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.

Friday, 18 April 2014

New painting of the Crucifixion with saints at the Oxford Oratory


Crucifixion with saints, 2014

Acrylic on wood,
37 x 65cm

The saints are St Leopold Mandić, St Thérèse of Lisieux, St Mary Magdalen, Bl.Dominic Barberi and St Philip Neri.

Image:Alvin Ong on Facebook

The artist, Alvin Ong, says of this painting:
"A work with the patron saints of one of the Oratorians at the Oratory, who celebrates his Silver Jubilee this year on the feast of St Mary Magdalene. 

"Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live." 
- from the Stabat Mater

At the heart of the work, is death, mourned by St Mary Magdalene, with one of her attributes, the skull. The white flowers and petals, and the glory of the light that pours in from above, however, remind us of the joy of the resurrection.

Altogether quite a joy to paint, really enjoyed resolving its many complexities into a seamless whole."

I am grateful to Irim Sarwar for forwarding the appropriate link to the picture and Alvin Ong's comments.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Maundy Thursday - The Kiss of Judas

Maundy Thursday has provided the Church, the faithful and artists with many images. Here is one of the most celebrated of them and undoubtedly amongst the greatest works in western art.

File:Giotto - Scrovegni - -31- - Kiss of Judas.jpg

The Kiss of Judas
The Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, 1304-06

Image: Wikipedia

Giotto: Judas kissing Jesus

 A detail of the betrayal


The restoration of Corpus Christi Maiden Lane

The New Liturgical Movement has a post about the restoration of Corpus Christi Maiden Lane in London. It can be viewed at The restoration of a hidden gem.

The one occasion on which I visited the church was Easter Monday in 2010 and I attended the early evening EF Mass there with friends. My post about the day can be read at Easter Monday in London.
At that time the church had tentatively begun the process of restoration by cleaning the modern paint off the brickwork in the entrance porch, and that suggested what will be revealed by the main scheme. The church had recently suffered from a vandal's attack on a statue, but otherwise was clearly cared for and loved, but in need of the renovation which has now commenced. I posted at the time that, although built in brick and dating from 1873-4, it has the feel of what a late medieval English parish church might be imagined to have had on the eve of the disasters of the sixteenth century - small shrines and sidealtars crowded in achurch designed for local congregation - rather what a medieval London or York city church would have been like.

This is a project I wish well, and I must go and look and see what has been done already.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Happy birthday to the Pope Emeritus

Today is the 87th birthday of the Pope Emeritus, and an opportunity to express good wishes to Pope Benedict in his retirement and to put on record my appreciation of his great and long service to the Church as a theologian, pastor, administrator as well as Pope, and for the rich legacy he has given the faithful by example and by the written and spoken word.


May he continue to enjoy his retirement and know the love and regard of those he has served so faithfully.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Monastic treasures on display at the Louvre

Last week Gregory DiPippo had a post on the New Liturgical Movement about a current exhibition at the Louvre of treasures from the Abbey of St Maurice in Canton Valais in Switzerland. The abbey is on the site of the martyrdom of St Maurice and the Theban Legion.

The items have not been on display outside the abbey previously, and, judging from those pictured in his post, are very fine indeed and precious survivals. Once again we get a fleeting glimpse of the artistic achievements of past centuries and some idea of what once existed but which in so many cases has been destroyed. The abbey of St Maurice has been fortunate to preserve such items. The post, with its pictures, can be seen at Treasures of the Abbey of St. Maurice at the Louvre.

Illumination from Fr Hunwicke

Continuing the theme of my previous post about learning more about the development of the liturgy I see from his blog that the ever erudite Fr Hunwicke has been casting light on a familiar prayer from Compline, and pointing out that it may have originated or, at least, been used at another time of day. His post can be read at Lighten our darkness ...

It occurs to me that the suggested origin of the prayer does indeed make sense at dawn in terms of temporal conditions, and as a prayer concerned with the whole of one's life is eminently suitable at any time, asking God to disperse the darkness that surrounds and menaces us on life's journey.

Learning more about the Roman Missal

One of the books I have been looking at in Lent is Theological and Historical aspects of the Roman Missal. This is the published version of the papers given at the fifth international CIEL Conference, which was held at Versailles in the autumn of 1999.

File:Missale Romanum Pustet.jpg

The Roman Missal
The 1884 editio typica in a printing of 1911

Image: Wikipedia

I know or have heard several of the contributors and the papers make for extremely good reading. They are not only erudite and informative, and indeed thought provoking on liturgical and historical matters, but also have a reflective quality that makes them good material to use at this season of the year.

I learned a lot from the volume - the authors draw upon the great body of scholarly work that has been done on the history of the Roman Rite, and make available a not inconsiderable number of fascinating details and interpretations which I had either not known or fully appreciated hitherto.

If you are at all interested in the subject matter and can find a copy I would highly recommend it.