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The Camaldoli at 1000… più o meno.

The Lay Centre enjoyed the opportunity to host some of Rome’s most well-respected ecumenical leaders for lunch today, offering an oasis in time and space to what is already a busy and historic week for all involved.

Some will have heard already that the Archbishop of Canterbury is coming to the neighborhood next weekend to celebrate the Camaldolese community at San Gregorio Magno al Celio on the occasion of their millennial anniversary. It was Gregory the Great that sent Augustine to Canterbury to convert the Angles, famously quipping how they better resembled angles, after all, and the connection between the local churches of Rome and England has a long history. That history is tied to this very spot, and the relationship with the Camaldolese at the site of Gregory’s family estate has its own long history – with a recent twist noted below.

The bishop of Rome has decided to join him for vespers next Saturday at San Gregorio marking the occasion. As it is a small church, I have been assured the only way I will get a ticket is if I poison some monsignor and take his – and since all things baroque seem to be in vogue just now, it might be socially acceptable if I did just that!

Alas, I am too much stuck in the ways of my youth, and will just pray for intervention from Sts. Gregory, George, and Jude, instead.

Nevertheless, the Archbishop will be presiding and preaching at St. Paul’s Within the Walls, the Episcopalian (read: American Anglican) Church of Rome on Sunday morning, and offering a conference on monasticism and ecumenism with the prior of the Camaldolese monastery in California at San Gregorio in the afternoon. No tickets (and thus no poisons) are necessary.

All of this is to celebrate the 1000 year anniversary of the Camaldoli community, a Benedictine offshoot that uniquely comprises both monastics and hermits in lives of contemplation. But, in fact, it seems that historians have dated the actual establishment about 12 years later… the event being predated for political reasons at an early stage. Nevertheless we know the community was founded by St. Romuald, a monk in the abbey of St. Apollinaris in Classe at Ravenna, who “reproposed the original call of believers to a radical faithfulness to the gospel and interior freedom, guaranteed not by human power or strict disciplinary norms, but by faithfulness to the Spirit of God.”

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