The Anglican Community in Rome, the community splits in half.

The second edition of the history of the Anglican community in Rome will explore perhaps a lesser known fact - very few people know that for almost 70 years Rome had another Anglican church, here is its story. During the 1870s, some disaffected worshippers at the Granary Chapel, who found the ministry of the then assistant priest slightly too ritualistic for their taste, decided to set up a rival congregation for Church of England services. Aided by one Bishop Alford of the Diocese of Victoria, Hong Kong - soon after 1870 with the new freedom for non- Catholics to build houses of worship - they engaged architect Antonio Cipolla to design a new church. 

Holy Trinity Church in an Italian print from 1875. 

A church dedicated to the Holy Trinity with a modest classical façade that looked across the Piazza San Silvestro to what is now the Post Office, was completed by about 1873 and inaugurated on 26 October 1874, thanks to the handsome response to the dissidents’ appeal in the London Times. This was the first Anglican church to be built within the walls of Rome. Interestingly enough, this was the church where C.S. Lewis' maternal grand-father and Church of Ireland priest, Thomas Hamilton, served as a chaplain between 1870 and 1874. Flora Hamilton, C.S. Lewis' mother was a child of the parish. Anglican Rome can claim a connection with one of the greatest Anglican writers of all time.

The façade of Holy Trinity Church in the Piazza San Silvestro in a picture from the late 19th century

Only about forty years later, about the time of the Great War, the new church had to be demolished to make way for an enlargement of the square. A new site was found in the then via Dogali, now via Romagna, in the Ludovisi district of Rome, which at the time was fast developing with housing for the upper classes of the fairly new capital of the Italian state. The foundation stone of the new Holy Trinity was laid on 28th April 1913 by Ambassador Sir Rennel Rodd (the silver trowel used for this purpose is still in possession of All Saints’), the church was designed in the Romanesque-Revival style by Edmund Fisher, a British architect.

The trowel used to lay the foundation stone of the second Holy Trinity Church in 1913.

The service registers witness to a fairly thriving life in the 1920s, with church services and various social events hosted in the fairly cozy crypt, as well as acts of cooperation with All Saints’- confirmations for example - encouraged by the then Bishop of Gibraltar, years after his predecessors had disapproved of the split. However, with numbers going down with the approach of the war, the last services were held on 18th April 1937. In about 1945, an Italian book reported it “lost among greenery, vandalized and closed for worship many years ago”. In 1948, the site was sold for development, the church demolished, and offices built were once English Anglicans had their other home in Rome.

The second Holy Trinity Church in the Via Romagna in a picture from about 1922. 


  1. Thank you. I understood that Trinity was a low church Evangelical response to the All Saints' high church Anglo-Catholic expression of worship. It is nice, though, to think of Rome being evangelized by Hong Kong, what a global expression of faith in the Anglican Communion.

  2. On page 7 of a hardback copy of C. S. Lewis- a life, by Alister McGrath, Tyndale House, 2013, i find this: " Lewis's mother, Florence ("Flora") Augusta Lewis (1862-1908) was born in Queenstown (now Cobh), County Cork. Lewis's maternal grandfather, Thomas Hamilton (1826-1905), was a Church of Ireland clergyman - a classic representative of the Protestant Ascendancy that came under threat as Irish nationalism became an increasingly significant and cultural force in the early twentieth century. The Church of Ireland had been the established church throughout Ireland, despite being a minority faith in at least twenty-two of the twenty-six Irish counties. When Flora was eight, her father accepted the post of chaplain to Holy Trinity Church in Rome, where the family lived from 1870 to 1874.
    In 1874, Thomas Hamilton returned to Ireland to take up the position of curate-at-large of Dundela Church in the Ballyhackamore area of East Belfast."
    Provided everyone has their dates correctly, that puts C. S. Lewis's mother and maternal grandparents in the very first Anglican church built in Rome.

    1. Gosh! What an amazing connection. I would be interested in adding this to my research, would you mind to send me a dm?


Post a Comment

Popular Posts