Today a special journey is being taken: the head of the pastoral staff of St Gregory the Great, the Pope who sent St Augustine to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons, is following (vaguely) in the steps of Augustine and travelling to Canterbury.
At various points today I plan to post a little blog about the journey and the history of St Gregory, St Augustine, and the mission to England.
We’re starting at the monastery of San Gregorio al Celio. This was established by St Gregory himself before he became Pope and was, in those days, known as the monastery of St Andrew. It was built on the site of Gregory’s family villa, which was one of the most impressive in Rome: on one of the seven ancient hills, overlooking the Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill.
In 596 Augustine was the prior of this monastery and was chosen by Pope Gregory to lead a mission to covert the Anglo-Saxons. Many of the forty missionaries came from the monastery and are recalled on this plaque. Among them are St Mellitus, the first Bishop of London and St Paulinus, the first Bishop of York.
Today’s Prior is Fr George Nelliyanil, who is back in his native India today. He has been supportive of this plan from the beginning and is a great friend of the Anglican Church. He is being represented by Fr Innocenzo, the Archivist and Treasurer, as the Community sends the crosier-head to Canterbury with their prayers.
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