For perhaps the first time ever, Anglican hymns, chants and prayers reverberated off the marble walls of St. Peter's Basilica as some members of the world's first ordinariate for former Anglicans celebrated their coming into the Catholic Church.
"Wonderful is not a strong enough word to express how we feel to be here," where the apostle Peter gave his life "and where his successors guarded the faith for generations," said Father Len Black in his homily.
Mass at the basilica and the pilgrimage to Rome generated "a feeling of coming home," said the Catholic priest who served as an Episcopalian pastor in the Scottish Highlands for 31 years.
The group of about 94 pilgrims, including a dozen priests, was led by Msgr. Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established in January 2011 for former Anglicans in England and Wales.
After celebrating morning Mass Feb. 24 in a side chapel, the group moved to the center of the basilica and stood in front of the "Confessio" -- a lower chapel honoring St. Peter's confession of faith that led to his martyrdom -- and recited the General Thanksgiving, a traditional Anglican prayer.
"That was very moving, thanking God for all we received this year and for the pilgrimage," he told Catholic News Service.