Ten years ... since, with a smashed shoulder patched up, I hobbled up the steps into the pulpit in the Church of S Agatha in Portsmouth. Ten years to this day; and Senior Grandson, a keen bellringer, was pealing away.
It used to be said that, if you couldn't afford a holiday in Italy, you should go to Brompton and enjoy the Roman Baroque marvels to be found in the Oratory. The point is absolutely bang-on. And, if you want an earlier phase in the Renaissance, you should go to Birmingham and enjoy that Oratory Church. (Since the Shrine of S John Henry Newman is there, you could combine your visit with a pilgrimage.)
Perhaps I could add that, as in so many Oratory churches, the preaching, the the Liturgy, and the music are top-notch.
One can add to that rather exclusive list of churches to enjoy if you can't get to the Med; and I encourage readers to do so.
I will today set an example ... by starting with that great 'Lombardic' and 'Romanesque' basilica in Portsmouth. If financial constraints discourage visits to your actual Venice, go to S Agatha's in Portsmouth. It suffered when Councils with 'Bauhaus' mindsets did their best to destroy it; earlier, it had suffered from the Luftwaffe. So it is a glorious Anglo-Catholic 'slum church' ... without any actual circumambient slums!
But Fr Maunder has gathered back many of the goodies which were dispersed when the C of E did its worst; and has brought in artistic treasures from elsewhere. And has erected a fine neo-baroque picture above one of the altars, incorporating our blessed Lady and S Agatha and Pope Benedict (with an adjacent triregnum) and the first four (Anglican) parish priests, devoutly praying for Unity with Peter.
This church is now one of the brightest jewels in the Ordinariate.
And among the collection of Relics is the Skull of S Boniface; once in the possession of Queen Mary of Modena, wife of our late sovereign liege Lord King James VII and II.
Again ... why do thoughts of possible pilgrimages not spring to life in pious breasts?
And Saturday is St Agatha's High Mass for the feast: Mozart's 'Sparrow' Mass, and Fr Serafino Lanzetta of the Marian Franciscans preaching.
See you there?
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