Local play to visit the life of Lichfield Saint

Jan 22, 2011 by Ann Mayo

The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, welcomes ‘St Chad’ – a character in a new play The Meeting of Ways. The play’s author and director, David Titley, donned the St Chad costume for the picture

The Bishop of Lichfield met up with a saint this week when the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill greeted ‘St Chad’ when he visited the Cathedral.

The life of the 7th century monk is being re-created in a new play by Lichfield actor and author David Titley.

And Bishop Jonathan is delighted to lend his support to the play, The Meeting of Ways, a joint collaboration between Lichfield Mysteries and Lichfield Methodist Church.

The Bishop said:

I rejoice to hear of a play that brings Chad to life. He is the great saint, not only of Lichfield, but of the Midlands as a whole. It is especially encouraging to know his life is being shown in a modern context. Chad was a Bishop unswerving in his beliefs, who embraced change with humility and grace. This is a virtue as vital in today’s changing world as it was 1300 years ago when the Gospel was first proclaimed in pagan England.

The new community theatre event is set to be performed in the city in March. David Titley has brought together a group of people of all ages and backgrounds to present The Meeting of Ways.

The new work delves into the past, but also brings St Chad’s story right up to date with the carbon dating of his bones, and modern-day people’s thoughts on the saint.

David said:

We know certain details about Chad’s life. Bede and others give him a high profile as a humble man living the gospel, following in the footsteps of Jesus. As far as we know, Chad performed no miracles in his lifetime. He lived as an obscure monk before becoming Archbishop of York. He was in Lichfield for only two and a half years.

What is it about him that keeps his name and example alive today? My play is not an attempt to re-create some dusty historical figure. It rather explores Chad’s character and heritage.

The relics of St Chad are enshrined above the altar in St Chad’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham. The archaeological laboratory of Oxford University carried out the carbon dating in 1995 confirming some of the bones to date from the seventh century. St Chad died in March 672. The osteologist involved in the dating was Dr Angela Boyle of Oxford

This process forms the first strand of the play – the Scientific way.

Chad’s own life, according to Bede, is the basis for the second strand in the play – the Spiritual way and the final strand – Our way – unites the other two in a contemporary story of sacrifice and joyful reconciliation.

The Meeting of Ways will be performed at Lichfield Methodist Church hall for three nights from Thursday March 24 to Saturday March 26 at 7.30pm.

Tickets (adults £7, children £5), are on sale from February 1 at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Market Square, Lichfield. Enquiries should be directed to 01543 250286.

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