Canterbury Cathedral, with St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church, form part of the UNESCO world heritage site. The Cathedral Church was founded in 597 AD by St Augustine whose original cathedral lies beneath the floor of the nave. The original Saxon church was destroyed by fire in 1067 and rebuilt again by the Normans in 1070. Although, successive generations have made additions to the fabric of the building parts of the quire and some of the ancient stained glass windows date from the 12th century. The cathedral became a place of pilgrimage in the middle ages and Geoffrey Chaucer set his famous Canterbury Tales about pilgrims on their way to the shrine of the murdered Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. The north-west transept is the site of the martyrdom and here, in 1982, Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie prayed together. A plaque commemorates this historic occasion. Originally the tomb of King Henry IV and his wife Joan of Navarre flanked one side of the shrine of the murdered archbishop; whilst the tomb of Edward, the Black Prince flanked the other. Both of these tombs may still be seen today although the shrine of St Thomas was dismantled in King Henry VIII’s reign. Behind this is the corona chapel which is dedicated to modern martyrs.
See Also : Canterbury
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