(Vatican Radio) 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. Accompanying it on its journey to England was Australian missionary Fr Robert McCulloch, who currently serves as Procurator General of the Society of St Columban. He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the significance of the Roman relic on display alongside the precious Augustine Gospel…
Fr Robert says it's important to note the relic associated with St Gregory is returning from Canterbury to Rome on the day that we mark the beginning of the week of prayer for Christian unity. Through this object, he says, we can "recapture the missionary link" in common faith, history and heritage between Catholics and Anglicans.
Fr Robert notes that this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Anglican Centre in Rome, following the first official meeting of an Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, to Pope Paul VI. He talks about the important ministry over the past 50 years of linking the Roman Catholic Church with the Anglican Church, of "maintaining a fraternal, ecumenical and deeply spiritual presence" of the Anglican Church in Rome.
The Centre, he says, also organises courses which allow participants to experience Rome and the Catholic Church in a deeper way. He gives the example of the Anglican bishop of Hyderabad in Pakistan who attended one such course last auturmn and told Fr Robert he was able to see Rome "not just with his eyes, but with his heart".