All Saints' Anglican Church, Rome
A growing Christian community in the heart of Rome finding and following Jesus in worship,
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Listen to some organ music, played by Titular Organist, Gabriele Catalucci Listen to some organ music, played by Titular Organist, Gabriele Catalucci

Walk Round Tour

The Sacrament Chapel or The Lady Chapel

Created in 1913 by the removal of the pipe organ, this chapel has long been used and valued for worship when numbers are small - mainly weekday celebrations of Holy Communion. Before entering the chapel, at the head of the South Aisle is a small space dedicated to private prayer with a place to leave petitions and to light candles. This space is available to visitors even when the Lady Chapel is alarmed against theft.

The light in the chapel's hanging lamp signifies the presence, in the curtain tabernacle or aumbry in the centre of the altar, of the reserved sacrament.

For many decades, it has been the practice at All Saints', as in great number of Anglican churches all over the world, to keep available some of the consecrated bread of the Eucharist for carrying to the housebound, sick or dying.

It also has its pastoral use, in a chaplaincy like ours, for giving communion to faithful Anglicans who miss the earlier part of a service through the real difficulties of travel or traffic. An abbreviated liturgy can be used, and the desirous are not sent empty away.

As for the fixtures which past devotion has given for beautifying the chapel, notice first the Russian Orthodox brass cross mounted on velvet at the chapel entrance. This replaces an almost identical cross, which had belonged to Canon John Findlow (placed here by his widow) which was stolen by a visitor in August 1978.

In the chapel, on the left hand wall as you enter, hangs a stucco Madonna and child with John the Baptist, restored in 1978. Bequeathed by Canon de Nancrede, it was labelled "Antique copy of a work of Benedetto da Maiano, of the Umbrian School of the 15th Century". The author eventually ran the original to earth in the Museo Bordini in Florence, where those details proved to be correct; only the original in terracotta has lost its colour and is subjectively less attractive. The elegant frame of our copy is thought to be from at least the 18th century.

The door of the tabernacle has an unusual relief of Calvary, the figures of Jesus, Mary and John being joined by another figure so that each is shown against one of the down-strokes of black-letter Gothic letters i h s. This work was given in memory of the saintly William Collins, Bishop of Gibraltar 1904 - 1911, whose untimely death on board ship in Ismir Bay was then recent history. He had for some time disobeyed doctor's orders by pressing on with a confirmation tour, unable to speak audibly with a tubercular throat; and his end had shocked the diocese.

Now we pass into the chancel.

Behind the high altar, there is a fine marble reredos, or wall, still bearing the great cross and six candlesticks visible there in a photograph of 1913.

In the same photograph (no doubt commissioned to record the enrichment of the chancel at the moment when the organ had just been re-sited in the adjacent gallery) can be seen the handsome fabrics adorning the apse walls and the front of the altar itself. After the original curtaining disintegrated in the early 1990s, the apse walls remained bare for nearly ten years. In 2001 the fabrics were restored as a result of a generous donation from Jean Chiswell, twice Church Warden in the last years of the 2oth Century.

The altar frontals, along with pulpit falls to match, are changed with the liturgical season: white for great festivals of our Lord, purple or blue for solemn seasons, and so on. Some are frail, now, but they are kept in use because they are very much in the spirit of church furnishings of the post Tractarian period. The celebrant at the altar here has worn vestments since Easter day 1898.The chancel therefore represents an unusually complete ensemble of Anglican practice of the period concerned, and it crowns a still homogeneous church interior of the late Victorian age.

The two panels on the front of the side table in the Chancel show the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation of our Lord to Mary. These commemorate the long association with All Saints' of Francis Coleridge Patteson. She was the sister of John Coleridge Patteson, The first Bishop of Melanesia in the South Pacific. He was martyred there in 1871 in an incident celebrated in Anglican missionary history. The Bishop's personal silver teapot (George IV, 1824) was bequeathed first by Miss Patteson to Canon de Nancrede, and then by him to All Saints' Church. Hence we hold an unusual "secondary relic" of a man who now has a place in some Anglican calendars - our gentle way of nominating modern saints.


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