St. George’s Day Celebration

Former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Comes to Bath

'New Voyage to Carolina' by John Lawson, 1709

England came to Bath as part of the historic town's ongoing celebration of the town’s 300th anniversary in April. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey and his wife, Lady Eileen, were in the historic town April 22-23, 2005 as part of the celebration recognizing St. George, the patron saint of England.

What had been forecast by local weathermen as a cloudy, rainy weekend turned out to be quite comfortable, much to the delight of the numerous participants donning Colonial outfits.

To those passing by it must have seemed that time had taken a few steps back from the outside looking in, the pews of old St. Thomas Church were filled with men in white stockings, vests and knee britches while the women wore gathered floor-length skirts or dresses and had their heads covered with small caps, as was the Colonial tradition. The services held on Friday and Saturday were from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; very likely the attendess recited the same prayers that our forefathers said in their homes in Bath and then in the church itself after its construction in 1734.

The crowd was in awe of the robed patriarch with the British accent who to American Episcopalians and others in the World Anglican Communion, is somewhat comparable to the pope. But, in moving throughout the crowd after services, most were surprised to find that Lord Carey simply wanted to be called George and was most humbled by having the opportunity to be a part of the anniversary celebration of this former English settlement. In the congregation were also descendants of the Rev. John Garzia, minister of St. Thomas from 1734 until his death in 1744, and Rev. A. C. D. Noe, minister from 1936 to 1954.

Garzia was minister at the time the church was constructed while Noe was instrumental in its 20th century restoration. Barbara Wilder, a Garzia descendant from Florida, unveiled a historical marker denoting Rev. Garzia’s contributions to the church that was placed in the church yard and dedicated following Saturday’s service. Later that same afternoon, Rev. Bill Noe, son of A. C. D. Noe, recanted his childhood memories of the restoration of the church and the town.

Every possible space was filled within the church as well as overflow in a tent adjoining the building and closed circuit TV in the parish building. The walls seemed to reverberate with the joyous sounds of hymns and the solemn recitation of prayers. To those leaving any one of the services, it did not seem to matter if you were of the Episcopal faith, what was most important was that you had been a part of a monumental celebration.

Bea Latham
Historic Bath

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