On Wednesday last, Venice said 'Farewell' to its Patriarch. Cardinal Angelo Scola had held that office for ten years. Now the Holy Father is moving him inland, to the See of Milan. Now Milan is not a place to be despised — indeed it is perhaps the most populous and wealthy of all the Italian dioceses. But the Cardinal was clearly finding it hard to say farewell to his beloved Venice.
We, Jane and I, were on an overnight visit to see our old friend Fr Howard Levett, who is, at present, Chaplain of the Anglican Church of St George. By much string-pulling he managed to get us into the Duomo for this wonderful evening.
He was among the great and good in the front rows of the nave, along with other ecumenical representatives. He tells us he saw some of the action through the choir screen. We were more fortunate, seated in the South Transept, with a great view of the Pulpit, but also a large TV screen which enabled us to follow all the action.
And when there was no action, there were always those amazing ceilings! Gold is everywhere — if Byzantium was like this, small wonder that the emissaries from Russia thought themselves transported to heaven.
It was a great sung mass, the setting being the Missa de Angelis in Bartolucci's version. Memories of Pusey House enabled me to join in the congregational parts, and some of the hymn tunes were familiar. The Creed, in Italian, was done in question and answer form ('Credete in Dio &c'… to which we answered 'Credo'). The Cardinal was clearly very moved as he preached. So too were some of those who spoke after the Mass: unfortunately despite the rubric about "Brevi indirizzi di saluto" some of those paying tribute thought they needed longer than the Cardinal had been given for his sermon!
So after the whole event was over, we poured out into the warm Venetian night, only to be charged 6 euros 50c (around £6) each for a single stop crossing of the Grand Canal! No matter, we would not have missed it for worlds. The next day we moved on to Verona; but more of the travelogue on my Ancient Richborough blog. For this, enough to say that it was marvellous to be a Catholic in communion with the whole Western Church — and especially with the Patriarchate of Venice, for which we pray, as also for Cardinal Angelo and his move to Milan.