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Anglican Centre library in Rome holds exhibition to celebrate half-century

20 October 2023

Neil Turner/Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop of Canterbury wears the episcopal ring given to Archbishop Michael Ramsey by Pope Paul VI, and holds it against a painting by Diana Grosso, which shows the ring as a detail

The Archbishop of Canterbury wears the episcopal ring given to Archbishop Michael Ramsey by Pope Paul VI, and holds it against a painting by Diana Gro...

FIFTY years ago, John Moorman, Bishop of Ripon, created a library in the Anglican Centre in Rome, to foster ecumenical understanding and friendship.

On Saturday 30 September, the Centre, in the corner of a palazzo near the colossal Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, hosted Anglicans from around the world, as well as ecumenical partners, for the opening of a new exhibition to mark the library’s half-century.

The Archbishop of Canterbury told those attending: “We’re not in an ecumenical winter, but in an ecumenical spring,” and that the work of the Centre was vital in furthering relations between Churches.

He paid tribute to the director of the Centre, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, a former Primate of the Indian Ocean, who serves as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See; as well as the Revd Dan Harris, who chairs the organising committee, and all the other volunteers who were involved in setting up the exhibition.

Archbishop Welby also praised Archbishop Ernest’s wife, Kamla, describing her as the “genius” behind the exhibition. Speaking afterward, Mrs Ernest said that “people responded with such joy and enthusiasm” to the challenge of arranging the exhibition. “The Holy Spirit was at work.”

One of the artists who produced an original piece for the exhibition was the potter Rebecca Cottrell, who was accompanied at the event by her husband, the Archbishop of York. All three Archbishops were later to attend an ecumenical prayer vigil in St Peter’s Square (News, 6 October).

Another of the artworks, by the painter Diana Grosso, depicted the 1966 meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, and Pope Paul VI. Photos and accounts of the occasion, which marked a new warmth in relations between the Vatican and the Church of England, were included in the exhibition.

It was at this meeting that Pope Paul VI removed his episcopal ring and presented it to Archbishop Ramsey. In common with all subsequent Archbishops of Canterbury, Archbishop Welby wore the ring throughout his visit to Rome.

The exhibition brought together commissioned artworks and various artefacts and manuscripts, sourced in collaboration with Lambeth Palace Library, Gladstone’s Library, the Venerable English College, the Friends of Ripon Cathedral, and Centro Pro Unione.

The full exhibition was open for just four days, as certain items had to be returned, but many elements remain in place, and can be viewed by visitors to the Centre.

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