With the West End and Covent Garden as its colourful neighbours, it’s no surprise that Corpus Christi is known as the Catholic Actors’ Church – the National Catholic Church for actors and all those in the performing arts.
Founded in 1911, the Catholic Stage Guild was created in order to “encourage spiritual, artistic and social intercourse among Catholics connected with the theatrical and allied professions.” Working closely with the acting community in this capacity, the Guild began by offering help to Catholic artists on tour, and providing theatres with details of services at nearby Catholic Churches. Priests also visited the theatres, making artists feel welcome and offering them the Sacraments where needed.
Since opening its doors in the 19th century, Corpus Christi has continued this proud tradition, playing host to an Annual Mass, welcoming Catholic actors and artists performing in Covent Garden and the West End, and displaying the statue of St Genesius, the patron saint of actors, complete with a memorial book honouring those members of the Guild who have since passed. Additionally, the Fraternity of St Genesius has also been recently formed, meeting on the second Thursday of every month at 7pm for Mass, Adoration and Devotions to St Genesius and Pope St John Paul II, who harboured his own dreams of acting before being ordained into the priesthood.
Known today as the Catholic Association for Performing Arts (CaAPA), the Catholic Stage Guild has counted many renowned actors amongst its members over the years, including Sir Alec Guinness, Danny La Rue, Dame Joan Hammond, Patricia Hayes and Richard O’Callaghan, the current CaAPA Chairman. Moreover, Corpus Christi’s Parish Priest has often served as the National Chaplain for the Guild, further strengthening the church’s bond with actors and performing artists.
If you are an actor, or involved in the performing arts, either as a Catholic, or someone interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, please contact us here. The Actors’ Church is waiting to welcome you.