Bishop Schneider celebrates 1,400th anniversary of King Ethelbert at Shrine of St Augustine

King Ethelbert – the sixth-century monarch based at Canterbury – was celebrated on Tuesday 23rd February in a rare ceremony at St Augustine’s, Ramsgate.

The day after it was revealed Queen Elizabeth acknowledges Jesus Christ as the king she serves, Bishop Schneider was preaching how the first English Christian king made a similar acknowledgement 1,400 years ago.

Bishop Schneider’s comments were made during a Pontifical High Mass – a now-unusual form of Catholic worship. Music was sung by The Victoria Consort, under the direction of Tom Neal. They sang “Mass for Five Voices” by William Byrd – the same music sung by Westminster Cathedral Choir for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to London in 2010. The Master of Ceremonies was Richard Hawker.

The event was to celebrate the 1,400th anniversary of the death of King Ethelbert. It was King Ethelbert who welcomed St Augustine to England in 597AD. He was King of Kent and principal monarch in England at the turn of the seventh century. He co-founded Canterbury Cathedral with St Augustine of Canterbury. He welcomed St Augustine when he arrived in 597AD from Rome, and converted to Christianity soon after. He promulgated the first written laws in England, and encouraged education and learning.

Thus King Ethelbert was the first English Christian monarch, co-founder of Canterbury Cathedral, initiator of England’s legal system, and much modern English culture and history can trace its roots to him.

This is a significant anniversary in Ramsgate because Ethelbert was king of the whole of Kent (and supreme up to the Humber) and came to Ramsgate to meet St Augustine in 597AD. Out of his meeting near Ramsgate, and his living in Canterbury, arose Canterbury Cathedral and the following great history of that place. Also, the Catholic parish church in Ramsgate – St Ethelbert’s – is dedicated to him. Thus there is strong historical and current attachment in the town to our own sixth-century king.

Without King Ethelbert the renowned story of St Thomas Becket would not have occurred. It is fitting that a group from St Augustine’s will be visiting Canterbury on 28th May to celebrate the visit of relics of St Thomas Becket to Canterbury Cathedral from Esztergom, Hungary.

In a moving sermon, the bishop’s message was that, just as King Ethelbert risked much to become the first English Christian king, and English kings and queens have continued with that message of hope, and that many ordinary people have acknowledged Christ as king, so we should continue to do the same in our time.

Bishop Schneider told the story of Blessed José Sánchez who was a Mexican boy hacked to death in 1928, aged 14, for declaring that Christ is king. Despite having the soles of his feet cut off and being forced to walk towards the town cemetery, he continued to proclaim, “Vivo Christo Rey” – “Long live Christ the King”.

The bishop also referred to the saintly kings of England (such as St Edward the Confessor) who have professed the Christian message through the centuries.

The full text of the sermon is expected to be published shortly.

Speaking after the bishop’s visit, Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s, said, “It is a great honour to have Bishop Schneider visit Ramsgate. He helped us to recall the value of King St Ethelbert’s example and see how we can continue to learn from our saintly past Kentish monarch. Bishop Schneider is well known for his writings and is widely considered a remarkably holy man. Being able to attract such a significant man to Ramsgate is a real coup for the town.”

Bishop Schneider was last in Ramsgate to celebrate St Augustine’s Day, in May 2014. Earlier on Tuesday Bishop Schneider had given talks to a group of thirty priests.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider to celebrate Mass at St Augustine’s

The famous Bishop Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, is coming to St Augustine’s on 23rd February. He will celebrate Pontifical High Mass at 7pm on that day.

The celebration is in honour of King St Ethelbert, on the 1,400th anniversary of his death.

Schneider Ethelbert anniversary poster 2016 YoM

All are welcome to attend.

St Augustine’s is very pleased to welcome Bishop Schneider back to St Augustine’s. He last celebrated Mass here for St Augustine’s Day in May 2014.

For those coming from a distance, there is ample free parking on Royal Esplanade, just to the west of the church. Alternatively, St Augustine’s is about a mile from Ramsgate railway station, which is served by trains from St Pancras International, London Victoria, and London Charing Cross. There are buses and taxis available from the station.


King St Ethelbert was the King of Kent, and supreme king of the English up to the Humber, when St Augustine arrived in 597AD from Rome. King St Ethelbert allowed St Augustine to preach Christianity to the English, and soon Ethelbert was himself baptised by St Augustine.

King St Ethelbert, with St Augustine, established Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury. He was buried in St Augustine’s Abbey when he died in February 616, and he was soon venerated as a saint. His shrine-tomb and relics were destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538. It is through King St Ethelbert’s collaboration with St Augustine that England became a Christian nation.


Live National BBC Radio Broadcast: Sunday Worship, 21st February 2016

BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship will come live from St Augustine’s on Sunday 21st February 2016, at 8.10am.

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Members of the public are invited to join the congregation for this live national broadcast, and should be in the church by 7.45am. The service will conclude at about 8.50am.

Sunday Worship is a weekly programme on BBC Radio 4, with a listenership of about 1.5 million people.

The service from St Augustine’s will be a sacred meditation, comprising readings, reflections, prayers, music, and congregational singing.

The broadcast has the theme of ‘Pilgrimage: Taking and Leaving’. This fits in well with St Augustine’s growing association with pilgrimage.

In 2014-15 it launched the “Way of St Augustine” – a walking trail between Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s in Ramsgate. This follows the route St Augustine took when he travelled to Canterbury from Thanet in 597AD. The route was launched in collaboration with Canterbury Cathedral, the Green Pilgrimage Network, and Explore Kent. More information is available here:

A new DVD is co-presented by St Augustine’s Rector, Fr Marcus Holden, called To Be A Pilgrim. This was launched in October 2015. It documents the fascinating sites and histories of the ancient Pilgrims’ Way from Southwark to Canterbury. The route was made famous by Geoffrey Chaucer in his The Canterbury Tales. The DVD was produced by St Anthony Communications and is available here:

People wishing to join the congregation for this live national broadcast should be in the church by 7.45am. The service will conclude at about 8.50am.

Holy Door at St Augustine’s – Year of Mercy 2015-16

St Augustine’s has been granted a Holy Door for the Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis has given bishops permission to grant Holy Doors to places of pilgrimage and devotion in their dioceses. Archbishop Peter has graciously asked St Augustine’s to have a Holy Door for the Year of Mercy.

The Holy Door was opened by Abbot Cuthbert Brogan OSB, of Farnborough Abbey, on 24th January. The service included Vespers sung by the nuns of Minster Abbey and our resident local voluntary chant choir the Schola Augustini. More music was sung by The Victoria Consort.

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The service was attended by several hundred people, with many local people coming as well as retreatants from the Divine Retreat Centre across the road.

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More photographs are available on our Facebook page here.




For Mass and Visiting times over the Christmas period, please see below:

1pm – Closed for visiting
9pm – Carols
Confessions available before Mass
9.30pm – ‘Midnight Mass’ – Extraordinary Form Missa Cantata sung by The Victoria Consort

Closed for visiting
8.30am – Mass
12 noon – Mass – Extraordinary Form Missa Cantata sung by The Victoria Consort

ST STEPHEN’S DAY (26th December)
Closed for visiting
12 noon – Mass (Polish)

Normal visiting times (10am – 4pm)
Masses as usual (12 noon each day, plus 8.30am on Sundays)

Closed for visiting
12 noon – Mass



To Be A Pilgrim DVD launch large 

You are invited to the launch of a new DVD telling the story of the famous and popular Pilgrims’ Way trail.

A new DVD is being launched on 17th October, at 2pm, at the Gulbenkian Cineman in Canterbury, exploring the Pilgrims’ Way made famous in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”. The launch is free and open to all.

The Pilgrims’ Way has become popular in recent years, after much of it was designated a walking trail: the North Downs Way. It joins with the ancient trail between Winchester and Canterbury, which is also becoming a popular walking route. The DVD takes in both of these routes, beginning at Southwark (as Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ does) and travelling through Kent.

Entitled “To Be a Pilgrim” this new DVD is in three 40-minute episodes, tracking six days walking from London to Canterbury. Historic and important places on the route are discovered and explored in the beautiful Kentish countryside. All three episodes will be played at the launch on 17th October.

Presented by historian and Catholic priest, Fr Nicholas Schofield, and writer and Rector of St Augustine’s in Ramsgate, Fr Marcus Holden, the DVD explores the spiritual motivations of pilgrimage too, as well as some of the tales of pilgrims from times past. It travels through places including Rochester, Aylesford, Otford, Kemsing, Harbledown, to Canterbury and its Cathedral.

The DVD is made by St Anthony Communications, based in Pembrokeshire. They have produced a range of DVDs, including one about St Augustine of Canterbury, and about St Mildred and Minster Abbey in Thanet.

The launch is free and open to all, followed by refreshments. It is at 2pm on 17th October, at the Gulbenkian Cinema on the University of Kent campus at Tyler Hill, Canterbury. Postcode is CT2 7NB. No booking is necessary, but please call 01834 812643 or e-mail to be sure of a place.


A short trailer for the DVD is available here:

Further information is available by contacting Christian Holden at

To Be A Pilgrim DVD poster

Heritage Lottery Fund Success!

St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate has received a confirmed grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to create the Pugin and St Augustine Education, Research, and Visitor Centre, it was announced at an event at the site on Tuesday. The project aims to open up Pugin’s own St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate to tell the intertwined stories of the famous architect and designer Augustus Pugin and of St Augustine of Canterbury. The HLF will fund 74% of the project which will cost £810,000. With additional works also envisaged, the total cost will be almost £1millon.

The project creates an Education, Research, and Visitor centre, opening up for all, as never before, the two intertwined heritage stories of AWN Pugin, the architect who designed much of Parliament, and Saint Augustine, who brought Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England. Uncovering these often hidden histories of the famous Architect, who lived and is buried in Ramsgate, and the Saint, who landed there, this project brings heritage alive.

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It also allows Pugin’s ‘ideal’ church to be open every day for everyone, providing new activities, and spaces with new facilities and displays to interpret Pugin’s work and St Augustine’s landing. It will restore key elements of the building to Pugin’s original vision and will open up a research area for students and scholars.

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St Ethelbert’s Primary School choir sang


It aims to inspire a vast number of partners and supporters including Parliament, the Victoria and Albert Museum, local authorities, the Pugin Society, schools, Friends, and thousands of individual supporters and visitors. Its growing team of committed, skilled volunteers works to involve more local people from diverse backgrounds. This locally driven initiative aims to contribute to Thanet’s economic regeneration by attracting more visitors locally, nationally and internationally.

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The church was built by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1 March 1812 – 14 September 1852). He was Britain’s foremost architect and designer of the nineteenth century. A family man whose faith, ideas and designs, changed the face of Victorian Britain and influenced the world, his legacy continues to create waves today. His most famous Gothic Revival work is the interior design of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, and the design of its clock tower, commonly referred to as ‘Big Ben’, is by Pugin. Pugin designed over 200 buildings or parts of buildings, including many churches, in England, Ireland, and Australia; his influence can be seen across America, Europe and throughout the English-speaking world.

Pugin’s designs include furniture and wallpaper – all in the Gothic style and principles that he advocated. His revolutionary reinvention of manufacturing and design techniques, along with his collaborators and friends, include progress in stonework, metalwork, stained glass, encaustic tiles, and more. All of this will be on display – in original items – at St Augustine’s.

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Paul Hudson (Chair, Heritage Lottery Fund South East), Fr Marcus Holden (Rector), Alastair Stewart (Patron), John Coverdale (Centre Manager), and Andrew Sharp (External Relations)

St Augustine’s church is the ‘ideal church’ of Pugin, who constructed it with his own money and delighted in being “my own paymaster” where he could fully obey his ‘true principles of Christian architecture’. He built it between 1845 and 1852 next to his home ‘The Grange’ on the clifftop at Ramsgate. He described the church as ‘my own child’ and it was to be ‘a revival of the old Kentish churches stone & flint’, with a chantry chapel ‘that may be the burial place of my family’. The church stands as symbol of the Catholic revival of the 19th century, epitomised by Pugin’s own life and conversion to Catholicism in 1835. St Augustine’s is also an integral part of Pugin’s own medieval Gothic revival which inspired the nation at large. It was being constructed at the same time that Pugin was designing the new interiors for the Houses of Parliament and the famous clock tower ‘Big Ben’.

Pugin envisaged social reform alongside his design reforms. He contrasted the harsh nineteenth century living with the seemingly more charitable and social life of the middle ages. He aimed at constructing a better society through constructing better buildings.

Pugin moved to St Augustine’s, as he called his site in Ramsgate, in 1843 specifically because it was ‘close to the spot where blessed Austin landed’. His building of the church therefore stands as a monument to the arrival of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England recalling the landing of St Augustine in AD597. This is a seminal part of English culture as St Augustine not only brought the faith that would shape English culture, but he also brought music, art, architecture, the idea of written laws, books, and learning to England for the first time since the Romans. In many elements, English culture is rooted in St Augustine and his arrival near this site in AD597.

There is no one other place in the country where one can learn so much about Pugin than from his own church and resting place in Ramsgate. The grant will ensure that the story of Pugin, his life and works, can be seen and explored; it will allow visitors to interpret St Augustine, the saint Pugin dedicated his church to so near to where he landed in 597. The life and work of both Pugin and of St Augustine is an important part (and, in recent years, a forgotten one too) of Ramsgate’s, Kent’s, and England’s heritage which the Education, Research and Visitor Centre, with Heritage Lottery funding, will make come alive for the benefit of all.

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Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s church said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this grant, not only for ourselves but for Ramsgate as a whole. The Pugin and St Augustine Education, Research and Visitor Centre will allow us to bring alive the intertwined stories of Pugin and St Augustine, opening up the church to everyone, attracting community involvement, and visitors from across the UK and beyond. It is wonderful news that we are now a step closer to providing new facilities in St Augustine’s to view, learn and study about this great architect and the saint to whom he dedicated the site.

John Coverdale, Centre Manager at St Augustine’s, said, “People are so interested in the hidden histories we have here, and how good it will be to open it all up to the public. It is great to see so many people – from across the world – show such enthusiasm and support for this excellent project. We have developed links with so many people and institutions, and, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund grant that we are announcing today, St Augustine’s has a great and fascinating future.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Pugin is widely known around the world for his pioneering role in the Gothic Revival and the Palace of Westminster’s impressive interiors but his important links with Ramsgate are generally less appreciated. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this project will help to redress that balance. Through the new Education, Research and Visitor centre, the stories of this important local church and that of Pugin himself can be told properly to visitors for the first time.

SAVING A CENTURY: The Victorian Society FREE exhibition at St Augustine’s: 1st – 31st August

SAC Ramsgate poster

St Augustine’s is this year’s south eastern destination for The Victorian Society’s travelling exhibition, Saving a Century. This charts the first fifty years of The Victorian Society and is a fascinating display.

The exhibition is FREE and will be on display every day (10am-4pm) in the cloisters of St Augustine’s, immediately at the entrance. No booking necessary.

For more information please visit: