Corpus Christi is the National Catholic Church for those involved in acting and performing arts – making it the Catholic Actors’ Church here in the West End.
In 1911, the Catholic Stage Guild was founded, to “encourage spiritual, artistic and social intercourse among Catholics connected with the theatrical and allied professions.” The Guild helped Catholic artists on tour and every theatre stage door had a card giving particulars of services at the nearest Catholic Church. Priests visited the theatres, making artists feel welcome and offering them the Sacraments where needed. Soon after its foundation an Annual Mass was said here at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane, and the Parish Priest has usually been the National Chaplain for the Guild.
Today, the Catholic Stage Guild runs under the name of the Catholic Association for Performing Arts (CaAPA). Members have included names such as Sir Alec Guinness, Danny La Rue, Dame Joan Hammond, Patricia Hayes and Richard O’Callaghan, who is currently CaAPA’s Chairman.
Corpus Christi continues to welcome Catholic actors and artists performing in Covent Garden and around the West End each year. At the back of the church, there is a statue of St Genesius, the patron saint of actors, together with a memorial book containing the names of members of the Catholic Stage Guild/CaAPA who have died.
In recent years, the Fraternity of St Genesius was formed, which meets on the second Thursday of the month at 7pm for Mass, Adoration and Devotions to St Genesius and Pope St John Paul II, who wanted to be an actor himself before ordination to the Priesthood.
If you are an actor, or involved in the performing arts in any way, either as a Catholic, or wanting to know more about the Catholic faith, please feel free to get in touch with us here at the Actors’ Church!