9 November 2010

Nova Roma: sunt lacrimae rerum

When S Augustine came to Canterbury, he built a cathedral church In honore Sancti Salvatoris. In other words, he gave it the same dedication as that of the papal cathedral church in Rome, the Lateran basilica, the Mother Church of the world. Later, just as Rome had the basilicas of Ss Peter and Paul, outside the walls because they were built on the sites of the cemeteries where the Apostles were buried (Roman burials were always outside city walls), so Canterbury was to have the great monastery of Ss Peter and Paul (vulgo S Augustine's), outside the city walls, where burials took place. And, to represent Great S Mary's in Rome, to the East of Ss Peter and Paul was the church of our Lady.

Nostalgia, nostalgia. Today's commemoration of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica is marked surely with tears for Anglican Catholics as we lament the ruin of the great Ecclesia Anglicana which, from her beginning, was a beacon and monument of Romanitas in these damp and misty islands of the North, at a time when distinctively Roman Christianity had not yet spread much further that Rome herself. As Blessed John Henry put it, Canterbury has gone its way, and York is gone, and Durham is gone, and Winchester is gone. It was sore to part with them. We clung to the vision of past greatness, and would not believe it could come to nought ... but the vivifying principle of truth, the shadow of S Peter, the grace of the Redeemer has left it. That old Church in its day became a corpse (a marvellous change!) and then it did but corrupt the air it once refreshed and cumber the ground which once it beautified.

Romanitas is, of course, still in the news. The Ordinariate will be directly under the Bishop of Rome himself; the Ordinary will be a Vicar of the Sovereign Pontiff. There may be those who see this as a sign of the Romanitas of Augustinian Canterbury in the centuries of its greatness and of its now departed glory, when the Primate was Legatus natus Sanctae Sedis. Another sentence of Newman's springs to mind: "A pledge to us from Rome of Rome's unwearied love".

5 comments:

Joshua said...

Yet comes now a Third Spring?

As the Shepherd of Hermas says, as a precious witness to the early days of Roman Christianity, Sancta Mater Ecclesia is both ever old and ever young: a young woman, with white hair...

William Tighe said...

Et mentem mortalia tangunt.

Fr Levi said...

Father,
I recall a recent plea in one of the threads that when the time came you would join the Ordinariate. I won't attempt to influence you on that one way or the other. Such a decision must always be complex and difficult, with so many factors to weigh, some mundane, some spiritual ... but I wonder if I might ask you to promise one thing - if you feel you can - that whatever your decision, you will continue this blog as long as you have strength and breath to do so!
Levi+

Woody said...

What? The Ordinariate without Fr. H would be kind of unthinkable. I presume that various factors requie discretion at this point. In any case, I heartily concur with Fr. Levi.

Sui Juris said...

Fama crescit eundo.