Chance meetings are important.
In the traditional Roman calendar, today is the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury (+604). He had been the prior of the monastery in Rome on the Caelian Hill during the pontificate of the Great Gregory I. In the Novus Ordo he is celebrated on 27 May, though he probably died on 26 May.
As the story goes, one day Pope Gregory spotted some English boys in the Roman slave market and was struck by their appearance, saying “Non sunt Angli sed angeli.” Moved to compassion, he tasked Augustine to go to England with missionaries in an effort of “new evangelization”. England had once been Christian but the Faith had flagged. Gregory paved the way with letters and missives, but the task was daunting.
Augustine and his companions landed in Kent and began to work. They met with King Ethelbert and Queen Bertha and the rest is history.
My congratulations to my good friends Fr. Timothy Finigan, His Hermeneuticalness, who is a parish priest close to the place when Augustine set foot in England, Margate, and to Fr. Marcus Holden, who is rector of the Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate.
Chance meetings can be occasions of grace not just for one or two, but for nations.
Today we need to pray and make reparation for entire nations, lest they be – as Our Lady said – “annihilated”.