The Eternal City


General Audience

Last week the English (and Scots) Ordinariate celebrated its first year of existence — and did so in style, with a pilgrimage to Rome led by our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton.  You may already have seen photographs on other websites; this is just a personal sketch of what happened to us in those memorable six days.

We flew from three different British airports, Heathrow and Gatwick and Bristol — and some even came by train.  We began as strangers, and certainly ended as friends.  It is so good to learn about others' experience of new beginnings, often with only a handful of people setting out as Catholics.  Some of the priests are now running Catholic Parishes, others are supporting themselves and their families in various chaplaincies while involved with their Ordinariate Group and also nearby Catholic Parishes.

The Ordinary with Deacon Bradley (l) and Music Director Michael Vian Clark (with scarf)

The young director of music from Buckfast Abbey somehow conjured a choir out of a group of disparate pilgrims, and managed some wonderful music, plainchant and Anglican hymnody, different for every Mass.  We even found the confidence to sing in the packed Audience Hall to the Holy Father and assorted Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious and faithful laity from around the world.  "Praise to the Holiest" by our Patron, John Henry Newman, can seldom have been heard in such a setting.

Scots preacher Fr Len Black at St Joseph's Altar in St Peter's

But then, we also sang in St Peter's, bringing our Anglican Patrimony into those walls created by Michaelangelo and Borromini, adorned with sculptures and paintings of great beauty.  More than one of our party was in tears by the end of that Mass, when we gathered before the tomb of Peter and said the General Thanksgiving from the 1662 English Prayer Book.

Quite a Sacristy - in S Peter's Basilica

So much of the Pilgrimage was about 'coming home', back to our origins.  In San Giorgio Valabro — it sounds so much more exotic than St George's in the Marsh, which is its translation  — we remembered John Henry Newman, whose titular church this was when he became a Cardinal.  There a couple from my own group in Bournemouth were received and chrismated into the Catholic Church by Mgr Keith, and their delight at being in Communion with the Holy Father and the entire Catholic Church inspired us all.

Brian and Barbel, still smiling

St Gregory's was also a matter of going back to base, for it was from this monastery that Gregory the Great sent monks to convert England — among them Augustine of Canterbury and Paulinus of York, to say nothing of the first bishops of London and Rochester.  By this time the Italian media had begun to catch up with our Group, and the Ordinary had to stay in our Hotel fending them off so that we might continue our pilgrimage undisturbed.

Ancient Ikon of Our Lady in San Gregorio's

Although it had rained on our first day, the weather grew ever better by the day.  On Thursday we went up into the hills, to Subiaco and the roots of Western Monasticism.  The Sacro Speco or holy cave is where Benedict led a hermit's life for three years, before beginning to build his first monastery, now known as St Scholastica's, it is the only survivor of the ten original foundations.  The others have been destroyed down the years by invaders, by earthquakes and other such disasters.  The hospitality in St Scholastica's was in the great Benedictine tradition.  We sunned ourselves on the terraces, yet less than a fortnight before there had been such a snowfall (the greatest in fifty years) that they had been cut off for days, and many trees were brought down by the weight of snow.

So many people made us welcome wherever we went.  The kindness of the parish priest at Santa Maria del Popolo on our last morning was typical of the generosity of everyone we came across.  There is a genuine interest in the Ordinariate, a sense that something great is just beginning to bud and blossom.  I hope the few pictures posted here might give a little flavour of what we were given during our days of thanksgiving for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  There are more to be added, but it is late and my computer is refusing to download any more just now.  Good night!

Author: Fr. Edwin Barnes

Bishop Barnes read theology for three years at Oxford before finishing his studies at Cuddesdon College (at the time a theological college with a rather monastic character). He subsequently served two urban curacies in Portsmouth and Woking. During his first curacy, and after the statutory three years of celibacy, he married his wife Jane (with whom he has two children, Nicola and Matthew). In 1967, Bishop Barnes received his first incumbency as Rector of Farncombe in the Diocese of Guildford. After eleven years, the family moved to Hessle, in the Diocese of York, for another nine years as vicar. In 1987, he became Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford. In 1995, he was asked by then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, to become the second PEV for the Province. He was based in St. Alban’s and charged with ministering to faithful Anglo-Catholics spread over the length of Southern England, from the Humber Estuary to the Channel Islands. After six years of service as a PEV, Bishop Barnes retired to Lymington on the south coast where he holds the Bishop of Winchester’s license as an honorary assistant bishop. On the retirement of the late and much lamented Bishop Eric Kemp, he was honored to be asked to succeed him as President of the Church Union. Both these appointments he resigned on becoming a Catholic in 2010. Fr. Barnes is now a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, caring for an Ordinariate Group in Southbourne, Bournemouth.

12 thoughts on “The Eternal City”

    1. Peter, I think it is a 'moderne' version of the Ascension; though it appears to be happening among a great deal of seaweed, so looks as though it is an illustration to 'The Little Mermaid'. I am sure someone will tell us its real significance.

  1. Thank you Monsignor Barnes for another enjoyable rerport.

    Let's hope that very soon the North American Ordinariate will be up and running among all the communities which are, at present, seeking to enter into it so that one day a magnificent joint pilgrimage to the Holy See might be undertaken by the faithful collaborating from both sides of the Pond!

    Respectfully Yours,

    1. Very kind, Dennis; but "Father" will do; neither former Bishop Silk nor I was created Monsignor. That title was rightly given just to the three former Bishops who resigned their offices, not to us who had already retired.

  2. Thank you Monsignor Barnes for another interesting and enjoyable rerport.

    Let's hope that very soon the North American Ordinariate will be up and running among all the communities which are, at present, seeking to enter into it so that one day a magnificent joint pilgrimage to the Holy See might be undertaken by the faithful collaborating from both sides of the Pond!

    Respectfully Yours,

    1. There wiill be no 'North American' ordinariate. There is an American ordinariate which will likely include extra-territorial Canadian communities. In law, it could just as easily include extra-territorial communities in Zimbabwe.

      There are indications now that the Canadian communities will be organised into an [extra-territorial] deanery. Eventually, this deanery, should conditions prove good, will likely apply to Rome to be constituted as a Canadian ordinariate. It stil remains possible that the Canadian communites, or some of them, will prefer simply to remain as personal parishes or quasi-parishes or special chaplaincies under the local Roman ordinaries.

      Under Anglicanorum Cœtibus, ordinariates exist only in territory corresponding to episcopal conferences. This usually means the countries of specific countries, although there are important exceptions (such as the Caribbean). Canada has a separate episcopal conference, so there will be no ordinariate for now in Canada. But because these structures are personal in law, it is possible for individuals to belong to them while living outside the territory proper to them.

      The situation for Scotland is the same: it now has communites in the ordinariate for England and Wales but there is no ordinariate for 'Great Britain' or for the 'United Kingdom'.


  3. 'So much of the Pilgrimage was about 'coming home', back to our origins.'

    Fr Barnes – I have some difficulty with this statement, were you not already 'home' in the Church of England which existed long before Rome came to these shores. How can you say – so much of the Pilgrimage was about 'coming home', when your Anglican Catholic Faith already was 'home', within the Church of England.
    Is it not better to tell the truth and say, I wanted to become a (Roman) Catholic, end of story. You are not 'home' you have left one Church and joined another – is this not the case?

    1. Ian, I don't know where you think the faith of England came from if not Rome. The notion of a "Celtic Church" unattached to the rest of Christendom is historically untenable. There were Christians in England of course before Augustine's mission; but they had heard the faith from Roman immigrants, not from the fairies.

      1. Father Barnes
        'To believe only in the Roman Church is to prefer the part to the Whole' – unity then can never be achieved.

    2. Ian, you are confusing "the Church in England" with "the Church of England". If one uses the See of Canterbury for a time-line the Church in England one starts with St Augustine in 597 and the ends with Cardinal Pole in 1558 – which makes 961 years.

      One can speak of the Church of England really only from Parker in 1559 to the present day which is a mere 453 years.

      And, of course, the Church in England did not die out in 1559. In the words of the hymn it remained "in spite of dungeon, fire and sword" – and that makes for a continuous presence of Holy Mother Church in England for 1415 years.

      "Coming home to Rome" is but a metaphor for re-entry into communion with the Universal Church a church which is every bit as English as the separated branch calling itself the CofE.

      You should be wary of the "fog in the Channel – continent cut off" fallacy. The general rule is that separated branches eventually wither and die.

  4. Off topic: Brother Robert Mercer is to be ordained a deacon on 21st March at 3.30 pm in the chapel of Allen Hall in London by Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary of Westminster. He will be ordained a priest by the same Bishop on 26th March in Portsmouth (RC) Cathedral at 11 am.

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