The Portal April 2017 - Page 18

THE P RTAL April 2017 Page 18 St Augustine, Pugin and the English Christian Patrimony The Editors I n 2012, Archbishop Peter Smith instituted St Augustine’s Church, Ramsgate as a shrine to the ‘Apostle of the English’.  It has now grown into a popular place of pilgrimage with more than 10,000 visitors a year. There had been a shrine to St Augustine in Canterbury from c.604 until the time of Henry VIII. This place of pilgrimage recovers that ancient tradition. St Augustine’s day is greatly celebrated in Ramsgate each year. In 1897, the 1300th anniversary of Augustine’s arrival, the entire English hierarchy and thousands of faithful descended on Ramsgate for Mass at St Augustine’s Cross and there have been big celebrations in 1997 and 2000. Even before a parish was formed in Ramsgate, the church provided mass for local Catholics, visitors and foreign sailors. In 1848, it was the venue for the first High Mass on Thanet since the Reformation. Ramsgate’s first post-reformation Catholic school was run from the site. At his death, Pugin gave the Church to the Catholic community. Every year St Augustine Week takes place around the feast. (This year 26th May – 4th June 2017.) This is a St Augustine’s was consecrated in 1884 and from week of devotions, talks, rambles, sacred music events, 1856 until 2010 the church was run by the Benedictine masses and an outdoor procession with the relic of monks of St Augustine’s Abbey. In 2010, the monks Saint Augustine. withdrew and the church was in danger of being closed, lost or turned into a museum. A grant from The Shrine enjoys welcoming groups of pilgrims. English Heritage, and local fundraising, saved the Typically, their schedule will include Mass, a tour church from dereliction. In 2012, St Augustine’s, now of the shrine, veneration of the St Augustine relic, a church within the local Catholic parish, was made benediction and confession if desired, and a specially- an official shrine of St Augustine by Archbishop Peter made film about St Augustine or a spiritual talk. The Smith. shrine has a designated pilgrimage director and so any group can make arrangements for a visit. For St Augustine’s attracts Christians from many the more active pilgrim, the Way of St Augustine is backgrounds, as well as secular visitors who come to a walking route that links the Shrine of St Augustine enjoy the architecture, and the art and schools come to with Canterbury Cathedral. learn about the saints and about Pugin.  St Augustine’s holds on to the vision, held by many (including Augustus Pugin), of English Catholicism, honouring English saints and patrimony. In renewing devotion to England’s Apostle, the new Shrine is responding directly to the Holy Father’s call for a new evangelisation. St Augustine’s church is the ‘ideal church’ of the famous architect Augustus Pugin, who constructed it between 1845-1852. It stands as a symbol of the Catholic revival of the 19th century. Pugin, as a former Anglican, never saw his reception into full communion as abandoning the particular genius of English Christianity but rather as the best way to preserve it and enhance it. In May this year a new Education, Research, and Visitor centre for pilgrims and visitors will be completed and restoration of original Pugin features continues. It is hoped that this shrine will also be a special spiritual home for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – a tangible sign of its patrimony and inspiration for its mission. Information: Mass every day, 12 noon - additional Mass on Sundays: 8.30am. To arrange a pilgrimage: - Email: office@ - Telephone: 01843 606756 Join the Friends of St Augustine’s; details may be found at