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.
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.
The annual Glastonbury Pilgrimage took place on 19 June and this year Abba Seraphim was invited to be the Orthodox celebrant in the morning. By convention this invitation rotates betweeen the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches each being the celebrant in alternate years. Abba Seraphim was assisted by Fathers Simon Smyth (Bournemouth & Portsmouth) and Peter Farrington (Chatham), Deacon John Stuart (Exeter) and Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown (Glastonbury). The Liturgy, which was held in the Undercroft, was well attended by a number of Orthodox church members, members of the British Orthodox Fellowship as well as clergy and faithful of other churches. In his homily Abba Seraphim spoke of the important tradition of pilgrimage and gave thanks for the revival of Glastonbury as a spiritual centre after the despoliation of the Reformation, “Through God’s mercy Glastonbury was restored – not as it was – but pilgrims returned and worship was renewed. In spite of its neglect for more than three hundred years it never ceased to be a holy place and we enter with reverence and conscious that our devotions are part of the chain of prayer which links us with past ages.”
Following the Liturgy, the Orthodox clergy joined in the Procession of Witness through the town before attending the Anglican High Mass in the Abbey ruins, celebrated by The Right Rev’d John Ford, Bishop of Plymouth, the new Pilgrimage Chairman, with the Right Rev’d Peter Price, Bishop of Bath & Wells as diocesan presiding from the throne throughout and assisted by a number of Anglican bishops, including the Right Rev’d David Silk, the former Pilgrimage Chairman and the two Provincial Episcopal Visitors, the Suffagan Bishops of Ebbsfleet (The Right Rev’d Andrew Burnham) and Richborough (The Right Rev’d Keith Newton) , The Right Rev’d Edwin Barnes, Bishop Emeritus of Richborough and The Right Rev’d David Thomas, Provincial Assistant Bishop of the Church in Wales 1996-2008. The homily on Priestly Vocations by Father Darren Smith, Secretary of the Additional Curates’ Society, resonated with all Christian traditions. The weather remained dry and sunny and many pilgrims were able to picnic in the abbey grounds. Abba Seraphim and his staff, along with the Mayor of Glastonbury, were luncheon guests of the Pilgrimage Committee.