Ably supported by Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown, Father Simon Smyth represented His Eminence Abba Seraphim, Metropolitan of Glastonbury, at this year’s Glastonbury Pilgrimage.
Prior to the Anglican Mass there is a celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Undercroft of Glastonbury Abbey. The British Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Churches celebrate the Divine Liturgy on alternate years and this year the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom was celebrated by Mitred Archpriest Father Benedict Ramsden and members of his Russian Orthodox community. The British Orthodox Church is always represented, however, as we are keen to show fraternal support for our fellow Orthodox on this occasion. This was especially pleasing this year as Father Benedict was also celebrating this weekend the fortieth anniversary of his ordination as priest. Father Benedict referred more than once to the suffering and persecuted Coptic Church and showed the British Orthodox clergy the same deep respect he always does on these occasions.
Owing to Father Benedict having to depart straight after the Divine Liturgy Father Simon and Subdeacon Wulfric were the only Orthodox clergy to attend the Solemn Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at which His Grace the Right Reverend John Ford, Bishop of Plymouth and Chairman of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association presided. The Bishop of Plymouth publicly expressed his appreciation for Father Benedict having celebrated the Liturgy even though he had been unable to stay for the Mass and also welcomed both British Orthodox clergy, announcing that Father Simon was representing Metropolitan Seraphim and expressing his joy that we could be together for the pilgrimage, united by our common baptism. The homily was preached by His Grace the Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter.
The rain which had fallen to some extent during the Divine Liturgy and to a far greater extent during the Solemn Mass held off for the procession through Glastonbury which was largely bathed in sunshine. Come rain or shine, though, it was a joyful day and seemed generally appreciated and valued by all present.
On 2 February Abba Seraphim chaired a well attended day seminar on “Glastonbury Abbey – Influence and Legacy” organised by the British Orthodox Church. It was held at the Abbey House in Glastonbury, across the lawns of which the impressive ruins of the mediaeval abbey stand. It was a crisp and sunny day and both the abbey and the town were bathed in sunlight. It was universally agreed that all four lectures were both informative and engaging and during the intervals in the proceedings, there was a relaxed and sociable interchange between lecturers and ‘seminarians’.
Dr. Cheryl Green opened proceedings by talking about the Glastonbury Abbey Excavation Archive Project, which has been analysing and reinterpreting the records of previous excavations made between 1908-1979. Her enthusiasm was matched by her helpful plans and matching slides as she explained some of the exciting discoveries and possibilities opened up by the project. Professor Michelle Brown, who engaged her audience with her brilliant knowledge and command of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, showed how the wider cultural context impinged on Glastonbury Abbey and introduced documents known to have emanated or been kept at the Abbey before its Dissolution. Dr. Tim Hopkinson-Ball, whose previous studies on Glastonbury have dealt with its more recent history, showed a facile command of its mediaeval history and concentrated on the pre-eminence of the Marian cultus at Glastonbury. Dr. Adam Stout, who has previously dealt with Glastonbury’s little known 18th century history traced the development of the traditions concerning St. Joseph of Arimathea and how they were used as religious propaganda by both Catholic and Protestants. The last two speakers have both made notable contributions and original research to much neglected aspects of Glastonbury’s rich history.
It is hoped to publish some of the papers in the Glastonbury Review.
Among British Orthodox clergy present were Father Simon Smyth, Father Martin Lee (Sidmouth) and Deacon John Stuart (Exeter).
Following the conclusion of the seminar, Father Thomas Cook, a priest of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, led Vespers at St. Margaret’s Church in Glastonbury.
Glastonbury Abbey – Influence and Legacy
A seminar at
Abbey House, Chilkwell Street, Glastonbury
Saturday 2 February 2013, 10 am – 4.30 pm.
The last few years have been and exciting time for Glastonbury archaeology and history, with the rediscovery and reinterpretation of material from historic excavations, new surveys of the Abbey grounds and architectural remains, and the exploration of new directions in historical understanding. Here a group of distinguished scholars at the cutting edge of Glastonbury research present an overview of the Abbey’s role in national life from its shadowy beginnings to the dawn of the Romantic era.
Registration: £15, payable by cheque to ‘British Orthodox Church’
BOC Secretariat, 10 HeathwoodGardens, Charlton, London, SE7 8EP
Welcome and Introduction: H.E. Abba Seraphim, Metropolitan of Glastonbury.
New archaeological perspectives from the Historic Excavations of Glastonbury Abbey
Dr. Cheryl Green
The Glastonbury Abbey Excavation Archive Project is analysing, reinterpreting and making available the entire unpublished archaeological archive from the excavations conducted between 1908 and 1979. The paper outlines the historic excavations and the scope of this project before introducing some of the new discoveries and re-evaluations in relation to the mid- to late Saxon period.
Glastonbury‘s Role in Late Saxon England
Prof. Michelle Brown
Michelle P. Brown, Professor Emerita, University of London, and former Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library will speak about Glastonbury Abbey in the Anglo-Saxon period and its contribution towards the material culture of the reform movement of the tenth century.
IESVS: MARIA: The Late Medieval Cultus of the Virgin at Glastonbury.
Dr. Tim Hopkinson Ball
Through the story of its foundation, a church explained its existence and proclaimed its sanctity, both to itself and to the wider world. This paper explores the Virgin’s centrality to Glastonbury’s self identity in the high Middle Ages, especially in relation to lived spirituality at the abbey and the monastery’s putative founder, St Joseph of Arimathea.
Dr. Adam Stout
Joseph of Arimathea, lionised as a proto-Protestant in Elizabethan England, was consequently put firmly in his place by Catholics keen to assert the primacy of Rome. Adam Stout looks at how the political and religious changes of the next century or so saw this potent figure re-adopted by the Catholic cause amid Jacobite claims to speak for the whole nation
Summary: Paul Ashdown.
To mark the end of Bright Week, Abba Seraphim celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Glastonbury Abbey on 21 April. This was held in St. Patrick’s Chapel, which was built in 1512 by Abbot Richard Bere as a chapel for the women’s almshouses contiguous to the abbey. The Chapel underwent restoration in 2009-2010 with a new stained glass window by Wayne Ricketts and murals designed by Fleur Kelly, a local artist. This was made possible by a grant of £49,200 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Abba Seraphim was assisted by Father Simon Smyth, who preached, Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown and Reader Daniel Malyon and those attending represented British Orthodox members from the South Coast and West Country (Bristol, Glastonbury, Portsmouth and Southampton). At the conclusion of the Liturgy Subdeacon Wulfric conducted the worshippers round the Abbey ruins briefly highlighting some of the most significant historical and architectural features.
Abba Seraphim will be the celebrant at the Orthodox Liturgy on the morning of the Anglican Pilgrimage to Glastonbury on Saturday, 16 June. This will be held in the crypt of the Lady Chapel at 9.45 a.m.