Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.

I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop...
It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

St Walburga, her father and family

Today is the one of the feast days of St Walburga, who although she was English is far better known on the continent. She is commemorated in Bavaria and Belgium today, but by the Benedictines on February 25th ( 26th in a leap year). She and her kindred seem to be an example of notion that the family that prays together stays together.  putting it in historical terms they do appear to illustrtae the importanc eof family ties and kinship in their age.

John Dillon posted the following piece about her on the Medieval Religion discussion group:

The sister of Sts. Willibald and Wynnebald and the daughter of the implausibly named St. Richard of England, Walburg (also Walburga, Walpurga, Walpurgis; d. 779) left England for Germany to assist St. Boniface in his missions.  She settled in at Tauberbischofsheim in the northeast of today's Baden-Württemberg and moved on to Heidenheim in Bavaria, where she was put in charge of the sisters at a double convent founded by Willibald.  Later she ruled the entire establishment (both sexes).  Walburg is the patron saint of the Abtei Sankt Walburg in Eichstätt, founded by count St. Liutger / Leodegar of Lechsgemünd in 1035 on property adjacent to a church that had housed her relics since the late ninth century.

Some period pertinent images of St. Walburg:

a) as depicted (at centrr; at left, abbess Hitda) in the dedication illumination of the seemingly earlier eleventh-century Hitda Gospels (Darmstadt, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, Hs. 1640, fol. 6r):

A closer view:


b) as depicted in a late thirteenth-century glass window (c.1295) in the Walburgiskirche in St. Michael in Obersteiermark (Land Steiermark):

c) as depicted in a late thirteenth-century fresco (c. 1300) in the Walburgiskirche in St. Michael in Obersteiermark (Land Steiermark):


d) as depicted in a mid-fourteenth-century fresco (c. 1340-1350) in the choir of the Evangelische Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus in Dornstadt, a locality of Auhausen (Lkr. Donau-Ries) in Bavaria:


e) as depicted (at upper right; at lower left, St.  Liutger / Leodegar of Lechsgemünd; at lower right, abbess Sophia of Hüttingen) in what appears to be a cropped reproduction of modern copy of a later fourteenth-century painting on parchment (c. 1360) at the beginning of the Salbuch (register of property transfers) of the Abtei Sankt Walburg in Eichstätt:
http://tinyurl.com/z2367nq [as widely used in Wikipedia, without indication of source]

http://tinyurl.com/j3g5262 [not cropped; with metadata calling it "copy 20 of 20"]
For more on the abbey and on this image see:

f) as portrayed in a fifteenth-century polychromed and gilt wooden statue in the Pfarrkirche St. Walburga in Beilngries (Lkr. Beilngries) in Bavaria:


g) as portrayed in a fifteenth- or earlier sixteenth-century polychromed and gilt wooden altar statue in the Katholische Pfarrkirche St. Michael in Großweingarten (Lkr. Roth) in Bavaria:


h) as portrayed (second from right) by the Master of the High Altar of Eichstätt's Cathedral in the frequently repainted later fifteenth-century statues of sainted members of the founding family of the diocese (ca. 1470-1480?) now placed in the central shrine of the high altar of the east choir of Eichstätt's Dom St. Salvator, Unserer Lieben Frau, und St. Willibald (from left to right, the other statues are of St. Richard of England, St. Willibald, the BVM, and St. Wynnebald):

i) as portrayed (top centre, with angels at her bier) in a later fifteenth-century relief above the door to her resting place in the upper crypt of the Kloster- und Pfarrkirche St. Walburg in Eichstätt:


j) as portrayed (at centre) in the later fifteenth- or earlier sixteenth-century polychromed gilt statues of Walburg(a) and her immediate family in the upper crypt of the Kloster- und Pfarrkirche St. Walburg in Eichstätt (the others, from left to right, are of St. Richard of England, St. Willibald, St. Wynnebald, and St. Wunna [in diocesan hagiography the mother of Sts. Walburg, Willibald, and Wynnebald]):

k) as portrayed in relief on a late fifteenth- or earlier sixteenth-century polychromed ceiling boss (c. 1480-1520) in the Mortuarium of Eichstätt's Dom St. Salvator, Unserer Lieben Frau, und St. Willibald:


l) as portrayed by Clement of Baden in a late fifteenth-century polychromed and gilt wooden statue in the église Sainte-Walburge in Walbourg (Bas-Rhin):


m) as portrayed in a late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century wooden statue (c.1490-1510) in the  Katholische Stadtpfarrkirche St. Jakobus der Ältere in Ornbau (Lkr. Ansbach) in Bavaria:


n) as depicted (at centre in the upper register, betw. Sts. Willibald und Wynnebald) in a modern copy, in the Kloster- und Pfarrkirche St. Walburg in Eichstätt, of an earlier sixteenth-century tapestry (c. 1520) of her family (here dubiously including St. Sualo / Sola of Solnhofen, the town that archaeopteryx made famous) and a few others (including St. Benedict of Nursia, whom with becoming modesty the tapestry does not style cognatus):

The original is kept in Eichstätt's dioscesan museum.  In this reduced view it shows lacunae not present in the copy:
Ah, the holy kinship of Eichstätt!

John also posted the following on the same website about her father St Richard on his feast day on February 7th, as follows:

Richard is the name implausibly given by a much later, non-English-speaking tradition to the early eighth-century Anglo-Saxon father of Sts. Wynnebald, Willibald, and Walburg(a).  According to Hygeburg (formerly referred to as Huneberc) of Heidenheim in her later eighth-century Vita of Willibald (BHL 8931; commonly known as her Hodoeporicon of Willibald), Wynnebald and Willibald were accompanied by their father -- whom Hygeburg does not name -- on their pilgrimage from England to the Holy Land.  Still according to Hygeburg, the father died at Lucca and was laid to rest there in the church of St. Frigidian (now, in a structure mostly of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, San Frediano).  His cult, under the name Richard and with the added specification of his having been a king in England, is attested from at least the twelfth century onward both in Eichstätt, where Willibald was the first bishop, and in Lucca, where remains said to be his are among San Frediano's relics.  A brief Vita (BHL 7207), naming him as _Richardus_ and calling him _in Anglorum gente ... Rex_, is a reworking of the initial paragraphs of Hygeburg's Vita; though ending with his elevatio at Lucca, it clearly belongs to a series of similar re-workings originating in the diocese of Eichstätt.  At Lucca miracles were reported at his pre-fifteenth-century tomb in San Frediano, which latter bore the following inscription in leonine hexameters:

Hic rex Richardus requiescit sceptrifer almus.
Rex fuit Anglorum, regnum tenet iste polorum.
Regnum dimisit, pro Christo cuncta reliquit.
Ergo Richardum nobis dedit Anglia Sanctum.
Hic genitor Sanctæ Walburgæ Virginis almæ,
Et Willebaldi Sancti simul & Winibaldi.
Suffragium quorum det nobis regna polorū. Amen.

(AA.SS., Feb. tom. II. [Antwerp, 1658], cols. 79 B and C).

Both the name and the kingship were accepted by Bl. Cesare Baronio in early editions of the Roman Martyrology.  In the revision of 2001 the kingship was dropped, with the saint now identified rather as a pilgrim.  But the RM still calls him Richard, the name that's embedded in various liturgies and for which there really is no good alternative.  Alas, even with the example of Prince, _Sanctus quondam [aliter: _perperam_] Richardus vocatus_ doesn't seem particularly workable.

Some period-pertinent images of St. Richard of England:

a) as depicted in a later thirteenth-century fresco in the Cappella del Soccorso in Lucca's basilica di San Frediano:


b) as portrayed (twice) by Jacopo della Quercia in his early fifteenth-century marble polyptych (1416) honoring Sts. Ursula, Lawrence of Rome (or Vincent of Zaragoza?), Jerome, and Richard in the cappella Trenta in Lucca's basilica di San Frediano:
1) at right in the monument's upper portion (at left, St. Jerome):


2) on the predella panel beneath (at top, on his tomb; miraculously healing the possessed housemaid Gaschola):
The monument as a whole (the chapel was dedicated to Richard and that's Jacopo della Quercia's tomb for him beneath the altar table):



c) as portrayed (at far left) by the Master of the High Altar of Eichstätt's Cathedral in the frequently repainted later fifteenth-century statues (c. 1470-1480?) now placed in the central shrine of the high altar of the east choir of Eichstätt's Dom St. Salvator, Unserer Lieben Frau, und St. Willibald (from left to right, the other statues are of St. Willibald, the BVM, St. Walburg(a), and Saint Wynnebald):



d) as portrayed (at far left) in the later fifteenth- or earlier sixteenth-century gilded statues of Walburg(a) and her immediate family in the upper crypt of Eichstätt's Pfarrkirche St. Walburg (the others, from left to right: St. Willibald, St. Walburg[a], St. Wynnebald, St. Wunna):


Here in England her best known church ( and there cannot be many at all I suspect ) in the wondrous one in Preston which the ICKSP is now administering as a shrine for Eucharistic devotion and about which I have posted in the past.

St Walburge's Prestron

Image: Flickr.com

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Pilgrimage to Abingdon

Earlier today I joined a group from the FSSP community at St william of York in Reading on a Jubilee Year Pilgrimage to the Holy Door at the church of Our Lady and St Edmund Abingdon. Although Abingdon is only just south of Oxford this was the first time I had visited the church.



I travelled there by bus with a friend who is a regular at the FSSP Mass over in Reading, and after we had found the church, we had time to walk into the town centre. It was Market day, and abingdon has some attractive and historic buildings.

Our Lady and St Edmund is externally a handsome mid-Victorian church built between 1857 and 1865 and  was substantially funded by the then Earl of Abingdon. It is built in what might well be termed a Puginesque style, and has elegant accessories such as a cloister connecting it to the presbytery.



Rather sadly, in my opinion, the interior does not now live up to the expectations aroused by the exterior. Not uncommon changes in the post Vatican II era have seen here the placing of a very small forward altar under the chancel arch, and the chancel itself seemed almost abandoned save for an isolated tabernacle on a pillar base at the east end. Doubtless the walls were once stencilled ( or intended to be ) but now the side chapel walls are simply painted blue and raspberry,

Some  fragments remain of what once was, including an impressive crucifix on the north wall, the side chapel altar on the south side, an impressive east window with saints of the Order of Malta flanking Our Lady of Abingdon and St Edmund.

On the north side is a rather appealing thirteenth century-style statue of Our Lady of Abingdon dating from 1954:

The Mass, in the chapel on the south side of the church, was a votive of St Edmund of Abingdon, and the vestments were obviously ones that the FSSP had brought with them. At the end we were able to venerate a relic of St Edmund, but I feel compelled to add that the reliquary was in obvious need of polishing.

We were I must add made welcome by the parish, and after Mass had our packed lunches in the excellent parish centre which is adjacent to the church.

After lunch we returned to to make an examination of conscience, to formally process through the Holy Door, and concluded with Benediction including the recitation of the Rosary.

King of Sweden at 70

Today is the seventieth birthday of the King of Sweden and this is an account of the celebrations from the website Royal Central. I am reproducing it because unless you subscribe to such links the British press give scant coverage to such events abroad.

                    H.M. The King of Sweden

At 08:00 the final day of a week-long birthday celebration for The King began with 43 Swedish flags being raised on Skeppsbron accompanied by a soundtrack of the Life Guards Music Corps. A traditional Te Deum thanksgiving service in the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace of Stockholm followed at 10:00. At 10:25 the Swedish Navy’s Music Corps marched and performed a musical program in the Outer Courtyard and at 11:30 a changing of the guards ceremony was carried out by the Royal Guards. The presentations were open to members of the Swedish public and there was an opportunity for children to present flowers to The King before a twenty-one-gun salute was fired from Skeppsholmen.

The King and his family are scheduled to appear on the Lejonbacken Terrace for a choral tribute later today before The King and Queen travel by carriage in a royal procession from Mynttorget to Stockholm City Hall via Vasabron and Tegelbacken where they will attend a lunch arranged by the city of Stockholm.

A reception will be held at the Royal Palace this afternoon and will be attended by members of the Riksdag, the Cabinet and the county governors. The day’s birthday celebrations will conclude this evening with a royal banquet in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace. 

The week so far:

Official royal birthday celebrations began on Monday 25 April with a performance of ‘An Evening about the Baltic Sea – Hopefulness and Threats’ at the Royal Dramatic Theatre. The evening included short talks and discussions from well-known speakers and experts on the Baltic Sea and was attended by The King and Queen as well as Prince Carl Philip and Prince Daniel. The Swedish Navy’s Music Corps performed at the joint venture put on by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of Naval Sciences, the Royal Dramatic Theatre, the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry.

On Tuesday 26 April, The King and Queen attended a birthday concert put on at the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace by the Armed Forces Music Corps’. Hosted by Horace Engdahl the concert saw performances by Court Singer Karl-Magnus Fredriksson, the Swedish Navy's Music Corps (conducted by Andreas Hanson) and St Jakob's Chamber Choir (conducted by Gary Graden).

On Thursday 28 April a reception was held in Princess Sibylla’s Apartments to allow authorities, organisations and institutions an opportunity to congratulate The King on his birthday.

On Friday 29 April a reception was held at the Royal Palace for representatives of governmental authorities and NGO organisations which allowed them an opportunity to offer their congratulations to His Majesty The King. This was followed in the afternoon by a presentation in the Golden Foyer at the Royal Opera of a new cooperation between the royal artistic and humanistic academies—the Bernadotte Programme. The evening saw a concert at the Nordic Museum with performances from the Royal Opera and the Stockholm Concert Hall.

HM King Carl XVI Gustaf was born at Haga Palace at 10:20 on Tuesday 30 April 1946 to parents Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Sweden’s future King Carl XVI Gustaf was the fifth child and first son, joining older sisters Margaretha, Birgitta, Désirée and Christina.

He became King of Sweden at 27 years old following the death of his grandfather in Helsingborg on 15 September 1973. His father had tragically died in airplane crash in 1947.  He took the royal oath in front of the Swedish Government in the Cabinet Meeting Room on Wednesday, 19 September before appearing in front of the Riksdag, the diplomatic corps and the Royal Court in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

He met Miss Silvia Renate Sommerlath at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich where she was working as an interpreter and hostess for the games. Their engagement was announced on 12 March 1976 at the Royal Palace of Stockholm and they were married in Stockholm Cathedral on Saturday 19 June 1976.

The King and Queen have three children (Crown Princess Victoria, born 14 July 1977, Prince Carl Philip, born 13 May 1979, and Princess Madeleine, born 10 June 1982) and five grandchildren (Princess Estelle, born 23 February 2012, Princess Leonore, born 20 February 2014, Prince Nicolas, born 15 June 2015, Prince Oscar, born 2 March 2016 and Prince Alexander, born 19 April 2016).
Quite apart from wishing His Majesty well on his birthday I like to reflect that when he succeeded to the throne in 1973 the media commentators were writing off the Swedish monarchy - the age difference between the King and his grandfather, the social democratic culture of the country, its 'progressive' nature and the proposed revision of the Instrument of Government ( not in fact as we were told a 'new constitution' and introduced in 1974 ) - all presaged the end of the monarchy.  Well not so far, and with his Queen at his side and with his children and grandchildren King Carl XVI Gustaf can be seen as a successful contemporary exponent of the art of kingship. Moreover, for all the talk of Scandinavian monarchies being low key, as the report above makes clear the Swedish Crown is suitably ceremonious as and when it celebrates.

Greater coat of arms of Sweden (without ermine mantling).svg 

The Royal Arms of Sweden 


Friday, 29 April 2016

A discovery in Scotland

The BBC News website has a report about the discovery by archaeologists who believe they have uncovered the remains of the medieval Borders chapel where William Wallace was appointed Guardian of Scotland in 1297. This was the Kirk o' the Forest in Selkirk. its foundations appear to lie under other ruins.

The report can be read at  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-36158808

St Catherine of Siena




Today is the feast of St Catherine of Siena and John Dillon posted the following images of her on the Medieval Religion discussion group:

The mystic and visionary Catherine of Siena was born in 1347, the umpteenth daughter of a Sienese wool-dyer and his wife.  A professed virgin since childhood, she became a Dominican tertiary at the age of eighteen, living very ascetically and engaging in acts of charity to the sick and the poor.  In 1370 she received a series of visions that impelled her to enter public life.  Catherine then carried on a lengthy correspondence with Pope Gregory XI, touching on many matters and urging church reform.  In 1375 Catherine received the Holy Stigmata.  In 1376 she was in Avignon and from 1378 until her death in 1380 she lived at Rome.

Catherine was buried in her order's Roman church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.  The subject of an immediately posthumous cult, she has a very impressive Vita (BHL 1702) by her confessor, Bl. Raymond of Capua, who as prior of the Dominican convent erected her first funerary monument in 1380.  The monument was modified in 1430; in 1466 Catherine was translated to her present resting place before the high altar.  Herewith some views of Catherine's tomb in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, with its sculpture of her from 1430 reposing on a sarcophagus added in 1461, the year of her canonization by her fellow Sienese, Pius II:



A distance view:

Since 1384 Siena's basilica di San Domenico (a.k.a. Basilica Cateriniana) has had Catherine's head:


It also possesses one of her fingers:



Catherine was named a Doctor of the Church in 1970.  Along with Francis of Assisi, she is a primary patron of Italy.  In 1999 she was proclaimed a patron saint of Europe.

Some period-pertinent images of St. Catherine of Siena:

a) as depicted by the Sienese artist Andrea Vanni in a late fourteenth-century fresco (c. 1390) in the basilica di San Domenico in Siena:



b) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Cecilia) by Beato Angelico in an earlier fifteenth-century panel painting (between 1420 and 1429) in The Courtauld Gallery, London:

c) as depicted (with a donor before the BVM and Christ Child) in an earlier fifteenth-century panel painting from Lombardy (c. 1440) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:


d) as depicted (receiving the stigmata) by Henri d'Orquevaulz in an earlier fifteenth-century book of hours for the Use of Metz (c. 1440; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 10533, fol. 134v):



e) as depicted by the Sienese artist Sano di Pietro in a mid-fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1442) in the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht:



f) as depicted in a later fifteenth-century fresco in the (ex-) chiesa di San Pietro in Carpignano Sesia
(NO) in Piedmont:



g) as depicted (receiving the stigmata) in a later fifteenth-century copy of her Vita by Bl. Raymond of Capua (Carpentras, Bibliothèque municipale Inguimbertine, ms. 472, fol. 2v):



h) as depicted by the Sienese artist Giovanni di Paolo in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1462) in Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum:



i) as depicted (scenes from her Vita) by the Sienese artist Giovanni di Paolo in a series of later fifteenth-century predella paintings (c. 1462-1470) now in several different museums:

a) receiving the Dominican habit (Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art):



b) clothing Christ disguised as a beggar (Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art):


c) exchanging her heart with that of Jesus (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art):



d) her mystic marriage (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art):

e) her miraculous communion (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art):



f) receiving the stigmata (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art):


g) beseeching Christ to resuscitate her mother (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art):


h) before the Pope in Avignon (Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza):



j) as depicted in a panel of a later fifteenth-century glass window (Bay 23; c. 1470) in the église Notre-Dame in Carentan (Manche):

The window as a whole:

k) as depicted (at far right) in a late fifteenth-century predella panel painting of Dominican saints in the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar:



l) as depicted (receiving the stigmata) in a late fifteenth-century book of hours for the Use of Autun (c. 1480-1490; Autun, Bibliothèque d'Autun, ms. 269, fol. 170v):



m) as depicted (at left, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at right, St. Sebastian) by the Sienese artist Matteo di Giovanni in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1480-1490) in the Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC:



n) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Catherine of Alexandria; their mystical marriages) by Ambrogio Bergognone in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1490) in the National Gallery, London:



o) as depicted by Carlo Crivelli in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1490) in the Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon:


p) as depicted (her mystic marriage) by Giovan Pietro Birago in the late fifteenth-century Sforza Hours (between c.1490 and 1494; London, BL, Add MS 34294, vol. 3, fol.  209v):
Are those bunny pellets at lower left?

q) as depicted by Domenico Ghirlandaio and workshop in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (between 1490 and 1498; from his dismembered Tornabuoni altarpiece for Florence's basilica di Santa Maria Novella) in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich:



r) as portrayed by the Sienese painter and sculptor Neroccio di Bartolomeo de' Landi in a late fifteenth-century polychromed wooden statue (1494) in the oratorio di Santa Caterina in Siena:



Detail view:

s) as depicted (as spiritual guide of the second and third orders of Dominicans) by Cosimo Rosselli in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1499-1500) in the National Galleries of Scotland:



t) as depicted (surrounded by demons) in a  late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century panel painting (c. 1500) in the National Museum in Warsaw:



u) as depicted in the early sixteenth-century Hours of Frederick of Aragon (i.e. Federigo d'Aragona, king of [mostly mainland] Sicily, etc.; between 1501 and 1504; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 10532, fol. 368r):

v) as depicted (upper register; her canonization by Pope Pius II) by Pinturicchio in an early sixteenth-century fresco (between 1502 and 1507) in the Piccolomini Library in the cathedral of Siena:



Detail view:


w) as depicted (interceding with the devil on behalf of a dying sister) by the Sienese artist Girolamo di Benvenuto di Giovanni del Guasta in an early sixteenth-century panel painting (c. 1505) in Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum:

Saint Catherine Of Siena Intercedes With Christ To Release The Dying Sister Palmerina From Her Pact With The Devil


x) as depicted (upper register at center, between. SS. Peter Martyr and Margaret of Hungary) by Juan de Borgoña in an early sixteenth-century panel painting (c. 1515) in the Museo del Prado in Madrid:


Here in Oxford the Oratory possesses in its relic collection a letter written by St Catherine, and which is on displayto mark her feast. I understand that the editors of a new definitive edition of her letters are due to visit the Oratory in the near future to copy it for inclusion in their project.