The beautiful church of St. John Lateran is the mother church of all Catholics for it is where the throne of Peter resides. It is the Cathedral of Rome. And it was the setting yesterday morning for a special mass of thanksgiving, organised by the Oratorians, for the canonisation of St. John Henry Newman; the first English person to be canonised for something other than martyrdom since 1401.
The celebrant of the Mass was Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, and many other English prelates were in attendance. The new Archbishop of Southwark,++ John Wilson, was amongst them and it was good to meet him in person for a brief chat after Mass. So too was our Ordinary, Monsignor Keith Newton and some three hundred concelebrating priests. It was quite moving seeing the huge procession walk in to Newman’s hymn ‘Praise to the holiest in the height.’
After Mass several of the Ordinariate wandered to a cafe for a simple lunch and in the afternoon I purchased new birettas and clerical shirts from Barbeconi. A trip I found deeply irritating as the place was swarming with a camp clientele overly excited at the sight of clerical attire. Worst of all were two Anglicans making a silly fuss about choosing the right sort of collar. It’s not something rugby players will ever understand I guess. I was therefore glad to get away for a recovery drink with Fr. and Mrs. Lashbrook and Fr. Nicholas. Much saner company.
The evening was spent at a restaurant near St. Peters for a supper organised by Fr. Tad Oxley of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith who is a great supporter of the Ordinariate. It was good to be able to share with him the hopes and challenges of Ordinariate life in the U.K. and to hear from him about the support we have in Rome from the CDF.
Today, Tuesday, will be spent at an all day symposium organised by the Vatican on the subject of the Ordinariate being held to mark a decade since it was first announced. The day runs from 9am until 6pm and there are lots of good speakers lined up. I shall then return to Kent on Wednesday to catch up with the family and return to parish duties.