The next day, news of the Coventry blitz was flashed round the world by radio. The Government considered it right to release the story of the all-night bombing of the civilian population, of the hundreds of lives lost, of the great damage to homes and factories, and of the destruction of the Cathedral.
As the hours went on, and the courageous and cheerful spirit of the people of Coventry became known, the name of Coventry became famous as a world-wide symbol of the sacrifices which the peoples of the free world would have to endure before victory could be won, and of the spirit in which those sufferings would be endured.
It was natural that the destruction of the Cathedral should be the focus of this symbol. Soon the picture of the ruined building was in newspapers worldwide. America was especially moved. The leading article of the New York Herald Tribune was typical of all: “The gaunt ruins of St Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry, stare from the photographs, the voiceless symbol of the insane, the unfathomable barbarity which has been released upon western civilization. No means of defence which the United States can place in British hands should be withheld.”
The most realistic and significant symbol of all appeared in the Daily Mirror. It was a photograph taken from a window in the tower. It clearly showed two beams lying in the form of a cross in the midst of the smoking rubble. Today at the altar of the ruined cathedral stands a charred wooden cross, a replica of those two beams.
On the wall behind it are the words Father Forgive, a plea directed not just at the aggressors, but also at those who suffered. A Litany of Reconciliation stands near the altar. It is spoken at noon every weekday in the new Cathedral and here before this altar every Friday as well as in other centres of reconciliation, reaffirming the Cathedral’s special ministry of reconciliation and renewal.