Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 2, 2004
Exhibit traces Anglican history
Local Catholic, Anglicans collaborate on project
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
An exhibition depicting the history of the Christian Church in Britain since the time of the Romans is currently on display at All Saints' Cathedral in Edmonton.
Titled Anglicanism and the Western Catholic Tradition: Continuity and Change, the exhibit of 21 large linen panels was essentially designed by the Norwich Cathedral Institute. Its first showing was in the Vatican Museum in 2002 to coincide with the queen's golden jubilee - the first non-Roman Catholic Communion to be represented there.
Julien Hammond, the Edmonton Roman Catholic Archdiocese's director of the ecumenical and interfaith relations, says the exhibit has had an extensive tour of Europe so getting it here was a stroke of good luck.
"I've been working with members of the Anglican diocese in getting the funding in place and looking after logistics to bring the exhibit here from England," Hammond said.
"There was a window of opportunity around Christian Unity week (Jan. 18 to Jan. 25). Also, St. Joseph's College has invited Father Don Bolen to give a talk on Feb. 9. He works with the Pontifical Council on Christian Unity in Rome. He is one of the highest placed members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic international dialogue."
Bolen was also instrumental in the exhibit coming to the Vatican and setting it up in the museum.
"In and around his visit we were trying to plan some programming that might interest people about such dialogue," Hammond said. "After doing a bit of research, the exhibit caught our attention. We contacted Norwich Cathedral and found out there was time available that corresponded with Christian Unity Week and when Father Bolen was coming," he said.
The exhibit is a display of Christianity in England since the sixth century. It gives an interesting perspective because there are about 1,000 years of common history and some 400 years of separated, or parallel, history involving the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.
The colourful panels - four feet by 10 feet - are in English and Italian. They trace the story of the Anglican Church from the viewpoint of Norwich Cathedral and diocese. The text for each panel was approved by the Vatican.
The introductory panel says the role of the monarch has been central to the story of the Church in England.
Other panels show the seventh-century reforms, the Normans, the parish system, the Benedictines, the Reformation, the Elizabethan Settlement, the Civil War, dissent and religious freedom, evangelical and Catholic revivals and the search for unity.
Similarity and difference
"It's a question of showing similarity and difference but with an accent on the continuity dimension," Hammond said. "We have more than twice as much life in common as we do in division among Anglicans and Catholics. From that perspective it was an interesting ecumenical tool because the emphasis has very often been on the division element."
In many ways - sacramental, liturgical, for example - similarities remain. In fact, Hammond says, Anglicanism - even after the English Reformation - retained much of the hierarchy and its externals.
"The purpose of the exhibition is to share with the Catholic community something of Anglicanism, who they are and how they came to be," Hammond said.
Cynthia Cordery, a history buff and former resident of Britain, chaired the committee to bring the exhibit. A brief delay getting through customs in Calgary only served to heighten her anticipation.
"It was a week late in arriving but we have had quite a good response," Cordery said. "We have notified all of the churches and denominations in and around Edmonton. From the people I've spoken with, they are fascinated with the history depicted by the panels.
British Church history
"Of course, there are 2,000 years of Christianity but the people who have seen the exhibit have been anxious to know more about the history of Britain."
The history of Christianity in England is well known by the many Brits who attend Mass at the cathedral, Cordery said. But the people who come in from outside the church have expressed a great fascination to know more of the meaning and history behind the display.
"In fact, someone who came a few days ago was going to the library to get some books on various things about the history," she said.
Most people have expressed interest in the first panel that shows the archbishop of Canterbury, the pope and a leading Orthodox patriarch kneeling together, Cordery said.
The photo shows Archbishop George Carey, Pope John Paul and Metropolitan Athanasios of Helioupolis and Theira kneeling before the holy door at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome during the 2000 jubilee Christian Unity Week.
The exhibit, set up in the cathedral's entrance foyer, will be on display until Feb. 12.