One part of St David’s Cathedral did not feature in our armchair pilgrimage – the Treasury. Strange, that, since we do like things that help tell the Story of Creation and Salvation, but thanks to Crispin Paine who visited for Religion & Collections, we can put that right now.
What story do your treasures tell? This cushion is not in the Treasury, but like so many of St David’s treasures is just doing its job in the Cathedral. But it invites us to sit and be comfortable in God’s presence and reminds us of the heavenly Jerusalem to which we are bound, a country as lovely as Wales but with better weather for camping! Can someone identify the tune, perhaps?
A note about the Charter mentioned by Dr Paine: ‘the City status of St Davids, while having ecclesiastical roots going back for centuries, was granted to all of St Davids by HM the Queen by Royal Charter on 1st June 1995’, according to the City Council. This charter put things to rights after it was discovered that there was no record of a city charter ever being granted. Rochester in Kent, however, lost its city status in 1998, when the city council was merged with Gillingham, and does not look like getting it back any time soon. Yet Rochester was the second English city, founded by St Justus in 604.
I shared these Welsh biscuits (Aberffraw biscuits) with my workmate after returning from Wales. They were traditionally baked in the shape of scallop shells as fare for pilgrims who would take ship at Aberffraw in Anglesey. A local bakery has revived the ancient recipe, adding lemon in this variety. (I did some research and found that St David could have tasted lemons as they had reached Rome in his time!)
There are many resonances to sharing a pilgrim’s biscuit. Both participate in a shared meal, a sort of bread broken between us. There is the journey and the return: like the twelve sent out by Jesus, I came home rejoicing, despite not having leant on him as they did (see Sister Johanna’s post on this topic in Luke’s gospel).
However, my family needed no second invitation when in Wales to obey one command of the Lord, and neither did my workmate in Canterbury:
And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. Luke 10:8.
Including pilgrim’s biscuits, which did not last long enough to become relics!
There’s a lot of it about; nostalgia that is, but we also want to go deeper than that; what has shaped us, or our parents, in the past, how will it work out for our children. What seemed like normal life back then is a source of fascination and indeed joy today, and not just the frocks and hairstyles!
The London Irish Centre has partnered with the Irish Film Institute to bring film heritage to Irish communities in London and across the UK. Under the headings ‘Ireland of Yesterday’, ‘Watch Irish History Unfold’, and ‘Rediscover Television Adverts’, the Reels from Home collection includes materials which date as far back as the early 1900s. It includes both professional and amateur films documenting all aspects of Irish life including tourism, industry, sport, entertainment, and much more.
The films have been selected to engage with the London Irish Centre’s objectives to promote and advance education in Irish art, language, culture and heritage.
Reels From Home contains materials from IFI Player collections including The Bord Fáilte Film Collection, The Irish Adverts Project, The Father Delaney Collection, The Loopline Collection Vol. 1, and The Irish Independence Film Collection.
Speaking about the collection’s release, Gary Dunne, Director of Culture at the London Irish Centre, said: ‘”The London Irish Centre is delighted to partner with the Irish Film Institute on the Reels From Home initiative. For over 65 years, the Centre has been a cultural bridge between London and Ireland, and strategic and programming partnerships like these play a key part in connecting our audiences with high quality Irish culture. The Reels From Home collection is bespoke, dynamic and engaging, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences in the UK through a series of co-watching screenings.”
At a time when many people are spending much of their time indoors due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Reels From Home brings a new channel of content to the Irish community that is free, entertaining, informative, and easy to access and navigate. The project follows in the footsteps of the 2018 Reel Memories initiative, presented by the IFI in partnership with Nursing Homes Ireland, which brought a selection of curated IFI Player material to nursing home residents across the country.
Commenting on the project, Kasandra O’Connell, Head of the IFI Irish Film Archive, added: “We are delighted to be able to bring the collections of the IFI Irish Film Archive to a new audience in the UK , particularly at a time where people may be feeling more isolated than usual. As someone who was born in London to Irish parents, the UK’s Irish community is one that I have been eager for the archive to work with, and partnering with the London Irish Centre gives us a wonderful opportunity to do so.”
Highlights of the collection include Alive Alive O: A Requiem for Dublin, which captures the colourful street traders of Dublin and their fight to maintain their merchant tradition in the face of aggressive economic development;
Ireland in Spring presents a celebration of all things Irish and a delightful window on 1950s Ireland;
and a 1970s advert for Bass ale featuring the legendary band The Dubliners performing in the iconic Dublin bar O’Donoghue’s.
Reels from Home is now available free-to-view on theIFI Playerand via the IFI Player suite of apps developed by Irish tech company Axonista. More details will be on the London Irish Centre.
We would like to share a post by Christopher M Graney on the Sacred Space Astronomy Website. He writes: This story is mostly about science as the process of looking carefully at the world around us and trying to understand it and to come up with ideas about it, on its terms, not on ours. It is complex, not short, and best told with lots of pictures; so bear with me in this post, O Readers of Sacred Space Astronomy.
This link is to the British Museum blog post about ‘the murder that shook the Middle Ages: that of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in his own Cathedral. In this period of Brexit and withdrawal from Europe, it is as well for us all to realise that:
In death Becket remained a figure of opposition to unbridled power and became seen as the quintessential defender of the rights of the Church. To this end you can find images of his murder in churches across Latin Christendom, from Germany and Spain, to Italy and Norway. Becket was, and remains, a truly European saint.
By no means was Thomas simply an anti-establishment English hero. Let us pray for the grace to discern when to support and when to oppose or challenge authority.
The British Museum will be holding a major exhibition about Becket and his world in the Autumn of 2020.
From 1170 to 1220, Saint Thomas’s remains lay in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral.
The Feast of Saint Thomas of Canterbury falls on 29 December, which this year falls on a Sunday, so is transferred to today. This post is taken from the Newsletter of St Thomas’ Canterbury Parish, 17th November 2019. Canon Anthony Charlton writes:
This week I received from Archbishop John Wilson the Decree designating and approving St Thomas of Canterbury Church as a Diocesan Shrine. I thought it would be important for you all to see and read the Decree:
“St Thomas’ Canterbury, opened on 13 April 1875, holds the relic of St Thomas Becket. The relic consisting of a fragment of his vestment and two pieces of bone acquired from Gubbio in Umbria, Italy. Another relic was presented to the parish during a pilgrimage in 1953. Father Thomas Becquet made the presentation of the relic: a piece of the finger bone of St Thomas of Becket. The relic originated in the Cistercian monastery of Pontigny, where St Thomas stayed during his years of exile, and reached Chevotogne via the Bishop of Tournai.
(source: Michael Goodstadt)
Consequently, St Thomas of Canterbury Church has been a pilgrimage Church, as well as a parish Church from its early beginnings. As early as 1889, The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom was organizing pilgrimages to Canterbury from London, which began with early Mass at St Ethelreda’s, Ely Place and then journeyed (with Devotions on the way) by special train on the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. These pilgrimages have continued with the Knights of St Columba organizing the “Penitential Mile” from St Dunstan’s to St Thomas and the Guild of Ransom organizing its pilgrimage on a day in July, among several individual and small group pilgrimages.
WHEREFORE, having carefully considered the law and the facts and having carefully studied the Statues of St Thomas of Canterbury Church, I hereby approve, by means of this Decree, its Statutes in accordance with the norms of Canon 1231 §§1,2.
FURTHERMORE, for the good of souls, I, the undersigned Archbishop of Southwark, do hereby, by means of this Decree, designate and approve St Thomas of Canterbury Church as an Archdiocesan Shrine, in accordance with canon 1230. At this Shrine, the means of salvation are to be supplied more abundantly to the faithful by the diligent proclamation of the word of God, the suitable promotion of liturgical life especially through the celebration of the Eucharist and of penance, and the cultivation of approved forms of popular piety.”
+ John Wilson Archbishop of Southwark
Given on this sixteenth day November 2019 On the Feast of Saint Edmund of Abingdon, Archbishop of Canterbury.
We moved on to Saint Martin’s Church, where our prayer was extempore.
The two walls shown here include plenty of Roman brick as well as a few local flints. There are three blocked off doorways; the central one may be the one Saint Bertha used in 597. The windows and buttress are recent. The ground has risen above the level of the church floor – is that 1400 years of burials?
From the oldest Church in town we went to one of the newest, the chapel of Canterbury Christ Church University. ‘Wow!’ said Caroline. It is a lovely space, but we especially came to see the tapestry.
Dear Lord our Father,
Jesus the Good Shepherd bids us welcome and extends to us the invitation “Come to me”. He knows the troubles we have, our weariness and our failing strength as we try our best to live our lives in keeping with your overarching plan for us and for the world.
Remind us to always turn to him for comfort and restoration whenever we feel life is becoming burdensome.
We are all at times lost sheep, in need of a desire to come back to you.
At this time we remember the artist of the Lost Sheep painting and entrust her soul to your tender care. May all those who find life difficult remember your invitation to come back to you. Amen
The Lost Sheep painting that hung in the chapel was by a former student who was found dead in the Solent.
Before leaving we looked at the Bible, open at Romans:
It is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’
A good verse for pilgrims!
We made our way back to Saint Mildred’s and stopped there to see the Good Shepherd statue, before we sat down, in true L’Arche tradition, to share a meal together.
There are many other places we could visit next time we have a MINI PILGRIMAGE AROUND CANTERBURY. Let’s see what next year brings!
Our first stop was at the Cathedral, seen here from the East in Inez’s fine painting for our pilgrimage from Dover. We visited the West front and the main SW door to see and reflect upon some of the statues on the outside.
Lord God, we have come to the site of the first cathedral in England and think about some of the people who have helped bring us to this day through their faithfulness to your call: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, King Ethelbert and Queen Bertha, and St Augustine.
We thank you that they were able to continue when things became difficult, never losing sight of your plan. Help us like them to be courageous and steadfast, and help us to show our love for you in our dealings with one another, so that we successfully fulfil our role in bringing about your kingdom on earth.
Loving Father, make us loving like you.
We walked on to the pilgrim stone by the South door into the crypt, through which we could hear the organ and choir. We were not thinking of walking to Rome that evening!
Lord, we stand before the stone commemorating the many thousands of pilgrims who have come to Canterbury via the Pilgrims’ Way, as well as those making the long journey on foot from Canterbury to Rome. We are grateful for their witness to us as they walked to find communion with you and seek your will, sharing their journey with companions and sustaining each other along the way.
May we too help and support each other on our journey, sharing with one another our thoughts on you and our experience of your loving care.
Lord, send us forth on our journey through life with hope in our hearts, with love for one another and with a clear vision of your plan for our lives.
We moved on to Queningate (Queen’s gate) where Queen Bertha used to walk from the palace, which stood where the Cathedral now is, on her way to Mass at St Martin’s church, the oldest place of continuing Christian worship in England.
Lord, we come now to Queen Bertha’s gate, through which she passed on her way to your house, one of the very few people in the country who were faithful to Christianity. Make us like her, we pray, conscious of our role as a public witness and as a guide for our families in choosing the right path to take.
As we follow the route she took to your church, make us mindful of the concern she must have had for her husband, and her desire that he would come to know the true God.
Help us, like her, to show daily concern for our nearest and dearest, the people you have entrusted to us.
Although I was born within the sound of Bow Bells, making me a true Cockney, I am less of a Londoner than Chris, who spent most of his working life in and around the capital. After taking in the view I shared yesterday, we wondered if we could see Saint Paul’s cathedral or would it be lost among the towers of Mammon? Chris thought the planners would have wanted to preserve the view of it from Greenwich, I was much less sure, remembering the gung-ho attitude to vanity projects of the last London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
We walked across the hill to look West towards the actual City of London, a small borough in the midst of it all. We peered left and right, identifying a couple of suburban towers, but were disappointed, until I spotted the dome, dwarfed by the towers, but still visible from a green hill in Greenwich. My photograph was not usable, but this shows a similar view from 1898 – similar but for one thing: the Cathedral is at the centre of William Hyde’s engraving unchallenged by the rash of towers spreading across from those we saw in yesterday’s picture.
There are all sorts of possible responses to this, most of them platitudes.
But the story goes that Christopher Wren, architect of the present Cathedral, following the disastrous fire of 1666, found in the ruins, as he began surveying the site, a stone carved with the word ‘RESURGAM’ – I shall arise. And his Cathedral rose where the old one had stood. Let us Christians live as if we believe that, and the gates of hell will not prevail.
We visited a few churches on the L’Arche pilgrimage: here is Saint Pancras, Coldred, possibly 950 years old, a simple two-room stone-built structure, almost hidden away behind its high hedge. Christians have worshipped here since Saxon times at least; the church is set within an ancient earthen rampart which may mark the boundary of a much earlier settlement.
God is present here in the worshipping community whose representative made us feel at home; he stood for thirty or more generations of people, gathered about the altar in the church; God is also present on the altar when the Eucharist is celebrated, and in many Anglican as well as Catholic churches, in the sacrament reserved for the sick and for visitors to focus their prayer as they kneel or sit and pray.
The icon was sent by one of our contributors – Brother Chris I think, and represents another real presence of the Lord: as a baby in the womb of Mary, but also in this world with us who witness this icon. It invites us to carry Jesus in our hearts and reveal him to the world: we are to be the image and real presence of Christ.