Here is a report kindly sent to us by Peter Clarke, LMS Representative for the Isle of Wight, giving an account of the recent pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the canonical establishment of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP). Father Anthony Glaysher, who accompanied the pilgrimage, is parish priest of St Mary's, Ryde and St Michael the Archangel, Bembridge in the Isle of Wight. He is also the Latin Mass Society's new Regional Chaplain for the South-West, with responsibility for the dioceses of Plymouth, Portsmouth and Clifton.
|The pilgrims outside the Church of Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini|
Fr. Glaysher’s Rome Pilgrimage – In search of St. Peter.
Fr. Glaysher was pleased to be able to attend the celebrations in Rome recently on the occasion of the silver jubilee of the canonical establishment of the Society of St. Peter (FSSP). This is a priestly fraternity and a clerical society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right, which has two main aims:- the formation and sanctification of priests to offer the traditional liturgy of the Roman rite (E.F. Mass); and secondly, the pastoral deployment of priests in the service of the Church. It was founded in 1988 after the excommunication of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre for consecrating bishops without papal approval.
It was especially joyous for Father to visit the Eternal City as we conclude this Year of Faith; and in the year of the 150th anniversary of the consecration of our beautiful church in Ryde.
Father accompanied a group of English pilgrims to Rome for these celebrations, led by Fr. Armand de Malleray (Superior of the Fraternity in England). The group visited some of the Roman places associated with St. Peter, i.e. the Mamertine Prison, where St. Peter was held before his crucifixion; the Church of St. Pudentiana, the site of Peter’s captivity where St. Peter would have stayed, thanks to Senator Pudens’ hospitality, when he first came to Rome; St. Peter ad Vincula (St. Peter in chains), a church which contains the chains with which Peter was bound; and St. Peter’s Basilica, built over the tomb of the great apostle. At these places, as well as the Coliseum, where many Christians were martyred, Fr. Armand outlined the history, its significance and its association with St. Peter.
Both the parish and Fr. Glaysher have a close association with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. In the past twelve years at least ten priests of the Fraternity have visited Ryde to support the faithful by offering Mass, giving talks and days of recollection, hearing Confessions, giving Benediction and visiting the sick and the housebound. Consequently, Father urges those of us affiliated to the Old Mass to give thanks to Almighty God, at this special time, for the Fraternity and for their ministry worldwide.
On the Feast of St. Luke, the Evangelist, Fr. Glaysher was present in the sanctuary of the Church of Santissima Trinita Dei Pellegrini, (Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims), for Solemn High Mass offered by Very Rev. Fr. Berg, Superior of the FSSP, in thanksgiving for the Silver Jubilee. Fr Armand de Malleray was the Deacon, and Fr. William Barker the Sub Deacon. This Roman church was entrusted to the Fraternity in 2008, by His Holiness Pope Benedict. It is conveniently situated only a few hundred yards from the Venerable English College. We were delighted to be able to have a guided tour of the college after the High Mass. As a Fraternity priest working in England, Fr Armand de Malleray was particularly pleased to visit the college for the first time and to witness the persecution of the martyrs (vividly displayed on the walls of the gallery above the college chapel). It was through their strength, selfless ministry and courage in adversity during the penal times, that the Faith was kept alive in England.
In his sermon at the High Mass Fr. Berg gave thanks for the growth and development of the FSSP throughout the world. It has grown from 12 to 250 priests worldwide in 25 years. There are now two seminaries, - in Germany and the United States. He spoke about the importance of family life and how vocations to the holy priesthood are nurtured in the family praying together as committed Catholics.
The significance of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio, “Summorum Pontificum”, of 2007, was highlighted by Fr. Berg. It lifted virtually all restrictions on priests offering the immemorial Mass. This Mass emphasises adoration and worship of Almighty God as our Creator and Saviour. He reminded the congregation present of the dignity and the reverence with which Mass should be offered. “It is Christ who is foremost in the Mass; not the priest”. To highlight this point he mentioned the words of Fr. Ronald Knox, who suggested that the best Mass is the one where people leave the church and say to each other, “now can you remember, which priest was it who said Mass this morning”?
Fr. Berg thanked members and supporters of the Confraternity of St. Peter for their prayers and their financial support over the past 25 years. This had contributed greatly to the growth of the FSSP. Each member commits themselves to recite a decade of the rosary and say the Confraternity Prayer every day for priestly vocations and ministry; and to have an annual Mass offered to the same intentions.
It was interesting to witness what happened at the end of the High Mass. When the clergy departed for the sacristy, after the singing of the “Te Deum”, about 90% of the congregation remained in the pews for at least five minutes. There was complete silence as people made their thanksgiving after receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion. Contrast this to the usual rush for the church door at the end of Sunday Mass (or even before), with people talking and laughing, that we often have to endure today. There is much in terms of reverence, respect and dignity that we can learn from the Fraternity.
Outside the church it was good to meet Fr. Berg socially. He posed for photographs with the English pilgrims. Two other English priests were delighted to see us; namely, Fr. William Barker FSSP, who is the curate at this Roman church, and Fr. Andrew Southwell, formerly of St. Bede’s, Clapham Park, - now based in Rome.
In the evening there was Solemn Vespers for the Feast of St. Luke and by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The evening concluded with a concert by the St. Andrew Camerata from Scotland, (once the Blessed Sacrament had been removed from the tabernacle into the sacristy). Among the hymns which they sung were Exultate Deo (Scarlatti), Christus factus est (Buckner), Alma Redemptorist Mater (Palestrina) and O Sacrum Convivium (Viadana).
Details of the concert and other aspects of the pilgrimage (and photographs) can be read in the IoW Catholic History Society web site www.iow-chs.org after 27th October.
Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam.