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Friday, August 29, 2014

VGEC's European and Church of England Correspondents meet at Lincoln Cathedral

John Campbell, Verger at Lincoln Cathedral, showing Edoardo Fanfani what is reputedly the first mitre worn in England after the Reformation. Photo by Edoardo Fanfani.

By VGEC European Correspondent Edoardo Fanfani, Verger at All Saints' Anglican Church, Rome, John Campbell, CEGV Liason, and Ken Holloway, News Manager for the Vergers Voice Blog

Edoardo Fanfani wondered what he could write about when asked to be the VGEC European correspondent. Inquiring if he had travel plans for the summer, he mentioned he intended to visit England in August, so I encouraged him to go to Lincolnshire and meet John Campbell, our VGEC liaison from the Church of England Guild of Vergers(CEGV). I knew that John would show Edoardo the inner workings of Lincoln Cathedral in a way that he would long remember. Edoardo sent this account of his short time in Lincolnshire:

"On Tuesday 12 August, I visited Lincoln Cathedral in England and met the Verger, John Campbell, as I was leaving the wonderful cloisters – he recognized me at once and we exchanged greetings. His welcome was one of the warmest and he gave me a wonderful tour of the Cathedral, including St. Hugh’s shrine or what remains of it (because of the English Reformation). He also showed me the Imp – the gargoyle-like little statue which was transformed into stone by an angel according to the legend, and which represents the win of good over evil. The most exciting part of the tour, however, was when he showed me the sacristy with real treasures, including a set of splendid copes used by the canons, several chalices - and what had a great impact on me: reputedly, the first mitre used in England after the Reformation. It was a quick but incredible tour which will always stay among my most precious memories."

"After that, I went to Choral Evensong (sung by a very fine visiting choir) and met the precentor, Gavin Kirk, and another verger with whom I had splendid drinks in the Medieval "precentory" – and finally a superb dinner at the nearby pub called "The Wig and Mitre" – nonetheless!"

"Not only is this one of the finest cathedrals in England – a splendid "three-towered" building with incredible medieval craftsmanship in and outside – but it is also one of the most welcoming places I have ever been to. I highly suggest that you visit this cathedral if you are in England; you won’t be disappointed! This truly is a holy place!"

John Campbell observes, "Among recent visitors welcomed was Edoardo Fanfani, on his intensive visit to the UK from Rome. It was an enjoyable experience to welcome Edoardo and spend an all too short 50 minutes exploring and explaining the cathedral."

"It is a joy and a privilege to share Lincoln Cathedral through the modern technology which is Facebook, it is also a privilege to share these treasures in a tangible form as we welcome people physically to Lincoln and not least within the 'world wide fellowship' of our guilds and with vergers worldwide."

"I am grateful to Eduardo for his kind observations and comments about his visit to Lincoln, alas, his visit was all too short but we have each-others contact details and I look forward to communicating on matters ‘vergerial’ in the near future. It is always interesting to see young and new blood come into the realm of the verging world, whilst not degrading the importance of experience and longevity – I have been a verger for thirty six years and one who has recently turned sixty - it is a privilege to observe the enthusiasm of youth ready pick up and to pass on the baton [or virge]."

Like me, I bet you're thinking that the Lincoln Cathedral experience in John Campbell's company was a gift from God for a young man who just graduated from high school. I know Edoardo will indeed carry his virge for many years knowing that John is somehow looking on with encouragement and pride.

This is the story of a young verger's travel experience meeting with an extraordinary verger in a historically majestic cathedral. But could the story-behind-the-story be about how we vergers, together, experience life's intersections in Christian faith and tradition and make them memorable?

Do we have a bidding to attend to these intersections, nurture them and build on them for the benefit of our collective lives of service in Christ? Would that be the work of "...communicating on matters 'vergerial'..."? Stay tuned for stories of UK vergers traveling to the Elim Centre for the annual CEGV conference and how a group of American pilgrims toured the UK's Anglican birthplaces, concluding with Canterbury Cathedral.



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Abstract: Our Church of England Guild of Vergers Liaison and our VGEC European Correspondent met this month at Lincoln Cathedral. John Campbell gave Edoardo Fanfani the "whirlwind" tour of the cathedral, showing Edoardo some of its most hallowed artifacts. Afterwards a splendid dinner at a pub with a very interesting name topped off his visit to Lincolnshire. But the story-behind-the-story is about how we vergers together experience life's memorable intersections in Christian faith and tradition. 


1 comment:

  1. Well....Holy Moly !! ,,,,and no sacrilege intended ! This is a fabulous account and a prime example of a true welcoming spirit that you don't find just anywhere. I don't give a rat's patootie as to criticisms about our Church....others are just jealous because they have no sense of history as a firm foundation holding us up no matter the distractions thrust before us as temptations to weaken our faith and create doubt as to what we believe and why and how.. The photo of that mitre is indelibly imprinted on my brain. Loved this account of a verger's faith journey....expect good and get it !

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