Roman Catholics make precious loan to Canterbury for Primates' meeting
6 Jan 2016
The Roman Catholic Church has loaned the head of the pastoral staff associated with Pope Gregory – who sent Augustine on his historic mission to England in the 6th century – to Canterbury where Anglican Primates will gather next week.
The carved ivory head of the crosier will be placed in the Crypt at Canterbury Cathedral, where the Primates will be meeting privately to reflect and pray about the future of the Anglican Communion.
Pope Gregory sent Augustine on a mission to England in 597, a date which the English recognise in relation to the formal foundation of the church in England.
The ancient crosier head is venerated by the monks of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome as that of St Gregory, who was an abbot at the monastery prior to becoming Pope.
This loan is not only symbolic historically, but also spiritually. It is accompanied by the promise of the prayerful support from many in the Roman Catholic Church during this important week in the life of the Anglican Communion.
The Community of St Gregorio al Celio especially have long demonstrated a deep commitment to Anglican-Catholic relations in particular, praying for the cause of Christian unity.
The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis said: “We are very pleased to receive the crosier as a symbol of ecumenical encouragement at this time of the meeting of Anglican Primates and as a link with St Gregory whose vision of the conversion of England caused Augustine to found the community at Canterbury.”
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture said: “Allow me at this point to congratulate you on the highly symbolic value of the loan of this relic, dear to the Church of England, which venerates Pope St Gregory the Great, the promoter of the evangelising mission to the Anglo-Saxon people and is therefore a mark of the bond that spiritually unites the Catholic and Anglican Churches.”
The crosier will be on public display in the Canterbury Cathedral Crypt on Saturday 9 and Saturday 16 January from 10:00 – 16:00 and on Sunday 10 January and Sunday 17 January from 12:00 – 14:00.
The loan of the crosier head has been made possible by the Italian Government’s Fund for Religious Buildings, administered by the Ministry for the Interior and with support from the British Government.
Normal precincts charges apply.