From The Tablet-
Earlier in the day there had been a cool breeze, but by mid-afternoon Rome was basking in spring sunshine allowing a brilliant white light to stream through Bernini’s window of the Holy Spirit in St Peter’s Basilica.
As the spirit-dappled rays shone down, the choir of Merton College, Oxford began singing the introit to evensong. Soon after, Catholic and Church of England clergy processed in together to the hymn “O Praise ye the Lord” before taking their seats on the altar beneath the chair of St Peter, the throne used by the first Bishop of Rome.
This was history in the making. For the first time, an Anglican liturgy was being celebrated at the heart of the Catholic Church, a symbolic moment showing that Christians really do have more that unites them than that which divides.
In his sermon Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Vatican’s liturgy department, said the outpouring of the holy spirit symbolised in the window above breaks down barriers so that “the unthinkable can be made possible.”
A few years ago it would have been unthinkable to celebrate a liturgy written by the English reformation’s hero Thomas Cranmer in the bosom of the Roman Church. Yet on Monday a 300-strong congregation made up of Anglican ex-pats, Catholic seminarians and diplomats stood next the tombs of Popes singing “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” and reciting prayers from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer asking God to “create and make in us new and contrite hearts.”
Speaking to the Soul: Alleluia! Alleluia!
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