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Old Boy Welcomes Pope Francis to Rome's Anglican Church

Sunday, 26 February 2017

  • Jonathan Boardman - All Saints
  • Jonathan Boardman - Pope Francis at All Saints
  • Jonathan Boardman - All Saints interior
  • Jonathan Boardman - Bolton School Prizegiving 2014

Jonathan Boardman, who left Bolton School in 1982 as Captain of the School and who is now The Venerable Jonathan Boardman, Archdeacon of Italy and Malta and Chaplain of All Saints, welcomed Pope Francis to his Anglican church in Rome. The visit made history as being the first time a pontiff has visited an Anglican church in the city. All Saints is the largest Anglican congregation in Italy and part of the Diocese in Europe.

Pope Francis joined the congregation at the Church of England chaplaincy of All Saints for a short Choral Evensong service, which included the blessing of a specially commissioned icon and the twinning of All Saints with the Catholic parish of Ognissanti, a Rome church with strong ecumenical ties. The icon of St Saviour was commissioned and made for the 200th anniversary celebrations for All Saints by a British artist, Ian Knowles, director of the Bethlehem Icon Centre. During the visit, Pope Francis delivered a homily and afterwards answered questions from members of the congregation. You can watch a video of Pope Francis’ visit here; The Venerable Boardman features extensively in the video too.

The event was part of the 200th anniversary celebrations for All Saints which began with a small group of worshippers holding the first Church of England liturgy on 27 October 1816. The current church, close to the Spanish steps, was built over half a century later and was designed by one of the most famous British architects of the Victorian era, George Edmund Street. The foundation stone was laid on Easter Day in 1882 and the first Eucharist was celebrated five years later on Easter Sunday 1887. The neo-Gothic church is noted for its white travertine spire, its marbled columns and arches, and its fine stained glass windows depicting the lives of the saints and martyrs. One of these windows portrays the English monk St Bede, from whose commentaries Pope Francis chose his own Episcopal motto. The church, led by chaplain Rev. Jonathan Boardman, and assistant chaplain, Rev. Dana English, was recently granted legal recognition from the Italian State.

Rev. Boardman was last at Bolton School in the summer of 2014 when he handed out prizes to pupils at the Boys’ Division Prizegiving ceremony. After leaving Bolton School, he was further educated at Oxford, Cambridge and the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and ordained in Liverpool where he served his curacy.   

Anglicans split from Catholicism in 1534, when King Henry VIII was denied a marriage annulment. 

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