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.