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Thursday, 1 July 2021

Holy Cross Palermo, old wine and new spirit!

The Marsala Chapel in Holy Cross, Palermo

Many Anglican churches have side chapels, but on a recent parish visit to Holy Cross, Palermo, Sicily, I was reminded of the particularly splendid, and wonderfully named, "Marsala Chapel". In fact the whole church building is rather beautiful, with a splendid apse decorated with mosaics in a style common to this part of Sicily. 

The chapel's dedication comes from the fact that the church was built in the 1870s by the descendents of Benjamin Ingham Sr, an Englishman who settled in Sicily and built up the Marsala wine industry. (There are a few other churches in the Diocese with a similar history, such as in Malaga, Porto and Madeira!)

Today, the members of Holy Cross Church come from around the world, the UK and Northern Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East. Others have been born and raised in Italy and have found a spiritual home in this Anglican congregation. Over the years, excellent ecumenical relations have been built, particularly with the Roman Catholic Church. 

The Archbishop of Palermo, Corado Lorefice, with former locum Fr Russ Ruffino to his right.

It was a joy to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation with some candidates on 20 June. They had been prepared by the locum priest, Fr Nigel Gibson, whom I had not seen for several years. Fr Nigel previously served in this diocese in Milan and Lugano. The faith of the confirmands was palpable and moving. 

The chaplaincy is now awaiting the arrival of their new chaplain, the Revd James Hadley. Fr James will begin his work in September.

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