St Paul’s Cathedral has today launched an online book of remembrance for all those in the UK who have died as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
People of all faiths, beliefs or none are invited to contribute to Remember Me.
HRH The Prince of Wales has recorded a video message in support of the project. His Royal Highness said: “This virtual book of remembrance is here to help us remember; not just to recall our loss and sorrow, but also to be thankful for everything good that those we have loved brought into our lives, and all that they have given to others.”
From Friday family, friends and carers of those who have died can submit, free of charge, the name, photograph and a short message in honour of a deceased person via the Remember Me website. The person being commemorated must have been living in the UK. Remember Me will be open for entries for as long as needed.
To launch the project, the choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral have recorded a special piece of music to serve as an anthem for the book of remembrance.
It is intended that the Remember Me site will become a physical memorial at the Cathedral. The Cathedral has approved designs for a new inner porch in the North transept and, subject to funding, this will serve as a fitting memorial for all who have died as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Very Reverend David Ison, said: “’For centuries, St Paul’s Cathedral has been a place to remember the personal and national impact of great tragedies, from the losses of war to the devastation of the Grenfell Tower fire. We have heard so many sad stories of those affected by the pandemic, and all our thoughts and prayers are with them. Every person is valued and worthy of remembrance.
“We are all experiencing the devastating impacts of COVID-19 across the country and beyond. Remember Me is an opportunity to mourn every person we have lost to the effects of this terrible disease, an encouragement to offer compassion and support to those left behind, and an ongoing recognition of the impact of the pandemic on the UK.”
Lord Mayor of London William Russell said: “This is a thoughtful initiative from St. Pauls. It provides an opportunity for us all to come together in one place and offer our thoughts of remembrance to all those who have suffered during this time. Many families have lost relatives, many people have lost their dearest friends and, because of the necessary social distancing required, grieving has been made more complicated than normal. Ideas like this allow us to support each other through this unusual time and I am proud to see that St. Pauls – which I and everyone in the City of London is incredibly proud of – is at the emotional forefront, in this gentle and generous way.”
Harun Rashid Khan, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “‘From God we come and to Him we return’. This is a profound statement in the Quran that Muslims are asked to recite upon hearing news of a death. It is a testament that has been made far too many times in recent weeks.
“The coronavirus has shaken our lives and reminded us of the frailty of life itself. It affirms how we humans must overcome our differences as we rely on each other.
“In our common religious literature we are told: ‘Whoever saves one life it would be as if they saved the life of all mankind.’
“At this time of grief, we therefore cherish our NHS staff and key workers who take care of the ailing. We commend the work of all places of worship, charities and volunteers jumping at the chance to help those in need.
Umesh Sharma JP, Chair of the Hindu Council UK, said: “Our nation is going through a very uncertain, difficult and painful time. But this pain is at its extreme when families can not say a proper farewell to their loved ones who have died as a result of the pandemic.
“At this time of national grief, St Paul’s has come out with an excellent and thoughtful initiative to set up a Virtual Book of Remembrance for the Nation for those who died as a result of the Pandemic.
“Hindu Council UK fully supports this very thoughtful and creative step taken by St Paul’s. I am particularly encouraged to notice people of all faiths or no faith can express their messages. This initiative is in line with fundamental Hindu Philosophy stated in the phrase: VASUDEV KUTAMKAM, ‘The whole world is one family.’”
Jasvir Singh OBE, a Director of the City Sikhs Network, said: “Many have lost loved ones during the pandemic, and because of lockdown it has been incredibly hard for us to mourn as we normally would. The Virtual Book of Remembrance is an important initiative as it allows us to remember those we have lost and to grieve collectively. We remain united and connected as a nation in these challenging times, and the Virtual Book is a timely reminder that physical distancing is not a barrier when it comes to supporting one another following a bereavement. City Sikhs fully supports this initiative.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “As we commence the gradual process of grieving as a nation for the many thousands who have lost their lives to the Coronavirus, this new virtual memorial provides a timely and meaningful outlet for that to begin to take place. I hope that this focal point for our collective grief also generates a measure of comfort for the loved ones of the deceased, enabling them to record their recollections for posterity. May the memories of those inscribed in this commemorative space be for a blessing.”
Together with the rest of the world, the people of the United Kingdom have experienced, personally, and in our community life, the shock of sudden change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For too many among us, this has brought tragedy and heartbreak. For some, relatives have not been able to be present at the time of their loved one’s passing. For many, the loss of their loved ones has been made all the more agonisingly painful by the necessary restrictions on funerals, travel and gatherings. For all of us, there has been anxiety in the present as we have wondered what the future will be.
People of every faith, and of none, believe that each human being is unique and precious. We also believe it is essential that we remember: we recall how our lives, individually and together, are shaped by the joys and sorrows of the past, so that we may look forward with hope for the future.
This virtual book of remembrance is here to help us remember; not just to recall our loss and sorrow, but also to be thankful for everything good that those we have loved brought into our lives, and all that they have given to others. We give thanks for how our lives have been woven together with theirs and, through this book, you are invited to share their lives with others – so that we and those who follow us can all remember what has been, and build together a better and more hopeful future.
Peace be with you.