The Delegate-Apostolic to The Philippines – Gathering of Old Augustinians – 1904.

This one doesn’t have too many members of the family in , but it does have Uncle Edmund (Bellord), Agnes Purssell’s husband; and from a completely separate part of the family great,great, grandpa RP.  Commendatore Agius, is Edward Tancred Agius , who was a very old friend of the Roper Parkingtons going right back to both their early married days in Chiswick. Father Ambrose is ET Agius’s younger brother. We’ll let the Tablet take up the story


Hotel Cecil, the Strand 1910

A dinner in honour of the Most Rev. Ambrose Agius, 0.S.B., Archbishop of Palmyra and Delegate-Apostolic to the Philippines, was given at the Hotel Cecil on Wednesday evening by the Society of Old Augustinians. On the previous day his Grace held a reception at the College at Ramsgate. The President of the Society, the Abbot of Ramsgate, was in the chair, and amongst others present were the Archbishop of Westminster, the Bishops of Newport, Clifton, and Southwark, the Mayor of Ramsgate, Count Rivarola, the Marchese Mattei, the Abbot of Downside, Sir Roper Parkington, Dom T. E. Egan, 0.S.B., Rector of St. Augustine’s, Ramsgate, Canon Pycke, Commendatore Agius, Commendatore Eck, Commendatore Hicks, Mr. Leonard, Lindsay, Mr. Hugh Burns, and many others,old students of St. Augustine’s. After dinner the Abbot of Ramsgate read a letter of regret at inability to be present from Mr. Choate, the American Ambassador, and proposed the loyal toast of Pope and King. The company was then photographed by Messrs. Fradelle and Young.

St Augustines, Ramsgate

The Lord Abbot next proposed the health of the Archbishop of Palmyra. His Grace was not only an Archbishop and a Delegate-Apostolic, but an Old Augustinian, and whilst he rejoiced at his being raised to so high a dignity, he could not but regret having to say farewell to an old friend and associate of 30 years. The College might well be proud of one who, after being the first boy of his year, became a worthy priest and a model monk of St. Benedict. He had watched over the College finances and they had been all the better for that, and later as their Procurator in Rome he had always devoted himself to the interests entrusted to his charge, and with tact and obligingness had succeeded. The Pope had been drawn to him by his care of, and labours for, the poor, and now he was going as the representative of his Holiness to a people of faith, under a nation amongst whom liberty was supreme. They wished him long life and success in his new sphere of labour. The Abbot then presented his Grace with a beautiful travelling clock from the members of his old school.

Archbishop Agius. courtesy of the Agius family

The Archbishop of Palmyra, in reply, thanked all for the good will and kindness they had shown to him. He would be glad to have as many to help him in his work as possible. There were 1,400 islands, and 8,000,000 Catholics to look after. Some sees there were vacant, doctors and lawyers would be useful, and so would a financier, for the American Government had been, very generous. Military men he should only want as friends, for he was going out with the old Benedictine motto of “Pax,” and to carry out the Pope’s policy of restoring all things in Christ. The Holy Father had told him to do in the Philippines what he had been doing during recent years in Rome. After some words to show the greatness of heart and loveable disposition of the Pope, his Grace thanked the past students for their hand some present of a clock. Another present he had received was a portable altar. He accepted the omen ; he would “watch and pray.”

The next toast, that of ” the Archbishop of Westminster and Bishops of England” was proposed by Mr. Edmund J. Bellord, who, speaking as the oldest of the old boys of St. Augustine’s, expressed their gratitude at the compliment done their old school by the presence of the Archbishop of Westminster and the other Bishops.

The Archbishop of Westminster [Archbishop, later Cardinal Bourne] , in reply, spoke of the pleasure and gratification he felt at being present on the occasion. He was a debtor in many things to Father Ambrose Agius in Rome, and his gratitude and affection for him were the motives of his hearty wishes of God-speed. He had been successful in Rome, and success would surely attend him in the Philippines. He hoped, too, that his presence there that evening would be taken as what indeed it was—a mark of his affection and esteem for the Abbot of Ramsgate and St. Augustine’s College.

Cardinal Bourne

Mr. Arthur a Beckett proposed the toast of “St. Augustine’s College and Old Augustinians.” The College needed no advertisement, and Sir W. Broadbent had spoken as to the healthiness of the town in which it was situated. Mr. a Beckett then gave interesting reminiscences of the old school plays in which the present Rector had figured so creditably.

Father Egan, the Rector, replied. The school was naturally proud of Archbishop Agius, for in his elevation they recognised the seal of the Pope’s approval of the training given at St. Augustine’s. Mr. Gerald Flanagan also replied on behalf of the Old Augustinians who had entered heartily into the project of doing honour to one who had shed such lustre on their old school.

Father Donald Skrimshire then gave the toast of “The Visitors,” to which the Abbot of Downside, in reply, said that all Benedictines rejoiced with those of Ramsgate in the honour that had been conferred on St. Augustine’s in the person of the Archbishop of Palmyra. Sir Roper Parkington also replied, and congratulated Mr. E. T. Agius on the distinction that had been conferred by the Holy See upon his brother and himself. [ The distinction was that E.T. Agius had been made a papal Chamberlain (Cameriere Segreti di spada e cappa) that year about the same time his brother had been consecrated an Archbishop. It’s a nice touch because Edward Agius and John Roper Parkington had been friends for almost thirty five years.] Commendatore Eck also spoke.

The last toast of the Chairman, “The Abbot of Ramsgate,” was briefly proposed by Mr. E. T. Agius. The Abbot having expressed his thanks, the proceedings terminated.

The above text was found on p., 22nd October 1904 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

Previously it had been announced in Rome that Father Ambrose had been appointed the papal Delegate to the Philippines.


Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte

Father Ambrose Agius, 0.S.B., of the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance, has been appointed by the Holy Father to succeed Mgr. Guidi as Apostolic Delegate to. the Philippine Islands. Mgr. Guidi succeeded in settling with the United States authorities the vexed question of the Spanish Friars and their possessions in the Archipelago, but many other delicate and intricate matters still await solution. The position of Delegate is, therefore, one of much difficulty. Much speculation has been wasted in the American Press as to the successor of Mgr. Guidi, and Father Ambrose’s name has never once been mentioned in this connection. Yet the selection is an ideal one in every way. The new delegate is a native of Malta: he speaks all the principal European tongues with equal fluency ; but English is really his mother tongue, and during his long residence in Rome he was one of the two English Confessors at the Church of Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte. [ In a nicely convuleted twist, a role that Mgr. Henry O’Bryen had fulfilled in Rome for about fifteen years from 1875; albeit at St. Andrea della Valle by the Piazza di Spagna]  He was also spiritual director of the Roman community of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin, better known as the “English Ladies,” and for some time acted in that capacity to the “Little Company of Mary.” Father Ambrose is a young man—not much over forty one would say—full of zeal and energy, and of exquisite tact.  The above text was found on p., 3rd September 1904 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

And then finally, the consecration itself on Sunday, September 18th.

Sant’ Ambrogio della Massima

This morning his Excellency the Most Rev. Ambrose Agius, 0.S.B., Delegate Apostolic to the Philippines, was consecrated Archbishop by Cardinal Merry del Val, Secretary of State to his Holiness, assisted by his Excellency Mgr. Chapelle, Apostolic Delegate to Cuba and Porto Rico and Archbishop of New Orleans, and by his Grace Mgr. Stonor, Archbishop of Trebizond. [ In another nice twist, Cardinal Merry del Val was a student at Ushaw with Father Philip O’Bryen, whilst  Father Philip’s much older half-brother Mgr. Henry O’Bryen was a domestic chaplain in the Vatican at the same time Mgr. Stonor was.]  The solemn ceremony took place in the Church of Sant’ Ambrogio, attached to the monastery in which “Father Ambrose” has spent many fruitful years. Rome is supposed to be empty of English-speaking residents just now, yet the church seemed to be full of them this morning, and whatever space they left was occupied by representatives of the religious orders, with Benedictines naturally in the majority. Mgr. Giles, Bishop-elect of Philadelphia, came from Monte Porzio to be present at the ceremony. A special place in the church was reserved for the Apostolic Delegate’s relatives, many of whom made the journey from England for the occasion.

Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val

Among them were his mother, Mrs. Agius, his sister, Mrs. Edward Vella, his brothers, Mr. Edward Agius and Mr. Edgar Agius, his nieces, Mrs. Salvo Cassar, Miss Agius, Miss C. Agius, and Dr. E. Vella, Captain A. Arrigo, E. Vella, C. Vella, Major Muscat and Mrs. Muscat with their son and daughter, and Father Cartin. Among the Benedictines present were Abbots Krugg, President-General of the Cassinese Congregation, Vagioli, Ciaramella, General of the Vallombrosians, Policari of the Silvestrini, Strozzi of the Canons Regular of the Lateran, besides the Procurators-General of the Capuchins, Carmelites, Dominicans, Servites, Pious Missioners, and Brothers of the Christian schools. The Archbishop will leave for his destination in about a month, the routine work of the Delegation being transacted in the meantime by Father O’Connor, P.S.M., who has acted as secretary to the late Mgr. Guidi for the last four years.

The above text was found on p., 18th September 1904 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

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