One of the things that troubled me since I moved here in September 2005 was that I could not find my small collection of relics. I had acquired these at the Augustinian convent off the Via Cavour in Rome after being made aware of its existence by a group of Anglo-Catholic clergy who were staying at the Casa del Clero, near the Pantheon, when I was there, a mere acolyte, on holiday with two deacons back in 1986. I wonder what became of that group of Anglicans and whether they are still with the C of E. They were very knowledgeable about Rome and claimed they liked St Peter`s basilica because it was `so Anglican`! However they did introduce us to the place to acquire relics. There was an old typed catalogue in which some of the saints had been crossed out when they were no longer available. I was particularly intrigued to see St Cuthbert listed but unfortunately he had been crossed out in pencil! A certificate of authenticity for each relic was available but only for saints who lived after the fourth century. I went for St Pius V, St Pius X, St Oswald and St Walfrid. It said Walfrid in the catalogue but also mentioned him as being the bishop of York. I was sure it must be a spelling mistake and be Wilfrid but the good sister insisted that Walfrid was the Latin form of Wilfrid. I went for it anyway as I was sure it is meant to be Wilfrid. The arrangement was that the relics were free but the container had to be bought and a few days later they would let you know it was ready. The relics mostly consist of very small pieces of bone. I remember reading a few years ago that the authorities in Rome had changed the rules so that this kind of relic is no longer available. I have thought of going back to the convent when I`ve been back in Rome as sometime these changes of rules don`t amount to very much but have yet to do so.
Little did I know that I would become parish priest of St Wilfrid`s Gateshead in 1995. On his feast I would get his relic out in an empty reliquary I found there and place it on the altar. I grew very fond of St Wilfrid during my time there although he was not an easy saint to love. Sometimes today he is shunned on the grounds of being `too Roman` by those who wish to feel a distance between themselves and the Holy See. We had a parish hymn to St Wilfrid (which the same people would find far too `Roman) which I must try to dig out and share.
I`m pleased to report that when packing my case for Biddlestone there I found my four relics as it is a case I haven`t used much recently. So I must now find a reliquary so as to display them on their feast days.