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Diary

27 June 2014

ISTOCK

No choke

WHAT to serve the Archbishop of Canterbury for lunch? It is a question that calls to mind Lady Ramsey's complaint to Victor Stock after the publication of some of his memoirs: "Victor, how could you say it? I never served soup at luncheon."

So, not soup, then. Of course, it is Italy; so pasta of some sort might be a good bet. The final menu: Soufflé Mediterraneo, a fish terrine served with a rocket-and-almond pesto; Strozzapreti con vongole e asparagini, the so-called "priest-choker" pasta with clams and baby asparagus; and to finish, as time was short and coffee not served, Tiramisu Primavera, the best known Italian dessert, with the addition to the beverage base of fresh straw-berries. All this was washed down with an excellent Traminer from the Veneto.

No priest was seen actually to choke, although the guests ate and drank with appropriate relish.
 

Weathering the storm

SURROUNDING the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to Rome and the Vatican, there have been some spectacular thunderstorms. Residents are used to this as a feature of the middle rather than early summer (the latter part of July is often a series of blistering, airless days, broken by refreshing downpours), but so early, and on the heels of a really wet, and at times, cold spring, we find ourselves beginning truly to consider climate change the cause.

In a parish pilgrimage over the public holiday at the beginning of May to La Verna, the Tuscan hermitage where Francis of Assisi received the stigmata, we encountered temperatures of 5°C and unrelenting rain for three days. It was undoubtedly atmospheric, in the mise-en-scène sense as wellas the meteoric, but it was a bit trying.

Claudio Magoni, a seventy-something council member at All Saints', completed the 800km version of the camino to Santiago de Compostela in the weeks after Easter in aid of our roof appeal. He encountered snow in the high Europas mountains as he approached the celebrated Iron Cross - La Cruz de Hierro - totally appropriately, if somewhat unseasonably.

To find typical weather in this season of exceptions, we must turn to Archbishop Welby's meeting with the Vatican cricket team, which has recently responded positively to my offer to act as scorer. The photo op was under suitably leaden skies. Oh, to be in England. . .
 

Down to business

FOOD and the weather out of the way, I can turn to less serious matters. Canon law was the subject of the superb international conference Comunione Anglicana e Chiesa Cattolica, tra passato e presente, held in Agrigento, Sicily, in the second week of May, to which I, the Worshipful Mark Hill QC, Chancellor of the diocese in Europe, and Professor Peter McCullough, of Lincoln College, Oxford, provided the Anglican contribution.

A joint effort of the law faculties of Palermo and Agrigento Universities, the papers were varied and fascinating; the most surprising, perhaps, was the one delivered by Professor Christiana Cianitto, of the Università Degli Studi di Milano, in which the funding arrangements of the Church of England were citedas exemplary in the context of European Union expectations for independence and accountability among faith groups.

It was, of course, the week in which the Eurovision Song Contest was held. It is a relief to know that we score highly somewhere, and for something, in Europe.
 

Window to the soul

I WAS glad to discover Archbishop Welby's sense of humour - clearly on the dry side, and neatly expressed. After having led him and the rest of his procession through a kind of elevated french window, from our sacristy to our garden, so that we might make a grand entrance at the back of church towards the close of the singing of St Patrick's Breastplate, I suggested at the end of mass that we go down into the crypt to meet the congregation. "I do hope it means we have to climb through another window," he remarked.

A busy schedule of seriousness in Rome, then, for His Grace, but mercifully not without a little fun.
 

The Ven. Jonathan Boardman is the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, and Chaplain of All Saints', Rome.

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