Ramsgate, England: Shrine of Saint Augustine
The history of the Shrine of Saint Augustine in Ramsgate:
In 595 AD, Saint Augustine was given the commission from Pope Gregory the Great to evangelize the Anglo-Saxon peoples. In 597, he landed in Ramsgate, Thanet, and went on to Canterbury where the first shrine to Saint Augustine was established. A shrine existed here in Ramsgate from 604 AD until 1538 AD, at which time King Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries in the country.
The brilliant architect Augustus Pugin (1812-1852) designed the building you see here. A convert to Catholicism, he was enthralled with the beautiful churches and Cathedrals throughout Europe. In 1843, he bought property in Ramsgate by Ebbsfleet, which he described as “close to the spot where Augustine landed”. He built his home here (which had its own private chapel) as well as a personal church nearby, dedicated to St. Augustine.
The personal church was intended for public worship, and since there was no local parish here, the church provided Mass for the local Catholic population as well as foreign sailors and visitors. It was also Pugin’s wish to be buried here.
In 1848, it had the distinction of offering the first High Mass on Thanet since the reformation. From the 1860’s until 2010, the church was home to the Benedictine monks of St Augustine’s Abbey (constructed opposite the church by Edward Pugin). In 2010 the Benedictines withdrew from the church and it returned to the jurisdiction of Southwark Archdiocese.
About the Shrine of Saint Augustine:
Saint Augustine’s shrine was re-established in March 2012, here at the church of St. Augustine in Ramsgate, Kent, very close to the mission’s landing site. The shrine here in Ramsgate took on the mantle because St. Augustine’s was built specifically to honor St. Augustine, just as Catholicism was regaining a foothold in England, and the original site in Canterbury is now owned by Historic England, so the original place is not an active religious site.
A rare surviving relic of St Augustine’s body, donated by the Fathers of the Oxford Oratory, was placed in the reliquary in the church by the Archbishop at the shrine inauguration on 20th may 2012. Many pilgrimages have since followed, and you are encouraged to visit the Shrine.
Pilgrims are welcome each day at the Shrine Mass. Official pilgrimages can be organised for groups with a variety of suggested programs. Please call or e-mail them to make arrangements.
The Shrine is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Masses are at 12:00 noon daily, Sundays at 8.30 a.m. and 12:00 noon (sung)
Each year, in May around his Feast Day, the people of Ramsgate host a St Augustine Week of Catholic History and Culture, centered around his Feast Day of May 27. They try to include school half term holidays, and weekends, as part of the week, so in some years it starts with the feast rather than leading up to it.
Traveling to the Shrine of St. Augustine in Ramsgate:
Address: St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, CT11 9PA
GPS coordinates: 51° 19′ 43.9356” N, 1° 24′ 39.5244” E
Tel: +44 01843 592 071