There was dancing in the aisles – and in the streets – today as Westminster Cathedral celebrated the retirement of Vincent Nichols, as eleventh Archbishop of Westminster.

At a Mass of Thanksgiving the clergy of the archdiocese, bearing lighted candles, surrounded Archbishop Nichols as he descended from the altar. ‘We were determined to see him out of the building,’ said one enthusiastic young priest.

Thousands watched the service on screens erected on the piazza, whilst more followed events from inside the Cathedral Hall.

Later, on the cathedral steps, in an unprecedented gesture, Archbishop Nichols’s predecessor, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, presented him with a lifetime achievement award from the influential St Gallen Group.

Cardinal Nichols is 71.

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