The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, and the Precentor, the Revd Max Kramer, were warmly received by Pope Francis last week, during a visit to Rome to make plans for the Cathedral’s celebrations of Becket 2020.
In a meeting chaired by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Mrs Sally Axworthy MBE, at the Anglican Centre in Rome, plans were made for a wide range of services, exhibitions, academic conferences, and artistic events to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the consecration of Becket’s shrine, and the 850th Anniversary of his Martyrdom.
At the meeting Dean Robert presented Pope Francis with a replica of a 10th century pocket sundial, the original having been found in the Cathedral cloisters in 1938 and is reputedly the oldest pocket timepiece in the world. The device was used by the community at the Cathedral to let them know the times for worship, a reminder of the way in which Anglicans and Roman Catholics are drawn together through our shared rhythms of prayer.
In his sermon at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday, the Dean said ‘It was a very tactile and intimate occasion. One wondered how the energy in that figure, on which so much is vested by so many, could keep going in such a detailed intimate way.
‘We came away feeling not only much blessed ourselves, but that all of our ecumenical endeavours for 2020, 800 years after bishops and statesmen and women and the King gathered here, will be blessed.’