide area with many congregations.
However, he would have a base, a church that contained his chair or
‘cathedra’. It is from this that our
cathedrals derive their name and origin.
Chad was sent to the Midlands in 669 AD as Bishop to the Mercians and set up
his base at Lichfield, which then became the centre of the Diocese of Mercia. Chad died in 672 AD but his work went on and
the Cathedral grew.
Many Cathedrals were also
monasteries and the monks took care of the daily worship but 13 were not,
including Lichfield. So from the 9th
century a number of Prebendaries were appointed to help lead the daily round of
worship. According to the changes at
Lichfield under Roger de Clinton in 1129, the number became 30, each with his
seat in the Choir Stalls. These clergy
had their own parish duties as well as the work at the Cathedral and so to pay
the additional costs various parish put up a sum of money or ‘prebend’, hence
Prebendaries today have no responsibilities for the areas
their Prebendal Seats once represent.
They continue to hold their existing roles in addition to
their new Cathedral responsibilities.
Today there is no extra income but the honour of the Seat
remains. Each Prebendary is a member of
the Greater Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral and is summoned by The Queen to vote
for a new Diocesan Bishop whenever there is a vacancy. In addition they have a say in the governance
of the cathedral and are invited by the Dean and Chapter to take a share in the
cathedral’s ministry and mission, including preaching and leading worship and
taking part in important services.