Archbishop Justin’s gifts for Pope Francis

16 June 2014 • Persistent link:

Archbishop Justin gave Pope Francis the following gifts during their meeting in Rome on 16 June.

Lambeth Palace Fig Tree Cutting

The Ficus carica ‘White Marseilles’ fig tree was brought to Lambeth Palace by the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Reginald Pole in 1556. It probably came from southern Italy where Pole spent a lot of time. The fruits are white fleshed and very rich and sweet, they are ripe when the skins turn a chartreuse colour and start to split.

At Lambeth Palace the huge trees grow against the east-facing walls of the Great Hall in the sheltered main court yard. We get two crops in a good year, firstly in early July from over-wintered embryo fruits and then a second crop in late September on the current season’s growth, the second crop being the best with their thicker skinned fruits that melt in the mouth!

This cutting has been taken from the tree planted by the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury and thus it represents the common heritage of our two churches. Having been brought to Lambeth by Pole it is fitting that it now, finally, arrives in Rome so that the one tree will bear fruit in Lambeth and Rome as a visible sign of our own and our churches relationship growing and bearing fruit from the same source.

The Register of Cardinal Reginald Pole

This is a specially bound facsimile copy of two leaves from the Register of Archbishop. The images show the Archbishop’s coat of arms as both Cardinal and Archbishop, with both the papal Cardinal’s hat and the coat of arms of the Archbishop of Canterbury together, and then the elaborately decorated opening page of the Register itself. They come from the long series of archbishops’ registers (from the thirteenth century onwards) which are held by Lambeth Palace Library. The text is the opening of Pole’s register as Archbishop, which recites his various titles, such as Papal Legate and Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

The series of bound parchment volumes of Archbishops’ registers held in the Lambeth Palace Library are carefully created working documents recording the administrative activities of each Archbishop.

The Register of Cardinal Reginald Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1556 to 1558, contains two very different illustrations. The opening leaf has an elaborate depiction of the heraldry associated with Cardinal Pole. The artist, John Mulcaster, has illustrated the Archbishop’s royal and noble family connections on a large shield placed below the Cardinal’s hat and above a smaller shield bearing the arms of the See of Canterbury. The eight coats of arms on the large shield represent, respectively: the royal arms of England with the label of Clarence (Pole’s maternal grandfather was George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of King Edward IV); Pole; Neville of Salisbury; Beauchamp; Newburgh; Montagu; Monthermer; and Despencer. The text opens with a giant initial ‘R’ for Registrum, and here the scribe-artist has portrayed the legendary deaths of the lovers Pyramus and Thisbe. Decoration of administrative records, for whatever reason, could provide pleasurable diversion for both the artist and the reader, and perhaps too for the Archbishop.

(Text by Elizabeth Danbury, University College London)

Finally, a copy of Lambeth Palace Library: Treasures from the Collection of the Archbishops of Canterbury will be presented for the Vatican library. This is the volume published to mark the 400th anniversary (in 2010) of Lambeth Palace Library.