I had the privilege of presiding at Mass today in the Catholic Church where my sister and brother-in-law belong; the Parish Priest is on holiday at the moment. We celebrated the First Martyrs of the Church at Rome, honouring those who gave their lives in the bloody persecution of the Emperor Nero in 64 AD. I used the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer 1) which is less familiar perhaps to modern Catholics than Prayers 2 & 3. It is long, but those of us who were there had come to pray and worship – and it was a lovely day. It has two lists of saints all connected with the early years of the Faith in Rome, and the Prayer as a whole demands of the Celebrant careful and attentive articulation if it is not to sound rushed and incomprehensible. But prayed quietly and thoughtfully, by people and priest, it takes one back to those early years and to the brave people who chose an awful death rather than deny the Lord Jesus Christ. Among my most special moments I include serving a Mass in the crypt of St Peter’s, Rome, where the priest used the Roman Canon. Now that was something else, as they say.