Rome and the Patrimony

On this feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, it is important to remember that the Anglosphere – like every other realm on Earth – has particular ties to the Eternal City. Prior to the Reformation, the King of England was protector of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls – and the abbot thereof was prelate of the Order of the Garter (which is why that Order’s arms remain that of the Abbey to-day).  As a result, St. Paul’s in London was considered a sort of sister church to the Roman Basilica. After the Protestant Revolt, the English, Scots, and Irish Colleges were founded to train priests for those missions – and after the famous Flight of the Earls, those two noted Irish noblemen settled, died, and were entombed in Rome. Eventually, after the so-called Glorious Revolution and their de-recognition by France after the War of Spanish Succession, the exiled Stuarts and their Court were welcomed by the Pope – which is why there are so many sites associated with them in Rome and its environs, and why they are entombed in the Vatican. To provide for the loyal Anglicans who comprised part of their entourage, the Stuarts convinced the Pope to open a Protestant cemetery in Rome; a number of British notables who died in Rome would be buried there over the years.

As allies in the struggle with the French Revolution and Napoleon, there was a noticeable warming in the relationship between Britain and the Holy See; this allowed for both the Catholic Revival in the British Isles (one milestone of which was the giving of the Red Hat to Bl. John Henry Newman, with the title of San Giorgio in Velabro), and the establishment of an Anglican Congregation connected to the British Embassy. In 1873, after the Italian government dispossessed the Papacy of Rome, the new regime permitted the building of an American Episcopalian congregation within the city’s walls as a studied insult to the Pope. Nevertheless, relations between Paul VI and Michael Ramsey were such that the latter encouraged the formation of the Anglican Centre in Rome as an assist to reunion – a hope that subsequent developments within the Anglican Communion have rendered void.

As the centre of the Catholic world, the Eternal City boasts a number of national churches; these include to-day English, Scots (now deconsecrated), Irish, Canadian, and American congregations. The Domus Australia is a centre for Australian visitors to Rome. On April 25, 2018, the feast of St. Mark, the Anglican Use liturgy was offered in Santa Maria in Campitelli (this was the title church of Cardinal York, de jure King Henry IX – since his time it has been a centre of prayer for the conversion of England and Scotland); in time perhaps, it may find a permanent home in one of the Anglosphere national parishes.

Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United States all maintain embassies to the Holy See. Citizens of those countries would be well advised to contact them for information regarding access to sites and ceremonies often not available in any in any other way. The same is true for both the afore-mentioned national colleges and the North American and Canadian colleges. It is important to remember that the Eternal City is as much a part of the Patrimony as Glastonbury or Canterbury.

About Charles A. Coulombe

I am a Catholic Historical speaker and author.
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