The Anglican Centre in Rome marked the 55th anniversary of its foundation at the weekend with a gathering to celebrate decades of ecumenical dialogue – and the unveiling of a plaque to honour two people vital to its continuing existence.

Among those who came together in Rome for the anniversary were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, the Centre’s Chair of Governors, the Rt Revd Michael Burrows, Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, the Centre’s Director, Archbishop Ian Ernest and his wife Kamla, other Governors, as well as Vatican officials, diplomats based at the Holy See, and friends of the Anglican Centre.

The Centre was founded after the historic meeting in 1966 between Pope Paul VI and the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsay, which led to the flowering of ecumenical discourse. But the Centre would not have survived without the enthusiasm for its work of the Doria Pamphilj family, which provided the Centre with a home in their Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, where the Centre has been based ever since.

A plaque commemorating the work of Don Frank and Donna Orieta Doria Pamphilj was unveiled at the Centre by Archbishop Welby during evensong led by the Rt Revd David Hamid, Suffragan Bishop in Europe and an Anglican Centre Governor.  


The couple’s interest in ecumenism derived from their own experience. Frank Pogson, who served in the British Navy during the Second World War, met Princess Orieta Doria Pamphilj in Ancona in 1943 and after a 14 year courtship cum correspondence, they finally married in 1958 in London’s Brompton Oratory.

Although Frank Pogson had converted to Roman Catholicism before he met his wife, he was as a former Anglican familiar with the Church of England and the couple also shared a deep interest in religion.

Frank Pogson took his wife’s family name and after his father-in-law died before the couple married, they lived in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, restored it, ran its gallery of priceless artistic treasures and opened private apartments to the public for the first time. Frank Doria Pamphilj also worked, with the support of his wife, to improve relations between Anglicanism and the Roman Catholic Church.


Their interest in ecumenism and support for the Anglican Centre has been continued by their children, Prince Jonathan and Princess Gesine, who also attended the unveiling of the plaque to their parents.


To read the Evening Prayer and the programme for the dedication of a memorial to Donna Orietta and Don Frank Pogson Doria Pamphilj, please press here