First ever Anglican Evensong service takes place at St Peter's Basilica in Rome

The choir of Merton College, which sung during the first ever Evensong held yesterday at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome.The Anglican Centre in Rome

Anglican Choral Evensong was celebrated in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican for the first time yesterday afternoon.

The service was presided over by the Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Vatican Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, preached a homily.

Music was sung by the choir of Merton College, Oxford.

According to the Anglican Centre's website, the service was held in honour of St Gregory the Great, the Pope who sent St Augustine to England to evangelise the Anglo Saxons.

St Gregory's crozier-head was sent to Canterbury as a gesture of support during the Primates' Meeting in January 2016.

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Pope Francis gave the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby a wooden crozier modelled on it during their meeting in October, before Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby celebrated Vespers together at the Basilica of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome.

The service yesterday afternoon ended with a procession to the tomb of St Gregory where prayers were said for the whole Christian church.

According to the Catholic Herald, Archbishop Roche said in his homily: 'I think Gregory was a very courageous man in his own time and I think that speaks to us here still today, that despite the difficulties, to be outgoing, just as Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby have been saying, to proclaim the Gospel with joy.'

Last month, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to visit an Anglican church in Rome. Francis and an Anglican bishop prayed side by side at All Saints Church in the city's centre.

The developments come in the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the Cathedral door in Wittenburg, sparking the Protestant reformation.

It is also 50 years since the Anglican Centre was set up in Rome to improve ecclesiastical relations

The decision to hold Evensong at the Vatican 'reflects the deepening bonds of affection and trust between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church,' a statement from the Anglican Centre read last month.

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