... because it's S Agatha's Day! So congratulations to the people of S Agatha's Ordinariate Church in Portsmouth, with their admirable Parish Priest Fr John Maunder and Mgr Robert Mercer, the great missionary Bishop of Matabeleland, now in Ordinariate 'retirement'.
S Agata dei Goti is a unique church in Rome: it was once an Arian church. Perhaps S Agatha should be the patroness of those who rescue churches from schism for Catholic use! Most readers will not need me to tell them that this is the Titular Church of Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, who is very unlikely to give it back to the Goths, whether or not they are still Arian.
S Agatha's in Portsmouth, of which the Ordinariate has the use, was sold off by the C of E as redundant. It, also unique, is the only place in England ... I think ... where you can see a church built by the Anglo-Catholics in the days of their high glory, full of the most exquisite artwork and shrines, now in Full Communion with the See of S Peter and offering worship in the finest tradition of Anglican Catholicism. Fr Maunder has added to the glories of his church by commissioning a baroque over-altar of our Lady and S Agatha, granting Anglicanorum coetibus to Pope Benedict, as the early Anglican parish priests look on ... men who had prayed daily for the unity of Christendom with the Successor of S Peter. Could someone provide a link to the picture?
The good news is that if you live within range of Portsmouth, you haven't missed the boat with regard to this year's festival. S Agatha will be celebrated this coming Saturday at 11.00. The Solemn Mass will be Haydn's great Nelson Mass. That's a good idea, isn't it, in a great Naval Base such as Portsmouth. The Mass was composed in 1798, the year of the Battle of the Nile, when His Grace Admiral the Duke of Bronte in the Kingdom of Sicily held up for a few more decades the spread of the Enlightenment. I seem to recall that at Greenwich they have a painting of the napoleonic flagship L'Oreole exploding. It would be jolly to have a link to that picture, too. Viva Horatio! Viva Nelson!
WHY GO TO ROME ... OR SICILY ... WHEN YOU CAN GET THE REAL S AGATHA SO MUCH CLOSER HOME?