Bishop Athansius Schneider celebrated Pontifical High Mass during a day arranged by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy at the Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate this week. Mass was that of the anniversary of St Ethelbert, King of Kent, the first king to receive the Gospel from St Augustine.
The church was designed by A.W. Pugin and stands on the large site originally conceived by him as a whole - including church, presbytery, Pugin's home (the Grange), the Cartoon Room (where he drew up his plans) and a school. The Grange and the presbytery can now be rented out as holiday accommodation through the Landmark Trust.
Celebrating Pontifical Mass in the Shrine is no easy feat. Though perfectly formed in Pugin's original plan, the sanctuary was mutilated in the wreckavation insanity that we have seen so often disfiguring our churches over the last fifty years. Fortunately, this is all about to change, as funding has been obtained to create an education, research and visitor centre as well as restoring the church according to Pugin's original plan. This includes reinstating the high altar and the rood screen, which will then give far more practical space for the celebration of Mass - pontifical or otherwise. The shrine's Priest, Fr Marcus Holden, also parish priest at Ramsgate, has obviously been working tirelessly on this project. It is perhaps only in recent years that Pugin's genius has once again become more fully appreciated and this was the church he designed to be his own.
It was my first time visiting the church and also my first time acting as Assistant Priest. Perhaps that's why they needed TWO MC's who knew what they were doing!
The traditional photograph of the ministers and sanctuary party.
The Bishop before Mass saying the preparatory prayers.
The Mass was celebrated in honour of St Ethelbert. There is a modern fresco, painted by Russian artist Sergey Fyodorov in 2004 in nearby Rochester cathedral, which includes the baptism of the king. Some worthwhile modern ecclesiastical art - proving it can be done!
The site pictured from the road into Ramsgate.
The clergy walked down to Ramsgate's Royal Harbour for lunch.
Quite a site to frighten the locals.
What do you call a restaurant full of priests?
The day included an excellent tour given by the Shrine's manager,
Mr John Coverdale. You can help to support the Shrine by becoming a "Friend of St Augustine".
Fr Marcus Holden introducing Bishop Schneider in the Cartoon Room, where we were enlightened with two challenging talks.
The church's statue of Our Blessed Lady,
complete with silver lamp in the shape of a ship.
St Augustine and one of his few remaining relics, donated by the Fathers of the Oxford Oratory, was placed in the reliquary in the church at the shrine inauguration on 20th may 2012.
Pugin's own memorial in the family chapel where he is buried.
With thanks for some of the photos to Marie Muscat-King,
Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Cyril Law.