Where is the "Lion Sermon" delivered annually?
The "Lion Sermon" is preached on 16 October each year at 13:00 at St Katharine Cree in the City of London. The sermon has traditionally been preached on the theme of 'challenges to the Christian faith'.
The church of St Katharine Cree in the City of London was established in 1280, emerging from a priory of 1108 founded by Queen Matilda. It is the only neo-classical church to survive the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The sermon commemorates the memory of Sir John Gayer who, in 1646, was elected Lord Mayor of London. He instituted the "Lion Sermon", which was inspired by his time in Syria while serving as a governor of the East India Company and travelling on a trading mission there. Alone one night in the desert, he was confronted by a lion. Seeing no means of escape, the story goes, Sir John fell to his knees offering prayers and vows of charity. The next morning, he awoke, unharmed, with footprints of the departed lion all around him.
When back in London Sir John endowed St Katharine Cree with a fund to preach a sermon in memory of this event, gave money to charities, and bought a font for the church inscribed with his coat of arms. He wanted future generations to learn how God had listened to his prayers and saved him from the jaws of the lion.
The "Lion Sermon" has been preached at St Katharine Cree every year since and was delivered in 2019, more than 370 years later. The church today has no parish but is the Guild Church to Finance, Commerce and Industry.