The Saints of England, God bless them, do seem rather to tug at our maniples these days as we struggle up to the Altar. There was November 8, preserving a shadow of the old Octave Day as we celebrated in the Ordinariate the very agreeable Feast of All the Saints of England. Last month, the cardinale volante Raymond Burke went to Puginopolis, aka Ramsgate, to seal the Shrine Relic of S Augustine into a splendid new reliquary. Recently we kept the feast of S Willibrord ...
At a time (597) when the Roman Rite was, fairly simpliciter, the Rite of Rome, the Augustinian Roman Mission planted Little Romes in England; places where the dedications of churches mirrored those of Rome; where the Liturgy was Roman; where the education was Roman. A second wave of missions took this Anglo-Saxon Romanita across to Northern Europe. Which is why S Willibrord, via Northumberland and Ireland, ended up being consecrated Archbishop of the Frisians by Pope S Sergius I, and setting up his cathedra at Utrecht.
Those Anglo-Saxon Churches were comfortably, even aggressively, papalist; which makes it all the more preposterous that (for example) an Anglican 'Society', designed to shelter those who disdained Pope Benedict's gracious ecumenical offer, should award itself the patronage of S Wilfrid! S Willibrord was similarly kidnapped much earlier by a group advocating close links between the schismatic Dutch 'Old Catholic Church' (now depressingly ultra-liberal, but possessed of orders regarded by Rome as valid), and the Church of England.
This link produced an initiative in the 1930s designed to circumvent the condemnation of Anglican Orders by the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII. By mutual interconsecrations, the 'Old Catholic' and English Anglican episcopates were ... this was the explicit intention ... woven together into one "so that even the strictest romanist will not be able to doubt Anglican Orders". The C of E, half a century later, gave up this ingeniously intricate attempt to render its priestly orders equivalent to those of the Catholic Church; it formally declared that its own orders were, after all that trouble, despite all the ink spilt rebutting Leo XIII, worth no more than those of Methodists and Lutherans! Yes; it is a strange body!
But the point of this rather rambling blogpost is to disentangle our own dear S Willibrord, the real Willibrord, from all those weird goings-on and to draw your attention to the wonderful pictures on the Internet of the Church of S Willibrord in Utrecht, which is being blessed and brought back to use this very day by His Excellency Bishop Fellay (a man who has risen in my esteem since he so wisely signed our Filial Correction). That superb, soaring church (not unworthy of Pugin) will be an inspiring restoration of Anglo-Saxon Romanita North of the Alps; a Little Rome up there among the foggy boggy mists of the Low Countries to console the Faithful as a pledge of the Faith's return in full and glorious expression to the queenly city upon the Seven Hills where an immigrant from the Middle East once made an act of Martyrium.
We must all make the most of our Little Romes!