The Mayors of Ramsgate, Broadstairs, and Margate, along with other dignitaries, Miss Ramsgate, and community groups attended the first ever ceremony of the Blessing of the Sea to be held in Ramsgate on Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May.
The ceremony was led by Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine's Shrine in Ramsgate. The ceremony was held during the annual St Augustine Week festival, which celebrates the legacy of Augustine of Canterbury who landed on Ramsgate's shores in AD 597.
About a hundred people came out on a windy and cloudy day to witness the Blessing, taking place in Ramsgate for the first time. Scouts attended, and a Salvation Army trumpeter provided music. The choir of St Ethelbert's Church, Ramsgate, sang.
The service began at the Obelisk in Ramsgate Royal Harbour with the National Anthem and prayers. Ramsgate's Town Sergeant led the mayors and dignitaries, and the Cross led the ministers and people along the promenade to the beach. Fr Marcus Holden led prayers asking God's blessing on those who work on the sea, and his protection for them, and the sea was sprinkled with holy water. Then a girl threw a bouquet of flowers into the sea. The procession made its way back to the Obelisk, where there was a final prayer.
After the service, the crowd spontaneously sang 'Happy Birthday' to the Mayor of Ramsgate, Cllr Trevor Shonk, as it was his birthday.
The Blessing of the Sea in Ramsgate is especially connected with St Augustine of Canterbury, whose Shrine is the Augustus Pugin church in the town, because of St Augustine's connection with the sea. He arrived by boat on the shores near Ramsgate in AD 597, and many of the medieval miracle stories about him are about rescuing sailors in the English Channel.
Read more about the Shrine of Saint Augustine here: http://augustineshrine.co.uk/