THE CHURCH MARKS THE FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF PETER – HOLY SEE TAKES MEASURES TO PROTECT IMAGE OF HOLY FATHER

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Chair of Peter and, on this occasion, I want to send best wishes and many prayers to my friends of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter, based in Houston, Texas. Special wishes to my friend and a former colleague in the Vatican, Bishop Steven Lopes, ordained just over a year ago as the first bishop of the Ordinariate.

On today’s special feast, Pope Francis tweeted: Jesus entrusted to Peter the keys to open the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, and not to close it.

THE CHURCH MARKS THE FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF PETER

February 22 is the feast of the Chair of Peter and great honor is paid to the first Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica on this day every year.

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The special feast of the “cathedra” or Chair of St. Peter dates to the fourth century and honors and celebrates the primacy and authority of St. Peter. The word “cathedra” means seat or throne and is the root of the word cathedral, the church where a bishop has his seat from which he preaches and teaches.

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A mixture of tradition, legend and belief held for many years that this was actually a double chair, parts of which dated back to the early days of Christianity and to St. Peter himself. This chair or cathedra has been studied over the centuries and the last time it was removed from its niche in the Bernini altar was a six-year period from 1968 to 1974 where studies pointed to a single chair whose oldest parts date to the sixth century. What appeared to be an outer or second chair was a covering that served both to protect the throne and to carry it in procession.

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The Chair of St. Peter is actually a throne that Charles the Bald, the grandson of the Emperor Charlemagne, gave to Pope John VIII at the former’s coronation as emperor on Christmas Day 875. For many years the chair was used at liturgical events by Pope John and his successors: it was ensconced in Bernini’s Altar of the Chair in 1666.

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Bernini’s masterful Altar of the Cathedra was executed between 1658 and 1666. A bronze throne, which encases the Chair of Peter, dominates the apse, above the marble altar. It is supported by four statues of bishops: two Fathers of the Latin Church, Sts. Ambrose and Augustine, and two from the Greek Church, Sts. Athanasius and John Chrysostom.

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Above them, in the midst of gilt clouds, flights of angels and rays of sun is the Holy Spirit, illuminated by a stained glass window.

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Notwithstanding its appearance of lightness and harmony, records show that more than 120 tons of bronze were used for this breathtaking monument. This altar is today still used for numerous liturgical celebrations.

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What is so special about this feast day is that the Altar of the Chair is aglow for this one day a year with scores and scores of candles.

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In addition, this is one of two days every year when the statue of a seated St. Peter, on the right side of the main aisle, is robed in ecclesiastical finery, including papal vestments, the triple tiara and a papal ring.

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The other day you may see St. Peter robed in this manner is June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, patrons of Rome.

HOLY SEE TAKES MEASURES TO PROTECT IMAGE OF HOLY FATHER

(Vatican Radio) The Secretariat of State of the Holy See issued a press release on Wednesday, detailing the steps being taken to protect the image of the Holy Father. Following is that communiqué:

The Secretariat of State, among its tasks, has also that of protecting the image of the Holy Father, so that his message can reach the faithful intact and that his person not be exploited.

It is in view of these same purposes, that the Secretary of State protects the symbols and coats of arms of the Holy See, through appropriate regulatory instruments provided for on an international level.

In order to make its protective action more effective with respect to stated purposes, and to halt situations of illegality that arise, the Secretariat of State will effect systematic surveillance activities apt to monitor the ways in which the image of the Holy Father and the coats of arms of the Holy See are used, [and] if necessary intervene with appropriate action.

THE CHURCH MARKS THE FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF PETER – BE MODELS OF MERCY IN DAILY LIFE, EXHORTS POPE FRANCIS

As I note below, today the Church celebrates the feast of the Chair of Peter and, on the occasion of their namesake’s feast day, I send special wishes and many prayers to my new friends of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter, based in Houston, Texas. Special wishes go to the new bishop of the Ordinariate, my friend, Bishop Steven Lopes.

THE CHURCH MARKS THE FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF PETER

February 22 is the feast of the Chair of Peter and great honor is paid to the first Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica on this day every year.

As happened in the Holy Year of 2000, today the employees of the Vatican and Roman Curia celebrated the Jubilee of the Roman Curia with Pope Francis, first by attending a meditation on “Mercy in our everyday life” in the Paul VI Hall followed by Mass in the basilica. After the meditation, everyone, including the Holy Father, walked in procession to and then through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)

ROMAN CURIA JUBILEE

The special feast of the “cathedra” or Chair of St. Peter dates to the fourth century and honors and celebrates the primacy and authority of St. Peter. The word “cathedra” means seat or throne and is the root of the word cathedral, the church where a bishop has his seat from which he preaches and teaches.

A mixture of tradition, legend and belief held for many years that this was actually a double chair, parts of which dated back to the early days of Christianity and to St. Peter himself. This chair or cathedra has been studied over the centuries and the last time it was removed from its niche in the Bernini altar was a six-year period from 1968 to 1974 where studies pointed to a single chair whose oldest parts date to the sixth century. What appeared to be an outer or second chair was a covering that served both to protect the throne and to carry it in procession. (Photos: JFL)

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The Chair of St. Peter is actually a throne that Charles the Bald, the grandson of the Emperor Charlemagne, gave to Pope John VIII at the former’s coronation as emperor on Christmas Day 875. For many years the chair was used at liturgical events by Pope John and his successors: it was ensconced in Bernini’s Altar of the Chair in 1666.

The ceiling above the Altar of the Chair:

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Bernini’s masterful Altar of the Cathedra was executed between 1658 and 1666. A bronze throne, which encases the Chair of Peter, dominates the apse, above the marble altar. It is supported by four statues of bishops: two Fathers of the Latin Church, Sts. Ambrose and Augustine, and two from the Greek Church, Sts. Athanasius and John Chrysostom.

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Above them, in the midst of gilt clouds, flights of angels and rays of sun is the Holy Spirit, illuminated by a stained glass window.

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Notwithstanding its appearance of lightness and harmony, records show that more than 120 tons of bronze were used for this breathtaking monument. This altar is today still used for numerous liturgical celebrations.

The statue of St. Peter seen daily by pilgrims:

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What is so special about this feast day is that the Altar of the Chair is aglow for this one day a year with scores and scores of candles.

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In addition, this is one of two days every year when the statue of a seated St. Peter, on the right side of the main aisle, is robed in ecclesiastical finery, including papal vestments, the triple tiara and a papal ring. The other day you may see St. Peter robes in this manner is June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, patrons of Rome.

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BE MODELS OF MERCY IN DAILY LIFE, EXHORTS POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis on Monday celebrated a Jubilee for the Roman Curia, the Governorate, and the Institutions attached to the Holy See, as part of the Holy Year of Mercy. The event took place on the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, which has the rank of “Solemnity” in the Vatican Basilica.

In his homily, Pope Francis has told members of the Curia to tend to their flocks with generosity and mercy and has urged them to become a ‘model’ for all. “Pastors are first of all required to have God himself who takes care of his flock as a model.”

He reminded them that God goes in search of the lost sheep, re-conducts them to the fold, cares for the wounded and heals the sick ones.     “This kind of behavior is the sign of love that knows no boundaries. It is faithful, constant, unconditional dedication, so that even the weakest may be reached by His mercy” he said.

And Pope Francis also urged those present to cultivate and practice a strong pastoral attitude within all Vatican work environments, “especially towards the people we meet every day”.“May no one – he said – feel neglected or mistreated, may everyone experience the loving care of the Good Shepherd”.

“At this time, the Lord Jesus addresses a question to every one of us: ‘But who do you say that I am?’. A clear and direct question, from which it is not possible to escape or remain neutral, nor is it possible to postpone the answer or delegate it to someone else. But there is nothing inquisitional about this; instead, it is full of love!”

“Let us,” said Pope Francis, “make Peter’s words our own: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’. May our thought and our gaze be fixed on Jesus Christ, the beginning and end of every action of the Church. He is the foundation and no-one may lay another. He is the ‘stone’ on which we must build. St. Augustine recalls this with expressive words when he writes that the Church, although agitated and disturbed by the upheavals of history, does not fall down, because she is built on stone, from which Peter’s name is derived. It is not the stone that derives its name from Peter, but Peter from the stone, just as it is not the name Christ that derives from Christian, but Christian from Christ. The stone is Christ, the foundation on which Peter too was built.”

“In the Sacred Scripture,” explained the Holy Father, “faithfulness and mercy are inseparable. Where there is one there is the other, and it is precisely in their reciprocal nature and complementarity that we can see the very presence of the Good Shepherd. The faithfulness that is required of us is that of acting in accordance with Christ’s heart. As we have heard in the words of the apostle Peter, we must tend to our flock with a generous heart and become a model for all. In this way, ‘when the Chief Shepherd appears’, we will be able to receive ‘the crown of glory that will never fade away’.” (Vatican Radio, VIS)

 

FIRST ANGLICAN ORDINARIATE BISHOP ORDAINED: ‘IT MEANS WE’RE HERE TO STAY’

Here’s a great article by my EWTN colleague Kathleen Naab for the National Catholic Register about Tuesday’s ordination of Bishop Steven Lopes as Bishop of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter. I say “colleague” as we are both in the EWTN family but I never did meet her in Houston!

The photos and explanations are mine.

FIRST ANGLICAN ORDINARIATE BISHOP ORDAINED: ‘IT MEANS WE’RE HERE TO STAY’

National Catholic Register – Kathleen Naab

HOUSTON — In a majestic Mass at Houston’s Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Tuesday evening, history was made for the Anglican ordinariates established by Pope Benedict XVI: Their first bishop was ordained.

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“In a nutshell, it means we’re here to stay,” summarized Msgr. Harry Entwistle, the ordinary of Australia’s ordinariate, which is under the patroness of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.

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The new bishop, Stephen Joseph Lopes, 40, a native of California, was in fact instrumental in the creation of the ordinariate that he now leads — the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

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The ordinariates were established as the Vatican’s pastoral response to repeated and persistent inquiries made by Anglican individuals and groups who desired full communion with the Catholic Church, in a history that goes back to at least Pope Pius XII.

Three of the six cardinals at the ordination Mass: Donald Wuerl, Gerhard Mueller and William Levada. Also present but not in this photo were Cardinals Daniel DiNardo, Roger Mahony and Edwin O’Brien.

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In November 2009, in response to these inquiries from Anglican groups worldwide, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. This document authorized the creation of “ordinariates” — communities that would be fully Catholic yet retain elements of Anglican heritage and liturgical practice.

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So far, there are three ordinariates globally: The first was established in the United Kingdom (the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham) in 2011. The following year, an ordinariate was established here in the United States, with jurisdiction also including Canada, and another in Australia.

(This man in black with a small staff or baton-like item is a verger. A verger (or virger, so-called after the staff of the office) is a person, usually a layperson, who assists in the ordering of religious services, particularly in Anglican churches. This is part of the Anglican tradition that was allowed when the personal ordinariate was created)

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Bishop Lopes was working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) as this process unfolded, having been named an official of that congregation in 2005. For seven of his 10-plus years at the Vatican, he served as secretary to the cardinal prefect, and he was in effect the coordinator for the three ordinariates. Hence, he knows well his flock and their unique home in the Church.

Cardinal William Levada, former prefect of the CDF, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave a beautiful homily.

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Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the CDF, ordained Bishop Lopes:

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An act of humility by the bishop-to-be before the laying on of hands and anointing as the faithful chant the litany of the Saints.

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Placing the Gospel over the bishop’s head:

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Anointing the new bishop:

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Blessing the staff or crozier:

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HABEMUS EPISCOPUS!

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Mass

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‘Stories of Faith and Courage’

Bishop Lopes explained at the end of his ordination Mass that his episcopal motto — Magna Opera Domini (“Great are the works of the Lord”) — flows from this intimate knowledge of the ordinariate.

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Addressing the priests gathered for his ordination — just for the U.S.-Canada ordinariate, there are 62 of them, along with six deacons, four candidates for the priesthood or diaconate and one seminarian, in service to 42 parishes and communities — he noted, “I have met each one of you.”

Reminiscing about a clergy assembly held several years ago in Florida, he explained that the event was one of the first occasions that he had to put faces to the names and autobiographies that he had read and studied at the CDF.

“Yours were stories of faith and of courage, and of a passion and zeal for the truth and the search of the truth in sacred Scripture,” Bishop Lopes told the priests. “And they were also often enough stories of sacrifice, suffering and the anguish of leaving what was familiar and comfortable in order to embark on an unknown and sometimes lonely path toward the fullness of Catholic communion.”

Seeing the faces of these priests and knowing their stories, he said as he named some of them by name, “in that moment, beholding, if you will, before me, the great work of communion manifest in that chapel, my heart was moved to only one thought: We did not do this. God did this. This is the work of the Lord, and great are the works of the Lord!”

For his priests as well, Bishop Lopes’ long involvement with the ordinariates is a source of consolation and hope.

“We all know him very well. He knows each one of us priests very well,” explained Father John Vidal, pastor of St. Anselm Catholic Community in Corpus Christi, Texas. “It’s like a brother priest is being ordained. He’s not coming from the Anglican Communion, but he knows it just as much as we do, if not better, which is really exciting.”

Father Vidal remarked that Bishop Lopes is, in fact, “kind of the one who defined who we were.”

“I’m just thrilled,” he said. “For him, but even more for us.”

Proper Catholics

The ordinariates are still in their infant stage (what’s five years in the history of the Church?), so much of the work before Bishop Lopes is furthering their establishment.

And many Catholics are still unaware that the ordinariates even exist. Msgr. Keith Newton, the ordinary of the U.K. ordinariate, in a presentation prior to the ordination Mass, joked that he still gets Catholics asking him, “Why don’t you become a proper Catholic?”

But the ordination of a bishop will undoubtedly help to further awareness of the ordinariates and their mission.

With our own bishop, said Msgr. Entwistle, “we have become a particular Church. This is a statement of confidence from the Holy Father.”

The Australian ordinary added that the ordinariates’ mission is for the entire Church: “We have a spirituality and a distinctiveness that will enrich the whole of the Catholic Church,” he said. “So we are not a ship passing in the night. … The influence of that English spiritual, theological and pastoral tradition will in fact hopefully enrich [the whole Church].”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston and thus the host for Tuesday’s celebrations, echoed those thoughts, noting the distinctiveness of the ordinariate now having a bishop. He said the ordination underlined “a sense of the unity of the Church” and “a true sense of unity with Peter, too.

Said Cardinal DiNardo, “I think it’s great.”

(For further information, the website of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter is here: http://ordinariate.net/)

HOUSTON HOSTS CHURCH HISTORY

HOUSTON HOSTS CHURCH HISTORY

Time has not been very generous with itself during my time in Houston for the episcopal ordination of Steven Lopes as the first Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of Peter. That takes place in several hours at Houston’s co-cathedral. I will write at length in coming days about this momentous event and will post a lot of photos,

A brief mention of events of the last two days and two photos – probably also history-making – have been posted on my Facebook page: facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420

More to come so stay tuned!

Say a pray for the new Bishops!

JUST AN ORDINARIATE FRIENDSHIP – THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

JUST AN ORDINARIATE FRIENDSHIP

Fr. Christopher Pearson’s post on my Facebook page brought back some terrific memories of a trip to London in September 2010, a wonderful meal in an Italian restaurant in London and a friendship born that night. I write about this because of his post and also because you’ve heard two of my conversations with Fr. Christopher on “Vatican Insider.” (photo from his Facebook page)

FR. CHRISTOPHER PEARSON

As you will see, there is another important thread as I weave this story: The Personal Ordinariate.

I had gone to London for six days to cover Pope Benedict’s amazing visit to the UK. On Friday, September 17, the second day of his state visit and the day after his triumphant reception in Scotland, he was scheduled to visit St. Mary’s University College in Twickenham, where I was credentialed to cover his meeting with 3,000 young people – schoolchildren, students – to celebrate Catholic education.

Twickeham was a bit of a train trip from London and I had to be up at 4 am to get the train and be at the college to go through security, find the media section, etc. It was a terrific morning and experience (I wrote about it extensively on these pages) and I was only able to write about it and download photos after returning to London and going to the Queen Elizabeth II Convention Center, the media center for the papal visit

I finished work shortly after 9 pm and was absolutely starving. I had had only a sandwich and some orange juice for lunch – I don’t even remember having breakfast! All the restaurants and pubs were closed near the center but the personnel told me there should be a few places open about four blocks up Queen Victoria street. That sounded good to me and I knew I had to find a place as I had a phone interview to do for EWTN at 10 pm.

It is fairly rare that I seek an Italian restaurant when I travel but Il Coliseo seemed suitable and there was quite a number of people inside – a good sign as Londoners generally eat earlier than Romans do, thus a restaurant with a crowd at 9:30 seemed ideal. I ordered dinner, got up just before 10 to go outside and do the EWTN phone report and returned to my seat to finish dinner.

Just as I ordered coffee (to try and sat awake as I had now been up for 18 hours), two men came into the restaurant. The first was wearing a Roman collar and carrying a huge Vatican flag and he was accompanied by a friend. They sat down at a table not far from mine. I smiled and decided I would go and ask a priest his thoughts about the papal visit, Pope Benedict, etc. I was still wearing my media credentials but apparently did not need them for, as I approached the table, the man who turned out to be Fr. Pearson, said, “Oh my word, it’s Joan Lewis from EWTN!”

It turned out that Fr. Pearson was the pastor of an Anglican parish, St. Agnes, and he was with what Anglicans call the parish ‘warden’, also named Christopher. They invited me to have my coffee while they had dinner and the next hour or more was filled with some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve ever had about the Church, faith, Catholics and Anglicans, Pope Benedict, the Personal Ordinariate, and so on. Had Father not told me he was Anglican I would not have doubted for a minute that he was Catholic. But not to get ahead of myself.

I had my first interview with him on that trip: We spoke about the Personal Ordinariate, established only the year before by Pope Benedict which is, put simply, a structure created by the Catholic Church for those bishops, priests and people in the Anglican Communion who seek to enter the Catholic Church and be in full communion with the Successor of Peter.

In 2011 when the first Personal Ordinariate, Our Lady of Walsingham, was created, Fr. Christopher joined and became a Catholic priest, as did many other priests and several Anglican bishops, one of whom became the Ordinary of this first ordinariate and is now also a friend of mine, Msgr. Keith Newton. I spent 4 days in London in January 2011, right after Our Lady of Waslingham was established and Msgr. Newton was named as ordinary. I interviewed him and also visited St. Agnes where many of the parishioners had a thousand questions about the Ordinariate. Many, it turned out, would want to join.

My second interview with Fr. Christopher for Vatican Insider was when he was a Catholic priest. He is now the rector of the Ordinariate and Parish Church of the Most Precious Blood in London.

Almost as if to complete the circle, it looks like I will be going, at the end of the month, to Houston, Texas, where yet another good friend, Bishop-elect Steven Lopes, will be ordained as the first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter! He will be ordained on February 2 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

I’ll have to find out if Fr. Christopher or Msgr. Newton will be in attendance.

If not, we must plan to meet in London at Il Coliseo!

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL, PREFECT OF THE SECRETARIAT FOR THE ECONOMY, announced on Sunday the Holy See is taking steps to “slave-proof” the Vatican supply chain. He was speaking in Rome during a meeting of The Global Foundation, an Australian organization which brings together business and government leaders. “I am pleased to confirm that the Vatican itself will commit to slavery-proofing its own supply chains and I hope that today’s announcement will serve as encouragement for others to follow suit,” Cardinal Pell told the gathering. At the same meeting, the Consumer Goods Forum – a consortium of major companies including Carrefour, Barilla, and Nestle – announced it had passed a resolution to “eradicate” forced labour from their supply chains.

“INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND EXTREMISM: REASONS AND REMEDIES” was the title of the First Arab Thinkers Forum, held in Abu Dhabi January 17 and 18 at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. The only non-Muslim speaker was Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who intervened during the first session during which the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, also gave an address. Fr. Ayuso Guixot structured his discourse around five key points: extremism, the culture of encounter, the key role of religious leaders, the need for sincere dialogue and the importance of prayer. He emphasised that it was not his intention to pursue considerations on the economic, political, social and cultural reasons for extremism, well known to those present, preferring to focus instead on Pope Francis’ recommendations to the international community on how to construct peace which can serve to counter extremism.

A PRECIOUS TREASURE FROM THE ROME CHURCH OF SAN GREGORIO AL CELIO was brought back home on Monday after spending a week on loan to Canterbury Cathedral for a meeting of worldwide Anglican leaders there. The head of a crozier, or pastoral staff, associated with St Gregory the Great, has been on display in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, alongside a rare 6th century book of the Gospels given by Pope Gregory to St Augustine as he set off on his mission to take the Christian faith to England. The manuscript is the oldest surviving Latin illustrated Gospel book and one of the most ancient European books in existence. Appropriately, the relic of St Augustine was returned to Rome at the start of the annual week of prayer for Christian Unity. (sources: VIS, Vatican Radio)