"ROUQUEMOUTTE": apparently in French it means "ginger"
- the colour, not the spice. Attentive readers to my previous diary
pieces will not be surprised to learn that, inspired by Hilary
Mantel's Thomas Cromwell, I have added felines to my household -
the aforementioned ginger tom, and a pretty black female with
luminous amber eyes, "Tilda, the Empress of Trash".
They came as tiny, big-eared bundles of fluff, intriguing rather
than scaring the dogs (Deo gratias), and rapidly
establishing themselves as the life and soul of the animal party
which seems destined to be continually hosted chez
They also echo the psalmist's plangent thought that "Lions do
lack and suffer hunger"; I have never witnessed creatures with
such exaggerated appetites. Half the size of the dogs, they were
finishing entire bowlfuls of biscuits, cat mousse, meat or fish
scraps, or indeed anything left out on worktops, within hours of
staking their claims.
I had thought that I would have no favourites, but I have to
admit that it's Rouque (aka Red, Rufus, or Roscet) who has stolen
my heart. A "good boy" myself, I have always had a soft spot for
the naughty ones, and he is beginning to live up to the
classification. I will try to control the number of funny stories
originating from the zoo, as I know there is no story more boring
than that concerning the antics of other people's children/pets.
But sometimes I will simply have to indulge myself. Beware.
PETER HUGHES is the still-quite-new Prior of San Gregorio Magno
- now the Camaldolese church and convent in Rome, but most famous
as the religious house founded by St Gregory the Great. I have
known Peter for the 13 years I have lived here, and most of the
time he has resided at the mother house of this reformed
Benedictinism, high in the Tuscan Appenines.
And, for most of those 13 years, he has been a member of the
order without being reordained, not wishing in any way to
compromise his belief that, after ordination in the Anglican
Church of Australia, he was already a priest.
He has always worked hard to include All Saints' congregation,
choir, and clergy in the life of the community, recalling the
historic links between this convent and the See of Canterbury. It
was from here (even if 1000 years before the arrival of the
Camaldolese) that St Augustine set out for the court of Kent.
It was Peter's election by his confrères as Prior of San
Gregorio that led him prayerfully to the decision to accept Roman
Catholic reordination. Subsequently, this took place on 29
February this year, a date that, Peter was quick to note, could not
easily be kept as a new anniversary.
The graciousness of the celebration was particularly inclusive
of Anglicans, and thus it was with joy that he was able to welcome
the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury to the house in March of
this year, when they celebrated a joint liturgy. And it has been at
Peter's invitation that a real, practical, ecumenical project has
been established between the convent and All Saints'.
Nearer God's heart
THE components of Peter's vision - the almost superhuman
organisational skills of our curate, the Revd Dana English, and
the advice of Beth Blosser, a regular worshipper at All Saints' and
professional gardener - have created the Ecumenical Garden
Already, on a Saturday afternoon in mid-September, nearly 20
mainly Anglican volunteers gathered to clear the jungle that the
resident community of three monks had long ago given up the idea
of controlling. Now the invitation has spilled out to the churches
that make up Churches Together in Rome. The appointment will be
for most Saturday mornings until the good weather ends.
Pope Benedict XVI and Dr Williams inaugurated a small chapel in
San Gregorio as a focus for ecumenical pilgrimage; and the
garden will manifest this intention in flowers, fruit, and a place
IT WAS while they were sitting in this former wilderness, during
their pre-ordination retreat, that those who were ordained deacon
in the diocese in Europe this year (including Dana, already
mentioned) dreamed of simple ways to create beautiful, welcoming
ecumenical spaces. Peter dreamed along with them.
We all know that the one story that is more boring than stories
about other people's children/pets is the story of someone else's
dreams. Remember the tediousness of Mr Pooter in the Grossmiths'
Diary of a Nobody? Fortunately, this is no dream: it is a
reality. I might just take Rouquemoutte, Tilda, Gaston, Gertrude,
and Sally to play there - promising, of course, to clean up
The Ven. Jonathan Boardman is the Archdeacon of Italy and
Malta, and Chaplain of All Saints', Rome.