27 JULY 1996, Page 26

Canonic high life

Sir: It is at one's peril that one takes issue with 'the little Greek boy', yet I am sure Taki will not take umbrage at the correc- tion of a factual error in his rollicking con- tribution (High life, 6 July) on his riotous weekend in Orvieto.

La Badia, where his 'lost weekend' got its kick-start, was formerly a monastery of Canons Regular, probably Premonstraten- sian rather than Benedictine monks. At any rate the splendid mediaeval church in the abbey complex contains the only near-con- temporary portrait of St Norbert of Xanten (founder of the Premonstratensian Canons).

The Abbey of San Severo (as la Badia was known until the late 18th century) has an interesting connection with England. The last English saint to be canonised before the Reformation, St Thomas de Cantelupe, Bishop of Hereford (d. 1282, canonised 1320), died at the papal court at Orvieto, had his obsequies celebrated at San Severo, and, after the flesh was boiled off his bones, his viscera were put in an urn and kept in a shrine at la Badia.

Incidentally, those walls so rich in history still serve a purpose, providing the back- drop to some of Italy's most fashionable weddings. The exquisite church of la Badia has its very own chaplain, Don Marco Nunzi, Canon of Orvieto Cathedral, and it is he who celebrates the smart weddings in le grand style.

Moreover, the link with England is to be revived in ten days' time: the choir of St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham is giving a concert in the ruins of la Badia's chapter- house on Saturday 27 July at 9 p.m.

The Reverend Patrick H. Daly

Saint Chad's Cathedral, Cathedral House, St Chad's Queensway, Birmingham