The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has this afternoon joined Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall to tour London’s Borough Market before a service of light at the neighbouring Southwark Cathedral to remember the victims of the London Bridge terror attack. Eight people were killed and 48 injured in the 3 June attack which began when Daesh-inspired terrorists mounted the pavement on London Bridge in their van, mowing people down. They then left the van and used knives to attack people in the lively Borough Market area. The three attackers, who wore fake explosive vests, were shot dead by armed police.
The Borough Market – which is one of the world’s oldest, having been in existence for more than 1,000 years – was closed for several days as police forensics experts examined the scene. This afternoon, the royal couple toured the market alongside Archbishop Justin Welby and his wife Caroline. They met traders – many of them smallholders running micro-businesses – who were affected by the closure; as well as survivors of the attack, and those who helped the victims, including Ganga Garbuja, a Borough Market security officer and a former member of the British Army’s Ghurkha regiment.
Survivors of the attack were joined by local school children and community leaders – including a local imam – for a Service of Light on St Lucy’s Day. St Lucy was martyred in AD 303 or 304 as part of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of the Church. “Her name means ‘light’, and legend describes her carrying food to the Christians hiding in the catacombs, wearing a candle-lit wreath on her head to illuminate her way,” the introduction to the order of service said. “Her feast day is close to the shortest day of the year, and is celebrated especially in Sweden as a festival of light.”
“That theme of light, right next to Borough Market and in a cathedral where killing took place just by the walls, against the very door of it, is so important in presenting the truth that light has come into the world, and the darkness has not overcome it,” Archbishop Justin told ACNS after the service, “that the light of Christ is more powerful than all the darkness that is all around us. That is something that we think of for here, and for the world around us – all around the world.
“It is so important that we declare that with confidence at this time of year.”
He said that “from the moment it happened”, he was impressed by the way the community had come together. “It was one of the most striking thing about here, and about Westminster and Manchester” – two other communities hit by terrorist attacks this year – “and at Grenfell” – the tower block in which 71 people were killed in a devastating blaze in June – “that the communities just came together in the most powerful way and supporting each other.”
He revealed that he had spent the morning touring the Borough Market in advance of the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall “and seeing the way they had picked themselves up and were moving forward. You see the work of the Spirit of God enabling people to overcome these terrible events.”
In his words of welcome at the start of this afternoon’s service, the Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, said that “the darkness has not overcome us. While so much was lost, hope and love have remained sharp, and the light has continued to shine.”
The service included readings from Psalm 36: 5-10; and John 1: 1-5. The Gospel Choir of Saint Saviour’s and St Olave’s School sang “This little light of mine” and children from the Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overie led prayers, as they processed with candles from their seats in the quire to the sanctuary. The hymn Hills of the North, Rejoice, was sung.
There have been five terror attacks in the UK this year, resulting in the deaths of 35 victims and leaving more than 377 injured.
A selection of photos from the tour of Borough Market and subsequent Service of Light at Southwark Cathedral.