An historic object traditionally associated with sixth century Pope, St Gregory, is being put on display at Canterbury Cathedral.
The rare opportunity to see the carved, ivory head of the pastoral staff (crozier) is being offered on Saturday and Sunday (9 and 10 January 2016) and also the following weekend, (16 and 17 January 2016) before and after a meeting at Canterbury Cathedral of Anglican Primates from around the world.
The ancient crozier head, which has been loaned to the Cathedral, is venerated by the monks of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome as that of St Gregory who was an abbot at the monastery prior to becoming Pope. It was St Gregory who sent Augustine to England in 597 AD on a mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity.
The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis said:
“We are very pleased to receive the crozier as a symbol of ecumenical encouragement at this time of the meeting of Anglican Primates and as a link with St Gregory whose vision of the conversion of England caused Augustine to found the community at Canterbury.”
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture said:
“Allow me at this point to congratulate you on the highly symbolic value of the loan of this relic, dear to the Church of England, which venerates Pope St Gregory the Great, the promoter of the evangelizing mission to the Anglo-Saxon people and is therefore a mark of the bond that spiritually unites the Catholic and Anglican Churches.”
The Primates have been invited to meet in Canterbury next week (11 to 15 January 2016) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby and are due to spend time reflecting and praying together.
The loan of the crozier head has been made possible by the Italian Government’s Fund for Religious Buildings, administered by the Ministry for the Interior and with support from the British Government.
The crozier will be on public display in the Canterbury Cathedral Crypt on Saturday 9 and Saturday 16 January from 10:00 – 16:00 and on Sunday 10 January and Sunday 17 January from 12:00 – 14:00. Normal Precincts charges apply.