THE P RTAL April 2018 Page 13 church to be a centre for the community, and not just and we had buckets all around the place, there was dry Catholics. He had a school and a sort of hospital in rot and subsidence in the tower. his house where he has attended sailors who had been shipwrecked. “With the Monks having moved out, this was no longer a parish church. The parish church was another “His son Edward designed and built the monastery church across the town for the whole of the area. There across the road, and another son Peter Paul was also was a question mark. What do we do with this old an architected. He is responsible for the Sacred Heart pile? As beautiful as it is, it looked impossible to turn altar and the two side chapels.” around. It was going to take millions of pounds and it has no parish or congregation. What can we do here? As we were talking, the Rector, Fr Marcus Holden walked in. We asked Fr “But, I knew immediately on arrival Marcus to tell us a bit about himself. “I’m this couldn’t be lost for the catholic faith. a Lancastrian from a Catholic family. It was important for two great reasons. My family have always been English First, it was the church for St Augustine and have always been Catholic, which near to where he landed. Catholics makes me part of a very small group were not properly commemorating that which goes back before the reformation really as Catholics. Secondly, it was times. an architectural gem; Pugin’s personal church where he was buried. His whole “A lot of Lancastrians kept the faith - vision here was to revive the faith. He even ordinary people like my own family called this the cradle of Catholicism in and not just noble families. When I was Fr Marcus Holden England. seven we moved to Wales. I grew up in Pembrokeshire “For those two reasons, we (myself, the parishioners in the beautiful parish of Tenby. I travelled around a and the local people) realised the importance of this lot since the age of eighteen. site. We worked together to create a vision to keep it “I went to the University of Oxford and then I was open. We founded the friends of St Augustine’s. We sent to the English College in Rome. It was there I began the process of getting grants and raising funds discovered my vocation to the priesthood. I spent six to restore the building; initially to get the lights back years at the English College where the martyrs used to on and some heat and to plug the immediate gaps. train to come back to this land to keep the Faith alive. It was the Archbishop’s desire as well that we should I was very much inspired by them. I felt part of their have a shrine for St Augustine. It had been four story. Being in Rome at the heart of the church was a hundred and seventy four years since the last shrine great joy, with people from all different cultures and of St Augustine had been destroyed in Canterbury under Henry VIII in 1538 so in the year 2012, that’s backgrounds, focused on the same ends. two years after making the decision to restore and “We were told about St Augustine and his mission to save this building, this place was designated as the England. In the chapel in the English College I used to official Shrine of St Augustine. It’s only six years sit in one of the choir stalls, and directly across from old; its not an old shrine but it’s an old church in an me there was a Roundel of St Augustine on a boat with ancient important place.” his monks coming to England. I was inspired by that. The Church and Shrine is a stunning place. It is an “I was ordained 2005 for the diocese of Southwark holy place, a place where prayer is valid. One could say and was a curate in Balham and then Tunbridge Wells. it is a “thin” place, if you know what we mean. Then I was made parish priest of Ramsgate. I was also These two websites bit.ly/augustineshrine and bit.ly/ given the task of working out a future for this building pugin-augustine will help if you want to be a pilgrim of St Augustine’s. It was in danger of being closed. (or even a tourist) yourself. “When I arrived here in 2010 there was only one Perhaps when you have said your prayers, asked St mass a week. The monks had moved out of the church and it was being run by the parish up the road. The Augustine to pray for England, and prayed for the soul one mass a week was in darkness as there was no of Augustus Pugin, you will walk round the outside electricity! It was freezing cold. You could see your of the church. If you do, you will come across The own breath as you said the prayers. It was also very Lookout, a splendid little café. Their bacon sandwiches wet because rain water was coming through the roof are wonderful. Mention T he P ortal if you do!