Thursday, March 21, 2013

St. Pancras Old Church

St. Pancras Old Church stands on one of Europe’s most ancient sites of Christian worship, possibly dating back to the early 4th century (probably 314 AD). St. Pancras was born in around 289 and was a Roman convert to Christianity. His mother died in childbirth and his father when he was eight. During the persecution of Diocletian (303-305), Pancras was martyred by beheading. The date of his martyrdom is thought to be 12th May 304. Devotion of St. Pancras has existed since the 5th century. It is known that Augustine of Canterbury brought relics of the young martyr to England when he led a mission to this land in 595. St. Pancras’ skull is kept in the Basilica of San Pancrazio in Rome, which is built on the site of his martyrdom and burial. One of the miracles attributed to Pancras is that his skull (posthumously) bled when Rome was in danger. St. Pancras is the patron of children and his intercession is commonly invoked against false witness, headache and perjury.

The church found here today has been here since the 11th or 12th century. It has had a troubled historical course; it was ruined in the 13th century, then rebuilt in the 14th century, half abandoned in the 16th century, restored in the 17th century and again substantially rebuilt in the mid-19th century.

During the Civil War the church was used as a barracks and stable for Cromwell’s troops. Before the troops arrived, the Church’s treasures were buried for their protection and then lost, only to be rediscovered during restoration work in the early 19th century. A 6th century altar stone was among the items discovered. According to legend, the stone belonged to St. Augustine of Canterbury. However, little remains of the original medieval church, but in the north wall of the Nave there is an exposed section of Norman masonry.

Upon entering the church, the visitor or faithful can easily identify the icon of St. Pancras, showing therefore the results of Anglican-Orthodox relations, which have re-introduced to the English there ancient tradition of icons. Due to the importance of this church, a central London underground station has been named ‘Kings Cross, Saint Pancras’. This church continues to function as the Anglican Parish Church of this area of central London. As well as being a historic place of worship, St. Pancras Old Church is a living and vibrant Christian community today.    

1 comment:

  1. St Pancras Old Church also has in its possession a particle of the relics of St Pancras. The Orthodox Liturgy has been celebrated there in the past by, amonst others, HE Archbishop Gregorios of Thateira and Great Britain