The spiritual and historical significance of St Catherine’s Day was celebrated by Monmouth School for Girls in a special service at St Mary’s Priory Church.
St Catherine is the patron saint of the Haberdashers’ Company.
Pupils, staff, guests and dignitaries were treated to outstanding performances by the Chamber Choir and Junior Singers in Friday’s annual St Catherine’s Day Service.
Baroness Cox, a deputy speaker of the House of Lords who is involved in humanitarian work for charity, gave a riveting and thought-provoking sermon.
She highlighted the importance of enthusiasm.
“The literal meaning of enthusiasm is God in us,” said Baroness Cox.
She gave practical examples of enthusiasm, including the remarkable tale of a Polish boy, who maintained hope and love throughout the Warsaw Uprising in World War Two.
“With horror going on around him, and Warsaw being pulverised by Nazi Germany, a Holocaust victim wrote amazing words on the wall of Auschwitz, Nazi Germany’s infamous death camp,” said Baroness Cox.
“He wrote: ‘I believe in the sun even when I cannot see it and I believe in love even when I cannot feel it.’”
Baroness Cox added: “My final message is that we must believe in love even if we cannot feel it.
“There is nothing sentimental about love. I don’t feel in the least bit loving, but we must remember that love is doing.
“The Bible says that love without deeds is dead.
“You must go and live the love, be the love, and may your life be filled with enthusiasm.”
The choral items performed by the Chamber Choir were extremely moving and poignant.
The service included the Haberdashers’ Company Grace and the Latin Chant.
Deputy Head Girl, Georgina, read the sentence of scripture and led the responses.
The Junior Singers and the Chamber Choir gave a fine performance of Panis Angelicus by Cesar Franck.
Head Girl, Erin, read Matthew 5, 1-12 and the Chamber Choir sang My Lagan Love and A Gaelic Blessing from John Rutter.
Deputy Head Girls, Lucy, Isobel and Indigo each led prayers.
The hour-long service was concluded by a lovely organ recital of Les Cloches de Hinckley from Louis Vierne.
Speaking afterwards, Baroness Cox said: “St Catherine’s Day services are important for historical and spiritual reasons.
“They help to remind people of the traditions which need to be cherished and preserved.
“Spiritually, it’s also important because the message of St Catherine is a very powerful one.
“The Chamber Choir was superb and the hymns were lovely.
“Tthe service was very inspiring and uplifting and it was important to remind people of the spiritual treasures we have.”