By Steve Doughty
Last updated at 1:31 AM on 19th November 2011
Roman Catholic bishops have for the first time in modern history approved a prayer for the Queen for use in Catholic churches.
It has been authorised for use next June as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The prayer reflects the deepening reconciliation between the monarchy and Roman Catholic leaders which gathered pace after the Pope’s successful visit to Britain last year.
While Roman Catholics have professed loyalty to the sovereign since they were granted civil rights in the 19th century, there have never been official prayers for British monarchs.
Divisions go back 500 years to the Reformation, when the monarchy claimed the spiritual rights of the Pope and kings became the head of the Church of England.
Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, leader of Catholics in England and Wales, unveiled the new prayer yesterday.
It will be accompanied by a reading of 1 Kings 3 11-14, a passage of the Old Testament in which God praises the wisdom of Solomon and promises him honour above all other kings.
The congregation are asked to pray to ‘save Elizabeth, our Queen’ before saying the full text, which runs: Almighty God, we pray that your servant Elizabeth, our Queen, who, by your providence has received the governance of this realm, may continue to grow in every virtue, that,
imbued with your heavenly grace, she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil and, being blessed with your favour may, with her consort and the Royal Family, come at last into your presence, through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life and who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayers for the Queen are a fixed part of Church of England Sunday services.
The reconciliation between the Roman Catholic Church and the monarchy has accelerated over the past 15 years alongside a deepening sense among the churches that their historic differences are outweighed by their common Christianity.
The Pope’s visit to Britain last year, during which he criticised ‘aggressive secularism’, was considered a major success.