On October 5th the Archbishop of Canterbury presented Pope Francis with a silver Cross of Nails as a symbol of their partnership in the work of reconciliation.
Archbishop Justin took the pectoral cross from round his neck and presented it to Pope Francis during vespers at San Gregorio al Celio in Rome, which they led jointly. The Pope put then put the cross round his neck.
The Pope gave to Archbishop Justin a replica of the pastoral staff of Pope St Gregory.
The Archbishop arrived in Rome earlier in the week to join in celebrations to mark 50 years of closer and deeper relationships between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. He is to meet formally with the Pope on October 6th, their third such meeting.
Before its journey to Rome, Archbishop Justin blessed the Cross of Nails at a service in Lambeth Palace Chapel, during which Lambeth Palace became the 200th Partner of the Community of the Cross of Nails, an international network in 35 countries, which arose out of the vision of the former Provost of Coventry Cathedral, Richard Howard, who made a commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation following the destruction of the cathedral in 1940.
As he blessed the Cross of Nails, the Archbishop said: “Bless His Holiness Pope Francis who inspired by the Cross of Nails, bears witness to the grace and truth of your crucified and risen Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. . .
“I will give this Cross of Nails to His Holiness Pope Francis as a symbol of our partnership in the work of reconciliation. For the Glory of God and the coming of His kingdom of justice and peace.”
All crosses are replicas of the medieval nails as there are no original pectoral crosses in existence.
Archbishop Justin preached during the service – read the sermon here.
At the end of the service, the Archbishop and the Pope commissioned 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from around the world to work together in joint mission.
The full citation for the Coventry Cross of Nails
On the night of 14 November 1940 the medieval Cathedral Church of St Michael, Coventry, was destroyed in an enemy air raid.
The next morning, the Reverend Arthur Wales formed Three medieval nails from the ruins into a cross which today is a worldwide symbol of forgiveness and reconciliation.
The words of the Provost, the Very Reverend Richard Howard, ‘FATHER FORGIVE’ were later inscribed on the wall of the ruined apse. In a radio broadcast from the ruins on Christmas Day 1940 he committed “to build a kinder, more Christ-child-like world.”
In September 1947 a Cross of Nails was presented to St Nikolai Church, Kiel, Germany, a symbol of peace between former enemies. This moral and prophetic vision is the basis of Coventry Cathedral’s ministry of reconciliation.
The Community of the Cross of Nails was formed in 1974 and CCN Partners around the world work for peace and reconciliation within their own communities and countries.
Before its journey to Rome, this silver Cross of Nails was first blessed at a service in Lambeth Palace Chapel, London, during which Lambeth Palace became the two hundredth Partner of the Community of the Cross of Nails.
It was presented by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury to His Holiness Pope Francis during a service at San Gregorio al Celio, Rome, on this fifth day of October in the year of Our Lord Two thousand and sixteen.