The voicemail was indistinct there almost too much distortion to hear the speaker at the other end. Only after a third attempt could I recognize the familiar Australian accent of Dr. Margie Richardson, wife of Canon David Richardson of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
So I resorted to checking my personal email at work to see if there was news:
“The Archbishop of Canterbury may want to stop by tomorrow morning to see the garden and say hello. A.J., would you please welcome him and show him around?”
Even in Rome, that does not happen every day! How could I say no?
His Grace started this morning at San Gregorio Magno, the point from which Gregory the Great sent Augustine to Canterbury to evangelize more of the British Isles, and where the Archbishop and the Pope Benedict celebrated a solemn vespers together earlier this year to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Camaldoli community there.
Then, with the Richardsons, Msgr. Mark Langham of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Canon Jonathan Goodall, theologian-ecumenist of Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop toured the Passionist-operated Basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo, and received a brief tour of the Lay Centre and Passionist gardens, including the remains of the Temple of Divine Claudius.
After admiring our view and a few moments of gracious conversation, they were whisked away in Vatican state cars to the Anglican Centre for lunch and preparation for the Archbishop’s address to the Synod of Bishops this evening.