St Pancras May 12th

St Pancras, Old Church (Photo: Kevin Flude)

Pancras means ‘all-powerful’ in Greek. St Pancras was a 14 year old who refused to give up his Christian Faith during the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian. He was beheaded on the Via Aurelia, traditionally, on 12 May 303 AD. His youth makes him the Patron Saint of children, but he is also the patron saint of jobs and health, and ‘invoked’ against cramps, false witnesses, headaches, and perjury. His body was buried in the Catacombs, but his head is kept in a reliquary in the Church of Saint Pancras in Rome, where he was buried.

Pope Gregory is said to have given St Augustine relics from St Pancras when his mission came to Kent in 597AD. They built a church dedicated to St Pancras, ruins of which can be found in the grounds of what is now St Augustine’s. Canterbury.

This story is partly responsible for the claims that St Pancras Old Church (pictured above) is a very old foundation. The idea being that there was a late Roman place of worship here. But there is very little solid evidence for this. It is also argued that, if it isn’t late Roman, then it dates to just after 604AD when St Mellitus, sent by St Augustine, established St Pauls Cathedral, and St Pancras Church. St Pancras’ Church was a Prebend of St Pauls Cathedral, but this is not evidence it was established as early as the Cathedral was. (a Prebend provides the stipend (pay) to support a Canon of a Cathedral).

When the Church was restored, the architects said it was mostly Tudor work with traces of Norman architecture. However, the suggested finding of a Roman tile or two, reused in the fabric, is used as evidence to keep the legend going.

If you read the Wikipedia page you will see evidence of two strands to the contributions, one trying to play down the legends of its early foundation, and, another trying to keep hold of its place as among the ‘earliest sites of Christian worship’.

Read the wikipedia page here:

It is a lovely Church, on an impressive site, with links to Thomas Hardy, and Sir John Soane whose tomb is the design inspiration for the iconic Red Telephone Box.

Sins of a Tour Guide no 2

St Pauls from the Whispering Gallery, Photo by K Flude.

I was in St Pauls yesterday on an exploration of London’s History. My group had headsets so they can hear me talking into my mic without disturbing others. We went in, sat down in the nave to find an orchestra set up in the crossing with a grey haired man, informally dressed, at the podium. I hate talking through music so wondered whether I would continue.

I began my introduction to St Pauls with a piece about Londinium and Christianity. A tremendous universe shattering cord erupted from the Orchestra deafening me. Then a pause, so I continued. I ascertained that my group could hear me, and I continued. I paused during crescendos and to some extent improvised what I was saying to the amazing drama of the atonal music. It was quite an experience and the music was amazing

This morning I had a chance to check it out and it turns out that I spoke through rehearsals of Olivier Messiaen’s Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum. (

And the grey-haired man was none other than Sir Simon Rattle conducting the LSO.

I think I have the right piece of music. They are performing in St Pauls on 23rd June

I’m slightly shamefaced about it but on the other hand the group really enjoyed both the music and the explanation.