Anglicans Online banner More about the gryphon
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 250,000 readers More than 30,000 links Updated every Sunday

Noted This Week
Sites new to AO

News Centre
News archive

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
About our logo

Support AO
Shop for AO goods
Help support us!
Thanks to our friends

Our search engine


Hallo again to all.

Here we are in the thick of Lent, and are charged with concentrating on fundamental values and priorities. The vagaries of the church calendar being what they are, it is also Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant, St David's day. St David died on this day in the year 589. In Wales there are real celebrations and real parades. A leekThe Welsh remember Dewi Sant, parade, party, and wear leeks.*

Not every dead person can hold the spotlight like St David. Recently the Diocese of Ely published a brief reminder that we should remember the life of George Herbert, poet, priest, and pastor. We'd been meaning to read about the Ely 900 celebration (the diocese was founded in 1109 and is currently on its 68th bishop). There is so much that needs to be remembered and reflected upon, and so little time to do it. Somehow the quote from Glinda in the hugely popular musical Wicked keeps popping into our head. She's frustrated with Dr Dillamond, her history teacher. 'Sir, can't you just teach us history, instead of dwelling on the past?' Izaak Walton (1593 - 1683) wrote a biography of George Herbert, but we must confess we haven't read it. Have you? We didn't think so.

Dwelling on the past. Ah, yes. There is such a difference between the gloom of dwelling on the past and the joy of celebrating it, but where is the line? We like to think that we celebrate the past, but we have occasionally been accused of dwelling on it.The way that one celebrates the past, as we see it, is to read about it and then look at it and touch it and follow in its footsteps. If you live in an ancient city, there is often plenty of past around you to see and touch and follow, but thriving cities haven't usually been able to afford to do anything but pave over the remnants of the past and build something new.

A shovelSeveral times we've visited what is usually called the English Cemetery in Florence. It was built by the Swiss, but more English are buried there because there were more English than Swiss in Florence. In those days only Roman Catholics could be buried inside the city walls, so the cemetery was built just ouside the Porta a' Pinti. When Florence grew, the cemetery suddenly found itself inside the city walls, and was forced to close. The law then, in 1877, forbade any burials (Roman Catholic or otherwise) inside city limits. Today the English Cemetery is a little fenced-in island in the middle of the busy road that was built along the path of the city wall.

When cemeteries close to new burials, and are situated so that no one passes by on their way to somewhere else, they fade away. Soon enough there is no one left alive who actually knew any of the people who are buried in that cemetery, and so it gets very few visitors and therefore there are very few reasons to keep up maintenance. The earth reclaims the cemetery, and its next wave of visitors might be archaeologists. This cemetery in Florence has found a guardian angel who works to restore it and to raise money for further restoration. Thousands of similar cemeteries around the Anglican world do not. Have you ever been to the cemetery in the place where you live unless you have a close friend or relative there? We didn't think so. Do you even know the location of the cemetery in the place where you live?

As the Diocese of Ely suggested, please do remember the life of George Herbert. But don't wait until All Souls Day to remember the life of everyone else. During Lent, why not try to reflect not just on your own life but on the lives of people that you've never met, and maybe not even read about.

See you next week.

Our signature
All of us at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 1 March 2009

*We have for years wondered just how one wears a leek. They're quite a bit too large to be tucked into the hair like a flower, and shaped wrong to be pinned to a shirt. Someday we shall have to make our way to Cardiff for Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant, if for no other reason than to learn how to wear a leek. Thinking about wear and leeks makes us feel silly enough to point out that in County Durham, not far from Crook, there is a little town named Howden-le-Wear that has a Leek Festival every year. Maybe the Welsh soldiers who first wore leeks had been invited to the Howden-le-Wear leek festival and just misunderstood their instructions.


A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2009 Society of Archbishop Justus
. Please address all spam to