The Archbishop of Canterbury preaches at San Bartolomeo all’Isola

25 January 2024 • Persistent link:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, preached today at Anglican Eucharist held at San Bartolomeo all’Isola on Tiber Island (Sanctuary of the New Martyrs), a ninth-century Basilica in Rome.

The Anglican Eucharist at 11:45 was attended by Catholic and Anglican bishops from across the globe who are currently in Rome for the ecumenical summit Growing Together, organised by IARCCUM, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.

Later in the day, the Archbishop of Canterbury is due to take part in Vespers at 17:30, at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, where Pope Francis and the Archbishop will commission the bishops for their joint witness and mission.

This morning’s Eucharist at San Bartolomeo was one of the pilgrimages the bishops taking part in “Growing Together” have made this week. In 2000, the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola was dedicated by Pope John Paul ll to the memory of new martyrs of the 20th Century.

In his sermon, the Archbishop addressed the congregation, which included the bishops taking part in the IARCCUM ecumenical summit, on the role of the Church to serve and love. He said:

“We must find ways of being joyful in our disagreement, generous in our disputes, hospitable in our differences with one another, in character, in appearance, in temperament and in culture…. around this world we are all deeply different.

“We come from the mountains of Papua New Guinea and the oceans of Melanesia, to the canyons of Wall Street, to the swamps of West Africa, we come from all places… We come from prosperity and poverty. We are all different.”

He encouraged the Church to be “…the miracle of unity amidst enormous, inhuman, unimaginable difference, which for the world, has always been a reason to fight and conquer one another, not to love and value one another other.

“Demonstrating that love amongst each other is the key that opens human hearts to the good news of Christ and that means suffering.”

Before the Eucharist, the Archbishop and bishops of IARCCUM toured the Sanctuary of the New Martyrs, which is a memorial in the crypt, to continue commemorating the stories of the Christian martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries. It was opened in March 2023.

Martyrs from churches other than the Roman Catholic Church are commemorated in the sanctuary. Among them are the seven martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood, an Anglican religious order, who were murdered by rebels in the Solomon Islands in 2003, while engaged in peacebuilding work in the wake of the Townsville Peace Agreement. Among the relics preserved in the Basilica of San Bartolomeo are religious medals and correspondence belonging to three of the martyred Melanesian brothers, Br Robin Lindsay, Br Alfred Hill, and Br Patterson Gattu.

Two archbishops from the Solomon Islands, Archbishop Christopher Cardone (Roman Catholic) and Archbishop Leonard Dawea (Anglican), are participating in the “Growing Together” IARCCUM summit. As Primate of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, Archbishop Dawea serves as Father of the Melanesian Brotherhood and, as a young man, spent twelve years as a member of it.

The Melanesian Martyrs are also commemorated in Canterbury Cathedral, where an icon of them was dedicated at the closing service of the 2008 Lambeth Conference of bishops. The icon is housed in the Cathedral’s Chapel of Saints and Martyrs of our own Time, Corona.

At the end of the service, the Archbishop laid a wreath at the chapel where the martyrs of Oceania are commemorated.

The IARRCUM summit moves to Canterbury on Friday Jan 26