19 clergy and readers from Italy, Malta, Monaco and Switzerland came to St Mark's, Florence, for a Chrism Mass on Tuesday. During the celebration the ordination vows of the deacons, priests and bishop were reaffirmed, together with the promises made by Readers, and the oils used by the Church throughout the coming year were blessed. The sermon was preached by the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, Chancellor of St Paul's Pro-Cathedral in Malta. Fr Simon drew on some images from the Holy Week poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins to remind the sacred ministers of what is at the heart of their calling.
The service was marked by a deep unity and communion among the clergy. Priests from the US Episcopal Church serving in Italy were present, as were priests from the Old Catholic tradition. (The Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, the Venerable Jonathan Boardman is working with the small Old Catholic communities in Florence and in Rome / Perugia which were once under the Old Catholic Bishop of Switzerland to incorporate them into the Church of England).
It was particularly good to have three deacons at the mass. Traditionally three deacons dressed in different coloured dalmatics present each oil: oil of the sick (purple), oil of catechumens (green) and the chrism (white).
Also, during the service Mrs Penny Mittler, a Reader in the Diocese of Manchester, who spends part of the year in Florence, received Permission to Officiate for St Mark's.
Fr William Lister, the Chaplain of St Mark's was responsible for the liturgical arrangements in this beautiful and unique Church in the Diocese, and members of the parish provided a lunch following the service.