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Pilgrims honour Anglo-Saxon martyr

Christians mark the millennium of the martyrdom of St Alphege

By on Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Cardinal Kurt Koch and Dr Rowan Williams attend the service in Canterbury

Cardinal Kurt Koch and Dr Rowan Williams attend the service in Canterbury

A service of ecumenical vespers for pilgrims celebrating the millennium of the martyrdom of St Alphege took place on June 9 at Canterbury Cathedral.

The service was attended by Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and other senior representatives of the main Christian traditions. Delegations from churches dedicated to St Alphege and from other churches joining in this year’s celebrations were also present.

St Alphege was a Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury, who is regarded as a martyr for justice. In his death he also became a symbol of reconciliation between divided peoples.

He was martyred in Greenwich on April 19 1012. The invading Danes had taken him prisoner and demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release, but he refused to allow his already impoverished flock to be subjected to further demands. In revenge their soldiers, in the middle of a drunken feast, pelted him with ox bones and then despatched him with an axe blow.

June 9 was the day following the feast of the translation of St Alphege (whose remains were transferred from St Paul’s Minister, London, to Canterbury Cathedral on the orders of King Cnut in 1023). He was officially canonised in 1078. There are eight parishes in England (Anglican and Catholic) whose churches are dedicated to St Alphege. A further 11 have some association with him.

The service at Canterbury Cathedral was the second national celebration of the saint’s martyrdom, the first being the celebrations at Southwark and Greenwich on April 19.

The veneration of St Alphege survived the Norman Conquest. Anselm persuaded an initially sceptical Archbishop Lanfranc that Alphege had died for the sake of justice and that he should remain in the Church calendar. He was canonised by Pope Gregory VII in 1078.

  • nytor

    Why is cardinal Koch wearing a choir mozzetta over an informal cassock?

  • Alan F.

    A better question would be “why is he committing Communicatio In Sacris with heretics and schismatics?”

  • David

    Exactly, Alan, ‘High-Anglican’ style questions about the the dress of a cardinal are too trite and inappropriate.

  • Rev do Mons Reno Liegghio JCD

    Me thinks His Eminence forgot something – choir cassock and birretta!

  • Askeian

    I give thanks to God for this Cardinals faith and dedicated service in the Lord towards all Christians, no matter what branch of the Catholic Faith they follow.

  • Alan F.

    The Catholic Church is the mystical body of Christ, founded by Christ himself with St. Peter as its head, into which all men are called in order to be saved. It is One, so its only “branch” is in Communion with the successor of St. Peter in Rome.

    All others are schismatic sects which are not of Christ, including the ‘C’ of E. Christians are forbidden to pray or hold religious services with them.

  • anglocatholic

    if it is forbidden to worship with Anglicans, what was Pope Benedict doing in Westminster Abbey not so long ago? presumably some of these bigoted correspondents know more about the faith than he does? I thought loyalty to the Holy See was a fundamental issue for Catholics? 

  • Philip Panter

    Because we are Catholic we welcome all those who in good faith seek the truth in Christ who gives His light to all who seek him. Any other attitude is unacceptable for a Christian.
    Philip Panter.

  • ermo510

    tinyurl.com/73huk6r

  • Parasum

    “The service was attended by Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and other senior representatives of the main Christian traditions. Delegations from churches dedicated to St Alphege and from other churches joining in this year’s celebrations were also present.”
    ## This is ecclesiological & doctrinal nonsense. One can’t be CathoMethAngliCongrePresbyBaptist (to name just a few), because no such body exists. So such a liturgy, of a non-exist Church, is a bastard monstrosity, & not the expression of the Faith of one body. St. Alphege would be the first the condemn this bastardised rite.  He is a Catholic Saint to whom no non-Catholic can have any claim, apart from Anglicans & the two larger Orthodox bodies (& possibly the Nestorians). What next ? CathoMuslim Vespers in St. Paul’s Cathedral ? We already have Papally approved Judaeo-Catholicism in the US. These people can keep their bastardised Christianity – they don’t deceive everyone. 

    Most of these bodies represented have a history of puking on the Catholic distinctives which he as a Catholic pastor, teacher Saint, Archbishop & Martyr stood for. They cannot with any logic or decency or integrity lay claim to him, when he belonged to a Church which their own fathers & pastors regarded as either Satanic, or paganised, or idolatrous, or lost in error. 

  • Mikecat10421

    Because he’s a heretic ? A man is known by the company he keeps. 

  • orthodoxpriest

    I was there and thought it was a wonderful occasion. I had my doubts as it was an Anglican event but it turned out to be an excellent and moving occasion of prayer. I was very pleased to be able to process into the choir with Catholic hierarchs and other Orthodox representatives. I thought it was a decent opportunity for spiritual fellowship in the name of and in honour of St Alphege. It need not solve all the world’s problems to have been of value.

  • woshiabie

     tinyurl.com/73huk6r

  • James

     You almost got it right….there are 3 types of Christians:
    1. Catholics (Latin rite and Eastern rites)
    2. Schismatics (Orthodox)
    3. Heretics (the rest which broke off 1400-present)

  • zhenghe253

    tinyurl.com/cyk9xz2

  • Cassandra

    Really! Schismatics are Orthodox? It depends on your world view and your knowledge of History. No Church is the true church when it uses force and then forbids those they have conquered to celebrate their liturgy and force the people with the Latin Rite as they did when the Crusaders took the City. Their general behaviour  and attitudes  caused the split between East and West Christendom! Then western Christians lied for the next 900 years to hide their guilt of the desecration of the churches.
     Any way this event took place between that split and he is still a Saint of the Orthodox Church.