St Paul's Cathedral
The present St Paul's is the fifth cathedral to have stood on the site since 604, and was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. This was the first cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the sixteenth century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope and the Crown took control of the Church's life. Throughout its history, St Paul's has been a place where the individual and the nation can express those feelings of joy, gratitude and sorrow that are so central to our lives. Among the events marked at St Paul's are royal occasions. In 1897 Queen Victoria chose to commemorate her diamond jubilee here. More recently Queen Elizabeth II has celebrated her jubilees at St Paul's , and also her 80th birthday in 2006. Royal weddings have been held here as well: the marriage of Catherine of Aragon to Prince Arthur in 1501 and famously the wedding of HRH the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. As the nation's church, St Paul's has also been the site of state funerals of British military leaders, including Admiral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and of the wartime Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. Services have also been held to mark the valuable contributions made by ordinary men and women involved in armed conflicts in the Falklands, the Gulf and Northern Ireland. A vast crowd also gathered at St Paul's following the terrorist attacks on New York on 11 September 2001, as London expressed its solidarity with the people of New York at a time of grief. People of other faiths have a place in national services at St Paul's. In 2005, at the service of remembrance following the terrorist bombings in London in July of that year, young people representing different faith communities lit candles as a shared sign of hope during turbulent times. In these symbolic ways London's cathedral seeks to be a house of prayer for people of all nations. It is a place for protest against injustice and for the public express of hope for a better society. Martin Luther King stopped at St Paul's en route to collect his Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Involvement in the global community and social justice is as much a part of the working life of St Paul's as prayer and ceremony.