On the night of 14th November 1940, the Luftwaffe launched a devastating attack on Coventry, killing 568 residents, leaving hundreds with life-changing injuries and thousands of home and livelihoods destroyed. Among the ruins were the remains of the medieval cathedral, consumed by the flames from incendiary bombs.
In the confusion, pain and anger that followed and the understandable calls for retribution, the Provost of the Cathedral stood in the ruins and wrote the words “Father Forgive” – a message of reconciliation he reaffirmed to a national audience through the BBC’s 1940 Christmas Day Service from the Ruins. The starkness of a desire for reconciliation was brought into even sharper relief by further atrocities of war and subsequent bombing raids on Coventry.
In 1962 the completion of the new cathedral (only one of two protestant cathedrals built in the UK in the 20th century) created a potent physical symbol of the dynamics of reconciliation. Situated adjacent to the ruins of the old building with the porch adjoining the two, together the cathedrals speak of acknowledging past difference, injustices and journeying to a place of renewal and rebuilding.