Gaudeamus ... 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'. And the warmest assurance of prayers and love.
S Agata dei Goti is a unique church in Rome: it was once an Arian church. Perhaps S Agatha should be the patroness of all those fine people 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. (It still is, because when recently he was promoted from Cardinal Deacon to Cardinal Presbyter, he was left in his deaconry church, elevated pro hac vice to the status of a presbyteral Title.)
Most Enthusiastic Thanks be to Almighty God and S Agatha for the recovery of Cardinal Burke from Covid; for his return both to the Altar and to his ecclesial ministry of Restoration.
Some years ago, when I badly broke my shoulder, I was in Rome and prevented by my accident from the pleasure of preaching in Cardinal Burke's titular Church. After my return to Blighty, I did preach in S Agatha's in Portsmouth: it was my first engagement after rising from my hospital bed. And one of our grandsons, a keen campanologist, was in the team ringing the bells. Yes!! Change-ringing from the Anglican Patrimony in a 'Venetian' basilica!!
S Agatha's in Portsmouth, of which the Ordinariate has the use, was sold off by the C of E as redundant. Like its sister church in Rome, it is unique; it is the only place in England ... I think ... where you can see a church built by the Anglo-Catholics in the palmy days of their high and optimistic glory, and 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 triumphalist Anglican Catholicism.
Fr Maunder has added to the glories of his church by putting in place over the S Agatha Altar a Martin Travers reredos now containing a large representation of our Lady and S Agatha granting Anglicanorum coetibus to Pope Benedict (who is accompanied by the Triregnum). It includes the early Anglican incumbents looking on ... good and holy priests who had prayed daily for the unity of Christendom with the Successor of S Peter. Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis ...
Did anybody ever tell you that such prayer ... that all those Holy Masses ... can go unanswered?
From the portals of Heaven, Fathers Linklater, Dolling, Tremenheere, and Coles look down and inform you otherwise.
Sancta Agatha, ora pro nobis.